Thursday, May 06, 2004

Amnesty immigrant-national

The Queen of All Evil has this to say about the proposed amnesty for illegal aliens:

As the daughter of legal immigrants, the kind that worked hard -- followed the rules and became citizens only recently, this proposal pissed me off when Bush first suggested it. It's a positive reinforcement of illegal behavior and it's fundamentally unfair to the immigrants that are here legally and to the ones that want to come here.

It's a thorny subject. I have friends who are illegal aliens (students who overstay visas as well as laborers from south of the border). I think they're good folks, and I would be sad to see them go. All the same, I have a big problem with rewarding disobedience to the law.

These friends, as Ted Kennedy said, "live in fear and live in danger of deportation." Why? Because they chose to break the law. When you break the law, you live in fear and danger of being caught and punished. That's good. That's why we have penalties-- to inspire fear in those who might break the law. That's one of the ways we discourage people from committing crimes.

There are obviously people who are so determined to break particular laws that the risk of incurring punishment does not deter them. Skilled and determined felons get past car locks and alarms, but we have them anyway because not everyone is a skilled and determined felon. Eliminating the punishment for any law means that more people have an incentive to break it. If we think that we have a lot of illegal immigrants now, just wait until we stop deporting them.

Clearly, we have a greater demand for immigrants right now than the current quotas supply. So let's change the laws, up the quotas, and let more in. (Of course, the incredible number of illegal immigrants also demonstrates the economic inefficiencies of minimum wage laws, but that's a subject for another post. Maybe I can talk my buddy the economist into tackling that subject.)

Our immigration system is busted and we should fix it. But let's do this by changing the law, not by forgiving those who have broken it. That's a slap in the face to all who refused to sneak in the back door.


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