Long wait for voting rights an amnesty must

| January 30 2013
Mike DeVine

By Mike DeVine

Loving neighbors we welcomed long ago does not require fast track naturalization

Early during the 2012 Republican presidential nomination process, prompted by Gov. Rick Perry’s defense of in-state tuition equality for illegal immigrant residents of the Lone Star state, this column came out for non-voting rights amnesty for long-term residents, even before the border is secured, based upon the immoral treatment of them as “criminals” given the de facto open borders policy practiced in America since at least the 1960s.

In light of yesterday’s outline of a comprehensive immigration reform plan by a Gang of Eight congressmen, we re-visit portions of our October 2011 “non-voting rights amnesty epiphany” below.

Most conservatives, including yours truly, opposed the Bush-McCain amnesty plan in the Summer of 2007 because it failed to ensure border security before any amnesty for those non-felon illegals already here. We believe that it is inherent in nationhood that its people must control who may enter its country and under what circumstances for reasons of public health and safety, as well as economic concerns. We can’t have another 20 million illegals enter at their whim. We should revise the late 1960′s legal immigration law changes that socialized our policy. And we must secure the border.

But what of those already here, and especially those that have been here illegally for many years?

Some conservatives oppose any amnesty, even after the border is secured. I am not in that camp. I have long agreed with Charles Krauthammer that amnesty on all but voting rights would be the best course AFTER we build an actual and/or virtual fence between us and failed nation of Mexico.

But the internal GOP debate between tea partiers, conservatives, moderates and elites as a seminal election approaches reminds that we also need to be clear on what policies we favor now, BEFORE the border is secured. The debate sparked by Perry’s entry into the race has revealed some lazy thinking on the issue, to my mind and to which I had unknowingly contributed.

I now lean toward de facto amnesty on all but voting rights now and will explain why below. But I want to be clear that I think this is a close call and that I certainly respect the efforts of others on encouraging self-deportation prompted by e-verify and other means. I also want to be clear that I am not about to aid and abet the Democratic Party’s open borders policy to gain voters for an ever larger victim-dependent state. Congress should pass a law prohibiting states from allowing non-U.S. citizens to vote in all elections.

The Rule of Law: Written or As Enforced

Ken Burn’s 2011 series on Prohibition which concerned a disrespected law that turned otherwise law-abiding citizens into “criminals” seems to me instructive on the issue of illegal immigration in America since the first amnesty signed into law by President Ronald Reagan in 1986. A society cannot abide large pluralities technically defined as criminals, because of the inherent definition of the word as entailing nefarious intent, or mens re. This civilizational rule obtains whether it concerns the seeking of economic liberty or merely a drink. Deputy Barney Fife’s incarceration of the whole town of Mayberry for jaywalking while Sheriff Taylor was away comes to mind.

Yes, it is against the law to cross the border into the United States without permission from Customs, much as adultery was always a crime that was never enforced. But when did Americans begin to clamor for enforcement of the former? Only after 11-20 million moved in and then only some after September 11, 2001.

The de facto rule of law before 9/11 was an open border and the vast majority of Americans acquiesced in that non-Rule of Law. It seems to me a little late and quite unfair to the point of being the equivalent to a Bill of Attainder or Ex Post Facto law to now treat those that have invested many years of their lives in this country as spies that sneaked across the Rio Grande to sabotage our infrastructure.

Shouldn’t arguments based upon the Rule of Law refer to law that We the People insisted upon being enforced? I think so. Moreover, shouldn’t the party that reveres federalism be understanding of states that can’t deport foreigners but must deal with the actual population within their borders? Obviously.

The magnet for the 11-20 million have been many-fold, and certainly we need to return to an immigration system that does not welcome wards of the state. The magnets have been the shining cities of opportunity across the Fruited Plain, coupled with a pre-9/11 complacent people grown so affluent they became addicted to abortion and small families.

I am quite aware of small towns, especially in North Carolina a few years ago, that were inundated by hoards of illegals not yet assimilated that disrupted pursuits of happiness. I am certain that in isolated places, illegals have taken jobs that natives would otherwise have taken. But given our birthrate and need for economic growth, I question the extent of claims of major economic dislocation. I am open to data proving same, and I don’t oppose a fence to control the future.

But most of the 11-20 million are here because most American citizens had no real objection until we feared the next 9/11. But of course, the first Mohammed Atta came in legally and the next could come in via Canada or the UK. But I do think it would be best for the GOP and America to accept our immediate actual neighbors as such, and celebrate their pursuits of happiness everywhere but in voting booths, for at least 20 years.

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