Friday, December 17, 2004

Bush Considering Amnesty

I have recently learned that George W. Bush is currently planning to try to reintroduce an amnesty bill to Congress. This gets my mind whirring.

My first thought is, what the heck is Bush? Is he a Conservative, or a Liberal? He certainly isn't scoring any points with his conservative base by trying to do this. They'd probably like to kick out even the legal immigrants, if they could. He certainly won't win any liberal bleeding hearts by trying to do this, though he may confuse them for a bit. Perhaps it's that he has no political needs now. He's in his second term, and it really doesn't matter what he does. He doesn't get to be president again. Perhaps he has another reason.

Here's one possibility. Border Republicans tend to see the immigration issue differently from other Republicans, so far as I can tell. Interior Businessman Republicans probably don't care much one way or the other about the issue, so for Interior Republicans, it's probably the National Purity folks who control immigration issues. However, on the border, immigrants are often a significant economic resource. In addition, influence from more recent citizens may be felt in the Republican party of that state, meaning Nationalism is weaker there. Perhaps this is why Bush is doing this. He's trying to secure cheap labor for his original supporters back in Texas.

But there's another possibility. Perhaps he is actually being principled, now that he no longer has to be a politician.

Illegal immigration is an issue I have always been concerned about. Personally, were it up to me, immigration would be restricted only by the rate people could be checked in at immigration and customs ports. (Along with this, people who crossed anywhere but a legitimate port of entry would be treated as a foreign invader, and could even be shot on sight by military personnel posted along our borders, rather than in foreign countries.) The acquisition of citizenship is another matter, but I believe that if someone wants to live and work here, he should be entitled to do so. This country was built by immigrants, has a history as being held up as a beacon for the oppressed masses of other countries, and has long reaped significant economic benefits from a steady stream of new people. Natives tend to get fat and lazy; it's immigrants that come to work hard, and they probably value our freedom more than the natives do.

It's a hard life for an illegal immigrant. They have access to jobs only when someone is willing to risk it, they have to find ways to slip through the cracks where driver licensing is concerned, they are generally exploited as cheap labor and have nobody to turn to. They have no access to the protection of the law, because any contact with law enforcement may result in deportation. So why do they come? Why do they stay?

Because staying here illegally is often better than staying somewhere legally, especially if you desire what we call the "American Dream." I know a man who was born in a rather nasty, violent country, who went to Europe as a refugee. He was naturalized, became a citizen of said European country. Then he came here illegally. Why?

He wanted to own a business, his very own business. He wanted something he could share with his sons, a way to support his family, he wanted the pride of ownership, of being able to say, "Look at me. I have succeeded where others have failed. I am my own boss. I am a free man." In the country where his presence was legal, due to harsh government controls on business and property ownership, he could not do this. Oh, he and his family did well enough. They had a place to sleep, food to eat, decent education for their children, and his wife could stay home and take care of the children. They had access to some kind of medical care. For most of us, this would be enough. Many of my readers would probably say he was crazy to turn in that life for the one he chose, life as a fugitive from immigration law. But for him, and for many in this country, it isn't enough to have material comforts. Those things don't make one free, they merely make one a well treated slave.

So he came here, and you know what? He succeeded. He had a better chance of living his dreams here as a fugitive from immigration law than back in Europe as a citizen. Mind you, it took years of struggle and privation. His family went for some time without enough to eat, but in the end, he was supporting them well, with the work of his own hands, as a small business owner. Most Americans today probably don't understand what the big deal is; this is why I favor free immigration. This man is, in many ways, far more "American" than most people who are born in this country! He desired freedom, he acquired freedom, and we condemn him for this!

Perhaps Bush is looking at the people—these decent, hardworking people, and realizes, deep in his Compassionate Conservative heart, that it is unjust that people who have made a life here should be persecuted for it. After all, the Feds simply haven't been doing their job; how else could these people have come here so easily? How is it they remain without being caught, without even being investigated? We pass tough immigration laws, then fail to enforce them, and continue to be the best place in the world to live for those who desire freedom; can we blame them for coming here, when their home country probably persecuted them for that desire? Don't tell me about not "respecting the law." Laws exist to serve the cause of justice, and since this situation is unjust, the laws ought to be changed, and the victims of the unjust law granted relief.

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