People in the immigration reform movement please listen up and follow the lead of California Assemblyman Ray Haynes…if you would be so kind.
Side note: By immigration reform movement I am not referring to those who would erase our borders and haphazardly extend faux citizenship to the 15 million illegal aliens who reside in the United States.
Removing the word "illegal" doesn't qualify as reform, ok?
Last month, Assemblyman Haynes (R, 66th Assembly District) introduced ACA 20, the California Border Police Initiative (CBPI). The legislation itself, using the wonderful initiative process we have in California, is innovative and somewhat radical. It reclaims the states' historic role in immigration control.
But it is the Assemblyman's approach to selling the plan that I consider especially worth mentioning.
When I chose to switch to journalism from what I would call active politics—campaigning with or working directly for an elected politician—I knew that immigration reform was a contentious specialty.
Before I delved into the movement and freed myself of immigration ignorance, even I pictured reform advocates as beer-guzzling, rifle-brandishing Rednecks…
Men (and, dreadfully, women) who spent the majority of their time perched on the tailgates of their Ford F250's—clad in camouflage garb and night vision goggles left over from 'Nam—all hoping to capture a few border-creeping Mexicans.
You know, like the thrill of catching illegal aliens is a weekend hobby. Some people like to go to the drive-in and some people like to play Border Patrol dress-up down in Tucson…different strokes; or something to that effect.
Admittedly, there is a smattering of these folk. But, by and large, most reform advocates look more like the genteel Sunday school teacher or the Pop from the Mom and Pop gas station you would find in any Small Town, USA.
Assemblyman Haynes recognizes this and directs his efforts accordingly.
His California Border Police Initiative is an uncomplicated bill—the language is easily understood by even the most unsophisticated constituent.
The measure, if passed by the requisite two-thirds vote, would amend the state's constitution as follows:"This measure would declare that the influx of foreign nationals into California in violation of United States immigration laws constitutes a state of emergency in the state."
And it proposes a response."The measure would establish the Division of Homeland Security Assistance, Homeland Security Program, also to be known as the California Border Police…assisting the federal government in enforcing the laws of the United States pertaining to immigration within the borders of the state, pursuant to an agreement entered into between the state and the federal government or as otherwise authorized by the federal government."
The measure does not enlarge the already corpulent federal Department of Homeland Security. Instead, it creates an adjunct border law enforcement division much like the California Highway Patrol—administered by the state, not the feds.
A rather simple solution to a convoluted problem that once again the average person can grasp—and will therefore likely support.
Similarly, Assemblyman Haynes counters the media myth of the obtuse Redneck with his undeniable compassion towards those targeted by his initiative—the illegal aliens.
"Talk to anyone and they will tell you that our national borders are out of control…The result is billions of dollars in free government services paid to those who break our laws, a flagrant abuse of those laws, and a system that exploits those who try to enter this country illegally."
But he thoughtfully acknowledges the ethical quandary in which many would-be immigrants find themselves.
"My first observation about the problem is that I understand the motivation of those who want to come to this country. If I lived in abject poverty in a Third World country, I would do whatever it takes, go wherever I had to, and suffer whatever indignity I had to in order to make life better for my family."
Then Assemblyman Haynes underscores a corollary problem about which I rarely hear but which really bothers me personally:
"The biggest sin of the way this country deals with illegal immigration today is that it is a system of exploitation."
Right you are, honorable Mr. Haynes!
For example, look at the recently proposed McKennedy guest-worker plan.
It would assess up to a $2000 "fine" for each illegal immigrant when they come forward to apply for a guest worker visa.
Sidenote: Somehow I think the fine might dissuade them from coming forward at all, but that's just a simple girl's guess.
In any event—yikes!
Senators McCain and Kennedy look upon the illegal alien population and appear to see little but dollar signs. Their legislation is basically an attempt by the government class to exploit the poor.
(Sidenote: among other things. Rosemary Jenks of NumbersUSA emailed me this comment:
"To say that Senators McKennedy are doing the bidding of the cheap labor lobby is to let Congress and the White House off the hook too easily. President Bush and the majority in Congress are willing to sacrifice the lives of the illegal aliens who die each year during the trek north, and the livelihoods of Americans, all so they can leverage more campaign contributions or more votes.")
Finally, what I liked best about Mr. Haynes's op-ed, and indeed his general approach, is the patently sincere nature of his demeanor.
Most op-eds submitted by elected officials are actually composed by staffers who are well-trained in the art of spin—putting tutus on pigs as I like to say. But, unless I am mistaken, this editorial was a personal message from Assemblyman Haynes.
Many politicians and activist groups have tried to address the problem of illegal immigration…to no avail.
A sad truth of politics: The messenger is usually more important than the message.
Assemblyman Haynes has proposed a workable solution to an intractable problem.
But I think it is his posture that will give its passage more than a fighting chance.
To qualify for the 2006 ballot, the measure will need roughly 600,000 valid signatures.
The CBPI is supported by Rescue America, the organization responsible for gathering more than 1.4 million signatures for the Davis recall in 2003.
For more info contact: California Border Police. (They don't link to VDARE.COM, but hey, we're tolerant.)
Bryanna Bevens [email her] is a political consultant and former chief of staff for a member of the California State Assembly.