Victor Davis Hanson On Deportation In NRO—He`s Against It. What Would The Spartans Think?
January 08, 2008, 03:09 AM
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Here is a serious article about immigration reform on the other side of the issue, by Victor Davis Hanson in National Review Online. At first, I thought I would write a scathing reply. However, Victor Davis Hanson has some sensible things to say below.
'It is easy for the Republican candidates to claim they are against amnesty, and, indeed, we all should be, given how the 1986 act only made the problem much worse.'[The Deportation Albatross?, NRO, January 7, 2008 ]
Indeed. However, VDH then asks a reasonable question
"And perhaps we can even come up with a general sense that those who just arrived here a year or two ago, or even three or four years ago, should be sent back home. But what about those who have been here for several years, have been gainfully employed, never been on public assistance and are free of criminal records? What are we to do with these?"
And
"Rounding up several million (8-9 perhaps of the 11-15 here) won't be easy."
Actually, you don't need to. Take away the jobs and public services and they will mostly return home on their home. However, the US removed 1-2 million illegals back in the early 1950s under President Eisenhower. Only 1,075 federal agents were required. That doesn't make mass deportation the right strategy. But logistics shouldn't be the issue.
" I can just imagine some 60-year-olds in my home town, still at work in landscaping after 40 years, who have never been arrested, own homes, and haven't a clue what Oaxaca looks like after 40 years, suddenly put on a bus back there."
How about giving them Social Security benefits for their 40 years of labor and letting them return to Mexico? My guess is that a great many would regard this as a blessing. Social Security goes a lot further in Oaxaca that in California. Indeed, when I was a kid it was common to hear of Polish steel workers who retired back in Poland with the encouragement of their government (still under communism at the time). It was quite legal and the US SSA sent their checks to Poland.
"It is fine and good to talk of "attrition" by slowly and incrementally rounding up illegal aliens as they come in contact with government agencies and need various licenses, papers, statements, etc., but you are still talking about deporting millions, who are currently working and crime-free, rather promptly."
Wow. VDH is showing remarkable confidence in the ability of the US government to conscientiously enforce laws that have been ignored for decades. Humor aside, the "attrition" strategy is mainly based on employer sanctions, not people being picked by the government and then deported.

The larger point is that if Amnesty was only meant for illegals who could show that they had lived honestly in the US for decades, it wouldn't be controversial. The problem is that people like McCain pretend they only support Amnesty for people who have been hear 20 years, and then write legislation giving Amnesty to someone who has been here for 20 minutes

"The odd thing is that should illegal immigration cease at the border, the pool of illegals here, properly screened, would become static, and not be replenished, and, if the past is any guide, within a generation melt into the American pot."
The problem is that illegals don't just walk over the border in Arizona. They drive and fly over the border as well. Some use false documents to enter the US via a legal border crossing station. Other enter the US legally and just don't leave. It is estimated that 40-50% of the illegal population entered the US legally. If the US gives Amnesty to any substantial fraction of the current illegals, the next wave of illegals will enter promptly.

However, even if the US was going to adopt an intense border control (only) strategy, it still would not make sense to "legalize" the illegals already here. First, because it would constitute a massive reward that would only attract more illegals. Second, because legalization would then enable to import tens of millions of family members with comparably serious social problems and of course, make even more use of public services. Ignoring the illegal population and letting fade away over a period of decades would make considerably more sense than giving them legal status.

"So it seems that while "amnesty" is a political death sentence, so is mass deportation-the only element of the immigration debate that would play into the hands of the Democrats who otherwise lose big on the issue."
This is correct. Even in Ohio only 52% of voters supported mass deportation. The CIS (Center for Immigration Studies) polling data points in the same direction. There is no national commitment to mass deportation. The polling data shows strong opposition to illegal immigration and a general desire for the illegals to go home, but only moderate support for deportation. This is why most of the key immigration reform groups support "enforcement via attrition".