To countless Americans, the difference between legal and illegal immigration is self-evident and meaningful. But is that really what distinguishes the immigrants we want from those we don't — that the former enter the country lawfully, while the latter break the rules to get here? Are immigrants like my father and son inherently desirable merely because a lot of exasperating bureaucratic requirements were met before they came? Are the 11 million illegal immigrants living within our borders (and the several hundred thousand added to their number each year) unwelcome and problematic only because they got in the wrong way?
A foreigner who enters the United States without first running the immigration-law gantlet is not congenitally unfit to be a good American any more than someone who operates an automobile without a license is congenitally unfit to drive. Our immigration laws are maddening and Byzantine. They are heavily skewed in favor of people with family ties to US citizens — nearly two-thirds of all legal immigrants qualify to enter the United States because they are the relatives of someone already here, and even then it can take 10 or 15 years to qualify for legal residence. If you were designing an immigration system that would admit people on the basis of whether they seemed likely to become good Americans — patriotic, hard working, law-abiding, English-speaking — this is hardly the system you would devise.
Monday, June 11, 2007
Cox and Forkum points here to "a must-read article on immigration from Jewish World Review: The real cause of the immigration crisis by Jeff Jacoby. (via TIA Daily)":
Posted by John Lamb at 6/11/2007 06:34:00 AM