DREAM ACT; Disagreeing with Ed

Over at Hot Air, Ed Morrissey is looking at the failure of the DREAM act cloture vote and noting that six Democrats and two Republicans crossed the aisle to vote against their parties. Ed writes:

It’s yet another miscalculation by Reid in a rapidly-closing window of opportunity. If he didn’t have six of his own caucus in hand, why press the matter at all? Reid raised expectations and then dashed them, a bad strategy in politics.

I have enormous respect for Ed, who I regard as my Blogfather, but this is one time I am in rare disagreement*. I believe Reid pressed the matter and raised expectations in order to get precisely the headlines we’re reading: Republicans Block Immigration Vote.

That was no miscalculation. That was a strategic move in order to secure the not-yet-completely secure Hispanic vote for the Democrats in 2012. Remember, in election years, suddenly there are parades and marches and A.N.S.W.E.R and La Raza supplied Mexican fans all over the place; it is a deliberate piece of theater meant to send the right into a frenzy.

In non-election years, these demonstrations do not occur. But when they do, the right goes gets predictably worked up, like Pavlovian dogs responding to a bell; the “ship ‘em all back” rhetoric begins, the charges of “racism” are flung back at them and so it goes, just in time for the elections. The right play into the hands of the leftist provocateurs, every time.

No, in 2012, they can hiss about the cloture vote and the archived headlines will bear out their narrative: Republicans block immigration reform.

Reid didn’t need the cloture vote and probably didn’t want the vote. He needed and sought that headline. People won’t look at 6 Democrats not voting for it; they won’t remember it.

They’ll simply remember the headline.

Now, whether or not Reid is right in assuming that the headline is as damaging as he believes it will be, that’s another story. But in terms of this move, this year? I think Reid was playing chess. Lose a pawn now, to keep a King, later.

I’m betting Bookworm is thinking along the same lines.

Here’s the AP headline on the DREAM Act’s failure: “Republicans block youth immigration bill.”

Let me just mention here that quite a few Democrats voted against the bill too:

On the Democrat side, Sens. Jon Tester of Montana, Max Baucus of Montana, Ben Nelson of Nebraska, Mark Pyror of Arkansas, and Kay Hagan of North Carolina voted against the bill [also Sen Joe Manchin (D-WV)].

Apparently those Democrat “nay” votes made no difference in the AP calculus.

Well, no, of course not. Nor in Reid’s calculations, either.

But…in this last weekend of Advent, “be not afraid.” Let’s take a lesson from this terrific homily and remember that we’re not as in control of all things as we believe we are.

*Fully cognizant of the fact that my grandparents “legal immigration” to the United States involved crossing the ocean and then a couple of hours of processing through Ellis Island (and had immigration structures not been in place, they’d have come anyway) I support a comprehensive immigration reform bill and a complete overhaul of the Immigration & Nationalization system which would include creating a kind of “Ellis Station, West,” and another “Ellis Station, North” in our border states. Our immigration system is currently broken and disordered; people should not be permitted to simply stroll into America, but they shouldn’t have to jump through ten-year hoops of bureaucracy, either, and those who have lived peaceful, productive lives here, worked hard and raised children while America spent 30+ years not seeming not to care about their status should be offered a way to make things right. New situations demand new, thoughtful policies with reasonable implementation. “Send them all back,” is a sentiment, not a solution, and an unrealistic policy that will never be implemented. While the right insists upon it and the left remains content to do nothing at all, justice eludes all of us. America should be able to come up with something better than those two extremes.

I know this makes me exceedingly unpopular to many conservatives and a “RINO” to some (I am not actually a Republican, btw), but here I stand; I can do no other.

I never have been good at obeying party lines…

About Elizabeth Scalia
  • lethargic

    Speaking as an American with 400-year roots in this country and with two foreign brothers-in-law, one of whom just was sworn as a naturalized American citizen last month (hurray for Ed!) and one of whom has no interest in citizenship though he lives and works here … I agree that the “legalization” process is heinous and in all justice must be made sane. But I think your comment “Lose a pawn now, to keep a King, later” would be better as “lose a pawn now to keep a bishop later.” I am saddened that our bishops fail to speak out about making the currently-heinous legalization process sane; they can only advocate spending other peoples’ money in the name of good … sounds familiar, eh? Sigh ….

    [Our bishops support both a reformation of the immigration system and a comprehensive solution to the immigration situation. They were actually pretty vocal about it, recently. I'm actually surprised the press didn't give that more coverage. Congrats to your BIL -admin]

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  • http://www.gardenofholiness.blogspot.com andychrism

    As a country we have the welcome mat out in the form of available jobs, relative ease of obtaining black market documents, and a system built on the promise of upward mobility. “Come on over,” we beckon with one hand while withholding the legitimate means of doing so with the other. This puts our businesses at the distinct advantage of being able to employ a disposable class of workers who have few legal rights. It’s cheap and it works. It is so very wrong. For our own moral good, we must change our immigration laws to make the supply of workers legally capable to meet the demand for them. We need these workers as much as they need our jobs. Entire American industries are built upon their cheap and available labor.

    Thank you for calling this. But brace yourself for the namecalling. It seems the status quo is benefiting both the Left and the Right somehow. One side calls those of us wanting reforms a racist, the other side a leftist.

    [Oh, I've already had my first, foul-mouthed, name-calling harangue. It's very sad that we're not allowed to disagree with each other, or express differing, credible opinions without having death wished upon us and so forth. "You shut up, you fatso" is actually pretty amusing to me, though. It sounds like Dom Deluise, talking to himself, in "The End."-admin]

  • kt

    Your ancestors would not have even been permitted to get on the boat to go through Ellis Island if they didn’t have the proper documentation from their home country, and this took some doing. Sick ones who made it to Ellis Island would have been sent back — and if you were 12 years old or over you would be sent back alone. Processing at Ellis Island took a few days, not a “couple of hours”. I’m not sure where you’re getting your information.

  • Justin

    8 Catholic senators voted against the DREAM Act. That’s really disappointing.

  • Mandy P.

    This is one area where we will have to agree to disagree. Look, I feel terrible for the children of illegals. They did nothing wrong of their own volition. The problem is that this particular bill was very poorly drafted if the sole intention was to provide some fairness and opportunity for oar children. Senator Jeff Sessions provided a list of the top ten reasons this bill was problematic, which can be found here: link

    If we’re serious about helping the children, then the bill must be crafted to specifically do so. In the mean time, it’s imperative that we stop the flow of illegals into this country. The easiest way to do that would be to impose stiff penalties on businesses that intentionally hire illegal immigrants. Business collusion with the underground population is detrimental to legal citizens in that it drives wages and benefits down via lack of the need to compete for the labor of American citizens.

    It also irks me to no end that we’ve allowed ourselves to be convinced that the labor provided by illegals is somehow beneath ordinary Americans. The problem is not that Americans will not do the jobs that illegals provide. It is that there are many industries that look to illegal labor in order to continue paying what amounts to slave wages. Look at the thousands who line up for jobs every time any farm or factory that has been raided and forced to start hiring legal
    residents at reasonable wages.

    So, businesses are a big part of the problem.

    I’d also like to add that, as a relative-by-marriage of a legal Mexican immigrant who spent ten years going through the legal means to acquire her citizenship, it is a slap in the the face to those who bothered to do it the right way to award citizenship to anyone who has violated our laws in coming here. I won’t argue that the system itself doesn’t need to be reconsidered and reconfigured. But as it stands, while it may not be easy, there is a legal means to enter this country and we should not be in the business of rewarding people for flouting our laws. If that means we have to implement some kind of touch-back system or heavy fines/penalties/back taxes, etc for those illegal immigrants who can pass a background check and have proven themselves to be productive to our society, then so be it. I’m perfectly fine with that, so long as we’re weeding out those who are criminal and those who are not capable of being productive. Unfortunately, the DREAM act didn’t even come close.

  • Mandy P.

    I’d like to clarify that part of the reason imposing stiff penalties on businesses hiring illegals is a big part of the solution is that it will encourage natural attrition. If you eliminate a major reason for coming here (turn off the job faucet) it will deter people from coming here to work. And those who cannot find underground jobs have significantly less incentive to stay.

    I dunno if that was clear in my first post.

  • jeff

    Wait a sec, is it catholic teaching that i must support amnesty for illegal immigrants? That would be news to me. Is mexico and every other country on earth violating catholic teaching with their harsh anti-illegal immigration laws?

  • Mandy

    A little off subject,but is there something wrong with your website. The page looks distorted. If not then it is my computer.

  • Justin


    Actually, yes. If you looked into, you would find that Bishops in Mexico and other Latin American countries with inhumane immigration laws are critical of their country’s policies for being incompatible with Catholic Teaching.

    I suppose your point has something to do with the fact that human rights are generally more likely to get trampled in poorer countries.

  • LoneStarJeffe

    Well, the Democrats had a super-majority and could have passed this one anytime in the last two years. While they can certainly tout the headline that Republicans blocked passage, I think that can easily be countered by reminding they choose to do nothing when they could have easily passed it. This headline will encourage the masses that already would vote Democrat no matter what but will do little to change opinions of those who are undecided.

  • SCSoxFan

    Ms. Scalia, I would be very interested in hearing what your criteria for amnesty would be, and whether it would include citizenship.

    All I could conceivably support would be a very narrow legalization that would be limited to those who have had stable, continuous employment for longer period of time (say, in excess of ten years) and have children born in the United States. I would also limited the legalization to permanent residency status, NOT citizenship. Whether the U.S. failed its duty to secure its borders is, to me, not relevant. Illegal immigrants, in my opinion, forfeited any right to citizenship when then entered and stayed in this country illegally. I could not look in the eye those who followed the law and worked for citizenship following the rules if it were otherwise.

    I would also support a law clarifying that the 14th Amendment excludes automatic citizenship from children born to non-legal residents. That is not racism, it is the rule of law — something that the USCCB and supporters of a near-universal amnesty want to ignore.

  • Paul

    I’d like to see reform that doesn’t favor one nationality. Have everything documented and legal with a secure border. We could use more of the wonderful Catholics from the Philippines (for example).

  • http://zachriel.blogspot.com/2005/07/liberal-v-conservative.html Zachriel

    SCSoxFan: I would also support a law clarifying that the 14th Amendment excludes automatic citizenship from children born to non-legal residents.

    Fourteenth Amendment: All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside.

  • http://burketokirk.blogspot.com Tertium Quid

    I agree with one of the commentators above that illegal immigration could be stifled if we would prosecute employers who hire them. Whatever enforcement actions are discussed, no president is going to implement a “trail of tears” for ten million Mexicans. It’s not going to happen, so some form of amnesty needs to be offered, or else we are going to be taken care of in our old age by illegal immigrants who don’t pay taxes. We are not enforcing our laws, and we need to have the honesty to get rid of laws we have no intention of enforcing.

  • dry valleys

    I’ve never supported open borders, have in fact advocated reduced immigration.

    History shows economic migrants, such as Pakistanis, Bangladeshis & Afro-Caribbeans in Britain, who I don’t think have made a great contribution. We should not have gone out of our way to bring them in, nor should America simply have open season for Mexicans. Because they don’t just have jobs & no life outside work, in great numbers they change the face of society, often for the worse. I myself would not care to live in an enclave of Asians, Mexicans, etc. where assimilation is slowed down because there’s no actual need for them to speak English
    or mix with people who are not exactly like themselves.

    It also adds to pressure within the community for people to act in a certain way (often found amongst people from the Indian subcontinent, especially Muslims but not exclusively) which I don’t think helps the individuals concerned.

    You don’t need to outright hate everyone to be opposed to an immigration free for all. Where I do think intelligent thought is called for is in the treatment of asylum seekers. Both those who are for & those against seem to assume that any asylum seeker is a sort of permanent charity case (in Britain they are actually forbidden to work while their claims are being dealt with, in Australia they don’t even live amongst the country they aspire to be a part of) whereas this is not true.

    A number of asylum seekers are qualified, professional people. The vast majority of them had jobs at home, I think many could thrive here if the conditions are right. I know one daughter of a wealthy Iranian family who is reduced to living on welfare in a very grim part of the city inhabited mainly by Pakistanis. I could go on, but won’t. I just find the “debate” very unsatisfactory on that point, though the situation might be better in America.

    If they are saying “illegal is illegal”, surely it isn’t if you change the laws. Legislation that was made in the past is not some kind of immutable, unanswerable thing (as I say with regards to loopholes that make tax avoidance legal).

    Although it’s worth noting that especially in the case of Somalians, who I know are quite widely found in the USA, simply being an opponent of a given regime, persecuted by it, doesn’t automatically make someone a liberal democrat. It could just mean that they are of another faction, which is equally bad. So you have to look at whether you’re admitting people who are objectionable.

    The final complication is that immigration officials are not some kind of disinterested, benevolent judges making wise decisions, they have more than enough problems of their own, most notably that a lot of them hate the people they deal with.

    I am not pro-immigration, I would have far fewer than have been arriving since 1945, the question is who makes the cut. It is perfectly right to worry about doing this properly. (Though I sometimes think it may be too late, especially in the case of the Mexican border).

  • SCSoxFan

    Zachrie #10 — the 14th Amendment was enacted to prevent states of the old Confederacy from enacting state laws restricting the citizenship rights of freed blacks, and to reverse the Dred Scott decision, which held that blacks who had been slaves could not be citizens.

    Extension of birthright citizenship to non-legal residents was unintended by Congress at the time and is the result of judicial decisions made in the late 19th century (which, ironically, addressed the issue of citizenship of the children of LEGAL foreign residents) and expanded in the late 20th century.

    A clarifying law making clear the original intent of the 14th Amendment is needed and should be part of any overhaul of immigration in this country.

  • http://zachriel.blogspot.com/2005/07/liberal-v-conservative.html Zachriel

    SCSoxFan: the 14th Amendment was enacted to prevent states of the old Confederacy from enacting state laws restricting the citizenship rights of freed blacks, and to reverse the Dred Scott decision, which held that blacks who had been slaves could not be citizens.

    Oddly enough, the South instituted Jim Crow and denied civil rights for generations. In any case, the language is clear. Anyone born in the U.S., under its jurisdiction, is a U.S. citizen. Immigrants, undocumented or otherwise, are subject to the jurisdiction of the U.S.

    SCSoxFan: Extension of birthright citizenship to non-legal residents was unintended by Congress at the time and is the result of judicial decisions made in the late 19th century (which, ironically, addressed the issue of citizenship of the children of LEGAL foreign residents) and expanded in the late 20th century.

    The U.S. had open immigration until the racist Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882. Hence, the expectation at the time of enactment was that the children of immigrants would be citizens.

    SCSoxFan: A clarifying law making clear the original intent of the 14th Amendment is needed and should be part of any overhaul of immigration in this country.

    A ‘clarifying law’ would be unconstitutional.

    It’s hard to believe that you are advocating undoing a principle freedom of the Fourteenth Amendment which was won at such a great cost to the nation.

  • Rhinestone Suderman

    One thing which hasn’t been mentioned here is the sad fact that Mexico, as a nation, is imploding; it’s one thing for our country to take in immigrants, but are we really capable of saving an entire nation, and culture? It sounds as if it’s the drug cartels that run Mexico now, not its government. That being the case, yes, many Mexicans want to flee here, but that’s only a temporary solution for them, not a long term one; and can we really tolerate a rogue state, right next door? The violence is starting to spread into the U.S. itself.

    Individuals are not always in control. However, citizens do have the right to demand their government try to control some things. That’s what governments are there for.

    Added to that, is the fact that current thinking allows too many South of the border immigrants to stay in their own little enclaves, not learning our language, or becoming full fledged citizens, which is a recipe for disaster. (Valleys, when it comes to immigration, I agree with you, 100%!)

    This a big problem, and neither the Democrats, nor the Republicans, are facing it.

  • waltj

    Proposed 28th Amendment to the Constitution:

    All persons born in the United States to a mother who is at the time of the birth illegally in the United States retain the citizenship of the mother.

    Constitutionality problem solved.

  • SCSoxFan

    Zachriel, you are mistaken regarding both the intent of the 14th Amendment — it was not meant to be universal — and on whether a clarifying law would automatically assumed to be unconstitutional. I’ve pulled some quotes from some long articles on both subjects in order to try and summarize this as best I can.

    BEGIN QUOTES: During the original debate over the amendment Senator Jacob M. Howard of Michigan, the author of the Citizenship Clause, clearly spelled out the intent of the 14th Amendment by stating: “Every person born within the limits of the United States, and subject to their jurisdiction, is by virtue of natural law and national law a citizen of the United States. This will not, of course, include persons born in the United States who are foreigners, aliens, who belong to the families of ambassadors or foreign ministers accredited to the Government of the United States, but will include every other class of persons. It settles the great question of citizenship and removes all doubt as to what persons are or are not citizens of the United States. This has long been a great desideratum in the jurisprudence and legislation of this country.”

    This understanding was reaffirmed by Senator Edward Cowan, who stated: “[A foreigner in the United States] has a right to the protection of the laws; but he is not a citizen in the ordinary acceptance of the word…” This was also the understanding of many other Senators who supported the Amendment.

    The phrase “subject to the jurisdiction thereof” was intended to exclude American-born persons from automatic citizenship whose allegiance to the United States was not complete. With illegal aliens who are unlawfully in the United States, their native country has a claim of allegiance on the child. Thus, the completeness of their allegiance to the United States is impaired, which therefore precludes automatic citizenship. The correct interpretation of the 14th Amendment is that an illegal alien mother is subject to the jurisdiction of her native country, as is her baby.

    Over a century ago, the Supreme Court appropriately confirmed this restricted interpretation of citizenship in the so-called “Slaughter-House cases” [83 US 36 (1873) and 112 US 94 (1884)]. In the 1884 Elk v. Wilkins case, the phrase “subject to its jurisdiction” was interpreted to exclude the “children of ministers, consuls, and citizens of foreign states born within the United States.” In Elk, the American Indian claimant was considered not an American citizen because the law required him to be “not merely subject in some respect or degree to the jurisdiction of the United States, but completely subject to their political jurisdiction and owing them direct and immediate allegiance.”

    The Court essentially stated that the status of the parents determines the citizenship of the child. To qualify children for birthright citizenship, based on the 14th Amendment, parents must owe “direct and immediate allegiance” to the U.S. and be “completely subject” to its jurisdiction. In other words, they must be United States citizens. END QUOTES

    It’s clear that the original scope of the 14th Amendment has been expanded by the courts. Such an expansion can be undone by Congress and would not be unconstituional. BEGIN QUOTE (T)he Congress has the power to reverse the with Supreme Court’s interpretations of laws it passes by amending or re-enacting the legislation to clarify its original intent and overrule a Court decision.

    The Supreme Court often insists that Congress cannot really “overrule” its decisions on what a law means: The justices’ interpretation has to be correct since the Constitution gives final say to the highest court in the land. But Congress certainly has the power to pass a new or revised law that “changes” or “reverses” the meaning or scope of the law as interpreted by the Court, and the legislative history of the new law usually states that it was intended to “overrule” a specific Court decision. END QUOTES.

    There is debate as to whether clarifying the 14th Amendment as I propose is possible without another constitutional amendment. But, it has happened before, ironically enough, in a situation involving the 14th Amendment. In the 1884 case mentioned above, Elk v. Wilkins, the citizenship clause’s meaning was tested specifically on whether birth in the United States automatically extended national citizenship. The Supreme Court held that Native Americans who voluntarily quit their tribes did not automatically gain citizenship. In response, Congress passed a special act, the Citizens Act of 1924, to grant full citizenship to all Native American, who the Supreme Court had ruled were not citizens even through they were born within the borders of the United States.

  • Mandy

    Most people react to illegal aliens by what goes on around them despite the opinion of Catholic Bishops. I have been reading my hometown paper for years. The small northeastern PA city has literally been overrun by illegal aliens primarily from Mexico and the Dominican Republic. The daily crime reports reflect most of the crimes are committed by these people (and not angry Methodists) and these crimes are becoming more violent as they are drug related. As I cannot convince my 90-year-old mother to leave I live in fear she will one day be a victim of these folks. Mexico is imploding and we will see much more of this because the Congress will not act.

  • dry valleys

    Yes, I don’t think it’s a matter of left or right-wing. As a leftist, I don’t exactly relish the thought of illiterate Bangladeshi women, not speaking English, being barely any better than prisoners. It would be better for all concerned if they, or their daughters, had jobs. A lot of immigrants live in very deprived areas where neither they nor whites have easy access to well-paid jobs, which fuels the fires of racial tension still further (I certainly depart from most people here on what causes that poverty or how to solve it, but that’s for another day).

    If anyone calls me racist, I just say that I want people of any race to be able to make their own lives rather than being beholden to do what others demand of them, which makes me anti-racist. You can argue about how to bring that about, whether a given approach would actually do more harm than good, but the principle is sound.

  • Milwaukee

    The 14th amendment has that bit about “and subject to the jurisdiction there of”. If an illegal immigrant, say from Mexico, had a baby in this country, and committed a crime, she could flee to back Mexico, and demand help from Mexico. She is not an American citizen, and neither is her child. Granting citizenship to the baby, and amnesty to the children of illegal immigrants encourages reckless and illegal behavior by the parents. I do believe that constitutes a moral hazard, and we should not encourage it.

  • Mr. Graves

    “That was a strategic move in order to secure the not-yet-completely secure Hispanic vote for the Democrats in 2012.”

    With the exception of Cubans, is there any evidence that Hispanic immigrants have ever voted for conservative candidates? It’s always been my impression — and this after working in Phoenix — that illegal aliens demonstrate from their first act upon entering the U.S. a distinctive America-as-candy-store attitude. If it were the Republicans who opened their arms to amnesty these folks, they’d still run to the redistribution-happy Democrats at breakneck speed, IMO.

    Bishops: Does anyone else find it off that the bishops who plead convincingly for moral immigration reform aren’t nearly as fervent or vocal about opposing abortion, homosexual unions, or euthanasia? It’s cynical, but I’ve always thought their real purpose was to put butts in the pews, the same way dems hope to put voters in the polling place. The immigrants themselves are noting more than pawns to either group — but again, just MHO.

    I’ll believe the bishops are sincere about helping immigrants when they begin to address the (im)moral aspects of coming to and remaining illegally in a country (incl. illegal entry, ongoing identity theft, property crimes, etc.) without a sufficiently grave reason. Other authors in the blogosphere have poo-pooed the idea that these acts qualify as sin, or if they do support that, they say they’re venial sins at best. Some say illegal immigration is a failure to fill out forms — again, reducing any culpability on the individual’s part. Bah.

    When the bishops get past the idea that every illegal alien is a canonized saint merely in need of documentation papers, then I think we’ll all be willing to sit down and have a serious discussion. Otherwise, there will continue to be a split within the Church on this issue — which, BTW, is *not* cut and dried like abortion, euthanasia, etc. The Pope himself, in a recent statement, reiterated the right of a nation to police its own borders.

  • denise

    I have often wanted to submit a comment on your support of essentially amnesty for illegals and the Dream Act. First let me say I read your blog everyday and find much to provoke thought and food for faith. But I also often find you a bit sanctimonious, especially about illegal immigration and in the past about how we should pray for Obama that he would grow into office. How’s that working out! When I study Obama, I see a man without a moral center, who will lie about who he is and what he believes to get elected or get legislation passed. I have watched him shrink, not grow in office and everyday I pray for God to protect his country from him and his ilk.

    That said on to illegal immigration. My husband has a small, rural Dental practice in Illinois. Most practices have been hard hit by the recession, and quite a few of his patients are either farmers or in the construction business. Our income is down at least a third in the last several years. And guess who is least likely to pay their balances… his Hispanic patients. As a proportion of patients in the practice, they are least likely to pay. They owe us literally thousands of dollars, some may be illegals, some not, but he treated them and their children in good faith when they needed it. I guess we shouldn’t be upset, because hey, other than being illegal, they’re good, hardworking people, right? (and who comes up with that chestnut anyway, that other then breaking one law, they’re totally law abiding?) And yes, my husband does do charity work and gives discounts to those struggling, but it’s voluntary on his part.

    I believe that just as you can see a pattern of sin, there can also be a pattern of illegality, break the law once, why not again?

    You can continue to be self-congratulatory on not being a “joiner”, on seeing things more clearly and compassionately then some of us, but all I know is that our financial circumstances have caused us to severely limit our charitable giving, and some of that can be attributed to those those who just don’t pay their bills and can’t be found. I guess that’s “trickle up” economics.

    I’m not at all sad to see the dream act fail, it was poorly conceived and seemed to have enormous loopholes.

    [Thanks for your comment, Denise. Just for the record, I don't feel at all sanctimonious about not being a "joiner." If you are a regular reader, you know that I consider myself to be a social misfit and being unable to "join" much is simply a part of that. I do pray for the president, that he will grow into the office, and that's not sanctimony, either. It's an admission that we need help and all of us, even the president, need salvation. Re the DREAM act, I admit it was a flawed, less-than-perfect attempt at some sort of immigration reform, and I haven't expressed sadness at its failure to pass. I've merely said (and I think I've been consistent on this) that we need some sort of realistic reform that is both humane to people and just to the nation. "Ship them all back," will never work and until some are ready to leave that "solution" behind I am afraid we'll make no headway at all toward a policy that is as just to you and your family as it is to the families that have lived here for decades, while the government essentially messaged that it was okay with their illegal status. Blessed Advent! -admin]

  • Gail F

    I think we need a real, comprehensive, and well-thought-out immigration policy. We don’t have one now and from what I know about the DREAM act it be much improved on. I certainly hope that we do this instead of shouting “close the borders!” and “kick them out!” at each other. This is a much more complex issue than that.

    Anyone who lives near a lot of illegal immigrants knows that it is a huge problem. You have to control the borders AND do something about hte people already here, especially the people born her or brought here as children.

    And not giving citizenship to people born here is a terrible idea. I read recently that Germany does not do this, and has generations of “aliens” who have no rights and no home countries because they and their parents were born in Germany! We have enough problems, we don’t need that one.

    But any immigration policy that does not address the huge mess of Mexico, South American, and Central America is doomed to failure.

  • Milwaukee

    Let’s pretend the Dream Act had passed. Would all of those, presumably mostly Hispanics, then qualify for beneficial treatment under affirmative action laws? Things like set aside contracts for minorities? Or for admissions purposes? Wow. When are innocent people going to stop being forced to pay for the sins of others?

  • David

    I’m not responding to the merits of the case, but to Mrs. Scalia’s argument: “I believe Reid pressed the matter and raised expectations in order to get precisely the headlines we’re reading: Republicans Block Immigration Vote.”

    How would you know that? How do you extrapolate backwards from results to mental states and cogitations?

    I think that gives much too much credit to the skill and intelligence of ANY politician. Never put down to conspiracy what can be explained by incompetence.

    Maybe down the road, Democrats will try to use this against Republicans. Maybe they will, maybe they won’t. Maybe it will work, maybe it won’t. But no one has that much control over events, or that skill in controlling the future.

    Both politicians and pundits ought to contemplate the Zen story of the horse: link (scroll down to “We’ll See”).

  • conservativemama

    My problem with this issue is that once again, what we think of as kind, is really not. By taking in millions of illegal immigrants from south of the border, we in fact subsidize the incompetence of their governments. It’s not different than welfare payments in this country. With that we subsidize generations of people making bad choices. With the bailouts of the last couple of years, we subsidize the bad choices made in Washington and on Wall Street.

    Everywhere I look our good intentions are helping no one really, and they are really hurting all of us who make good choices, who sacrifice time or money when needed, who live an orderly life that we self-finance.

    And I’m just going to say it out loud, I’m really worried about the poverty and ignorance that’s entering our country. No amount of money we spend on our schools can change the fact that teenagers in Mexico and Central America function at a 3rd grade level. Sit them in class next to the immigrant child from any Asian country. It makes no sense. It’s not a nice truth, but it is a truth.

    We cannot be all things to all people. The burden is becoming too great for the average tax-paying American. We are not bad people to question illegal immigration. We have the right to point out ugly realities.

  • skeeter


    While we have touch points of agreement, as always, you may be just far enough away from the carnage wreaked by the illegal alien problem to just not understand that yes, reform is needed, but SEAL THE BORDERS first.

    In Texas, these illegals are destroying our healthcare – trauma centers closing, practices going bankrupt because these folks get free care – and do come over the border for it!! I have a OB-GYN friend in the Valley who maintains that 85% of the babies born in his hospital are illegals-anchors.

    We are seeing diseases that had been eradicated (and my folks came through Ellis Island, and passed the health exams, and had sponsors, and had to be financially self supporting….)

    Private property rights are trampled – these people slaughter ranchers’ cattle and have a BBQ! They trash the areas they travel through.
    Don’t even get me started on the drug cartels!

    And most lethal to the U.S. – the unwillingness to assimilate! There is a tipping point to absorbing immigrants assuming they want citizenship and this way of life. But we see the impact in the EU of enclaves of those who flee their countries, only to bring all that was wrong with them. We cannot absorb all the opportunists!

    These open borders are changing the face of America, and it may already be too late. Let them go back home and get in line, behind those who respect our laws. This amnesty is a slap in the face to those who spend years and thousands of dollars to be here legally.

    [Skeeter, where did I ever say the borders shouldn't be sealed? - admin]

  • http://zachriel.blogspot.com/2005/07/liberal-v-conservative.html Zachriel

    SCSoxFan: I’ve pulled some quotes from some long articles on both subjects in order to try and summarize this as best I can.

    Links would work better than long quotes. Most of your sources are either not supportive of your case, or obvious echos through the right-wing blogosphere.

    In any case, the language is quite clear. It did not apply to foreign diplomats or Native Americans living under tribal rule. It does apply to immigrants, as they are under U.S. jurisdiction.

    : The 14th amendment has that bit about “and subject to the jurisdiction there of”. If an illegal immigrant, say from Mexico, had a baby in this country, and committed a crime, she could flee to back Mexico, and demand help from Mexico.

    An immigrant in the U.S. is under the jurisdiction of the U.S. To argue otherwise means they can’t be prosecuted for their crimes.

  • Jane A.

    I believe I know where Denise is coming from, at least on this issue. I discovered The Anchoress blog a few years ago and was thrilled to have come across a woman I thought I could relate to and I really appreciated the way you made me stop and ponder. But then the amnesty bill came along and you revealed a side I would not have guessed. You seemed so quick to presume nastiness on the part of those opposed to that travesty. I know my heart and having spent some years on the border of Mexico, I know a thing or two about the situation there. Not willing to subject myself to scoldings I knew to be undeserved, we parted ways, though of course you knew nothing of it.

    When I came upon you not too long ago here at First Things I thought I should give you another shot. Once again, I have found so much to appreciate and yet, once again…big sigh…here we are. Let me say that I believe you to be a good and Godly woman. I also believe you are mistaken. Very mistaken. And ‘here I stand; I can do no other’? That sounds an awful lot like intransigence; as though having made up your mind years ago, you have no wish to hear anything that might change it.

    Indeed, you set up a false dichotomy and then self-righteously shoot it down. This is a complicated and complex issue and there isn’t going to be one solution to take care of everything. Fortunately, there are plenty of serious people treating this matter as grownups and offering real solutions. Unfortunately, they are not given their due either by the media or the sanctimonious politicians—including our President—and too many others who puff out their chests and proclaim bigotry rather than seek understanding of the issues involved. And this is necessary before we can get to the solutions you claim to want.

    And please! This has absolutely nothing to do with Ellis Island, which may have worked when people were crossing a vast ocean on ships but it is doubtless it would work now. It certainly wouldn’t work with folks who not only do not have to cross a vast ocean, but have a vast border from which to pick and choose their crossing—or can tunnel under.

    I would urge you to seek that understanding and take a fact finding mission to El Paso, Texas, located right across the river (the Rio Grande) from an even larger city, Juarez, Mexico. Having given up on the mainstream media, I don’t know whether any of them covered it, but Juarez recently experienced its 3000th murder, shortly after a guardsman visiting relatives in Juarez became but the latest American to be murdered; and not too long ago, City Hall was hit by gunfire coming across the border. These incidents are just a few of so many that it is both tragic and inexcusable that so many people in this country neither know nor care.

    Were you to embark upon that fact finding mission I would so love for you take, one of the first things you would notice is that nearly all of the houses have bars. This in a city that is 70% Hispanic. Just who is it that everyone is so afraid of that they live in mini fortresses?

    Unimportant side note: being originally from the Northeast I was not about to raise my children in a prison. As it turned out that’s an invitation. One that was accepted. You could walk from one bedroom to another without using the hallway, that’s how big the holes that they put in the walls were. And whoever it was, got away with it. The police had bigger fish to go after.

    I would also urge you to visit an emergency room. There’s an eye opener! And I’ll just leave that one there.

    And pray, do not leave without visiting a high school. If you end up at the one my children attended, you will see that there are police officers permanently assigned to the campus and that lockers are locked up, unused by students who must carry their lockers on their backs. This is because of all the guns, knives, drugs, etc. that were always being found in the lockers. Did I mention the gangs? Certain colors were banned, as though that would eliminate gangs. Things did improve a bit, the drive by shootings stopped, though given the chaos down there they may well have started up again. And I understand the drug thugs from Mexico have taken to recruiting even Anglo (white) kids to be lookouts to alert them when border patrol agents are around.

    Can you imagine the kind of prayers I—and so many other parents regardless of skin color or what we had for breakfast or any other irrelevancy the superior ones can come up with—would say when we said goodbye to our children in the morning? Or the heartfelt gratitude we felt at the end of the day when we caught sight of their faces? Does that sound anything like the way your children grew up? And incidentally, I’m not talking about an inner city here. This was the burbs.

    I wish you nothing but the best. And I hope you take that fact finding mission. May God’s peace be upon you, particularly if you do.

    [My "intransigence" is a simple quote from Martin Luther. And it's funny how no one was accusing me of "intransigence" when I defended Arizona's right to do what she feels she must do while some sort of actual, workable federal policy is put into place. Nobody accused me of "intransigence" when I wrote: my experience and reality of the illegal immigrant population is undoubtedly different from the experience of those living on these border states." But here we are again...I dare to suggest that there should be some sort of comprehensive reform that helps those immigrants who live here peacefully productively (reform which, in other posts, I have made a point of saying needed to involve these new citizens meeting specific conditions) and I get three days of hate mail and comments like these from people who are frustrated, fed up, and quick to mischaracterise my position as something unreasonable. It's a travesty whenever anyone has to live with bars on their windows, whether they're in Texas, Washington DC or Detroit. Do you reasonably think I'm advocating reform on behalf of the people who necessitate such bars, when I take the side of the peaceful workers who have been here five, for ten years or more and whose illegal residency here--while a hot button for the last few years--has been largely unaddressed by federal, state and local governments for decades? And if you think people are not serious about "shipping them all back" you haven't seen my email. I simply think (as you yourself said) there is no "one" solution, but helping good people to become good citizens has to be part of any solution we finally find. You disagree? We'll have to agree to disagree. As I've ever said, decent people can disagree and still be decent people. - Thanks for the comment -admin]

  • Jane A.

    This is your idea of hate mail? Seriously? I did tell you that I hadn’t visited your blog in a few years. I have no idea what your thoughts have been on Arizona. I was responding to what I saw as the false dichotomy you had set up: send them all back versus do nothing at all. I have read too many well thought out solutions—some which seem to be feasible, some not—to buy that framing of the argument. As you did not mention that this was merely based on email you have received rather than on serious discussions by serious people, I was not aware of it. And my point about taking a fact finding mission to El Paso (I would say Juarez as well, but not these days) is that it really illustrates the situation. It was not meant as some kind of nasty slam or to suggest that you are advocating for those who come here to do us harm. I believe strongly that if amnesty of any kind is implemented without a secure border, the unintended consequences will be severe. El Paso for one will be a far more dangerous place. As I lived there, I cannot help but be concerned for the people I once lived amongst. And as my husband continues to return on business, that takes on a whole other dimension.

    I do not doubt your motives or the goodness of your heart in wanting to help the unfortunate. I simply fail to see how can we be a nation of law if we pick and choose who will have to abide by it. Or how good intentions help the real crux of the matter, a government that is so corrupt, inept, and dysfunctional that it exports its poor and even provides brochures to aid and abet its citizens wishing to come here and scam our system? Rather than trying to raise its citizens out of poverty, it exports and exploits them—the money illegals send back to Mexico provides a significant part of its economy.

    Amnesty doesn’t address the source of the problem. And they don’t all come here. I have stood in a dark hut with a dirt floor and looked into the eyes of children who simply stare blankly. I’ve seen poverty here, but nothing like that and that’s what we need to address. And now of course, it is further complicated by the drug cartels that seem intent on completely destroying the country. If we continue to fail to address that, we will be paying a heavy price for a long time for our neglect.

    So basically that’s my take on it. I do not hate you or think ill of you in any way. I just think the same thing that I think about everyone who talks about amnesty of any variety; that you are mistaken and that until the border is secure and Mexico is at least functioning somewhat competently, it is a conversation that is premature.

    And in the meantime there are things we can do. Going after employers who operate outside the law to exploit what is essentially an upgrade on indentured servants is but one. We have already seen that many leave when the jobs dry up, as in a bad economy. It won’t take care of the whole problem, but it’s a start without any rounding up of anyone.

    I was surprised at your reaction and that you consider what I wrote hate mail. This is an issue that I have cared and thought deeply about, not just for the last few years, but nearly thirty. This is the fifth time I have ever posted anything on any blog, that’s how important this issue is to me. But not to worry, I won’t subject you to any more of my ‘hate.’

    May God’s peace be upon you.

    [No. I thought I had made a clear distinction between my email (which is full of "die, you RINO" stuff) and the comments section, particularly when I wrote "you should see my email," but if I was not clear let me be so, now. I do not consider your reasoned comments here to be hate mail. I did not call it hate mail. I simply used "hate mail" and "comments" in the same sentence, but they are two separate things. Writing before coffee is not always my smartest move. :-) Believe me, I am able to distinguish between hate mail and my comments section.

    I understand your passion, and respect your opinion. I am in sympathy with much of what you say, but I draw the line at this "how can we be a nation of laws only for some" rhetoric because, frankly, that is what we have been on this issue for many decades, now. America spent decades being completely disinterested in enforcing her immigration laws or reorganizing her immigration policies and procedures. Human people living on the edge of poverty took advantage of America's disinterest, because that's what human people do when they are hungry, poor, lacking in opportunity and in all ways treated like afterthoughts by their own government. They seek out better lives. We allowed them to do that for 40 years, and now they are established, here. Their children--whether some like it or not--have been born here and now have a claim here. What are your solutions (and by "your" I mean "anyone's") to resolving the current situation in a way that is JUST, for both the nation and the immigrant population who was tacitly encouraged to come here because of the governments own lackadaisical disinterest. Are we only supposed to be interested in what is "just" for America, and screw these people? I don't get the impression that you believe that. -admin]

  • Jessi

    I think you are probably right that “send them back” is not doable. I totally agree that we need reform to let in most of those who want to come. I am not against immigrants in general, or of any race or language in particular. I think that while it is important to seal our borders against terrorists and drug dealers, very few who want to come are terrorists and drug dealers, and people are an asset, not a liability.

  • CPMR

    “those who have lived peaceful, productive lives here, worked hard and raised children…”
    Elizabeth, you’ve lost me on this issue. Many if not most of the illegal immigrants and their children take much more from the system than they contribute to it. A lot of them don’t pay taxes, either income or property taxes; vast amounts of their untaxed earnings are sent back to Mexico; they utilize the hospitals for their primary care; they send their children to the public schools, through the university level. Their children are not “innocent,” because they have reaped the benefits of their parents’ lawbreaking. I live in California – illegals aren’t an asset – they’re a net liability. When you start your life in a new country as criminals, which whether you like it or not is what they are, you can’t expect to have the respect of those who follow the laws. The reason most come to the US is because of the benefits that a rule of law grants to its citizens – they are ruining that not only for themselves but for the rest of us. “Send them back?” I can only wish…

  • Justin

    @Rhinestone Suderman

    “Added to that, is the fact that current thinking allows too many South of the border immigrants to stay in their own little enclaves, not learning our language, or becoming full fledged citizens, which is a recipe for disaster. ”

    Immigrants move into enclaves. That’s why we’ve had Chinatowns, Little Tokyos, Germantowns, Little Syria, Little Ethiopia, etc. The nature of immigration, is that people immigrate to places near family, friends, and others who may speak the same language. The difference between now is that a lot of Latin American immigrants happen to speak Spanish. There aren’t really Little Guatamalas as far as I know. But the enclaves is just part of the immigration process.

    @Mr. Graves

    “If it were the Republicans who opened their arms to amnesty these folks, they’d still run to the redistribution-happy Democrats at breakneck speed”

    George W. Bush actually got a pretty decent amount of the Hispanic vote in 2004. Over the next two years, however, Republicans messed that up for future elections.


    “No amount of money we spend on our schools can change the fact that teenagers in Mexico and Central America function at a 3rd grade level. Sit them in class next to the immigrant child from any Asian country. It makes no sense. It’s not a nice truth, but it is a truth.”

    Fun fact, Hmong and Cambonian populations ave higher poverty rates in California than blacks or Latinos. Hmong, Laotian, and Cambodian populations have similar if not worse levels of educational attainment than Latinos. Please don’t resort to stereotyping in the future.

    As for the complaints about assimilation,

    When it comes to the DREAM Act these kids probably couldn’t be more assimilated. They’ve probably believed they were American citizens until high school. If they’re smart enough to go to college, they most certainly know English. So, for them, assimilation is not a problem.

    For other immigrants, it’s also typically not a problem. If you live in an enclave, you don’t really need to know English, and a lot of them get by with knowing only limited English. Why? Well, people who speak English don’t live there. They’ve all moved out. It’s typically called “white flight.” Their children will know English, but will also likely grow up bilingual and know what to order at restaurants. This process continues until gentrification when the people who speak English (yuppies and hipsters looking for cheap housing) move back.

    In areas that lack the enclaves, people know enough English to get by, or they get a good grasp on it. A lot of it depends on the context of the immigrant (do they actually feel like they need to know English to get by). Plenty of well-off immigrants don’t actually know English.

  • Jeff

    “Sending them back” is an old saw at this point. If the laws were enforced, they would repatriate themselves. I also do not agree that most of the people coming across the border are down on their luck types; the mexican cartels and gangs are aggressively expanding into the southern united states, young girls are being trafficked for sex, and I don’t care how many people have already made it across the border.

  • Elizabeth

    Here are the key points:
    1) it’s true that the U.S. government, by not enforcing immigration laws and perpetually talking amnesty, has sent the wrong message: “be patient, ultimately we’ll legalize you, but in the meantime, it’s fine if you stick around and work.” Do we, the American people, have to bear the consequences? Maybe.
    2) It’s also true that for most white Americans, our ancestors came over at a time when there were no immigration restrictions, so that the requirements were comparatively modest. It’s not right to say, “my ancestors did things the right way; these people are jumping the line.” This is apples and oranges. Prospective immigrants from impoverished countries, unskilled and uneducated, have effectively no chance. For all practical purposes, there is no line they can get in. We could, of course, solve this by creating a line — massively increasing the numbers of immigrants admitted, but we generally don’t want that. So there is an extent to which this is a discussion of numbers, not legal/illegal.
    3) At the same time, 2010 is not 1910 or 1850. During boom years, our economy can handle additional unskilled labor (though it does mean less automation occurs); during the lean years, it keeps wages low (witness the fact that pay increases for blue collar jobs have lagged those for high-skill and white collar jobs for some time now). Come to think of it, maybe there is a similarity — waves of immigrants certainly did succeed in bringing down the wages and working conditions in 19th century factories.
    4) The fact that we can feel sorry for poor immigrants who just want to provide a better life for their children does not mean that we should adopt an immigration policy based on this. Immigration policy is not a form of charitable giving or foreign aid; I daresay that if Mexico didn’t have the release valve of immigration to the U.S., they would make more efforts to improve the lot of the poor.
    5) Every proposed amnesty/path to citizenship talks about “fines” and other requirements — but let’s face it, there’s only so much you can do here; if an immigrant can’t pay the required fine, they’ll just remain illegal. Do we imagine that they’re all just sitting on a pile of money they’ll use to pay the fine?
    6) Without going after employers, we’ll never solve the problem. Tightening border security won’t do anything about people overstaying visas, for instance. And it’s not enough to use e-verify; there has to be a sustained effort to go after people (illegals and Americans alike) who work under the table, document-forgers, etc.
    7) Does anyone remember the 2006 proposal? What I remember most was the guest-worker plan. Unlimited numbers of Mexicans permitted to come to take minimum wage jobs after employers claimed to be unable to fill these (never mind increasing the wages!) — and when it was suggested that there would be some limits on numbers, President Fox from Mexico said, basically, that he wouldn’t accept any limits at all, as if he was calling the shots.
    8) As to the DREAM act itself, there’s a simple solution: allow these kids to get Student Visas and try for a H1-B visa like any international student. Fixes the problem for the so-called “best and brightest.”

  • kt

    “ ‘Sending them back’ is an old saw at this point. If the laws were enforced, they would repatriate themselves.”

    Exactly. I and others have made this point on the blog, repeatedly, but Ms. Scalia refuses to acknowledge it. Of course doing so would deprive of her of an apparently prized straw man.

  • http://24ahead.com/ 24AheadDotCom

    [I posted this before and I don't know whether it was deleted or never appeared. I'll try again.]

    A predictably sad post.

    1. Those marches etc. didn’t happen because of the election year (was 2005 an election year) but due to other factors. And, the idea that Dems/the far-left push things simply to get headlines is – generally speaking – absurd. That may have been one of Reid’s goals in this case, but somehow I think legalizing over a million new voters – most of them Dems – had a bit more to do with it.

    2. Steamship co’s had to pay for passage back, meaning they did prescreening to avoid extra costs.

    3. CIR would have many huge negative consequences for the U.S., including increasing spending, reducing the political power of the teaparty types at the same time as giving even more power to the far-left and foreign governments inside the U.S., and on and on. It would also reward all the crooks – businesses, politicians, the MSM, and on and on – who’ve supported or enabled massive illegal activity.

    I’ve got thousands of posts about this issue going back to 2002; see my name’s link for a categorized list of my coverage. Don’t trust those who clearly have no idea what they’re talking about.

  • Doc

    I suspect that many who oppose illegal immigrants would take a more sympathetic view if more Mexicans actually wanted to assimilate when they come here. When Hispanics make a greater effort to learn English and disregard those who urge them to be openly hostile to their prospective new homeland, they might get a little more support.

    “Our land was stolen 150 years ago and we now intend to take it back” is no way to gain a majority.