Look­ing to il­le­gals for a short-term fix

The Washington Times Weekly - - Commentary -

Pres­i­dent Obama’s lat­est po­lit­i­cal ploy — grant­ing new “rights” out of thin air, by Ex­ec­u­tive Order, to il­le­gal im­mi­grants who claim that they were brought into the coun­try when they were chil­dren — is all too typ­i­cal of his short-run ap­proach to the coun­try’s long-run prob­lems.

What­ever the mer­its or de­mer­its of the Obama im­mi­gra­tion pol­icy, his Ex­ec­u­tive Order is good only as long as he re­mains pres­i­dent, which may be only a mat­ter of months af­ter this year’s elec­tion.

Peo­ple can­not plan their lives on the ba­sis of laws that can sud­denly ap­pear, and then sud­denly dis­ap­pear, in less than a year. To come for­ward today and claim the pro­tec­tion of the Obama Ex­ec­u­tive Order is to de­clare pub­licly and of­fi­cially that your par­ents en­tered the coun­try il­le­gally. How that may be viewed by some later ad­min­is­tra­tion is any­body’s guess.

Em­ploy­ers like­wise can­not rely on poli­cies that may be here today and gone to­mor­row, whether th­ese are tem­po­rary tax rates de­signed to look good at elec­tion time or tem­po­rary im­mi­gra­tion poli­cies that can back­fire later if em­ploy­ers get ac­cused of hir­ing il­le­gal immi- grants.

Why hire some­one, and in­vest time and money in train­ing them, if you may be forced to fire them be­fore a year has passed?

Kick­ing the can down the road is one of the fa­vorite ex­er­cises in Wash­ing­ton. But nei­ther in the econ­omy nor in their per­sonal lives can peo­ple make plans and com­mit­ments on the ba­sis of govern­ment poli­cies that sud­denly ap­pear and sud­denly dis­ap­pear.

Like so many other Obama ploys, his im­mi­gra­tion ploy is not meant to help the coun­try, but to help Obama. This is all about get­ting the His­panic vote this Novem­ber.

The prin­ci­ple in­volved — keep­ing chil­dren from be­ing hurt by ac­tions over which they had no con­trol — is one al­ready ad­vanced by Se­na­tor Marco Ru­bio, who may well end up as Gov­er­nor Rom­ney’s vice-pres­i­den­tial run­ning mate. The Obama Ex­ec­u­tive Order, which sud­denly popped up like a rab­bit out of a ma­gi­cian’s hat, steals some of Se­na­tor Ru­bio’s thun­der, so it is clever pol­i­tics.

But clever pol­i­tics is what has got­ten this coun­try into so much trou­ble, not only as re­gards im­mi­gra­tion but also as re­gards the econ­omy and the dan­ger­ous in­ter­na­tional sit­u­a­tion.

When the new, and per­haps short-lived, im­mi­gra­tion pol­icy is looked at in terms of how it can be ad­min­is­tered, it makes even less sense. While this pol­icy is ra­tio­nal­ized in terms of chil­dren, those who in­voke it are likely to do so as adults.

How do you check some­one’s claim that he was brought into the coun­try il­le­gally when he was a child? If Obama gets re­elected, it is very un­likely that il­le­gal im­mi­grants will re­ally have to prove any­thing. The ad­min­is­tra­tion can sim­ply choose not to en­force that pro­vi­sion, as so many other im­mi­gra­tion laws are un­en­forced in the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion.

If Obama does not get re­elected, then it may not mat­ter

Im­mi­gra­tion pol­icy does not ex­ist to ac­com­mo­date for­eign­ers but to pro­tect Amer­i­cans — and the Amer­i­can cul­ture that has made this the world’s rich­est, freest and most pow­er­ful na­tion for more than a cen­tury. No na­tion can ab­sorb un­lim­ited num­bers of peo­ple from an­other cul­ture with­out jeop­ar­diz­ing its own cul­ture.

any­way, when his Ex­ec­u­tive Order can be gone af­ter he is gone.

Ul­ti­mately, it does not mat­ter what im­mi­gra­tion pol­icy this coun­try has, if it can­not con­trol its own bor­ders. Who­ever wants to come, and who has the chutz­pah, will come. And the fact that they come across the Mex­i­can border does not mean that they are all Mex­i­cans. They can just as eas­ily be ter­ror­ists from the Mid­dle East.

Only af­ter the border is con­trolled can any im­mi­gra­tion pol­icy mat­ter be se­ri­ously con­sid­ered, and op­tions weighed through the nor­mal Con­sti­tu­tional process of Con­gres­sional hear­ings, de­bate and leg­is­la­tion, rather than by Pres­i­den­tial short-cuts.

Not only is border con­trol fun­da­men­tal, what is also fun­da­men­tal is the prin­ci­ple that im­mi­gra­tion pol­icy does not ex­ist to ac­com­mo­date for­eign­ers but to pro­tect Amer­i­cans — and the Amer­i­can cul­ture that has made this the world’s rich­est, freest and most pow­er­ful na­tion for more than a cen­tury.

No na­tion can ab­sorb un­lim­ited num­bers of peo­ple from an­other cul­ture with­out jeop­ar­diz­ing its own cul­ture.

In the 19th and early 20th cen­tury, Amer­ica could ab­sorb mil­lions of im­mi­grants who came here to be­come Amer­i­cans. But the sit­u­a­tion is en­tirely dif­fer­ent today, when group sep­a­ratism, re­sent­ment and po­lar­iza­tion are be­ing pro­moted by both the ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem and politi­cians.

Thomas Sow­ell is a se­nior fel­low at the Hoover In­sti­tu­tion, Stan­ford Univer­sity.

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