A big, unworkable showpiece is not 
the answer for immigration reform

This is a story told with three elements: The New York Times, a giant pair of scissors and Colorado Congressman Scott Tipton.

Last week, The New York Times carried an article about immigration-reform activists following Tipton from town hall to town hall to pressure him into what the president and congressional Democrats like to refer to as “comprehensive immigration reform.” This means different things to different people, but to most progressives, it signifies essentially open borders and amnesty for those who have entered the country illegally.

With this background, enter the groups trailing Tipton, with the Times practically giddy at the thought that for the hundredth time, it may have found a liberal equivalent of the tea party.

Once again, not the case and a product of not understanding the roots of the tea party movement. It was made up of people who wanted to be coerced less. Progressive counterparts want the opposite,  and that’s the difference.

So, amnesty groups dutifully troop to town meetings to repeatedly engage elected representatives, not exactly living in fear as the left’s narrative would have you imagine.

In fact, according to the National Review, the young fellow on stage during the president’s speech the other day who shouted pro-amnesty slogans at him turns out to be a South Korean illegal alien named Ju Hong.

Hong reportedly graduated from the University of California at Berkeley and is “on Twitter and LinkedIn, was a member of student government, has lobbied for taxpayer subsidies for illegal-alien students, and has been the subject of so much fawning news coverage he has his own topic page at the Cal student paper.”

Try that most other places in the world.

So, how’s our congressman to engage these folks? Are they constituents?

Some are and certainly deserve to be heard, but what about noncitizens? If you’re wintering in Mexico and decide to follow a local politician around and question him pointedly about things you don’t like, what’s your status? Possibly an inmate but surely not a political participant, since the Mexican Constitution specifically prohibits noncitizens from having anything to do with the political process.

We’re better than that here; we recognize humans have natural rights that are preserved in our Constitution. We respect the fundamental right of people to pop off on politics and welcome those who want to live in such a place. We just like to have a little meaningful control over how it happens.

This brings me to the big scissors, which were in the office of a friend of mine at the old Immigration and Naturalization Service here in town. They were left over from President Reagan’s attempt to implement what he thought was comprehensive immigration reform in the ‘80s. The darn things were about 4 feet tall and the office had a 36-inch-wide door. Agents were supposed to put a ribbon across that door and use the scissors to cut and kick off the program.

They didn’t work, but my friend couldn’t get rid of them because they were government property. They cost so darn much but did so little. Ten years after President Reagan’s “solution,” we were still in the same situation with illegal immigration.

If I were Tipton, I would tell the folks at his town halls they deserve better than the big scissors — a giant unworkable showpiece. They should get solutions that aren’t about demonizing or vote-buying and don’t pretend that immigration reform problems in social services, schools or health care will disappear with the stroke of a president’s pen.

Strong borders and managed immigration that doesn’t unduly punish folks already here, but also doesn’t put them ahead of those working within the system, sounds tough and slow — and it is. But we’ve had our experience with essentially unmanaged amnesty and it just makes things worse.

Effective guest worker programs and simple, managed paths to citizenship that require some commitment to the country and the economy are ultimately in everyone’s best interest.

Now, on this Thanksgiving, let’s be thankful we live where everyone wants to be.

Rick Wagner writes more on politics at his blog, The War on Wrong.


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