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If it's going to be amnesty, let's do it right

 

By Frank Salvato

web posted April 3, 2006

 

A storm of political opportunity has been centered over Capitol Hill, a storm that – by comparison – is rendering the Dubai Ports management deal but a speck in the eye of a giant. As disgraceful as the political gerrymandering was during the ports debacle the issues of immigration reform and border security are proving beyond the shadow of a doubt that our elected officials – from both sides of the aisle – are more concerned with the longevity of their political careers than in good government.

 

First, it needs to be clarified, that when the talking heads in the media and the political spin doctors address what's happening on our borders they have a propensity to combine two issues; immigration and border security. These two issues are very separate and very different.

 

Border security has to do with the way we secure our borders, the safeguards we have in place to make sure that those who are not supposed to be here are kept out. In the post-9/11 world, border security is deservedly among the most important issues facing our country.

 

While no system we put in place will ever be 100% effective, that point shouldn't stop us from trying to make the current system as effective as possible. To that extent, border security must be a living breathing thing, an effort that constantly adapts to the enterprising minds of those that would evade the legal process of entering our country, whether they are coming to attain employment or to plant a bomb outside a nursery school.

 

Immigration reform is quite another matter.

 

We don't have a problem with immigration. We have enough people immigrating to the United States every year to populate a mid-sized city. They just aren't immigrating legally. They are taking advantage of the failed system of border security currently in place United States.

 

The United States sees more people seeking to live here than any other country on the face of the planet. This should serve as testimony to the untold benefits of our system; freedom of speech, freedom to practice a religion of choice and freedom to interact with those who govern in a meaningful and effective way.

 

While many on the “progressive” left spew their hatred of all the United States stands for, opting instead for a misplaced allegiance to socialism and communism, Sharia law and totalitarianism, those who risk life and limb to get here, serve as proof positive that those who have always lived with freedom, those who have taken it for granted, haven't a clue as to the horrors of true oppression and tyranny.

 

As with all things, if there is a political component involved, the disingenuous political opportunists will identify it, spin it and do their best to capitalize on it, the subject of immigration reform included.

 

Where many of us measure the value of something by how much it costs or how much time it requires, politicians measure value by votes. Votes are the currency of the political world. When President Bush talked about his political capital after his 2004 election win, he was making reference to the facts that he had beaten John Kerry by millions of votes and that he had garnered more votes than any other presidential candidate throughout the history of the United States.

 

Political opportunists, both Democrat and Republican, are viewing immigration reform as a capital it may generator. They see millions of potential votes for themselves, their fellow party members and the political agendas that they champion. Anyone who doesn't recognize this really shouldn't be allowed to handle sharp objects or operate heavy machinery.

 

This blatant political opportunism is disingenuous, narcissistic, despicable and un-American is to be correct. But then, most – not all, but most politicians put politics before government anyway. Until we start taking civic responsibility more seriously (perhaps as serious as our Founding Fathers) we get what we deserve.

 

I do see a way to extract the issue of immigration reform from the jaws of political opportunism, however. While it may make some civil libertarians shriek, it should be pointed out that in an imperfect world sometimes an imperfect solution is what is needed.

 

If we are to be subjected to an amnesty, and anyone with any political savvy at all knows that is exactly what we are looking at, then I contend that we grant it with some severe consequences and stipulations for those who choose to accept it.

 

Because those who are here illegally have broken the law, there needs to be adjudication to that effect. Illegal aliens do not have the right to be here, a simple and undisputable fact. Therefore, it would be appropriate, because they have violated federal law, to convict them of a felony. This felony, uniquely exempt from current laws commanding deportation, however, comes with a little give and take.

 

The punishment for being convicted of the felony crime of entering and existing in the United States as an illegal alien would require no jail time and no monetary fine. They would not have to pay any back taxes. Those who chose to accept the amnesty-for-felony conviction deal would be free to stay in the United States. They would be eligible to receive documents so they could work legally and enter into the revenue system. They would be free to apply for citizenship.

 

Those accepting the amnesty-for-felony-conviction, however, would forfeit their right to vote, passing that right, voluntarily, to their children in exchange for the right to remain in the United States legally. They would also have one felony conviction strike against them in our three-strike system.

 

The benefits of this plan are two-fold.

 

By agreeing to forfeit the right to vote, it places a high value on American citizenship, extracting a very high price for transgressions against the laws of our country while still affording those who accept the terms the remaining benefits of being a citizen of the United States.

 

Perhaps more importantly, it completely eliminates the political opportunism factor to the immigration reform debate. It deprives opportunistic political operatives from once again placing politics above government, cheating them out of another chance to degrade the American system of government.

 

Freedom is not free, it has a price. Good meaningful immigration legislation should be crafted with that in mind.

 

Frank Salvato is the managing editor for The New Media Journal.us. He serves at the Executive Director of the Basics Project, a non-profit, non-partisan, 501(C)(3) socio-political education project. His pieces are regularly featured in over 100 publications both nationally and internationally. He has appeared on The O'Reilly Factor, numerous radio shows coast to coast and his pieces have been recognized by the Japan Center for Conflict. He can be contacted at oped@newmediajournal.us Copyright © 2006 Frank Salvato

 

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