Written by Ralph BenkocloseAuthor: Ralph Benko Name: Ralph Benko
About: Ralph Benko is a principal of Capital City Partners, of Washington DC. He is also the author of The Websters’ Dictionary: How to Use the Web to Transform the World, for policy and advocacy groups to use the Web powerfully.See Authors Posts (15) on October 5, 2010
Illegal Alien #1 is one Kal-El, a/k/a Superman.
He illegally entered American airspace, then territory, and has taken up residence. No visa. No documents. He was found, in his tiny rocket ship, and taken in by Ma and Pa Kent, who thereby themselves became guilty of a felony, subject to five years of imprisonment under Federal Immigration and Nationality Act Section 8 USC 1324(a)(1)(A)(iv)(b)(iii).
Superman sets a bad example for American youth (particularly teen boys) in his disregard of the Immigration and Nationality Act, of contempt for the rule of law. The writer himself is a lawyer, and all for the rule of law. Law, in our system, is combined with equity, and the two work hand in glove.
There is a compelling case for the rule of law. Our society, and our happiness, depends on it. But there also are several legitimate approaches to how best to bring it about. In addition to the strict law and order approach, there are those, including Conservatives who take to heart Anatole France’s observation: The law, in its majestic equality, forbids the rich as well as the poor to sleep under bridges, to beg in the streets, and to steal bread. Does this imply a certain squishiness in respect for law enforcement? Not at all. I implies discretion and a desire for proportionality. And, perhaps, for a path to redemption.
Then there are those free-loving Libertarians who point out that, according to civil liberties lawyer Harvey Silberglate, the average American unwittingly commits three felonies a day. And you, dear reader, as a Parcbench reader, are an above-average American and thus possibly commit even more felonies each day!
Grover Norquist recently pointed out at CPAC — conservatives did not prostrate themselves at the federally imposed 55 MPH speed limit, did not call for draconian penalties for violators, in the name of rule of law. We called it out for what it was, a really stupid law, and fought it.
The current American immigration law is founded, as it happens, in a fundamentally bad deal that we need, badly need, to unwind. An open, but mostly unknown, secret of the current immigration problem is that it grew out of a back room deal: “The Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986,” a/k/a Simpson-Mazzoli.
Those who were in that back room are understandably reluctant to discuss that deal. But the evidence is clear that something very like this happened:
In the negotiations, the anti-immigrant faction was mollified by putting tough employer sanctions on the books. The pro-immigrant faction was mollified by a firm promise that those sanctions rarely would be enforced.
Result: a moral hazard wherein millions of hard-working, family-minded, and religious Latinos found “sanctuary” in the United States where they could work, put down roots, and enrich their communities. But they never could get on the path to citizenship and became vulnerable to exploitation and precluded from entering the American mainstream. (The evidence is persuasive that Hispanics are learning English at least as fast or faster than earlier waves of immigrants such as the Italians and the Poles. Without a path to earn citizenship there are legal barriers to their joining the mainstream yet … they are highly motivated to become Americans.)
Although the anti’s invariably portray immigrants as a drain on the economy, the evidence is very persuasive that immigrants provide far more value than cost. Where that is not the case it calls for further welfare reform, not immigrant bashing. As Julian Simon protégé and Supply Side icon Steve Moore observes: “As America’s workforce ages, we need the infusion of young workers — yes, even unskilled workers fill vital niches in our workforce — to keep our economy prosperous and to avoid the kind of serious demographic crisis that may soon beset most other advanced nations.” In other words, it would be more sensible to celebrate immigrants as a form of foreign aid than as a national curse.
One of countless examples: in 1990, Chatham County, NC, was a sleepy, rural and very poor county. According to the U.S. Census a dozen Hispanics lived there. By 2000, personally observed shortly thereafter, by this writer, Chatham County had become home to 40,000 Hispanics, almost all undocumented, working in the county poultry industry, pumping hundreds of millions of dollars a year into the local economy. Chatham County, according to a personal communication by this writer with its capital’s mayor and police chief, experienced very modest social strains, thanks in part to a wise Latina activist, Ilana Dubester, who founded el Vinculo Hispano/Hispanic Liaison.
SIDEBAR: One of Ms. Dubester’s accomplishments as it happens, was to precipitate the political downfall of one David Duke, White Supremacist. He chose to come to Chatham’s capital, Siler City to provoke the locals and enhance his notoriety (and gain the money that comes with that). Dubester sent out word to the activists in the area to totally ignore Duke and his provocations. As a result, there was no provocation, no drama, no media. Word traveled through the activist grapevine to emulate this tactic, ignore Duke, and soon he was on his way to obscurity and poverty. (Someone who had infiltrated the Duke camp advised this writer personally that Duke expressed dismay at his failure to provoke an outburst and a media storm, recognizing that the perfect counter-strategy to his fomenting of hatred — and fomenting money via notoriety — had been found.)
America, the evidence really is compelling, has pursued a strategy of prohibition and non-enforcement. To give a picture, consider how many police there are in New York City alone: 40,000. In Houston: 12,000. Now, pop quiz: how many Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers are there in the United States?
To patrol all of NYC. LA. Chicago. Miami. Houston. Everywhere. Every inch of border. Every port. Every airport.
To handle customs, the flow of goods.
And immigration, the flow of people.
Under this regime 12 million, mostly Hispanics, mostly Catholic or Evangelical, came to work and form communities in the United States. Hard working, religious, family, and community minded people. And patriotic. More Hispanics have won the Medal of Honor than any other ethnic group.
To cite Norquist again, they came here because they respect what America is in the same way that Conservatives respect America. Immigrants, documented or not, have conservative values and are in distress at the handiwork of those officials (Hello, Speaker Pelosi, Leader Reid! How is that working out for you?) intent on making America more like the lands they fled.
See the threat to The American Way here?
Of course not. There isn’t one.
Immigrants, legal or not, are Conservatives’ natural allies. So long as we let the mainstream media attempt to discredit us by spinning nativists as their selected spokesmen for us it will drive Hispanics into the arms of the Liberals — an unnatural act if ever there was one. Don’t fall for it.
As for Superman. One of the deservedly most famous issues in this iconic series is Superman #247, Must There Be a Superman. This story ably is summarized by Joe Maurone in his article, Steve Ditko and “Must There Be A Superman” published in Solopassion.com.
Superman came across a migrant worker crew-boss assaulting a young Latino who had spearheaded a strike at an orchard. Everyone had agreed to strike for more equitable treatment but ultimately only the boy, Manuel, stood his ground. Once Superman arrived though, the workers felt a new sense of confidence and joined together behind Superman. “Let him have it, Superman. Give it to him good,” they screamed. Suddenly, and unexpectedly, Superman turned to the crowd and asked, “Why don’t you handle it?” Angrily, he told them that they were the ones that should settle these disputes and not to turn to him for help.
His behavior toward Manuel, though, was compassionate. Putting his arm around the boy, he led him through the crowd that parted as they passed, and asked the boy to tell him what had happened. As the boy told Superman that his father had sent him to California from Mexico for a better life, images of Jor-El placing him in a spacecraft flashed before Superman’s mind’s eye. “But here I am,” continued Manuel, “just a field picker and life is the same as before.” “You were the one with the courage to strike,” said Superman, and lifting Manuel into his arms, he flew the boy to the migrant camp. At first, he was shocked to see the horrible conditions in which the workers live, but when the people ran to him and pleaded, “Now you have come to solve all our problems,” Superman flew into a rage and told them that he was not there to do anything. “Nothing. Nothing at all,” he yelled. “Whatever help you claim you need must come from yourselves.
The rule of law is an imperative. Yet it does not preclude either mercy, redemption or discretion when in our national interest, wholly apart from the interests of those directly involved, are at stake. Provide a clear, rigorous, and decent path to earned citizenship for every illegal alien who can prove that he or she is of good character by their history of hard work and responsible residency. Concurrently provide practical mechanisms to regulate border security and future immigration firmly and intelligently.
Ralph Benko is the author of The Websters’ Dictionary: How to Use the Web to Transform the World, the eBook of which may be downloaded without charge from http://www.thewebstersdictionary.com.