The lie at the core of every amnesty

Politics,Beltway Confidential,Conn Carroll

PBS NewsHour‘s Jeffrey Brown did a great job pressing President Obama’s director of domestic policy, Cecilia Munoz, about the logic of Obama’s amnesty announcement Friday. Here is some of the exchange:

Brown: Now if this is the right thing to do as the president said several times today, what is the logic for stopping it at age 30? Why isn’t someone whose age 31 who has gone all the same…who has spent all these years in the United States and gone to school and had a job or served in the military why not…why isn’t he or she eligible?

Munoz: Well if you look at the version of the DREAM Act that passed the House of Representatives in 2010, the cutoff date in that legislation was the age of 30 so there has been some discussion about a similar population of young people and that is where the discussion landed.

Which is, of course, complete nonsense. Obama could care less what Congress thinks. That is why he ignored Congress and made the announcement he did Friday. More importantly, this is not the same “population of young people.” Illegal immigrants who were 30 and eligible in 2010, are now 32 and ineligible through no fault of their own. The moral case for giving them work permits is just as valid today as it was two years ago. But because Obama waited two years, now they are out of luck. Brown pressed Munoz on this point:

Brown: It’s a practical matter. It’s not a logical matter. I mean if you had your way, and you applied the same logic, then it would go on to older people.

Munoz: Well the secretary has articulated a clear set of criteria and that’s the criteria they are going to apply to people who come forward. We still hope for a permanent solution to resolve our immigration problems and the president is going to continue to work on an immigration reform

In other words, yeah, following our logic this amnesty would apply to everyone. But we can’t just say that because then this policy would be a huge political loser instead of a winning distraction from Obama’s terrible economy.

Better to keep the discussion focused on just the “dreamers,” as Obama calls them, than admit what we really want is a blanket amnesty for everyone. Hence the first criteria identified by Secretary Napolitano: to be eligible an illegal immigrant must have “come to the United States under the age of sixteen.”What is the logical or moral difference between granting amnesty to someone who came here when they were 16 but not to someone who came here when they were 17? Eighteen is the voting age in the United States, why not use that as a cut off?

That is not the only fictional line drawing in Secretary Napolitano’s order. Her second criteria reads, “Have continuously resided in the United States for a least five years preceding the date of this memorandum and are present in the United States on the date of this memorandum.”

And that is the lie at the core of every amnesty. The randomly chosen date that divides non-citizens who will be rewarded for illegally entering the United States from those who didn’t illegally enter the United States soon enough. There simply is no moral or logical reason to reward the first group and punish the second. The moral and emotional case for granting citizenship to those in the country now is just as strong today as it will be for those who enter the country tomorrow.

President Reagan, liberals never tire of reminding us, granted amnesty to 2 million illegal immigrants. That policy compromise was predicated on the understanding that the amnesty granted was a one-time deal. But now there are 11 million illegal immigrants in the United States. And if we granted all 11 million amnesty today, there would be millions more another decade from now too.

Libertarians are at least honest in immigration debates. They advocate open borders. I disagree with that position, but it is at least an honest one that I can respect.

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