Immigration Policy Mess

The minute the United States Senate failed in its latest attempt to address the problem of illegal immigration the finger pointing began. It is obvious to the most casual observer that politics on a national level, like politics on an Oregon state level, has no intention of finding solutions – it is solely dedicated to the acquisition or preservation of power, to reward friends or punish foes, and to staging the next election for more of the same. Finding a real solution to a real problem denies the politicians the opportunity to run on that issue for the next election.

Typical of the actions of politicians, is the reaction of Portland Mayor Tom Potter to the recent U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) raid on Fresh Del Monte Produce, Inc., and American Staffing Resources. Potter, Portland’s model uber liberal, condemned the businesses for alleged violation, condemned federal authorities for acting, but gave an approving pass to the illegal aliens. Potter has a proven history of pandering to his far left constituency in Portland. More importantly, like so many other politicians he offers only criticism and never solutions.

There is a difference between a policy problem and a political problem. The former relates to a decision regarding the well being of the nation, or the state, or the city. The latter relates to the impact on the opportunity for election to public office. Unfortunately, today’s elected official spend relatively little time on the former and all of their time on the latter.

If you want to solve a policy problem, then you have to establish a set of principles you wish to achieve. That is in marked contrast to the current political process in which you first seek to pander to all of the different special interest groups in hopes of gaining their electoral support or minimizing their electoral opposition. Good public policy emanates from the former while only political posturing results from the latter.

The first obligation of a country is to protect its citizens – particularly from violence from abroad. For over two hundred years and countless battles, this nation succeeded. But twice in the past twenty years it has failed. Twice it has failed with regard to the same foreign terrorists – al Qaeda. Twice it has failed as to the same target – the World Trade Center. It is irrelevant as to where the blame should be cast – the nation failed in its duty. It is that principle that should be singularly pursued without the dead weight of social policy, electoral posturing, or pork barrel wooing of reluctant legislators.

There are two elements to that obligation. The first is you must secure the border. There are somewhere between 12 million and 20 million illegal immigrants depending on whose estimate you believe. Most have entered illegally, many have entered legally and remained illegally. This number must not grow. Financial and human resources must be authorized and deployed to stop further incursion – stopped dead, no more, not even a trickle. The status of those here illegally can wait – that is not a problem that will get worse with time and, therefore, resolution can wait. In contrast, until the borders are secured the problem of the number of illegals multiplies exponentially. And with that increase, current government services and programs are and will be overwhelmed to the point that our citizens will be denied legitimate access because the illegals have exhausted limited resources.

Oregon is not a large state. It has limited resources. Those resources should be directed to its citizens, not to those who have entered illegally.

The second element is to identify those who are already here. Recent stories indicate that there are continuing attempts at sabotage and destruction by foreign nationals and home grown “wanna be’s”. In addition, the flood of illegal immigration has also brought an increase in drug traffic, gang activity and violent crimes. Until we know who is already here, the terrorist attempts will continue in the shadows, and the drug and other criminal activities will increase unabated. Once identified, those with terrorist ties, those with criminal records and those affiliated with either should face immediate deportation. Identifying those who remain after deportation of the criminal element allows policymakers to know the scope of the remaining problem and, with sufficient data, the probable solution.

You cannot find a palatable solution if you begin with pandering. You cannot find a workable solution if you begin by trading principle for electoral opportunity. And you cannot serve the people by first serving those who are here illegally.