Here's what Mom wrote:
I like to read your column, but the one about immigration makes me wonder. I am for legal immigration, that's how my grandparents came to the Chicago area, but I am totally against ILLEGAL immigration. There is a difference. (Name address etc redacted for privacy reasons.)So then Mr. Steinberg replied:
Right. The difference is your grandparents COULD become legal immigrants, and those coming in today can't.Okay, let's take this from the top.
I knew my grandparents--they didn't become citizens because they were geniuses. Do you really think that immigrants today can but don't bother? It's sad how people hide behind this. Thanks for writing. NS
The federal government has established limitations on how many new immigrant visas it will grant in a particular year. The theory is that the United States can accept a certain number of immigrants per year without causing undue distress to the various governmental bodies which exist (state municipal etc). A large influx of immigrants, it is thought, will cause disruptions to the functioning of government systems. This theory may or may not be correct, but it's not a new law and this is how the immigration system of the United States is designed to function. It's been this way for decades. It might need changing.
Illegal immigrants are people who are in the country without a valid visa. Most of them just sneak across the border; some come in legally (on tourist or other visas) and then stay past the expiration and fail to renew it. There's a limit to visa renewal, of course, so you can't come here as a tourist and stay indefinitely; and those with tourist viass aren't allowed to hold jobs here anyway.
There are plenty of law-abiding people in the world who want to come to the US and who have applied for an immigrant visa--and who have to wait for their number to come up in the visa lottery, because everyone wants to live here. These people are far and away outnumbered by the number of illegals already in the United States.
"Do you really think that immigrants today can but don't bother?" Yes I certainly do. There are legal channels for people to get immigrant visas, and illegals (by definition) have eschewed these channels and are breaking the law simply by being and remaining in the United States.
Pleny of Mexican illegals don't want to become citizens anyway; they just want the money.
The proposed laws which the Washington elites refer to "immigration reform" are in fact amnestynot the case.</i> As the law exists now, the federal government has limited immigration, but it is possible for anyone in the world to get an immigrant visa to the United States. There are no country quotas, either.
(Enforcement of the federal immigration laws is lax to the point of anarcho-tyranny, with the INS occasionally deporting europeans and asians and seldom deporting mexicans.)
I don't really care if the limitation is "fair" or not. In fact, I think it's a good idea; I don't think the United States is obligated to take in every last person who wants to come here. It works against our best interests to have open borders.
Steinberg's reply to my Mom's e-mail missed the point: the fact that legal immigration is difficult does not excuse the rampant lawbreaking that's going on.
Example: John Sportscar just bought himself a brand new Lamborghini. The thing goes 0-60 in 2 seconds and has a top speed of 200 MPH. He loves the thing and drives it to work every sunny day in summer.
The only problem is, the speed limits in his neighborhood are 25 MPH. In first gear at idle the car goes 35 MPH, and the only way John can obey the speed limit is to be constantly shoving the clutch in, letting it out only occasionally to keep his speed up. This makes his leg ache and causes premature wear to the clutch, which isn't exactly cheap at $5,000 for the part and $10,000 for the labor to replace it. So John just ignores the speed limit and drives 35-40 MPH through his neighborhood.
When he's pulled over for speeding, he complains that it's too hard to obey the law and so he should be exempt from it. Got sympathy for John? Think the cop does?
Legal theory in the Judeo-Christian tradition holds that no law should be passed which requires extraordinary or impossible effort for compliance. That means that a law requiring you to flap your arms and fly over a river of lava to be granted a visa would be deemed unfair. A law requiring you to fill out a form and wait (even years) for your visa is not unfair.
It may be frustrating, annoying, disheartening, or even mean, but it's not unfair. What is unfair is then giving preferential treatment to people who break the law to enter the country. "Hey, you guy over there in the Philippines who filled out this form in 1999, you're at the back of the line, but hey, Juan Mexican, because you broke the law and entered the country anyway, we're going to grant you a visa right now!"
What is fair about that?