Friday, June 15, 2012

Obama's new immigrant initiative wrong, but Romney not right

Today President Obama announced that he'd quit automatically deporting illegal aliens who'd entered the country before they were 16, had no criminal record, had graduated high school, and who weren't 30 yet. Stuff like that. And he'd give such aliens a 2 year residence permit, renewable indefinitely every two years.

This is a perfect example of just what the American President can and cannot do. He can't grant amnesty with citizenship. He can't just flout Congressional legislation (though Bush II did pretty much do that with his strange "signing statements" time after time after time). And the next President who isn't him can rescind this dictum on his first day in office.

I've no doubt that the President had a political motive in this announcement (you think?), just as Citizen Romney had a muted doublespeak response to the announcement: namely trolling for the Mexivote.

But let's take everyone at face value. What's wrong with Obamnesty has nothing to do with whether the 800,000-odd people involved wouldn't make good immigrants for America. I'm sure a lot would. For one thing, nearly all of them speak/write good English. And by definition at least graduated from high school. There are a lot of native-born high school dropouts I'd happily trade in for this lot.

What's wrong with Obamnesty is that it dangles a big fat carrot in front of the nose of every alien who loves his kid(s), but doesn't think he or she could get a permanent visa (or doesn't want to wait). Now again I like the idea of LEGAL immigrants who love their kids and want the best of them. But I don't love the idea of the message President Obama just broadcast to the world: "Come on down! We'll let your kids jump the queue--no problemo."

Also, as with all such policies and proposals, it includes a soft jingoism: the assumption that no other country on Earth is worth being a citizen of.

I recall the last time I was in the Philippines, in the Puerto Galera area of Mindoro. I ran into a young lady from Los Angeles, CA, of pure Philippino extraction. She'd grown up in California and didn't even speak Tagalog when she visited relatives in Manila. A few years later, she'd become the manager of a scuba diving shop in Puerto Galera. She know how to deal with foreign divers--95% of the clientele--was attractive, knew the Philippino culture too because that was her family.

That's a life course many of these illegal immigrants to America, brought here as kids, could follow. I've been in 17 countries as a tourist, and I've seen how much demand there is for people with a foot in the home country culture and the cultures of the tourists.

And Puerto Galera isn't some crime-ridden slum. It's a lovely place. Google it--you'll see.

So deporting the illegal aliens who President Obama expresses so much empathy for hardly consigns them to a garbage heap in Bombay. Not when they have an American education. I bet a lot of them would wind up staying happily in their home country when they discover what their opportunities are there.

I'd give them a one year delay in deportation in order to learn their home culture/language, and once they're there, allow them to apply for a visa to come here, along with everyone else who wants to come here, and give them points for their mastery of American culture/language in considering their petition. Unless they stayed here beyond the time limit--and then all bets are off.

But I'm not running for office in a country that's now 14% Hispanic, most of which is the result of previous amnesties for illegals.

And that's why even someone as overtly hardline on immigration as Romney gave such a low-key answer.

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