Do Amnesty Backers Really Support Future Enforcement? A Thought Experiment

By Dan Cadman on June 13, 2014

The media and blogosphere have been hot with the news of the GOP primary upset of House Majority Leader Eric Cantor. There is more spin out there now than on 1,000 knuckleballs.

I imagine that those who want amnesty will downplay the linkage between Cantor's downfall and immigration matters, saying instead that he was out of touch with voters in his district. It is not in their interest to draw any immigration-related conclusions from his defeat.

Others may point directly to his support of the principles of amnesty as the reason for his defeat. I suspect it was his desire to have it both ways — one day leaning toward amnesty, the next day saying something else. The duplicity of such a wishy-washy tactic, and the hubris in presuming that his constituents would not be smart enough to see through it, sounds to me like a pretty fatal combination. But I am no profound pundit on anything political, so I will leave the analyses to others.

Of more interest to me is a close look at those who are open and steadfast in their support of a broad-based amnesty. Democratic Rep. Luis Gutierrez of Chicago comes immediately to mind. He is an unabashed and ardent advocate for amnesty. During a House Judiciary Committee hearing at which Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson testified a few days ago, Rep. Gutierrez used a part of his question-and-answer time to make an impassioned plea to his House colleagues to consider the Senate bill, asserting that he, too, was a believer in law enforcement, but also in compassion. (A video of the hearing can be found here, with Rep. Gutierrez's remarks toward the end.)

It is this assertion by so many advocates of amnesty — that they, too, believe in enforcement — that catches my attention, and my skepticism. As has been said many times and in many forums, those who, like myself, believe immigration laws should be enforced fairly but uniformly, are extremely wary of buying into another 1986-style omnibus bill that promises enforcement in exchange for amnesty, only to see the rug pulled out from under us once legalization of the millions has taken place.

It seems to me one way to flush out the candid from the phonies is through use of a kind of thought experiment. Let us suppose for a moment that some kind of amnesty has passed into law that includes illegals who came as minors, commonly referred to as "Dreamers". That being true, it seems to me that all the folks who have endorsed a balance of amnesty with enforcement should agree that everything possible should be done at that point to shut off the magnets to future illegal immigration; that, in fact, we should be actively discouraging illegal immigration in all its forms — not just at the border but, more importantly and tellingly, within the interior.

Should that not include a repeal of all in-state tuition rates at colleges and universities for illegal aliens? After all, those who were previously illegal are now "on the path to citizenship" and have their papers, provisional or permanent. They are no longer illegal. Enforcement and compliance efforts are now supposed to kick in. It is common sense that the various legislatures, attorneys general (as in Virginia), or other authorities who previously endorsed in-state tuition should obviously favor eliminating this magnet for a new wave of unaccompanied minors and young adults, whether they are tempted to cross the land border without documents or arrive as temporary visitors and then overstay their permits.

So, let us hear Rep. Gutierrez and like-minded amnesty advocates who claim to be equally in favor of eliminating future illegal immigration speak out — now — to voice their unequivocal agreement with this proposition. If they do not, well, then what their silence tells us is that they don't, in fact, believe in the tenets that are necessary to, and underlie, future compliance with the immigration laws. Really and truly, they just want to push the reset button for this wave of illegal aliens, and let the next wave begin to accrue.

I kind of like the idea of using these thought experiments to demand that "balanced" supporters of both amnesty and enforcement speak out publicly. This can be done endlessly, and in many forms. How about this? Let the large corporations and Silicon Valley types publicly agree that, in exchange for guestworker programs, the yearly admission rates for these programs will be linked inversely to the prevailing unemployment/underemployment rate for American workers?

As I said, I am skeptical. I don't expect to hear a cacophony of voices clamoring to sign on to these suggestions. But I think it's worth issuing the challenge to watch the cone of silence descend. Sometimes silence speaks loudest.