To the uninitiated, it's hard to tell a real diamond from some of the new synthetic stones: the best of the fakes can even scratch glass as a real diamond would and both shine with rainbow brilliance from all of their facets.
I was reminded of this on Tuesday when the president gave his annual State of the Union address.
There were two things in his speech that caught my attention from an immigration-related perspective, one of them directly and one of them more peripherally, which I'll address first.
The president has suggested that the first two years of community college should, like primary and secondary school, be free. There is much that's attractive about that notion — even state-funded universities have become extraordinarily expensive and two free years of higher education would go a long way toward making college degrees affordable and help mend the growing gap between U.S. college graduate rates and rates in the rest of the developed world.
But I can't help but wonder if this plan will result in a decision to permit illegal aliens — all illegal aliens, not just "Dreamers" — to attend two years of community college at taxpayer expense. After all, once it's free, does it simply become a part of the U.S. educational system and, by extension, fall under the Supreme Court decision in Plyler v. Doe, which requires states to educate aliens at taxpayer expense regardless of status? You can bet that someone will make that argument should the president's proposal go forward. And would education then become another major magnet, besides jobs, that will lure young aliens to enter illegally by the tens of thousands?
The other, directly immigration-related item in the president's speech was this remark: "Yes, passions still fly on immigration, but surely we can all see something of ourselves in the striving young student, and agree that no one benefits when a hardworking mom is taken from her child, and that it's possible to shape a law that upholds our tradition as a nation of laws and a nation of immigrants."
Why, who knew that all of the 11 or 12 million aliens illegally present in the United States are "hard-working moms"? Last time I checked the government's statistics (which has become increasingly difficult under this disingenuous and most opaque of administrations), they were replete with substantial numbers of young single men, and married men whose spouses remain in their home country. What's more, a significant percentage of those apprehended were criminals and/or scofflaws who fled from proceedings in front of an immigration judge (there are now nearly a million such fugitives from immigration proceedings) and/or recidivists who routinely commit felonies by reentering the United States after they have been removed.
But the president doesn't want us to focus on those hard truths. Better to let our eye be captured by those shiny, simplistic verbal baubles being held out as diamonds.