|Bama Boosts Borders: The Immigration Controversy|
By Quin Hillyer
Tuesday, October 18 2011
Note: I host a weekly radio show on Thursday nights on WAVH-FM in Mobile, AL. Last week’s topic was Alabama’s controversial new law against illegal immigrants. Below is my opening monologue, slightly shortened and adapted into a news-column format.
It’s time to ask the question: What part of the word "IL-legal" do some people not understand?
IL-legal. Unlawful. Against the law. Not allowed. Verboten. Forbidden.
I hate to do this, but I’m extremely frustrated, as should we all be, with my former colleagues in the Alabama media. The newspapers, news and editorial sides alike, have turned into virtual campaign organs against Alabama’s new law dealing with illegal immigrants.
Day after day after day come the stories. The horrors for the poor illegals. The fear experienced even by perfectly legal Hispanic immigrants. Even the legal ones leaving their jobs or leaving schools. The produce rotting in the fields. Oh, the humanity!
Give …. Me …. A …. Break!
Instead of reporting about how scared the perfectly legal immigrants might be, why not actually do the job of reporting that the new law does not affect legal residents? Rather than report the fear, how about reporting the facts to dispel the fear. The simple fact is that not a single legal resident has personal reason to fear this law.
Oh, sure, the media thinks even the legal ones might suffer because they’ll be ethnically profiled. Really? The law explicitly disallows such profiling. What’s the deal: Does the establishment media think Alabama cops will break the law? Do they think Alabama cops are irredeemably racist?
Well… If the law leads to actual instances of improper profiling, then report on it. Until then, stop crusading. The climate of fear, if it exists at all, exists only because of misinformation. It exists in large part because the establishment media isn’t just reporting the fear but fanning the flames. It’s alarmism, pure and simple.
As for those IL-legal residents who now are fleeing: Good. That’s the point.
Now, let me be clear. Like Ronald Reagan, I actually would welcome more immigrants, not fewer. I think work visas should be easier to acquire through legitimate means. I think more visas for skilled specialists should be awarded. I think the whole immigration and naturalization system should be streamlined, modernized and humanized.
If people want to come here and work hard and abide by the rules, more power to them. Welcome to the United States. Come make us a better nation.
But don’t – don’t you dare, ever – make your first act in the country an act of lawbreaking. I don’t care why you do it: If you break our laws, you deserve no hospitality, at least not from our government or our employers.
There are good reasons for immigration laws. They aren’t about keeping out people who look different from us. They aren’t about keeping out those we consider alien. But this is about ensuring that those who come to this land of ordered liberty will understand and respect both sides of the equation, both the liberty and the order. It’s about making sure that our melting pot of cultures still maintains a common culture, while ensuring that people who come here understand our laws, understand our customs and at least make efforts, yes, to understand and speak our language.
Italians came and learned our language. So did Poles. So did Germans. So have people of all nationalities always done. A society is bound by common understandings and by a common tongue. There’s no reason new immigrants can’t be expected to acculturate, or at least try. Sure, bring your culture. We’ll celebrate it as an addition to our own. But not as a replacement for our own.
Those have been among the historic reasons for having rules and standards for immigration rather than just having totally open borders. But now they aren’t the only reasons. In the modern world, and especially after 9/11, patrolling our borders and keeping tabs on who enters here is absolutely essential for public safety. Every year, statistics show, hundreds of illegal aliens from nations that harbor terrorists come across our southern border.
To protect our citizens, we need to know who is coming in and why. It’s a perfectly legitimate requirement. And to violate that requirement, to violate those perfectly sensible laws, is not excusable. If Alabama’s law makes an illegal alien feel unwelcome, then thank goodness for the Alabama law.
This doesn’t mean Alabama’s law is perfect. It doesn’t even necessarily mean it is constitutional. If it actually violates the Constitution, then to whatever extent it does violate the Constitution, Alabama’s statute is itself unlawful.
But, really, it is absurd to read the Constitution in such a way as to say that states can’t pass laws that merely implement existing federal law. Just because a current president doesn’t like a law and doesn’t want to implement it does not mean that it’s not the law. It may not be his policy, but it’s still the law. If a state wants to act in concert with the law as written, no matter how much it might contradict what the president personally wants, the state has a constitutional right to do so. It is federal law, not a president’s whim, which is supreme in matters of immigration. Alabama is wise to insist on that distinction.
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