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Immigration Parole, Not Amnesty

February 22, 2013 in Economics

By Ilya Shapiro

Ilya Shapiro

As a legal immigrant, I could be expected to object the loudest to the immigration reforms now circulating on Capitol Hill. After all, I navigated the bureaucratic morass — I finally got my green card four years ago after living in the country on temporary visas for 14 years — so why shouldn’t everyone? Why should we “amnesty” people who didn’t play by the rules I painstakingly followed?

The answer is simple, but our immigration laws are so schizophrenic that reform critics can’t fathom that in this context it’s the law’s fault, not the law-breakers’.

First, there is no “line” to get into. Even for those like me who have earned multiple degrees in the United States, there’s no way to simply apply for permanent residence (as my Russian parents did when they brought me to Canada as a child). Instead, unless they go the marriage route, even U.S.-educated scientists, engineers, and other professionals have to find employers willing to spend significant resources playing lawyer games with the Labor Department while the applicant’s life is in a state of suspended animation. The wait takes years, particularly for those unfortunate enough to be from places that export skilled workers, like India.

Unskilled workers — your stereotypical Mexican day laborer — don’t even have that. That’s why it’s so important that any immigration reform have a guest-worker component (which President Obama is resisting because union bosses oppose it). Give people the opportunity to earn an honest living and they’ll take it — and then you can deport the criminals.

Our immigration laws are so schizophrenic that reform critics can’t fathom that in this context it’s the law’s fault, not the law-breakers’.”

And that’s the second point: “Amnesty” is a misnomer. None of the immigration proposals contemplate forgiving anyone who’s committed any crimes here. Instead we’re talking about hard-working people chasing the American dream.

Look at the subtle shift that Marco Rubio has made in addressing the issue: illegal aliens are human beings who make understandable choices given the options they face. They’re not hurting people — immigrant crime rates are lower than for the native-born — or becoming welfare queens. Abuses of the social safety net, such as using the emergency room for primary care, are much higher among the native-born — and illegals aren’t eligible for welfare or unemployment insurance.

All of those undocumented gardeners, roofers, busboys, and chambermaids would be happy to …read more
Source: OP-EDS

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