For most illegal immigrants, a legal option simply doesn't exist. Under current law, a young Mexican or Salvadoran who wants to improve his life by moving to America and working hard at a useful job generally has just two options: (a) Enter illegally, or (b) stay out forever. Several hundred thousand a year choose option (a).
To Representative [Steve] King and those who think the way he does -- the Pat Buchanans, the Lou Dobbses, the conservative talk-show hosts and their riled listeners -- the illegal entry is all that matters. They don't ask whether it makes sense to bar industrious and productive go-getters who value America as a land of opportunity and who supply labor for which there is a yawning demand. As far as they're concerned, illegal aliens are "immigration criminals," and the only issue on the agenda is how to keep them out....
But something is not wrong -- intrinsically wrong, bad in and of itself -- merely because it is illegal. It is against the law to put anything without postage into someone's mailbox.
If your neighbor prints flyers advertising a yard sale and drops one into each letterbox on the street, he has broken the law, but would anyone say he has done something evil?Someone who crosses the border without a visa in order to find work doesn't deserve to be branded a "criminal." Doing so only inflames and confuses an issue that is contentious enough as it is. And it cheapens a word that should be reserved for those who purposely harm others through genuinely wrongful behavior: embezzlers, rapists, arsonists, murderers.
The demonizing of illegal aliens keeps us from having a rational discussion about US immigration policy.
Saturday, June 23, 2007
Immigration wisdom from Jeff Jacoby: