Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Just When You Thought The Immigration Debate Here Was Quieting Down for A While

Toward the end of our rip-roaring debate on illegal immigration a few days ago, I received this e-mail from a reader who posts using the whimsical moniker "Mr. Grumpy" and who demands answers. Because I actually had professional work to do, I was unable to respond until now. My responses to Mr. Grumpy are in italics below:



I found your blog via H. Hewitt's non-discussion of immigration on Monday past. I asked 2 questions of you via the comments section of your carrot and stick entry that remain unanswered.

In the event that you simply have not yet read the comments to your own blog, I will re-ask them:

First, how is normalization different from amnesty?

According to, "amnesty" is "an act of clemency by an authority (as a government) by which pardon is granted esp. to a group of individuals." That's what President Reagan did in 1986 (and it must not be repeated, in my view). It is not what President Bush is suggesting, nor is it what Hugh and I are talking about. No one's talking about any act of clemency. "Normalization," as Hugh uses the word to describe what Bush proposes, means that those illegal immigrants who now simply inhabit the country would be allowed to apply for legal status as guest workers, provided they meet certain requirements. Bush bases this approach on these three principles:

  • "New immigration laws should serve the economic needs of our country. If an American employer is offering a job that American citizens are not willing to take, we ought to welcome into our country a person who will fill that job."
  • "We should not give unfair rewards to illegal immigrants in the citizenship process or disadvantage those who came here lawfully or hope to do so."
  • "New laws should provide incentives for temporary foreign workers to return permanently to their home countries after their period of work in the United States has expired."

Do you see the difference? Instead of saying, "All is forgiven, you're welcome to stay here and apply for citizenship," as amnesty did, Bush would match workers with jobs, and in any subsequent citizenship application process would not allow those who came here illegally to benefit from having done so. The guest worker arrangement would explicitly be temporary.

Second, do you agree with Mr. Hewitt's irrational claim that, on one hand, expelling illegal aliens will destroy California's economy -- but his later intimation that the whole discussion is equal in importance to the Michael Jackson trial?

I don't know what you mean. Expelling illegals from California would have a profound impact on life here, and only one of the effects would be economic. In my opinion, anyone who suggests that approach simply can't be taken seriously. As for Michael Jackson, I don't know that Hugh has ever suggested any equivalence between the enormously important immigration issue and the Jackson trial. The very idea is absurd.

I look forward to your response.


Mr. Grumpy

I hope this was helpful, and that you decide to cheer up!


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Partially helpful -- but better than unhelpful, to be sure.

Ilegal aliens, regardless of their reasons, are in violation of the law. In the description of normalization, I see nothing that holds them accountable, which seems awfully close to, "All is forgiven."

And I suppose you were doing your professional work at the time, but Mr. Hewitt made exactly that intimation during the same program that you called. Mr. Hewitt asked his listeners to call and tell him which they would rather talk about -- immigration, or the Cedar Revolution. A short while later he asked what he should talk about -- Michael Jackson, or the Cedar Revolution. I found it to be every bit as absurd as you say it would be.

And thank you for taking the time to address my concerns, sir. 

Posted by Mr. Grumpy

Wednesday, March 16, 2005 6:50:00 PM  
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