As promised, here is an analysis of the N&O’s recent Q on immigration:
First, is a mass exodus possible? Along with Ford and Krikorian, I oppose mass deportation, if only because Americans simply don’t like such things. The entire question, though, is just a distraction. We don’t need to deport millions of illegal aliens. As Krikorian notes, they will begin to deport themselves as the jobs dry up and as enforcement becomes a priority. The thing most people don’t understand is that most illegal aliens don’t really want to be here. They would rather be with their families in their native country, just as do most Americans (whether it be in Kuwait or the North Sea) working abroad.
As for enforcement, the key is getting local government involved, as Krikorian notes. Toward this end, Civitas just had Sheriff Dan Beck down to discuss what he is doing as sheriff of Allen County, Ohio, to help enforce immigration law. As Sheriff Beck’s work shows, Ford is absolutely wrong on this point.
To begin with, the states have always taken a leading role in enforcing immigration law. Prior to the late 1800s the states were primarily responsible for crafting their own immigration polices as regards alien entry, with Congress responsible for setting the terms of naturalization. This is provided for in the 9th and 10th Amendments, which reserve powers not delegated to the federal government to the states.
As Sheriff Beck indicated, all state and local law enforcement officers swear to uphold the law, this includes federal law. In 1996, a DOJ legal opinion confirmed that it is “well-settled” that local law enforcement officers are permitted to enforce federal statutes. This was a memo issued under the Clinton administration; more recent DOJ statements are closer to the Constitution when they confirm that as “sovereign entities” states and localities “have the inherent authority to enforce civil and criminal violations of federal immigration law.”
Local law enforcement have and always have had an inherent authority to enforce immigration law -– even civil violations. Thus as great as the 287g program is, it is not necessary for the sheriffs of North Carolina to wait the 2-3 years necessary to enroll in 287g before they start doing something about criminal illegal aliens.
Likewise, Krikorian is right about jobs and illegal immigrants. I’ve discussed this issue repeatedly. See here and accompanying links.
Finally, let me say a word about the candidates’ views on immigration. First, the president of the United States, more than any other official, is responsible for setting the tone on immigration. Clinton and Obama are promising both amnesty and enforcement, yet both did not support a recent bill to strengthen border security. Until the border is secured, an amnesty will only encourage further illegal immigration. And, if we consider the impact of the 1965 Immigration Act, this is precisely what the Democrats need to rejuvenate a dying base. For some reason, the N&O completely fails to discuss McCain’s views on immigration…
As for the gubernatorial candidates, in December all of the candidates came out against permitting illegal aliens to attend community colleges. Moore and Perdue are claiming they still support such a prohibition. This issue should be a touchstone, then, during the 2008 session. What we need is a vote on record so that we can see where the candidates — if only those in the General Assembly — really stand on immigration. More to the point, what we need is action and not mere rhetoric. The reality is that both Perdue and Moore have done absolutely nothing while in office to enforce U.S. immigration law or discourage illegal immigration. Expect more of the same if either is elected.
For more on the Republican gubernatorial candidates, see the video of the recent debate we sponsored.