Part One — Punishment, or Reward?
By Samuel Fain,
America’s Right contributor
I am lucky enough to be surrounded with good people in my life, one of which is Samuel Fain. While I’ll let him introduce himself, I wanted to mention just how happy I am to be able to bring, to America’s Right, his unique perspective on immigration, and the Comprehensive Immigration Bill that was thankfully rejected by the American people in mid-2007.
“An Immigrant Looks at Immigration” will be a multi-part series. I look forward to reading each installment for myself, and then passing them along to all of you. My thanks to Sam for all the hard work he’s put in for our fledgling Web site.
A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, there was a bill being pushed through the U.S. Senate.
Of course, three weeks into 2008, the pre-primaries America of Spring 2007 seems very much like some distant planet. However, the monumental importance of the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2007 (CIRA) and its failure cannot be overstated, as Republicans are about to nominate their best representative in the race for the White House in 2008.
Most of the details of that bill are now safely forgotten by the public and are not likely to be unearthed by the mainstream media, as its chief architect, Arizona Sen. John McCain is now one of the media favorites for the Republican nomination. Last time around, an enormous public outcry–which shut down the Congressional telephone system!–helped to barely defeat CIRA despite the heavy push from advocates including most congressional Democrats, some Republicans, and even the Bush administration. Should Sen. McCain be successful in his presidential bid, however, we can rest assured that the bill will resurface with a vengeance, and this time around it will be next to impossible to stop.
That is why it is important, especially today, with the primaries all around us, to examine the legalization of illegal immigrants which Senators McCain and Ted Kennedy tried to force upon us under the guise of simple “immigration reform.” Is it, as its detractors claim, an amnesty? Or is it perhaps just an act of realism and compassion, as McCain, Kennedy and the President would all have us believe?
CIRA would affect the future of our country in many ways. To examine it, we need to answer a few questions and address some serious, immediate and quantifiable concerns:
- What would it do to our economy?
- Would it change the political landscape of the nation?
- How would it affect our security?
- Does it undermine our sovereignty?
- How does it influence the very idea of the rule of law in America?
There are also cultural issues with the bill. Would our melting pot be enriched by this sudden influx of millions of foreigners, or would it, for the first time in our history, be broken by it? Will our culture and our values be affected?
Futhermore, there are moral questions. Is it fair? Is it just? What does it say to millions of people all around the world who play by the rules, obey the law and patiently wait for years for their chance at the American Dream, only to be usurped by people to take a shortcut and immigrate illegally?
During the debate back in the Spring of 2007, many of the detractors were denounced as racists and wild-eyed, Aryan-sympathizing, anti-immigrant bigots. Let me begin by explaining that I am Jewish, and a naturalized citizen of this country, having originally come here from what, at the time, was called the Soviet Union. That being said, with the proponents of the “immigration reform” throwing the “anti-immigrant” label freely at their opponents, one is left to wonder why so many legal immigrants and naturalized citizens oppose the McCain/Kennedy bill. The answer is very simple. They are by no means opposed to immigration, being immigrants themselves. What they are opposed to is ILLEGAL immigration. Senator McCain’s supporters in politics and the media always omit this detail as unimportant, but the distinction is absolutely critical. It is indistinguishable from a hungry bakery customer buying a loaf of bread and an admittedly hungry thief stealing the bread in the dark of night. Both took possession of the bread; the difference lies in the method by which they acquired it.
My issue with the bill stems from that very sentiment. It seems to me that the people that developed and pushed it have somehow overlooked the value of American citizenship, and therefore have become ambivalent toward the means by which somebody obtains it.
Contrary to what was maintained by many who opposed McCain and his project, CIRA was NOT an amnesty bill. While wrong on so many things, McCain and those who stumped for the bill are right on this particular aspect of the proposed legislation.
Look at it this way: If a person successfully commits a criminal act in pursuit of some possession and subsequently is apprehended, there are three courses of action that come to mind that can be applied to such an individual.
The stolen possession is taken away from the criminal, and he is punished in accordance with the law. This is what we usually see as “justice being done.”The stolen possession is taken away from the criminal, but he is not punished. This is called a pardon, or an amnesty.The criminal is allowed to keep the stolen possession. This course of action cannot be considered anything else but a reward for the crime.
The McCain/Kennedy Bill was not an amnesty, but was actually a reward for breaking our laws and violating our sovereignty.
Before going any further, let us remind ourselves of a simple fact that, in developing and promoting this legislation, our elected representatives seemed to overlooked: Nobody, other than a natural born citizen, has a right to an American residency or citizenship. Period. A grant of said citizenship is ALWAYS a reward to the lucky recipient. Some obviously don’t feel that way but–having received this honor ourselves–my family and I, all first-generation immigrants, certainly do. Under the McCain bill, the illegal aliens would have been given this wonderful prize: being permitted to participate in the envy of the world … the American Dream.
Sadly, such emotion-driven arguments are too easy to dismiss in this post-modern world in which seemingly obsolete notions such as patriotism and appreciation for one’s country are frowned upon.
Of course, the proponents of the bill, including Sen. McCain and the Bush administration, argue that it can’t possibly be a reward because the law would require certain punishment for the offenders. Those who have violated American laws simply by being here would have to:
- Pay a $2,000 fine
- Pay back taxes and administrative fees
- Pass a criminal background check
- Learn English and civics
- Wait 6 years before being allowed to apply for permanent legal residency
When weighing the difference, here, between “punishment” and “reward,” consider a bank robber who successfully swiped $1 million from a bank and subsequently got caught. If, instead of being sent to prison, he was told that he could keep the $1 million should he agree to pay $2000 in fines, as well as federal income tax at the very favorable rate of 18%, who in their right mind would not characterize such a scenario as a reward for robbing a bank? Consider instead, perhaps, a woman who steals a baby from a orphanage crib, is caught, and then told that she must pay a $2000 fine and wait six years until she can legally adopt the child — during which time she was free to raise the child as a foster parent. Is that a punishment, or a reward?
Thanks to the efforts of the mainstream media, the border-jumping crowd are often made up to be very sympathetic, desperate, hungry. Using the aforementioned example, would it make a difference if the woman who stole the orphan was desperate and tragically incapable of having children? Of course not. What the woman did would still be criminal, and allowing her to raise the baby would still have been nothing short of a reward for her crime. A $2000 fine does not change that fact in the least.
The truth is, allowing a criminal to keep what he was after when committing the crime is a reward, pure and simple. Unfortunately, that is what McCain wants to do for criminal aliens.
The fruit of their crime is American residency and eventual American citizenship. That’s what they wanted all along, that’s what they demand, that’s what they demonstrate for, and that’s what they claim as their right. Giving them exactly what they sought while breaking the law is exactly the same as allowing a bank robber to keep the money from the heist, or allowing a kidnapper to keep the baby.
Sadly, many of the people elected to represent people like me, like my family, don’t have the same perspective on American citizenship. To me, to other immigrants like me who dreamed to come here for a chance at true freedom, America and the American Dream are priceless. Unfortunately, to others like Senators McCain and Kennedy, America and the American Dream are only worth about $2000. Of all the things wrong with this legislation, the most egregious is the mindset of those who produced it.