The “Broken System” Cliche

 

From Monday’s “Best of the Web Today” column by James Taranto in the Wall Street Journal:

“Our immigration system has been broken for decades,” press secretary Josh Earnest declared in a statement previewing the president’s speech, “and every minute we fail to act, millions of people who live in the shadows but want to play by the rules and pay taxes have no way to live right by the law and contribute to our country. So tomorrow night, President Obama will address the nation to lay out the executive actions he’s taking to fix our broken immigration system.”

I am sick of hearing about our so-called “broken” immigration system. The only things that are broken are the ability to secure our borders and the willingness to enforce our existing laws.

Earnest essentially is saying that what is broken is our ability to confer blanket legalization on those who have come here illegally.

“Living in the shadows” is a euphemism for the life of an illegal alien. Thus, Earnest is making the absurd statement that a law-breaker “want[s] to play by the rules.” What the law-breaker wants is to have the rules changed so that his actions are no longer against the law.

Would we say that polygamists — or “people living in the shadows with multiple spouses” — desire to play by the rules, and therefore, we should make polygamy legal so that they could then do so?

The legalization of illegals is promoted by Democrats, of course, because such people would support that party overwhelmingly. Therefore, Earnest and his ilk, while appealing to “fairness” and “humanitarian considerations” are really cynically attempting to expand their voting base.

Really, could there be a national policy that is more transparently politically-motivated?

There are 21 comments.

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  1. user_352043 Moderator
    user_352043
    @AmySchley

    Johnny Dubya: I am sick of hearing about our so-called “broken” immigration system. The only things that are broken are the ability to secure our borders and the willingness to enforce our existing laws.

    Look, I’m not an open borders uber alles libertarian, but I think it’s fair to say that our system *is* broken.  Talk to anyone who has gone through the green card process.

    To legally immigrate from Mexico, you put your name on the list. Years later, you will get a call and be told to report to the Mexican border the next day for an interview, with no ability to reschedule without going back to the end of the line.  I don’t think it’s right for Mexicans to say “[forget] that,” but I can sympathize.

    When my history professor wanted to immigrate, she had the joy of every day reporting to a rubber room to wait for the bureaucrat to get to her file.  She spent weeks doing that, not able to look for a job, apply for a driver’s license, or do anything productive until finally her name was called.

    If we had a working immigration system, highly educated/high skill employees would be able to come to this country without an employer needing to demonstrate that no one else in the country could do their job.  Applications would be handled in a reasonable period of time and with a reasonable amount of professionalism and respect for the people who want to become Americans.

    Yes, we need better enforcement of our borders.  Yes, we need better enforcement of laws against hiring illegal immigrants.  But we wouldn’t have so many illegals if legally immigrating to this country wasn’t such a Byzantine mess, and that is something that requires writing new and more sensible laws.

    • #1
  2. Western Chauvinist Member
    Western Chauvinist
    @WesternChauvinist

    I’m totally with you. In addition, I despise “comprehensive” anything, and Republicans use the terminology almost as much as Democrats. What it means is, “a law so big and complex, with so many regulations and busybodies, no one person could possibly understand it. It requires a herd of lawyers.”

    I’m all for “incremental” immigration reform. If it can’t fit on one or two comprehensible pages, it’s too inclusive.

    • #2
  3. MLH Inactive
    MLH
    @MLH

    Amy,

    I’m not trying to be snarky but, what’s the drill to legally immigrate to Canada, Australia, England or, even, Mexico?

    • #3
  4. user_352043 Moderator
    user_352043
    @AmySchley

    As I understand it, citizens of EU countries have the right to work in any other EU country, and Commonwealth subjects have the right work in the UK, and maybe other Commonwealth countries as well. I’m on my phone, not my computer, so I can’t really research.

    • #4
  5. MLH Inactive
    MLH
    @MLH

    Amy Schley:As I understand it, citizens of EU countries have the right to work in any other EU country, and Commonwealth subjects have the right work in the UK, and maybe other Commonwealth countries as well. I’m on my phone, not my computer, so I can’t really research.

    Well, isn’t that like me having the right to emigrate from AZ to LA? Or live in AZ but work in NV?

    And if a Mexican wants to immigrate to France? Or a Czech to Australia?

    • #5
  6. Misthiocracy Member
    Misthiocracy
    @Misthiocracy

    MLH:Amy,

    I’m not trying to be snarky but, what’s the drill to legally immigrate to Canada, Australia, England or, even, Mexico?

    In the Great White North, here’s the highly oversimplified version: You apply and pay a fee either online or at a Canadian embassy. The application is reviewed and you’re told if it’s accepted or not, then you move to Canada. At the border they check to make sure your immigration approval is still valid. Then you’re in.

    The wait time to get an answer to the application varies according to the class of application (skilled worker, family reunification, etc, etc) and the country of origin.  It varies from about eight months (say, for a highly skilled worker from Hong Kong) to almost 100 months (for a not-so-skilled person from a warzone).

    Because of all the different types and classes of immigration, I can’t give you a single easy answer of how it works. Here’s the website for applying, which explains it a bit more indepth.

    • #6
  7. user_352043 Moderator
    user_352043
    @AmySchley

    MLH, no, because European countries are still sovreign countries with their own citizenship requirements. A Pole has the right to live and work in France, but that doesn’t make him a French citizen. It’s a point of American constitutional law that state citizenship is based on habitation only. You can work in a different state, but you are a citizen on the state in which you reside. (with exceptions for military folks)

    • #7
  8. MLH Inactive
    MLH
    @MLH

    Amy Schley:MLH, no, because European countries are still sovreign countries with their own citizenship requirements. A Pole has the right to live and work in France, but that doesn’t make him a French citizen. It’s a point of American constitutional law that state citizenship is based on habitation only. You can work in a different state, but you are a citizen on the state in which you reside. (with exceptions for military folks)

    So we should expand NAFTA to include “trading” workers? (Now I am getting smarty pants-y.)

    • #8
  9. user_352043 Moderator
    user_352043
    @AmySchley

    I’m saying that immigration isn’t just about Mexicans sneaking over the border. I’m saying there’s something wrong with a system in which would be Americans are stymied for years in a dysfunctional system. I’m saying it’s embarrassing as an American to hear immigrants who plan to stay in this country for the rest of their lives say that they won’t convert their green cards to citizenship because they don’t want to go through dealing with pur immigration system again.

    • #9
  10. Johnny Dubya Inactive
    Johnny Dubya
    @JohnnyDubya

    Amy,

    The points you make about skilled immigrants are interesting but beside the point. Josh Earnest and I are essentially talking about unskilled workers, mostly from Mexico. Regarding this group, you said, “[W]e wouldn’t have so many illegals if legally immigrating to this country wasn’t such a Byzantine mess, and that is something that requires writing new and more sensible laws.”

    That is a tautology and basically along the same lines as what Earnest said. It’s our mean old laws that turn these good, well-meaning people into law-breakers. So let’s change the laws, and presto: No more law-breaking. Let’s make it easier for unskilled immigrants to live and work here legally.

    And the problem is not just one of legality, it is one of numbers and qualifications. Large numbers of unskilled laborers, legal or not, flowing into the population of the U.S. is in no way a good thing. Since we are moving toward a welfare state, we cannot also have open borders.

    I would also argue that it is immoral to open our borders to unskilled immigrants when unemployment rates among, for example, young minority citizens is ridiculously high.

    • #10
  11. MarciN Member
    MarciN
    @MarciN

    Western Chauvinist: I’m all for “incremental” immigration reform. If it can’t fit on one or two comprehensible pages, it’s too inclusive.

    I wish I could “like” that about a thousand times.

    I wish I could pass a law that said no law will exceed 250 words.

    :)

    • #11
  12. MarciN Member
    MarciN
    @MarciN

    Misthiocracy:

    MLH:Amy,

    I’m not trying to be snarky but, what’s the drill to legally immigrate to Canada, Australia, England or, even, Mexico?

    In the Great White North, here’s the highly oversimplified version: You apply and pay a fee either online or at a Canadian embassy. The application is reviewed and you’re told if it’s accepted or not, then you move to Canada. At the border they check to make sure your immigration approval is still valid. Then you’re in.

    The wait time to get an answer to the application varies according to the class of application (skilled worker, family reunification, etc, etc) and the country of origin. It varies from about eight months (say, for a highly skilled worker from Hong Kong) to almost 100 months (for a not-so-skilled person from a warzone).

    Because of all the different types and classes of immigration, I can’t give you a single easy answer of how it works. Here’s the website for applying, which explains it a bit more indepth.

    I read somewhere that it costs around $10,000 to emigrate to Canada. Does Canada charge a fee that high to immigrants?

    • #12
  13. tigerlily Member
    tigerlily
    @tigerlily

    Johnny Dubya:

    I am sick of hearing about our so-called “broken” immigration system. The only things that are broken are the ability to secure our borders and the willingness to enforce our existing laws.

    Hear, Hear!

    • #13
  14. Misthiocracy Member
    Misthiocracy
    @Misthiocracy

    MarciN: I read somewhere that it costs around $10,000 to emigrate to Canada. Does Canada charge a fee that high to immigrants?

    There are lots of different fees for different parts of the process, and the fees vary depending on the type of application, so I can’t give you a simple yes or no answer.

    The $10,000 number seems a little high to me though. The “Right of Permanent Residence Fee” is $490.

    Here’s a link to the fees list.

    That $10,000 figure sounds like it’s the cost of hiring a private immigration consultant to help with the process, which is very common and also big business for lawyers up here, but not technically required.

    There used to be a Federal Immigrant Investor Program, where someone could get in by giving a provincial government a 5-year, interest-free loan of $800,000 (which works out to up to $100,000 in “fees”, depending on the interest rates at the time).  It was cancelled though.

    • #14
  15. Belt Member
    Belt
    @Belt

    So many good points in this thread.

    The immigration system is broken because the Left has a vested interest in breaking it and keeping it broken.

    If any action is taken to try to fix it, they will agitate for the most expansive amnesty possible, because they figure it will net them more voters, activists, and donors in the long run.  It will produce an increased power base.

    They will also ignore any parts of the law that they don’t like, or at least use those parts to declare the Right as cruel and heartless.  And if there is no broad amnesty, they will get to keep using the illegals as fodder for agitation.  Basically, it’s a ‘heads I win tails you lose’ scenario.

    Which comes to the fundamental question of what it means to be a citizen.  I’ve come to think that the Left see citizenship in terms of ‘one who receives any beenfit from the government in any fashion.’  Therefor, anyone who resides in the US is a citizen, regardless of their documentation.  I need to write up a post about this sometime.

    • #15
  16. Steve C. Member
    Steve C.
    @user_531302

    Let’s not forget the community of interests shared by a) Republican politicians afraid of being called out as racists, b) private business interests favoring lower wages, c) radical libertarians who view borders as an archaic remnant of empire, d) economists who view the free exchange of goods and people as interchangeable.

    Given the correlation of forces, it’s surprising the amnesty forces haven’t triumphed yet. Maybe there is still some life left in the silent majority.

    • #16
  17. MarciN Member
    MarciN
    @MarciN

    Misthiocracy:

    MarciN: I read somewhere that it costs around $10,000 to emigrate to Canada. Does Canada charge a fee that high to immigrants?

    There are lots of different fees for different parts of the process, and the fees vary depending on the type of application, so I can’t give you a simple yes or no answer.

    The $10,000 number seems a little high to me though. The “Right of Permanent Residence Fee” is $490.

    Here’s a link to the fees list.

    That $10,000 figure sounds like it’s the cost of hiring a private immigration consultant to help with the process, which is very common and also big business for lawyers up here, but not technically required.

    There used to be a Federal Immigrant Investor Program, where someone could get in by giving a provincial government a 5-year, interest-free loan of $800,000 (which works out to up to $100,000 in “fees”, depending on the interest rates at the time). It was cancelled though.

    That is so interesting.

    I read that figure in the context of someone’s saying that immigrants had to pay that amount to the government to make up for the fact that they hadn’t lived there long enough to pay into the system that they were entitled to draw benefits from. It was in the context of an opinion piece on Canadian versus American health care. It seemed like a lot to me, but I had way to check it.

    It does also show how out of control our own immigration process is. I know it can cost people as much as $10,000 to immigrate to the United States. It takes years and a lot of money.

    People just make up things, don’t they!?!

    Thank you for this information.

    • #17
  18. Misthiocracy Member
    Misthiocracy
    @Misthiocracy

    MarciN: People just make up things, don’t they!?!

    Yes. Yes they do.

    • #18
  19. James Of England Moderator
    James Of England
    @JamesOfEngland

    Misthiocracy:

    MarciN: People just make up things, don’t they!?!

    Yes. Yes they do.

    I don’t think $10k was an absurd figure.

    Going by your linked list, if I’m an entrepreneur, I’m paying $1.6k to apply (including $0.55k for my wife; the numbers go up if I have kids). I then pay $170 if the Canadian government wants to collect my biometric data. Then $980 for Permanent Residency. Then $800 for citizenship. Granted, that’s still less than half of the $10k figure, but there’s a bunch of stuff not listed there; medical fees, for instance; the Canadian list of approved places to get them overlaps with the US list, so I can report that that cost us the best part of another thousand, and could have been quite a lot more expensive (and that’s not counting the reports we had to purchase from other doctors).

    I don’t know what else is missing from the list, but I’d have thought that $10k ended up being a pretty reasonable estimate for the cost before lawyer’s fees. Obviously, after lawyer’s fees, that number can increase quite a lot. And sometimes you can spend years educating your kids in Canadian schools in China so that they will be able to integrate when they get to Canada, spend six figure sums on lawyers, spend innumerable hours negotiating the bureaucracy, and then have them cancel your visa category because they want to have fewer Chinese than they currently have and would prefer to simply dump the current applicants rather than grandfather in the people who are mid-application.

    • #19
  20. user_333118 Inactive
    user_333118
    @BarbaraKidder

    Amy Schley:

    Johnny Dubya: I am sick of hearing about our so-called “broken” immigration system. The only things that are broken are the ability to secure our borders and the willingness to enforce our existing laws.

    Look, I’m not an open borders uber alles libertarian, but I think it’s fair to say that our system *is* broken. Talk to anyone who has gone through the green card process.

    To legally immigrate from Mexico, you put your name on the list. Years later, you will get a call and be told to report to the Mexican border the next day for an interview, with no ability to reschedule without going back to the end of the line. I don’t think it’s right for Mexicans to say “[forget] that,” but I can sympathize.

    When my history professor wanted to immigrate, she had the joy of every day reporting to a rubber room to wait for the bureaucrat to get to her file. She spent weeks doing that, not able to look for a job, apply for a driver’s license, or do anything productive until finally her name was called.

    If we had a working immigration system, highly educated/high skill employees would be able to come to this country without an employer needing to demonstrate that no one else in the country could do their job. Applications would be handled in a reasonable period of time and with a reasonable amount of professionalism and respect for the people who want to become Americans.

    Yes, we need better enforcement of our borders. Yes, we need better enforcement of laws against hiring illegal immigrants. But we wouldn’t have so many illegals if legally immigrating to this country wasn’t such a Byzantine mess, and that is something that requires writing new and more sensible laws.

    The improvements you describe are not what the Democrats have in mind.  There ONLY interest is to enlarge the franchise for their side.

    • #20
  21. user_333118 Inactive
    user_333118
    @BarbaraKidder

    Well said!

    Now, why can’t Speaker Boehner and Senator McConnell give a press conference and tell that to the country?

    • #21

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