Tuesday, February 24, 2015
Listening to C-SPAN
Now we're in Missouri spending a few days at the Younger Daughter's place before heading over to Montauk State Park for our month of campground hosting. And, to invoke the usual cliche, the more things change, the more they stay the same. The topic du jour is the debate over funding the Department of Homeland Security. As usual, the Republicans are having hissy fits over nonsense. The more right-wing, rabid Obama haters in the Congress are busy trying to stir up their base (and, going by the phone calls coming in from the tinfoil hat types, succeeding) by ranting about Obama and "amnesty." WTF? Obama's supposed tyrannical executive order isn't amnesty. Doesn't anyone know how to read anymore? An amnesty would be a general pardon, you're off the hook for whatever you might have done now and forever. It's what the Reagan administration did back in the 1980s, a sweeping Get Out of Jail Free card for every undocumented immigrant who met certain criteria.
What Obama tried to do is create a breathing space, a brief moratorium, a 3-year stay of execution. He instructed federal prosecutors to exercise discretion and to focus on certain classes of undocumented aliens more than others. He didn't say ignore those people forever; he said to go after the worst elements among illegal immigrants first. You know, prioritize deporting drug dealers before jerking law-abiding high school students out of classes. This is what Immigration and Customs Enforcement should have been doing all along -- trying to track down and deport the persons who present the most risk to our society -- but, hey, it's a whole lot easier to find people whose only crimes are status offenses. One of the reasons the Obama administration has set a record for number of deportations is that ICE has been aggressive in going after what might be termed the low hanging fruit, the people who are relatively easy to find, e.g., students. Someone who's dealing drugs or on the run for shooting someone is going to be a whole lot harder to find than some kid who's going to school everyday while worrying about whether or not he or she can get into college.
In any case, despite all the wailing and gnashing of teeth by the Obama-haters, prosecutorial discretion is not amnesty. At best (and worst) it's simply an invitation to young people who are currently caught in a legal limbo to step out of the shadows, do some of ICE's work for the agency, and identify themselves. To date, none of them have because the program has yet to be implemented.
Which is another thing that kills me when it comes to being amused by stupidity in action. Going by the language various callers are using, you'd think a gazillion undocumented aliens have already been tapped with a magic wand labeled Amnesty. Pshaw. The program was supposed to start this month. It's currently on hold. Not one person has actually been affected by it yet. And, considering the potential downsides of signing up for the program, I tend to believe the number of applicants for it (if and when the program is ever implemented) will be remarkably low. After all, back in the 1980s when actual amnesty was on the line, there were still large numbers of undocumented aliens who chose to remain undocumented. The gains from applying for legal status back then were a lot higher -- permanent resident alien status -- then they are now, i.e., a lifetime versus "temporarily."
I've mentioned before that if I were one of those "illegals," I'd stay in the shadows. Right now ICE knows potentially millions of these people exist but it doesn't know specifically who or where they are. Step forward, apply for the program, and you've just saved ICE a whole lot of work in tracking you down when the temporary moratorium on deporting that particular class of undocumented immigrant ends.
But can any of the more extreme right-wingers figure that out? Nope. If it was President Obama's idea, then it automatically must be bad, a grab for power, another example of the evil socialist dictator's imperial ambitions. The stupid, it burns.