Amnesty Is Not Amnesty?

Spare Us the Political Double-Talk Please.

Mike Scruggs

     Most politicians who favor amnesty are reluctant to call it amnesty. Some definitions are needed to help see through the political hogwash. Here is a definition of U.S. immigration law amnesty: 

A pardon for illegal immigrant entry or visa violations and/or willful false or misleading representations or willful concealment of a material fact regarding immigration entry and visas. 

Forgoing the penalty for illegal entry is amnesty; granting a path to citizenship is not necessary for amnesty to be amnesty. 

You cannot separate, however, this definition of amnesty from the normal penalty for illegal entry. I have tried to summarize the penalties described in USC Title 8 Paragraph 1325 below:

Deportation, with a 3-10 year bar against reentry, up to six months in prison (first offense), and fines (complex elaboration in Title 18) Penalties can be increased for identity theft or fraud (false or stolen social security numbers), and tax evasion or fraud.

     Meanwhile let me ask those who believe illegal immigrant workers have only violated border entry or visa laws a very relevant question. What percentage of illegal immigrant workers have not committed identity theft, identity fraud (including using a bogus or stolen social security number) or tax evasion?  An American citizen would probably face prison and heavy fines for committing such felonies. The Federal penalty for identity theft is 3-7 years in prison. Most states have $50,000 to $100,000 fines as well. 

So nominal fines of a few hundred or even several thousand dollars and paying some back-taxes, or learning English, or taking some driving lessons or courses are not sufficient to change amnesty from being amnesty, no matter, whether you call it earned legalization, or some other evasive euphemism. Trying to fool the public into thinking amnesty is not really amnesty is not exemplary ethical politics.

A short and easy summary is that if unlawful immigrants are not deported and prohibited from reentry for at least three years, amnesty remains amnesty.

Another extremely important fact is that amnesties and lax law enforcement encourage more illegal immigration. Judging from the 1986 amnesty, you can expect two to three more illegal immigrants over a 10-20 year period for every amnesty given. Now if you make it even more inviting, safer, and more comfortable to live in the U.S. as an illegal immigrant—what I call Red Carpet treatment for illegal immigrants—then you are asking for a tidal wave of new illegal immigration and all the problems and costs that go with it.

Yet there is a bill in the North Carolina House of Representatives, H786, the Reclaim NC Act, that is supposed to be an enforcement bill, yet it has a provision (Section 9) to give “drivers’ permits” to illegal immigrants. This seems to me to be a pretty transparent special interest bill to attract more cheap foreign labor. Unfortunately, this always comes at a high price to American workers, taxpayers, and communities. It is essentially an indirect stealth subsidy to employers of low-paid illegal immigrant workers.

The sponsors of the bill claim that providing drivers’ permits to unlawful immigrants will increase public safety by knowing the identity of the illegals and giving them driver training. This is a serious logical error.  First of all, it makes U.S and North Carolina laws a farce, when illegal immigrants are not prosecuted but given driving permits to allow them to be more comfortable. Degrading respect for law is never a cultural or economic advance. Since illegal immigrants have a DWI accident rate more than twice the general North Carolina population, it is unlikely that any improvement from the driving training is going to offset the higher overall DWI rate resulting from attracting more illegal immigrants to North Carolina. If you were an illegal immigrant, would you come to North Carolina, which would give you a drivers’ permit and make you safer from deportation or would you go to South Carolina or Georgia where no such red carpet welcome wagon treatment was available to you. It is only common sense; the driver’s permit provision will be a magnet attracting more illegal immigrants.

Illegal immigrants may be cheap labor for their users, but the cost of Federal, State, and local government services and benefits to taxpayers is enormous. A May 2013 study by the Heritage Foundation put this cost burden at $14, 387 per unlawful immigrant household per year after taxes contributed. This figure will rise to $28,000 per year when granted permanent residence (Green Card) status and full benefit eligibility.  As economist Milton Friedman observed; “You can’t have a welfare state and high immigration levels.” Importing poverty leads to big taxes and more poverty. Cheap foreign labor competition is also depressing the wages of American workers approximately $2,800 per year.

As far as knowing who is here, Section 8 of the bill completely contradicts this bogus excuse for Section 9. Section 8 weakens the E-Verify identity check.

Both Sections 8 and 9 of the bill are blatant favors to special interest users of cheap illegal immigrant labor that will hurt North Carolina workers, families, taxpayers, and communities. They should be scrapped or the whole bill should be killed.

This Republican sponsored bill is particularly embarrassing to me as a former Republican County Chairman. Most grassroots Republicans want good government. Good government is not serving big business cheap labor lobbies at the expense of most North Carolina workers and taxpayers in the name of free enterprise. Grassroots Republicans are not going to work their hearts out to help special interest owned politicians. Neither are Republicans going to hold on to their General Assembly majorities if they do not act in behalf of all North Carolinians. Free enterprise and free economy, yes, but for ordinary working people, too. Big business special interest legislation will not build a better North Carolina.

“Do not pervert justice; do not show partiality to the poor or favoritism to the great, but judge your neighbor fairly.”—Leviticus 19: 15

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