Immigration and other matters

View 851 Friday, November 21, 2014

“Transparency and the rule of law will be the touchstones of this presidency.”

President Barack Obama, January 31, 2009

If a foreign government had imposed this system of education on the United States, we would rightfully consider it an act of war.

Glenn T. Seaborg, National Commission on Education, 1983


The furor over President Obama’s executive actions – which are certainly at the edge of the President’s constitutional powers – continues, but there is precious little debate on the immigration question itself. Fortunately some of that can be done here.

Illegal Immigration

My problem with your assertions (and that of about 98% of the Republican pundocracy) that illegals crossing the border is the only illegal act committed by illegal aliens is so spectacularly wrong. Illegals spend their lives saturated in illegal acts.

1. Working (at all) is illegal.

2. Getting medical services using a false ID to avoid payment is illegal (or do illegals never see a doctor?)

3. Creating false documentation to use for employment is illegal (The 9-11 hijackers got their docs from a service created to serve illegals).

4. Filing federal forms using false ID is illegal.

5. Making false claims of income to receive EITC is illegal.

6. Filing false forms to gain access to welfare is illegal.

I could go on — and most of these violations have severe penalties — but apparently only for citizens. Simpson-Mazzoli taught the world how the system works — Get across the border, lie, cheat and steal while you are here – and be rewarded with citizenship. The push for "amnesty" will just reinforce this understanding by an order of magnitude ( or roughly the number of illegals we have to deal with now compared to Simpson-Mazzoli.) Do what you’ve done; Get what you got. In spades.

Thanks for your time.

Stephen Coyne

Presume agreement with what you have said. There remain problems. First and most obvious, most of those continuous crimes stem from their status. When Mrs. Pournelle taught in the Los Angeles County Juvenile Justice System, there were many young people in temporary detention because they were “status offenders”: they had committed no intentional criminal act, but were living in situations that sent them to detention. Most of them could not read, and had no sense of discipline: it did them no harm to learn some social skills and a bit of deference to authority and self discipline, but it was a damned expensive way for them to learn it. And of course it did them a great deal of good to learn to read, which the schools had spectacularly failed to teach them. Some counted themselves lucky to be in a place where it was relatively quiet and safe and the teachers actually tried to teach them something. But it’s hardly a plan for school reform.

Of course there were many others who were actual criminals, including a girl who had borrowed her boyfriend’s gun to kill her mother’s boyfriend as he was abusing her little sister. Others were shop lifters, prostitutes, and burglars. They shared the facilities with the status offenders because there was no money to build and staff more facilities for better segregation of the juvenile detention population.

I say all this not in answer to your summary, but as something to keep in mind.

You point out that working here as an illegal alien is itself a crime. Indeed: but it is a fact, and while finding some way to prevent their employment – no easy task – would partially prevent that crime, it would also create tens of thousands of paupers who would still be here, only now they have no income. Some might go back to their country of origin, but many would not; what happens next? If the answer is ‘deport them all,’ we will address that later.

The question of welfare abuse is important. The average person in the US living on welfare is considered in poverty here, but much of the world would consider them wealthy, and that includes the countries of origin of many of the illegal aliens here. The proportion of those coming here to get on welfare, as opposed to those coming here to work and send money back to their families is debatable, but there are at least some, and of course once here economics determines whether they try to get in on the welfare system.

Welfare reform is important, but also difficult. The simplest, require some proof of legal status before you can receive welfare or other benefits, has been tried and rejected by the courts. A federal law to this effect may well be passed by the next Congress, although it is unlikely that the President will sign it. But assuming it were passed and signed, it is certain to be challenged in the courts. California’s attempt didn’t survive. But assume that Congress directs the President to enforce the laws, and the civil service actually begins to deny welfare benefits to those who cannot prove legal status in the US.

This would be worth pursuing if for no other reason than it might well stop newcomers from receiving welfare and Medicaid and other such benefits, and that would discourage new illegal immigrants.

It would leave open the question of what happens to those formerly receiving it. They will still be here, and will still be guilty of having received welfare illegally. What shall be done with them? President Obama’s solution is to have them register and acquire a sort of pale green card that givens them legal status of a sort, and allows them to get on the welfare rolls again. What would be a better solution? Immediate deportation? We’ll address that later.

Creating and using false documents is a separate issue. It is already a crime for citizens and illegal residents alike, and is best enforced that way, as presumably it would be under the Obama plan. The same is true for many other fraudulent acts in your specification.


Total deportations in 2011, the latest year for which complete numbers are available, numbered 715,495 – the lowest level since 1973. The highest number of deportations on record was in 2000, under the Clinton administration, when 1,864,343 aliens were deported.

Under Clinton, about 2 million aliens were deported in one year. There are about ten million illegal aliens present in the United States. One assumes that the level of difficulty grows with each million deported. If we continued at the 2 million a year level it would take five years.

Whether we could sustain that rate is subject to debate, but it is less time and surely would cost less than our overseas operations in Iraq have cost. If that is what is intended, then it needs to be said; the question becomes then one of the will of the people. If it be that being illegal and here is sufficient grounds for deportation and the law ought to be enforced, we will have to be prepared for the resulting legal congestion in our courts as each case is contested. At present those deported are, usually rather obvious cases (many having previously been deported: there needs to be revision in the law about repeat offenses); that will be decreasingly so over time. We will need to be prepared for the endless newspaper stories with front and inside pictures of children clinging to their mothers as they are taken into custody, and American children crying because the feds took their nanny away.

One wonders if we are up to that.

If not, then what should we do? Mr. Obama has proposed a course of action. Unlike the Simpson- Mazzoli Act of 1986 signed by Reagan, it doesn’t seem to impose penalties on employers who knowingly hire illegal workers, and has no citizenship path for those covered by the amnesty. The Reagan amnesty was intended to deal with about 4 million illegal aliens then resident in the US. There are some ten million now some 28 years later. Of course some put that number as high as 40 million, and most agree that ten million is an underestimate. Whatever one’s opinion of Mr. Obama’s decree, it does not solve the problem addressed by Simpson-Mazzoli, just as that amnesty did not solve the problem it faced.

It truly is time and past time for a rational discussion of immigration policy, and of the measures it will require to regain control of the US borders. This is an opportunity for the Republicans to propose sensible measures to cope with a large and growing problem; even if they are rejected by the President (the lame duck Democratic majority in the Senate vanished in January) it is an opportunity for the Republicans to show they can govern.




I agree with nearly all of your comments about not panicking, especially as I see this as doing long-term damage mainly to the President.

But I think you have the pardon power wrong. Sure, Obama could pardon each and every illegal for having been in the country illegally, but the next day they are still here illegally. He can no more pardon them prospectively as he could pardon someone from ongoing perjury or being a felon in continued possession of a gun.

Kevin Murphy

Yes, I expect so. But he is a former lecturer on Constitutional Law…

Constitutional Crisis

Hi Jerry,

I wonder how many people who applaud Obama on the immigration executive action, will likewise applaud a pro-life president who orders the FDA to stop certifying medical devices and drugs used in abortions, or to stop reimbursing hospitals and doctors who perform them.

Executive overreach always sounds good when it’s one doing something you like, but precedents are dangerous. Eventually the other side has their turn at the plate.

I don’t disagree that we need to do something, and that that something doesn’t include deportation. But the constitutional principle is a separate, and frankly more important, long term concern for the future of the country.

He doesn’t give a darn about immigration. This was a purely political snipe to put the Republican’s into a dither and have them expend limited political capital in ways that won’t put legislation on his desk.



I’m hardly applauding him, but his encroachment in the illegal aliens case is still in the debatable range. It is not allowable in my view, but I am merely a former professor who taught constitutional law to undergraduates. I will agree that the long term implications are important and ought to be addressed, but it is not time to panic. On the other hand, the time to panic over the condition of our grade and high schools is long past, yet we seem to muddle along.


Illegals Serving In US Military For Green Card

There’s two broad classes of illegals: those who wish to be US citizens, and those who do not, and simply wish to make money here and then return to country of origin. The military scheme might work for the former, although history shows what happens when foreign mercenaries take the place of native citizens.

Probably a better solution would be to, in addition to military service being a path to a green card, allow civilian service as well, in organizations similar to FDR’s CCC and WPA, designed to repair and replace infrastructure. President Obama might think that illegals are only good for being hotel maids, but I’ll tell you from personal experience that most construction workers and skilled tradesmen these days are Hispanics. Employing them in Americorps or some similar infrastructure program with a green card incentive would only make sense.

Robert Evans

I would certainly keep a close watch on numbers, but serving in the armed forces as a path to citizenship is a pretty good indication of loyalty. I am well aware of the dangers of a Republic entrusting its safety to hirelings – as was Machiavelli, for that matter.  The Venetian Republic took Machiavelli seriously…  Adding various civilian service paths might make sense; I hadn’t thought about that before.




Apple Stores


My experiences in Apple Stores have ranged from very good to excellent; however, at this point I would hesitate to go for the resolution of a problem without a Genius Bar Appointment.

Apple Stores are currently suffering from success. It appears to me that every Apple Store I have been in in the last year has had about twice the number of customers that the store was designed to handle smoothly. Staff has been added to try and handle the customer load, but the stores are so crowded that everyone is literally tripping over each other.

I am sure that Apple is well aware of the problem and is actively working on locating and opening new stores. This will take some time. For the time being I will take my own advice and schedule a Genius Bar Appointment if I have a problem to be solved.

Bob Holmes

That squares with my observations. And I am making an appointment to take in my MacBook Air with the swollen battery before I go look at the new iPhone six. Discussion in the November column, which I am of course late in getting done.


Donald Cook systems disabled by Russians, NOT


As an engineer and former navy aviator and consultant, I don’t believe for a second the report that a Russian plane disabled systems on the Donald Cook. It may have blinded the radar when it was really close – that’s easy. It might have jammed all the radios – that’s easy too. There is no way it disabled other systems. This is pure Russian fantasy, being re-transmitted by gullible westerners. Modern weapons systems and platforms are designed to tolerate nuclear EMP and HEMP, which are far more powerful than any electronic weapon. Popular entertainment media greatly exaggerates the capabilities of these weapons and of hackers.

In a combat situation, the aircraft would not have gotten close enough to blind the systems. And, if it tried, it would have been taken out by a home-on-jam missile – that’s what they are for.

John Moore

I knew a Wizzo (Electronics Warfare Officer) in a RF4B who shut down 3/4 of Los Angeles for 15 minutes in the early 80s by accident. It ain’t unheard of, particularly in the military. In fact, we have routinely fielded aircraft to do exactly this. It’s how anti-aircraft defenses are disabled. The tragedy is that we continue to build electronics without EMP protection.

David Couvillon

Colonel, U.S. Marine Corps Reserve, Retired.; Former Governor of Wasit Province, Iraq; Righter of Wrongs; Wrong most of the time; Distinguished Expert, TV remote control; Chef de Hot Dog Excellance; Avoider of Yard Work




Freedom is not free. Free men are not equal. Equal men are not free.




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