Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Our Country's Officially Approved Human Smuggling Ring

The administration’s immigration policies are undemocratic and arguably illegal.  What do to?

Picture this scenario:  You’re waiting in the desert to meet a family of undocumented immigrants.  The meeting takes place as intended.  Once you link up with the family, you arrange transportation into the interior of the country, to whatever destination the family wants.  Then you get caught.  Called upon to explain your actions, you deny having broken any laws, but refuse to say how many times you’ve done this before.  If the immigration laws were to be enforced in your case—which, in today’s climate, is not a given—what charges do you think you'd face?

Now look at what’s happening at our southern borders.  Illegal immigrants are flocking in by the tens of thousands.  Border Patrol agents are waiting to greet them.  These arrivals have not embarked on secret treks through the desert, and the meetings are not “apprehensions.”  Media reports have made it clear that the majority of the immigrants now flooding in are coming across with the intention of seeking out a border agent and turning themselves in at the first opportunity.  Once in “custody,” huge numbers are getting a pass and a ride into the interior of the country.  Our government is turning them loose with a promise from the migrants that they’ll check in with immigration officials at their destination.  You know.  Like they just did.  When asked to explain its conduct, the administration, which has denied doing anything illegal, refuses to say how many immigrants it’s transported in this fashion.

How, precisely, is this different from human smuggling?

You and I can disagree on immigration policy, and we probably do.  My views are still evolving.  But certain basic facts seem clear to me.  Among them is that the natural state of the human condition is one of misery.  Many if not most places in the world are not fun to live in.  Through the blood of our patriots, we have carved out a better place for ourselves here in America (pop. 315 million).  But we can’t solve the problems of the world (pop. 7 billion). 

Throughout history men and governments have dreamed of ruling the world.  Although some came close, none have been able to pull it off completely or long sustain any major gains toward that end.  God knows, in recent history America has tried.  In the heady days following World War II, our leaders talked openly and constantly about maintaining our status as a “first-rate power” for the purpose of exporting the American way and defending the freedoms of others.  We installed countless democracies.  Most failed, and today democracy across the globe is on the retreat.  Neither by force of arms nor by diplomacy nor by massive giveaways of U.S. taxpayer cash have we been able to rework the world in our image or make it a significantly better place for most people.  Such efforts have won us nothing but rows of war dead, a depleted treasury, and the enmity of most of the rest of the planet.

While claiming to hate us, much of the world’s population would love to come live with us.  They’d jump right into our lifeboat if we were to let them.  If we were to cut a big yellow ceremonial ribbon at our border and fire off a starting pistol like some Oklahoma land rush (I'll leave alone, for now, the question of whether that is exactly what we've already done), you’d better believe they’d stampede in.  They’d come here right up to the point where the problems of such uncontrolled immigration turn us into the kind of country they’re fleeing, and living here is no longer attractive to them—the point being, it wouldn’t be attractive to us, either. 

If you don’t think the rest of the world can pull us down to its level, you are not paying attention.  It’s already happening.  To give one example, our state department has sent so many Somali refugees to Springfield, Massachusetts (note: not a bastion of conservatism) that its mayor is begging for mercy.  Mayor Domenic Sarno (who is, let the record reflect, a Democrat) says the government has had no plan other than to dump the refugees and run, leaving them dependent on the city, and he says the influx has completely overwhelmed the municipality’s ability to cope.  According to The Associated Press, inspections have found the refugees living in “overcrowded, pest-infested apartments without electricity and sometimes heat.”  The mayor’s pleas have fallen on deaf government ears, have prompted feedback from opponents implying that his concerns are racial in nature, and have drawn criticism from liberal editorial pages accusing him of ignoring the United States’ “moral imperative.”

I agree that an important aspect of the country we all love is that America is a moral leader.  And that means we can’t simply ignore the plight of refugees.  But there must be reasonable limits.  Our leaders do not have a moral, ethical, or legal obligation to let immigrants swamp us.  The opposite is true.  Their obligation is to the American people, not to the world.

Yet look at what is happening.  Our southern borders now stand wide open.  There is a word to describe what our country is now experiencing.  Open border advocates really hate it when debaters use the word, so I won’t.  Instead, I’ll give you the description of what is happening:  “An intrusion or encroachment.”  Google or Bing the phrase (make sure you enclose it in quotes as above) and see what word you get.

In my view, you can learn everything you need to know about the appropriateness of the government’s actions by this fact alone:  the president is acting under a cloak of secrecy.  The Obama administration has steadfastly refused to discuss the issue in any meaningful sense of the word.  We wouldn’t have known about what’s going on at all had reporters not glommed onto it—which is one benefit of a free press.  In the immediate aftermath, the Department of Homeland Security declined all comment.  Now it’s responding to some questions, but as of this writing has refused to disclose how many immigrants it’s “assisted” in this fashion.  Media reports now suggest the number may have surpassed 40,000.  And they’re still coming.

For no apparent reason other than to tweak our conservative state government’s collective nose, the administration has been flying untold (because the government isn’t telling) numbers of the immigrants to Arizona.  Take that, Jan Brewer.  Our attorney general is threatening to sue, but given past court defeats of Arizona’s efforts to enforce immigration law, such an effort would appear to be futile.  Our governor is completely helpless.  The last time Brewer had President Obama within shouting distance, she wagged her finger at him.  He’s not talking to her now.  In desperation, she’s asking the media to try to get to the bottom of what is going on.  Can you imagine?  The top government officer of one of our 50 states can’t find out what the federal government is doing within her jurisdiction.  No arrogance of power on the part of the federal government there.

The possibility that the media will rise up and demand immigration enforcement is nil.  The far right believes the media to be liberal.  On this one issue, personal experience leads me to believe that assessment to be correct.  Back when I was a working news guy (as opposed to an unpaid bloviator) I attended a workshop at a journalism think tank.  One morning our group dissected a controversial newspaper story that had led to an illegal immigrant’s deportation and a crackdown on an immigrant business.  Our assignment was to judge whether the newspaper should have withheld the immigrant’s identity, even though the man had spoken voluntarily and had not asked for any such protection.  The ethics of the profession require journalists to balance their duty to tell the truth against the need to minimize harm.  Note that this immigrant wanted to be heard.  In every other case, my fellow journalists would have insisted on “giving voice to the voiceless,” as called for in our ethical code, and letting the man have his say.  Not this time.  Everyone in my group agreed the paper was wrong to reveal the man’s identity, and some said the paper should have killed the story outright, given the “harm” caused by the immigrant’s deportation and the subsequent enforcement crackdown on the business in question.  I pointed out, somewhat indignantly, that the “harm” they sought to prevent was the enforcement of the laws of the United States.  I went on to say to these fellow journalists that if they truly believed such enforcement was harmful, then they should say so and make sure their readers and viewers know that opposition to existing immigration laws is part of their coverage agenda.  This led to a shouting match.  I lost.

One thing you can normally still count on the media to do, though, is to oppose official secrecy.  Our government keeps secrets for one of two reasons:  to protect national security, or to protect partisan political interests.  The former is legitimate.  The latter is not.  No one is claiming there is a national security reason for withholding the number of undocumented immigrants to whom we’ve given plane rides, bus tickets, and get-out-of-detention-free cards.  The Associated Press, to its credit, is among those challenging that secrecy.  It reported that government spokespersons have declined to answer the “how many have you helped” question at least seven times.  In most of the cases, the official involved claimed that the information was not available or not on hand. 

We are supposed to believe our government can’t keep track of its cases?  In a rare burst of frank language and clarity, the Associated Press explains the question-dodging this way:  “Despite promises to the contrary, this is how it looks when the image-conscious Obama administration doesn't want to reveal politically sensitive information that could influence an important policy debate.”  That assessment is a significant step in the direction of journalism candor.  But had it been fully on target, it would have called the “no information available” responses what they are:  flat-out lies.  Nor is this the first time this administration has deceived the American public or withheld potentially embarrassing information.

We’re at this crossroads because President Obama announced his intention to work around the democratic process and to rule as much as possible by executive fiat, and then did so.  He and his supporters have defended that position by pointing to Congress’ inability to act.  But what they really mean is that the administration has not been able to bend Congress to its will.  The Constitution sets forth a system under which Congress writes the laws and the administrative branch enforces them.  This system does not suit our president.  So he’s decided to bypass it.  Further, he’s decided to do so partially in secret.

What do you call a regime that writes its own laws and keeps the public in the dark?

Rest assured, there is a word for it.  Again, lest I be called inflammatory, I won’t use it myself.  Google or Bing this phrase and see what you get:  “A ruler who is not effectively restricted by a constitution, laws, recognized opposition, etc.”

How is this tolerable?  Regardless of where you stand on immigration, I hope you have not given up on the American way of reaching these decisions.  Whatever we do, we should be doing it together, in public, in a democratic fashion, and as a republic.  Not through executive fiat.  And not in secret.

Since that is precisely where we find ourselves, what can be done about it?  President Obama’s opponents believe he is breaking the law, and fantasize about impeachment.  However you feel about that, it isn’t going to happen under the current balance of power in Washington.  

But the mid-terms are coming up.  What you should do now is get involved.  Let your elected representatives hear from you.  Demand an end to the secrecy.  Listen to what the candidates are saying.  And vote.  You can’t insist on democracy unless you first participate in it.

Regardless of where you stand on this issue, I personally pray that you do not want and will not tolerate a government that sees the democratic process as a failed system to be worked around. 



GOP Speaker of the House John Boehner now confirms he will sue President Obama for bypassing Congress and ruling by executive fiat.   Can you say, “Constitutional crisis?”  The Constitution lays out a very specific, very formal process for handling a president suspected of not doing his job or of crossing the legal line.  This isn’t it.   I’m sure I’ll have more bloviations on that later.
More posts on this and other political subjects can be found here.

©2014 by Forrest Carr.  All rights reserved.

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