I only saw part of the Democratic candidates “debate” on PBS tonight. Any sort of forum like this, this early in the campaign season is just so much hot air. More so in this show, as it was humorous to see all the candidates playing to the audience at Howard Univeristy. Sure, they covered all the topics in the current news cycle, and “reacted” to some developments earlier in the day.
Let’s get the hot topic of the moment out of the way. Today the US Supreme Court ruled that race cannot be the sole factor in school determining school assigments. This directly impacted districts in Seattle and Lexington, which had been using race as the primary factor. In far too many instances in both districts, this often meant students were bussed up to three hours each way from their homes to school. Yes, this was the extreme, but it was happening, and the districts turned a deaf ear to the parents.
While policies such as this once served a purpose, it is now being used for political purposes rather than correcting any inequalities. Further more, it has allowed the districts to create “ideal schools” which can be shown to the media and special interest groups and make for good press. All this while other schools get less funding, have deteriorating facilities, and become “gulags” of sorts for trouble and troubled students, with no consideration of geography.
The claim of “promoting diversity” is just so much bunk. Diversity is wonderful and great and all. But it should not ever be the be all end all of an education system. If that becomes the mantra of the district, then the actual education of all the students is not only in jeopardy, but creates a sort of caste system with in the district. It is unfair, arbitrary, and does not serve the needs of the students, let alone the community at large.
Then there’s the no cloture vote in the Senate on the Immigration bill. I hear a lot of back and forth on this from Liberals and Conservatives, with some on each side crossing over. This has not been so much a partisan issue, but more one of regionalism, as each state has unique issues as regards illegal immigration.
No, this was not a perfect bill. Given the way our Congress works, there will rarely, if ever be a perfect bill that gets signed into law. Even so, this bill had a lot going for it, and should have received an up or down vote. Yet, some people are so hard up on some of the specifics, that the over all effect of the bill has been lost in the debates over the details. The old adage of “Can’t see the forest for the trees” applies here.
One of the key carping points has been what to do with the some 12 million illegal immigrants already here. The cries of “no amnesty” are just so much rhetoric. The fact is, we are not going to deport 12 million plus people from this country. Not going to happen. It would be a serious waste of money, manpower, and the courts. Not to mention it would take years upon years to actually do it.
A few notes here just to get some things clear. First off, there seems to be a public perception that all the illegals in this country are from Latin America, mainly Mexico. This is not true. Certainly the majority are from south of the border, but not nearly all. There are plenty of others from China, SE Asia, the Middle East, Africa, and from Europe. If we only target one group, it will correctly be seen as biased. So, it is not just an issue for Latinos, but one that effects all groups. Secondly, think beyond the short term here. Sure, we could deport all 12 million. But what would the consequences be? Think about the impact on the US economy, the tax dollars that would be spent on doing so, the bureaucracy needed to administer such a program, the time tied up in the courts processing them, and now think about our relations with other nations. It won’t just be Mexico and China that will be upset with us, but many otherwise friendly European nations, as well as the rest of Africa and the Middle East. One last point here. If we did deport all the illegals, it would be one of the largest forced removals of people since Mao’s Cultural Revolution in China.
Now, this is not say that amnesty for these illegals is the answer either. They are in violation of the law, and thus need to be punished in some fashion. This needs to be tempered by a bit of pragmatism, so that we don’t just end up bouncing between extremes on the issue. The concept of fines, as opposed to jail time, providing the person in question has no criminal record, is IMO, the right route.
Now, I would propose a flat rate fine scale, say $1000 per year here illegally. So, we’d have a process where by an illegal immigrant would register with the proper authorities. They would be allowed to remain in the country pending the outcome of a background check, and then would be fined accordingly. Once the fine is paid, they would be granted a special category status, which would give them a short period of time, say 3-5 years, in which to achieve the normal green card status. Not perfect, but it does reflect the realities of the situation on the ground.
The other component often railed about (both for and against) has been about border security. This is perhaps the one aspect where more debate is going to only generate more useless legislation and unworkable programs. We can talk all we want about fences, and McNamarra type lines along the borders, but this won’t solve a thing. People will find ways around any of these things. They’ll dig under a fence, or cut through it, or build something to get over it. Electronic sensors can be defeated (just ask the VC). The simple fact of the matter is that the only way to secure the borders is to literally put more men on the job.
Currently our Border Patrol agents are over worked an understaffed. We don’t have enough manpower to properly patrol the borders in a way that would deter illegal crossings. And it’s not just our southern border where this is an issue, but to the north (Canada), as well as sea routes. We should increase the number of Border Patrol agenst by at least 50,000 personel, and increase recruiting for the Coast Guard, and increase the budgets for both to provide the equipment they will need.