It seems like, regardless of matters of war and peace, religion, race, and economics, the one issue that seems to define our times is immigration. I’ve been struggling with this issue, because my middle-child instincts cause me to go back and forth. Finally, after months of wrestling with my own thoughts, I’ve developed the Slartibartfast Doctrine – a policy that is sure to tick off every person I come in contact with in one way or another.
First off: a little housecleaning. I am not a big fan of the term “undocumented immigrants”. Not because I prefer the term “illegal alien”, but because I hate euphamisms. Such phrases cloud the debate and leave us flailing at the wind; we refuse to name that of which we’re speaking – and we end up talking past one another. I once heard an ER nurse joke that they refer to drug dealers as “unlicensed pharmaceutical distributors”. This is the same thing, and just as ridiculous. The phrase is used to take the sting out of the unlawfulness of the person’s actions. So let’s take the middle way: I’ll refer to them here as “unlawful immigrants”. “Unlawful” has a little less sting than illegal, and “alien” is a little too dehumanizing for me. I’m not totally happy about the “immigrant” term, either (as I’ll explain later), but it’ll do for now.
Also, can we all agree that there is no inherent Human Right for each person on earth to be on US soil? This is a good starting point. If we agree on this basic principle, we can start to develop our framwork for the Slartibartfast Doctrine. It means, not everyone who wants to be in the US gets to be here. This is key. Human nature dictates that some people will try to come to the US without asking permission. We have to have some way of preventing this.
This is the paleoconservative part of my Doctrine. I am in favor of a fence, an impenetrable wall, 1000 feet high and 500 feet into the ground, with thousands of guards, and bazookas and William Shatner CDs blaring, and hundreds of sweaty football players with unbearable BO, and lots of guns, guns guns – you get the picture. I want impenetrable barriers at both land borders (this is important), and an armada at sea. Under the Slartibartfast Doctrine, the only way into the country would be through the gates. They would be BIG gates, but if you are a non-US citizen, and you want to get into the US, we need to know you’re here.
Secondly (after this last paleo part, we’re going to be getting a lot more liberal), we need to change one important demographic in the current immigrant wave. Uh-oh, you must be thinking, is Slartibartfast a racist? By no means! I care not what race or culture an immigrant belongs to. However, I think it’s only fair, if we’re going to call someone an “immigrant”, that his intention is not merely to work here and send money back home, but to eventually become a US citizen. This, as I see it, is the most critical difference between this wave of immigration and the ones of the past: all the evidence seems to point to the fact that a huge majority of the people “immigrating” to this country are here merely to work; I don’t see huge waves of people yearning to be US citizens. I’ll be glad to look at any evidence you have to the contrary.
Sooooo, (switching gears to semi-liberal now), I propose we make some estimate of how many people are getting into the country, legally and illegally. This number is probably what the Market will bear. After the Impenetrable Barrier is built, we allow the same number to come here legally. The only difference is, I believe at least 80% should be here trying to become citizens. If this means we have to loosen up sponsorship and paperwork requirements, so be it. Remember, they’re all coming through the front door. We can weed out the “bad guys”. “The Wall” allows us to be far more liberal in oue entrance requirements.
Now, I tick off my paleo friends. What of those who are already here? Well, after the Impenetrable Barriers are built, what the heck: AMNESTY! Yes, we’re rewarding unlawful behavior; however we wouldn’t be encouraging others to come illegally – the barriers would take care of that. This wave of “illegals” would be the last. Welcome to America! If you want to become a citizen – no problem. If you don’t, I’m afraid we’ll have to ask you to leave. Of course, we would still deport the “bad” ones (criminals) as we find them.
Now two Impenetrable Barriers (north and south) would be INSANELY expensive. But the US is an incredible nation in this way: when we decide something needs to be done, we find the resources to do it. Just look at our history. WWII, the Space program, the ill-fated War on Poverty, and the (apparently) equally ill-fated War in Iraq. We have an incredible capacity to throw around incomprehensible sums of money when we put our minds to it.
When you think about it, the Slartibartfast Doctrine is really the current US policy toward Cuban refugees: we’re going to do everything in our power to keep you from coming here, but if you make it, WELCOME!
The way I see it, our two options are the status quo, and the Slartibartfast Doctrine. Anything else is just playing around the margins and putting off the problem for the next generation.