Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Laws, Shmaws

The latest uproar over the illegal immigration/border security issues causes many people to become hot under the collar. Although there is a lot to discuss on the issue, I want to address only one point.

The comprehensive bill passed by the US Senate provides a path to citizenship for immigrants in the country illegally. Five years residence, paying $3,200 in fines, etc. etc. Blah, blah blah.

What do we do with those who don't follow the path?

I don't pretend to have an answer. It's a complex question, where we need to show compassion along with some reasonable expectations. That debate could go on a long time.

If the new law passes, many illegal immigrants will participate in the process. I predict, however, that most will not. They have been used to living outside the system, and there is no real motivation to change their way of life.

So in a few years, when we have millions more illegal immigrants, we'll be having this same debate again. There will be protests, nasty epithets hurled, and the government will once again announce that it has to "do" something.

Enforcement and consequences need to be addressed now. Putting off the discussion because it's uncomfortable is not an option. The problem will only get worse. Now is the time for someone with an ingenious solution to step up. Otherwise, we will have the beginnings of a war -- not a civil war, but a gang war, with those on the outside of the law having the advantage of sheer numbers, and the willingness to go outside the rules.