This is part two of an essay debate. For Jacob’s thoughts, click here.

When discussing any piece of public policy we must first answer the obvious question: “What is this policy aiming to accomplish?”

The question posed in this discussion is not one to my mind that has a simple yes or no answer, and it’s a long, winding path to that middle of the road answer. I don’t think it is in any way useful or advisable to declare an estimated eleven million undocumented immigrant people living in the United States as criminals, and thereafter bring the full weight of the law against them. However, some of them – indeed, many of them – have broken the law. It is a federal crime to enter the United States illegally, punishable by fines and jail time.

I’m sympathetic to people who want to live in the Unites States, especially those who come from backgrounds of want – those who want for freedom, want for security, and want for opportunity. However, I find my sympathy tested when I hear stories of people who willing to break the federal law of a country that they were not born to, and then have the tenacity to turn around and say “I don’t see myself as a criminal.” I’m further galled by those who defend such action.

Or more strikingly stories in the vein of what happened to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi earlier this month when she was shouted down and forced to leave an event by rabid immigration protesters, many of whom were reportedly illegal immigrants themselves. The great irony here is that she was speaking in defense of the Dream Act.

And then there’s another category of undocumented people – the Dreamers. I remember the buzzword when Pres. Trump announced he would rescind DACA had been that the president was cruel. CNN, the New York Times, NBC News, The Chicago Tribune, The Washington Post, and many more media outlets ran story after story about how “cruel” this policy was. The argument commonly went “lots of kids were brought here by their parents, don’t hold the children responsible.” Okay, so if my dad goes out and steals me a car, and some time later it’s discovered that I’m driving around a stolen automobile, shouldn’t it then be cruel to take away my only means of personal transportation? Of course not, it would be absurd to claim I should keep it.

But the Dreamers are a different story. Their parents broke the law and bet big on the generosity of Americans to simply tut-tut them – a bet they won because despite what the social media outrage pushers tend to shout, Americans are among the most generous and accepting people on the planet.

To stay on the topic of Dreamers for a moment longer, I’d like to dispense with the notion that they’re all valedictorian super genius patriots who are doctors and engineers and we should be on our hand and knee’s begging them to stay in the country. According to the Center for American Progress, the average hourly wage among the nearly 800 000 Dreamers is just above $17/hour. These are middling wages that could be going to struggling American families, or at least immigrants who came here legally. Speaking of them, how is it not cruel that these people have come to us in good fair, followed our rules, invested time and money into the citizenship, only to see people who came illegally jump ahead of them? Who among the Dreamers would own up to that injustice?

And yet, having said that, I’ve heard of and read many individual stories, moving accounts of undocumented people who I would truly be honored to welcome as American citizens.

So where does that leave me? I believe in the rule of law, I believe in the need to defend our borders, and I believe process matters.

“What is this policy aiming to accomplish?” Well, if it was my intention to kick out all 11 million people living illegally in the Unites States, classifying them all as criminals would be a great start. But even in my angriest moments just taking second to imagine what that deportation would look like – shocking and violent military extradition of a population mass a third the size of Canada – reminds me that it is a horrifying idea, the sort of thing you see from soulless governments like Communist China where they’ve forced millions of their own citizens at gunpoint out of their homes for government land acquisitions.

So what do we do with these 11 million people? I do not support blanket amnesty. I think it’s wrong to reward awful civic behavior in the name of political expediency. Plus I truly believe it would incentivize more of such behavior. Instead I would suggest the longer, more tedious policy of simultaneously securing the borders and vetting the 11 million undocumented individually. If you pass the vetting procedures, congratulations, you get to go to the back of the citizenship line behind all lawful applications who agreed to follow the immigration process set out by the United States.

If you want to live in the greatest country on earth it makes sense that you should play by it’s rules.

This is part two of an essay debate. For Jacob’s thoughts, click here.

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