I recently watched AILA attorney Francisco Hernandez (who didn’t seem very Hispanic to me) debating ALCJ attorney Jay Sekulow about whether we should call “illegal” immigrants “illegal” or not. It was very pathetic debate and I found myself agreeing and disagreeing with both lawyers . . . but mostly disagreeing.
For the record we at 1389 Blog (which was originally called 1389 Blog – Antijihadist Tech) are primarily concerned about two aspects of immigration:
- How Jihadi terrorists are entering the US and Canada to commit acts of terror; and
- How aliens are taking the jobs of American technical workers.
But we just had to say a word or two about this open area of misconception.
So, Should We Call Foreigners Without Proper Papers “Illegal” or Not?
What a question! What does the word “illegal” mean? In the general vernacular, it denotes an unlawful act. It is illegal to marry a brother or sister. It is illegal to rob a bank. It is illegal not to stop at a stop sign or red light. In other words, we are speaking of someone who has committed a crime.
But, what do we mean by the term “illegal alien”? The general consensus seems to be that the alien did something illegal, but what was the illegal act? The majority of undocumented aliens (the preferred term by those who object to the term “illegal alien”), are just that: foreign nationals without up-to-date paper work. For example, they enter on a tourist visa, but stay too long. Does that make them a bad person? Maybe, maybe not! For some, it is a mistake, a mere oversight. For others, they never intended to leave when the visa expired, as their “tourist visas” were pure fraudulent, as they never intended to leave. So, it gets a bit murky here.
Of course, the public tends to focus on the most flagrant violations of US immigration law, those who enter without inspection. These are the people who cross from Mexico into the US, sometimes in the most dangerous ways. Certainly, those people are illegal . . . or are they?
Is it a crime to enter the United States without inspection? It doesn’t seem to violate the criminal code. Most Americans would not want to feed, clothe, and house in prison large numbers of people who have entered without inspection, because it would cost the government too much. US prisons are overcrowded already! What the law requires is that they go back home. And, having entered without inspection does make it more difficult for them to be in the US legally in the future.
Of course, Mr. Sekulow did not clear this up. He just kept using the word “illegal” and alienating those who disagree with him. Too bad Mr. Sekulow couldn’t have used his excellent talent to make a plausible argument as to why we should call people whose immigration paperwork is out of status. It would sure be nice to have a solid legal argument for using that term.
Why Don’t These Bums Just Come Here Legally, Like Our Ancestors Did?
You have heard it before. It always seems that these second, third, and even fourth generation people of ethnic stock speak of how their ancestors immigrated legally, and how that was so different from what is happening now. I have relatives who, as far as I know, came to the US legally. However, can we be 100 percent sure? That is not always so clear. I have a relative who MAY have been born here, but has no birth certificate to prove it. (Sounds pretty bad, but these days, such an individual could be president!) However, the mother of this individual once told a census worker (or the census worker put down incorrect data, we will never know) she came to the US a full three years after the relative in question was born. Another female relative may or may not have ever become a citizen. We know she came with an older sibling, but her status was never too clear. Perhaps, she was never technically “legal” throughout her long life! I grow up with other friends of ethnicity who had stowaway grand parents. So, did those stowaways ever get to be “legal”? Good question! We all hope that our ancestors were legal, but some of us can never be 100 percent sure.
Getting back to today, just how does a good law-abiding Mexican national immigrate to the US? Well, there are three basic legal ways to do so:
- Have a very close relative who is already here legally. This rules out most everyone. But don’t take my word for it; check with any good immigration lawyer.
- Have a trade and/or skills that would allow him to have a great life in Mexico. While this avenue may be open to more people, most would be fools to give up a good life in Mexico for often much more difficult and austere life in the US. How many successful accounts, engineers, doctors and the like want to leave their good life and families behind for a somewhat chancy life in the US? Again, don’t take my word for it; ask someone with a lot of contacts in the Mexican-American community.
- Get to the US any way that you can, support yourself whatever way you can, and wait for the next amnesty. (Not too long ago, single individuals could simply marry a US citizen or lawful resident to stay, but that has gotten to be more complicated.)
Other than that, there are not any significant legal ways into the US from Mexico. Mr. Hernandez alluded to this problem briefly, but didn’t really try to drive the point home.
What Does This Have to Do With Our Counterjihad Activities?
A lot more that you might think! Fifteen or twenty years ago, Latin America seemed to be off limits to Middle Easterners. At one tourist spot, a local was joking about how we gringos, Europeans, Japanese, Israelis, Australians, and people from all over world came there, but not Arabs. That has all changed. The same people who smuggle Mexicans over the border for a small fee, will gladly shuttle jihadis over the same border for a much larger fee.
How did this happen? Failed US immigration policy. The US government has made it clear that only those with a very close family member in the US, and people who already have good educations and substantial resources in Mexico can immigrate easily. So there is a market for those who can get in some other way. Many overstay legal non-immigrant visas, such as tourist, student, or temporary worker visas. Others are brought in by those “coyotes” – often connected with Latin American drug cartels – who do the smuggling. It is a great pipeline for terrorists!
Of course, there is no substantial barrier to entry. You have hear the slogan, “Where’s the fence?” So, US government polices have created a high demand for clandestine entry through bone-headed immigration policy and a low barrier to entry as a result of lax enforcement. The terrorists have used it to their advantage.
And where is the policy debate? Oh, yes! We are worried about whether it is proper to call those foreigners who lack up-to-date papers “illegal” or not!
Given that this the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic, one wonders whether the above-mentioned attorneys–had they been alive in 1912–might have staged a debate as how to best polish the Titanic bell and how to re-arrange her deck furniture.