One indicator of panic in crowds and individuals is an inability to seek or understand what’s in one’s own interest. The amazing plan from DHS on immigration is one such indicator. The Times editorial gets half the story right, but misses the other half. Recall that our current tested and practiced immigration policy has the following three pieces, a sort of sandwich that would seem imminently fissionable if not glued together by the middle part:
(1) Savage and heartless enforcement on a few illegal immigrants as criminals. A few. Not a lot; see (3). A few. Immigrants, not employers; see (3). Reread this until you understand it completely.
(2) Splendid and stentorian rhetoric, along with photo-ops of the occasional jobsite raid from (1), deploring criminals who take jobs from Americans. Talking points: criminals are brown, poor, and foreign, and they come here to luxuriate on welfare and crime amid our famous free everything. Those guys waiting at the curb near the Home Depot? They’re waiting for the welfare truck to come by and throw your money at them, not offering to spend the day digging in the sun for a few bucks and a glass of water! Don’t be fooled!
a. Assiduous protection of cheap and docile labor for employers who would prefer not to pay what Americans would charge, especially in a few industries like agriculture, food processing, and hospitality. Illegal status is very important to the cheap part of this. Also the docile part.
b. Assiduous protection of services and traditions at the heart of the American way of life, including pool cleaning, staying in nice hotels, eating out, home renovation, child care from nannies, gardening, and housecleaning. If these aren’t cheap and abundant, it’s as bad as raising taxes on the rich.
The poor souls in DHS, apparently unhinged by anticipating the ’08 elections, or some new horror from an IG or a Hill committee hearing, have completely forgotten (3), and worse, put a serious enforcement program into the hands of civil servants in the Social Security Administration, an army that will be as hard to call back as the sorcerer’s apprentice’s brooms. It’s been so long since the last helpful political briefing that they have also forgotten that the employers in 3a and consumers in 3b are W’s people! They’re Republicans! Guys, we deplore illegal immigrant workers when Rupert needs a story – maybe even abuse a few; we don’t actually deprive ourselves of them!
With the loss of the Weekly World News*, I have to pick up the mantle in my own small way. This can only be a virus unleashed into the Rovian cerebronet by an Al Q’aeda wonk, that’s blown out neural circuits all over Washington and is spreading up K Street as we speak.
*No immigration angle, but don’t miss this hilarious Peter Carlson piece in the WaPo.