Monday, April 3, 2006

Common Nonsense

Tony Snow imagines that he can bring some common sense to the topic of immigration. He soothingly writes (presumably of those who are liable) that “62 percent of illegal immigrants pay income taxes (via withholding) and 66 percent contribute to Social Security.” Snow reports these facts as if they were good things. Uh, dude … that means 38% are not paying income tax. That’s sort of illegal. You’d go to jail for that. Well, you’d go to jail for it. They don’t. As for the 66% who pay into Social Security, someone commented on this site that this was a good thing: they’ll never collect, and so we benefit. No, no, my dear, that is a very cynical argument. We do not want to benefit by cheating people out of what is theirs.

Snow goes on to say that “Skeptics counter that immigrants have clogged our hospitals, which is true -- but primarily in places that offer lavish benefits to illegal immigrants.” Um, duh? And these would be places that offer, uh, “lavish” benefits to lawful residents too – that is, they would be offered if illegals didn’t make them unavailable. An eight hour wait in the emergency room ain’t all that convenient, sometimes, except for the illegal hoard that uses it as their primary caregiving facility.

Snow admits that “illegal immigrants in 2004 accounted for 95 percent of all outstanding homicide warrants in Los Angeles and two-thirds of unserved felony warrants.” Yet he, illogically, attempts to excuse this by pointing out that, according to national statistics, immigrants are in general less likely to be involved in criminal activity than comparable groups. Shall we analyze this statement? He doesn’t say illegal immigrants. Well, that waters it down quite a bit, doesn’t it. I don’t imagine there’s a huge Canadian immigrant crime wave going on. Further, he’s talking about national statistics. Again, I don’t think the Mung immigrants in Minnesota are spiking the crime stats upward. But where we have a high concentration of illegal immigrants, 95% of the fugitive homicidal felons are illegals. Golly, Tony, can you explain to me again how this is good news?

Oh, you say the “Latino homicide rate in Miami is three times that of El Paso, Texas, which has one of the nation's largest immigrant populations.” So Texas border towns are safer than Florida coastal towns? And that would be because ... Mexicans are more law-abiding than Cubans? Could it be that there’s more employment for immigrants in El Paso than in Miami? Could it be that immigrants, legal or otherwise, in border towns are newer to America, and so more cautious? Could it be that Texas enforces its laws more diligently?

Snow goes on playing with some not terribly relevant data, then says, “Virtually everyone agrees that we need to secure our borders, deport lawbreakers and slackers among the illegal-immigrant population, and revitalize the notion of citizenship by insisting that prospective citizens master the English language and the fundaments of American history and culture.” While this sounds very commonsensical to me, it is factually in error. Not virtually everyone agrees with these goals. A very large and vocal group of protestors, not many days ago, was clearly opposed to every one of these agreed-upon points. Snow concludes profoundly: “Before someone razes Lady Liberty and decides to erect a wall to ‘protect’ America from the world, shouldn't we at least spend a little time trying to get our facts straight?” Good advice, Tony - very commonsensical. But here’s another bit of common sense: if walls didn’t work, people wouldn’t build them.

Let me explain to you the confusion in you mind, Tony. The controversy isn’t over migration. We have laws that regulate this process, and there’s no real trouble about it. The problem is illegal, illegal, illegal immigration. Did you get that, Tony? Illegal. So what I’d like you to do, is go back and re-write your article, on the same theme, of bringing common sense to the immigration debate – only this time, make sure that it’s about the right debate, the only debate ... the one over illegal immigration. I’ll expect it on my desk tomorrow morning. Get busy.


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