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An Open Letter to Michelle Malkin: On Immigration14 min read

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malkinI cranked up the tivo last night to watch my daily dose of O’Reilly (the 12/26 show isn’t up yet), and who do I see hosting for him, but Michelle Malkin.   Now, normally, I like Michelle – she’s intelligent, she’s a minority female who is a conservative, and she can be just snarky enough to be funny, while not indulging in inconsistent analogies that demean her opponents, a la Ann Coulter.

However, last night, she got on the subject of the illegal aliens who were arrested at the Swift meat packing plants, and unfortunately, she has adopted the inhuman, hard right position on illegal aliens which smart leaders like GWB have not indulged in.  So Michelle, though I am a lowly blogger like you once were, I hope you read this and take heed, because you are just too pretty and smart, and I don’t want to lose you to the dummies on the fringe.

Michelle, here’s where I think you are largely missing the mark on the issue of illegal Mexican immigrants.

1. You are focusing on the letter of the law, but not the spirit of the law

You appear intent on characterizing illegal immigrants as criminals because they are breaking our immigration laws.  But I want to warn you against making the Pharisaical mistake of being correct by the letter of the law, while misjudging the vast majority of immigrants whose intent is to provide for their families.

And intent is really what you are missing.  Were the civil disobediences of the civil rights movements done by criminals?  What about those who try to stop the murders at abortion clinics by blocking entrances?  Sure, they disobeyed civil laws, but they were obeying a higher law.

So what higher law are immigrants obeying?  The are desperately trying to feed their families.  Many spend months away from their loved ones just to be able to send money home to their poor families.  And I am not appealing to pity here, I am saying that their INTENT is to do good, not evil, and you are on the wrong side of this issue because you are falling into the trap of judging by outward appearances.

John 7:24
Judge not according to the appearance, but judge with righteous judgment.

1 Samuel 16:7
But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the LORD sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks on the heart.

And please don’t resort to the lame retort “I am not God, I am just human” because Jesus himself said that WE ought to judge righteously, not merely by outward appearance.  As much as possible, we ought to judge fairly as God does.  That too is the higher law.

2. You are obfuscating the nature of their misdeeds by placing Mexican illegals in the same category as more heinous criminals

For example, when you call those who use false Social Security numbers “identity thieves,” you give the impression that they are preying upon innocent people with the INTENT of stealing their money, and using their credit cards to buy things, as many modern identity thieves do.

So while, like modern identify thieves, these immigrants are using the Social Security numbers of others, their intent and their actual actions are VERY different. First, they only use false SSNs to get employment.  They pay income taxes into Social Security accounts that they will never be able to get money from.  And they don’t steal money from bank accounts or make fraudulent credit card purchases.

I am not saying that this is a harmless activity.  For those people whose SSNs are being used, the government thinks they are making more money than they are reporting on their taxes, so this may be causing some scary audits for American citizens.

But why haven’t we heard much about these type of problems for citizens?  My guess is that the majority of SSNs used do NOT belong to living citizens, for two reasons.  First, if illegals want to avoid detection, they will want to use an SSN that is not contested by a living person.  Second, while there is a black market for identity information such as SSNs, do you have any data on how these are chosen?  I don’t either, but I would bet that, aside from numbers just made up on the spur of the moment, most SSNs used do not belong to living citizens.

But to reiterate, you are purposely mis-characterizing the INTENT of illegals, ascribing to them criminal MOTIVES which in large part DO NOT EXIST.

And I know from whence I speak.  My wife was an illegal, with a falsified SSN and driver’s license (a real California ID which she had to pay $800 for on the black market).  When she became legal, we got her a real SSN, and when we tried to clear it up, it turns out that no living person owned the old SSN.  I now have many friends and even family who arrived illegally, and to a man they are responsible middle-class home owners working hard, paying taxes, and contributing to our society.

3. The economic impact of illegals

Far right anti-immigrant spokespersons like to quote stats about how little illegals pay in taxes compared to how much they use in free social services ($7M compared to $30M or so).  But you are missing one other important fact – many of these immigrants are paid much less than their possible American counterparts (not to mention they probably lack benefits), and so are saving the American businesses millions in wages.

But there is another problem with this approach to illegals.  Not only are you indirectly accusing them of being lazy and irresponsible by relying on our social programs (and most are incredibly hard working and honest Catholics), but you are reducing humans to their monetary worth, which is a shame.  No compassionate conservative should measure the worth of others by their economic “value.”

Now, if they are an economic drain because they ARE irresponsible or lazy, like many of the deadbeat dads that  unfortunately  populate many of our inner city  ghettos, then you  could make an economic argument – but only because of the lack of virtue and honorable INTENT.  But such is NOT the case with our brothers from Mexico.

4. You are missing the real criminals here

There are two real criminals here.  The primary one is the corrupt Mexican government that needs to implement important economic and ethical reforms.  If you are really interested in righteousness rather than merely protecting the selfish interests of Americans, you should focus on getting the US to pressure it’s southerly neighbor into such reforms.

Second, our Byzantine immigration system is criminally negligent. It is a humanitarian shame.  My own mother-in-law has not been able to see her children or grandchildren for 8 years because she can’t get through the system (part of the problem is the Mexican visa system as well).  Thankfully, we all go visit her in Mexico when we can afford to take our families there, but I can attest to the unfair and expensive nature of the whole project.  Our family has spent almost $3000 on legal fees trying to get her here, and she is still not here.

How many poor, or even middle class families are going to pay for a lawyer that may or may not be able to get relatives here, when you can pay $2000 to have them smuggled here?  It’s maddening for those of us who want to obey the law, and we suffer for it.  When you have grown children and grandchildren, you may understand what a difficult thing it is to wait for the impersonal, inconsistent, and capricious system to decide if you can see your family.

And there is a another class of lesser criminal here, the American employers who hire illegals.  But they are NOT the primary problem here – because if you punish them before fixing the above two problems, you really end up hurting the American farmers and employers, our economy, and again, the desperate people who are trying to feed their families.

5. Jobs people don’t want to do – a half truth

I know you dislike the argument that Mexicans do the jobs that others are unwilling to do, and cite the long line of workers at the Swift plants as evidence that this argument holds no water.  You are partially correct about this.  Over the last few years, Mexicans have gotten out of the dangerous and slave-like conditions of crop picking, and moved into the safer and more lucrative professions such as construction and other blue collar jobs like meat packing.  Americans are willing to work those jobs.  The unwanted jobs argument applied better when illegals worked primarily in the fields.  But please, be careful to acknowledge that this argument still holds true for agricultural workers, even if it is no longer true for other professions.

Interestingly, crop picking positions are being increasingly taken by illegals from beleaguered Thailand.

6. What Would O’Reilly Do?

One thing I love about Bill is that he really does stick to his convictions, and doesn’t go along with the extreme right when he thinks they are wrong.  And in this case, Bill agrees with President Bush, and wisely so, as indicated, for example, by his talking points from March 2006.

But there is a solution that carries both a stick and a carrot.

  • One, immediately move the National Guard to the border to back up the border patrol. If this is done, there’s no need for a $1 billion wall. Illegal crossings would decline drastically.
  • Two, detain anyone caught trying to cross the border illegally and deport them ASAP.  No more catch and  release.
  • Three, inform businesses that hiring illegal workers will lead to expensive fines first time, prison time for employers second time.
  • Four, allow those illegals already in the USA to register as foreign residents without fear of reprisal. An illegal would have 60 days to do that. Failure to register would be a felony with mandatory prison time.
  • Five, once the foreign resident is registered, he or she would be issued temporary working papers and would have to pay a $3,000 fine for breaking the  immigration law. The money would be deducted from
    paychecks over a three-year period.
  • Six, after three years, that foreign resident could apply for citizenship, but such a privilege would not be guaranteed. The applicants would take their place in line behind those who have obeyed the immigration rules.
  • Seven, a legal guest worker program would be set up to meet the needs of businesses. Foreign countries could send a list of applicants and a pool would be formed.
  • And finally, any immigrant evading taxes in the USA would be immediately deported. So there you have it. A comprehensive plan to stop the madness, but Congress is not going to do it.

What would Bill say if he found that you had taken a position in opposition to his on HIS show?  OK, he’s a nice guy, he’d probably let you pass on that.  But I think you would be wise to consider his position – he’s no intellectual or ethical/moral slouch, and he’s got a few years of wisdom on both you AND me.

7. Let’s focus on the real enemies of America and humanity – far-left liberals, abortion and Islam

I know that you focus on other issues more prominently (I love Hot Air, especially Jihad Watch with Robert Spencer).   But listen, most of these illegals from Mexico are devout and honest Catholics, who have more in common with us, both culturally and in values, than differences.  They contribute so much to the pro-family culture that we are trying to maintain against the onslaught of liberal illogic and licentiousness masquerading as “freedom.”

Let’s not make enemies of these people by treating them with contempt, with accusations of criminal intent, and with failing to fix the real injustices and causes behind illegal immigration.  They are, in fact, ready to join is in our fight for religious freedom, Christian faith and values, and for the family.  Let’s not miss this opportunity to serve them and enlist them in the causes that we fight for, and with which they already agree.

CONCLUSION: Michelle, we need you, but we need you to be one step above mere rhetoric

Michelle, you are one of our darlings – cute, smart, articulate, and a conservative minority female to boot.  The left HATES people like you, which makes us giggle with glee.  But please, take some lessons from the wildly popular O’Reilly – don’t fall into the trap of the far right, because they can be extremists, and will hurt our cause (for more on the traps of extremism, see The Civil Rights Movements of our Time).  As I like to say:

Never align yourself with an extremist, even when he agrees with you, because in the end, he will bring shame upon you and your cause.