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"Illegal Alien" or "Undocumented Immigrant"?

The California Court of Appeal panel in Martinez v. Regents votes for "illegal alien":

Defendants prefer the term "undocumented immigrants." However, defendants do not cite any authoritative definition of the term and do not support their assertion that the terms "undocumented immigrant" and "illegal alien" are interchangeable. We consider the term "illegal alien" less ambiguous. Thus, under federal law, an "alien" is "any person not a citizen or national of the United States." A "national of the United States" means a U.S. citizen or a noncitizen who owes permanent allegiance to the United States. Under federal law, "immigrant" means every alien except those classified by federal law as nonimmigrant aliens. "Nonimmigrant aliens" are, in general, temporary visitors to the United States, such as diplomats and students who have no intention of abandoning their residence in a foreign country. The federal statutes at issue in this appeal refer to "alien[s] who [are] not lawfully present in the United States." In place of the cumbersome phrase "alien[s] who [are] not lawfully present," we shall use the term "illegal aliens."

Obviously, both terms have their own connotations, and people making rhetorical arguments understandably prefer to use the one that has the connotation they like. But I tend to agree that "undocumented immigrant" is both less precise as a matter of immigration law and (as a separate matter) less literally descriptive than "illegal alien." The problem with the aliens — the problem they face, and the problem many others have with them (rightly or wrongly) — isn't just that they somehow lack documents. It's that they're here without legal authorization, which is to say illegally (though to my knowledge in some situations not criminally, at least unless they reenter having been deported). [UPDATE: I at first said "to my knowledge generally not criminally," but the comments made me even less sure of that than I already was, so I softened this to "in some situations not criminally"; I hope to be able to look into this more, but for now let me leave this last parenthetical conveniently vague.]

Curmudgeonly Ex-Clerk (www):
EV: "It's that they're here without legal authorization, which is to say illegally (though to my knowledge generally not criminally, at least unless they reenter having been deported)."

I think that's wrong, based on 8 U.S.C. 1325(a). Doesn't that statute make simple illegal entry, as opposed to reentry, a federal crime (albeit not a felony)? Or am I missing something?
9.16.2008 4:36pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
I would argue that semantically, while you have a point about precision, there are also counterarguments based on the fact that it is CROSSING the border, and not living in the US, that is illegal, and thus "illegal alien" makes the PERSON and not the act seem "illegal". And "alien" conjures up "War of the Worlds" style alien invasions. And, of course, I oppose vehemently the positions of many conservatives that we should attempt to seal our southern border rather than legalizing the flow.

But nonetheless, I have no problem with the term "illegal alien". It is a longstanding term, everyone knows what it means, and there's no reason other than rank political correctness why people shouldn't use it. It may not be my favorite description, but it's not offensive. And since legal precision matters a lot to a court, there are good reasons for the California Court of Appeal to use it.
9.16.2008 4:42pm
Gilbert (mail):
No question these people are aliens, and undocumented. "Immigrant" suggests some legal status, so is a little bit misleading, but "illegal" is completely ambiguous, and when coupled with "alien" would mean that there is something illegal about that person without suggesting it has anything to do with immigration (by its terms there could be illegal aliens outside the United States).

I think its a silly issue, but if you want to take it seriously I don't think you can seriously argue that "illegal alien" is less ambiguous or more technically correct than "undocumented immigrant."

It should be "illegal immigrant."
9.16.2008 4:43pm
NickM (mail) (www):
Curmudgeonly - many of them entered as children legally incapable of a criminal act or otherwise possessing a valid defense (presumptive incapacity, necessity due to parental control, etc.) to a criminal charge.

Nick
9.16.2008 4:44pm
Curmudgeonly Ex-Clerk (www):
NickM:

Maybe that's what EV had in mind. Though I'm not sure.

At any rate, I don't think you're addressing the question that I raised. The circumstances you have in mind might well present a valid defense to an 8 U.S.C. 1325(a) prosecution in a given case, but what I'm asking is whether the statute does in fact generally criminalize simple illegal entry. It seems to do so, unless I'm missing something. But I'm open to correction . . .
9.16.2008 4:57pm
A.W. (mail):
Michelle Malkin makes a good point about the term: these people are hardly undocumented. They have stolen SS cards, drivers' licences and so on. So the term is not even accurate.

Besides, I am allergic to bullshit, and repackaging a bad concept in a softer term has to be one of the most odius forms of it.
9.16.2008 4:58pm
Modus Ponens:
"Illegal alien" is inappropriate because the adjective is legal conclusion which is often unsettled until the conclusion of the proceedings in which the term is being used.

Many "illegal aliens"--including those who entered illegally with the intent to remain and those who arrived in the U.S. as temporary visitors without the intention of abandoning their residence in a foreign country but who have since "fallen out of status"--remain here while awaiting final determinations of their claims to residency/citizenship.

If we're going for precision, why not just call them "aliens pending residency"? Similarly, why bother referring to accused criminals as "the accused"?
9.16.2008 4:59pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
"I oppose vehemently the positions of many conservatives that we should attempt to seal our southern border rather than legalizing the flow."

I'm not sure what you mean by "seal" in this context, but normally a sealed border is one where no one crosses. I've never heard anyone say we should "seal" US border with Mexico. Are you saying that anyone should be able to cross the US-Mexican border in the same fashion as they go from (say) California to Nevada? If the latter then you object to the US being a sovereign nation. Sovereign nations have borders, and they control their borders. Every country does this including Mexico which has troops on its southern border. BTW if someone makes an unauthorized entry into Mexico, he has committed a felony under Mexican law.
9.16.2008 5:03pm
erics (mail):
Can we get Charles Krauthammer to weigh in here?
9.16.2008 5:03pm
A.W. (mail):
Modus

> "Illegal alien" is inappropriate because the adjective is legal conclusion

There is a simple solution to that. If its not clear if they are illegal or not, then you stick the word "alleged" in front of it.
9.16.2008 5:06pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
A spy or saboteur who enters a country with a forged passport and forged visa is certainly not an undocumented alien, he's got documents galore. But he's still an illegal alien.
9.16.2008 5:08pm
Armen (mail) (www):
So are you an illegal driver for speeding? An illegal pedestrian for jay walking?
9.16.2008 5:08pm
Curmudgeonly Ex-Clerk (www):
Also, as to whether 1325(a) criminalizes simple illegal entry, U.S. v. Flores-Peraza, 54 F.3d 164 (5th Cir. 1995), indicates that it does so. See id. at 165.
9.16.2008 5:09pm
Curmudgeonly Ex-Clerk (www):
Oops, wrong cite. It should be 58 F.3d 164.
9.16.2008 5:10pm
one of many:
Silliness, even if one not criminally responsible for an act, it does mean the act itself is not illegal. If the law specifically carved out an exception (i.e. "knowingly") it would be a different matter. The law makes no exception for illegal entry and the only distinction would be whether one is liable for the illegality of the entry.
9.16.2008 5:16pm
Soronel Haetir (mail):
I once saw Chuck Shumer catch himself about to say illegal alien and then manage to stop his mouth, was extremely funny.
9.16.2008 5:19pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
If the latter then you object to the US being a sovereign nation. Sovereign nations have borders, and they control their borders.

Have you ever been to the border of a Schengen country? I guess, say, France and Spain aren't sovereign.
9.16.2008 5:26pm
DJR:
Armen,

You might call an unlicensed driver an illegal driver, though the fact that we use the term "unlicensed" says something. You might call a pedestrian on a runway an illegal pedestrian, though "trespasser" more aptly comes to mind.

The problem with alien is that it does not acknowledge that some of these individuals come here to stay, whether the government agrees they are permitted to do so or not. The problem with "illegal" is described above. A complete description might be "foreign national in the United States without a legal status, but who may well be eligible for adjustment of status when and if an immigration court ever gets involved, and who may aspire to become a U.S. national"

Of course we often shorthand phrases that are strictly speaking inaccurate, so I don't have a problem with "illegal alien," "undocumented immigrant" "illegal immigrant" or other variations, though I hate to hear any term as a perjorative, and of the possibilities "illegal alien" is the one that is most often used that way.
9.16.2008 5:26pm
trad and anon:
"Undocumented immigrant" makes it sound like they accidentally forgot to fill out the right forms or the UCIS lost their paperwork or something like that. I don't like "illegal alien," since it makes it sound like the person is illegal when what's illegal is the act of crossing the border without legal authorization. It's better than "undocumented immigrant" though.

Of course, the term is wholly inappropriate when used to describe someone currently in a legal proceeding to determine legal status.
9.16.2008 5:34pm
theobromophile (www):
My problem with "undocumented immigrant" is not just that it makes it sound like a person lacks documentation (as opposed to the legal right to be in this country), but that it also is a very short linguistic jump to "undocumented worker." Babysitters and the 15-year-old who mows your lawn are "undocumented workers," but they certainly aren't a part of the problem.
9.16.2008 5:39pm
Houston Lawyer:
I think the term "wetback" had a lot going for it in this regard. Is it a crime to submit a fraudulent Social Security Number to your prospective employer? Do illegal aliens have a fifth amendment right to lie in order to hide their illegal status?
9.16.2008 5:40pm
MartyA:
"Undocumented immigrant" is a flat out lie that the anti-Americans use to make it seem like normal Americans are at fault. Have you ever gained the trust of one or more illegal aliens? I have, and I can GUARANTEE that they ALL have documents. They may be false/stolen documents, purchased at a flea market or outside a counselor office or they may be meaningless documents. I was had an illegal show me a Blockbuster "membership" as proof of something other than his membership in, well, Blockbuster. Mexicans are not stupid. Those is the US illegally know that at some time in some circumstances, a false or meaningless document might do them some good, if only as an aid to selling it to some less sophisticated illegal alien. So, the term "undocumented immigrant" simply doesn't mean anything and is nothing more than to label a bad thing with a term much more innocuous.
In San Francisco, the city government wants to issue official ID cards to illegal aliens who live in the city to help them apply for and obtain city benefits. They've put the plan on hold, in part, I believe, because so many of us who are US citizens but not San Francisco residents have said that we will apply for one of the documents/cards. So, it seems that there are two groups pitted against one another, those who are not legally permitted to live and work in the US but clain to live and work in San Francisco and those of us who legally live and work in the US but not in SFO.
9.16.2008 5:42pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
"Have you ever been to the border of a Schengen country? I guess, say, France and Spain aren't sovereign."

Those countries abolished border controls for the member states of the European Union. And yes the Treaty of Lisbon will largely abolish the sovereignty of France and Spain. Nevertheless a Russian still needs a visa to enter France.

In analogy with the EU, the US could form a North American Union with Canada and Mexico and abolish the border controls, but then we wouldn't be the US anymore would we? Is that what you want? But the open borders people really do want no borders in the sense that anyone from anywhere can enter the US and stay here. Why make an exception for Mexico. BTW what is the benefit to US citizens?
9.16.2008 5:56pm
Curmudgeonly Ex-Clerk (www):
One of Many:

Two points. First, we may be talking past one another. My point really isn't about the circumstances raised by NickM. I'm simply asking if 8 U.S.C. 1325(a) criminalizes simple illegal entry in general. That a particular defendant might have a defense, or that the government might not be able to sustain a prosecution against a particular defendant for want of mens rea, really doesn't address the question that I'm asking (or trying to ask, at any rate). Assume scienter or intent unquestionably exists in a particular case of illegal entry, does 8 U.S.C. 1325(a) criminalize that entry? That's the question that I was posing to EV when I initially commented. I think the answer has to be "yes."

That said, I'm also not sure that 1325(a) invariably requires scienter. Of the statute's three subsections, only 1325(a)(3) explicitly refers to a state of mind. Though I think that 1325(a)(2) at least impliedly does so as well through the use of the word "elude." But subsection 1325(a)(1)? Well, scienter does not necessarily seem required by that provision, and the obvious presence of a scienter requirement in two adjacent subsections may suggest that such a requirement was intentionally omitted from 1325(a)(1). I've found little authority on the point, but see U.S. v. Sanchez, 258 F. Supp. 2d 650, 661 (S.D. Tex. 2003) (holding that 1325(a)(1) does not require any showing of intent). Do you know of any ontrary authority?
9.16.2008 6:01pm
Opher Banarie (mail) (www):
A. Zarkov: ...anyone from anywhere can enter the US and stay here. Why make an exception for Mexico. BTW what is the benefit to US citizens?

Benefit to US citizens: We get to be lectured by a candidate for President (who doesn't speak Spanish) that we must teach our children Spanish (even as his children are not learning Spanish) and let our kids go to public schools (even as his children go to elite private schools).
9.16.2008 6:11pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
Those countries abolished border controls for the member states of the European Union. And yes the Treaty of Lisbon will largely abolish the sovereignty of France and Spain.

You might want to back off your argument (sovereignty depends on many things, border controls being only one) rather than digging a bigger hole. I assure you that France and Spain still have plenty of sovereignty and will continue to well into the future.
9.16.2008 6:26pm
Dave N (mail):
This discussion reminded me of a quote from the late Sonny Bono. When asked to discuss illegal immigration, he responded, "What's to talk about? It's illegal."
9.16.2008 6:30pm
one of many:
Curmudgeonly,

I think it's 1322(a) (not sure and cannot be bothered to look it up) and the resulting presidential determinations that makes it fall into the illegal category myself, but I'm willing to accept 1325(a). The silliness arises because people are confusing two different types of defenses, one in which the illegal nature of the act is dependent upon a certain set of facts and one which exempts one for liability for the act. Scienter is one of those categories which changes the nature of an act depending upon the set of facts, and if scienter were to be considered to change the nature of the act of entry without going through proper procedures from illegal to legal then it would have to be noted in the statute (which it isn't). The examples provided are cases where the nature of the act is not changed (it is still illegal) but instead liability for the act would be dismissed.
9.16.2008 6:35pm
Nathan Sharfi (www):
Quoth Houston Lawyer:
I think the term "wetback" had a lot going for it in this regard


Not in California--there's not a whole lot of wet between, say, San Diego and Tijuana.
9.16.2008 6:43pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
"I assure you that France and Spain still have plenty of sovereignty and will continue to well into the future."

So why are Europeans denied the right to vote on the treaty? Only the Irish got it had the chance, and they voted it down. Could it be that they consider the treaty a threat to their sovereignty? Of course a border isn't a sufficient condition for sovereignty, but it's a necessary one. A country without borders is no country at all.
9.16.2008 6:59pm
Monkberrymoon (mail):
Dilan, while there may or may not be "sovereignty", for individual states I think it is a good point that the abolition of border controls between Mexico and the US would be a very different place from the one we have now. Maybe you agree with that and maybe you don't, but you can't deny that it wouldn't really be the same U.S. anymore.

I'm more interested in the fact that, for the first time, I've actually heard a guy who's against border enforcement take the explicit view that we should have "open borders." Most of what is pejoratively referred to as the "open borders crowd" would never be caught taking that next step -- they just complain about evil enforcement on the border (and compare a barrier to the Berlin Wall, etc.).
9.16.2008 7:17pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
Of course a border isn't a sufficient condition for sovereignty, but it's a necessary one. A country without borders is no country at all.

You are conflating two meanings of "borders".

Recognized demarcations between your territory and someone elses = necessary condition of sovereignty.

Border controls = not so much. Plenty of sovereign entities, from the Schengen countries to Vatican City, have no border controls. Not just the inefficient and insufficient ones we have, but no border controls at all. And yet they are still sovereign.

And in the past, before mass travel, almost all countries had no border controls.
9.16.2008 7:18pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
Dilan, while there may or may not be "sovereignty", for individual states I think it is a good point that the abolition of border controls between Mexico and the US would be a very different place from the one we have now.

I never argued otherwise. I am responding to the silly contention that if a country doesn't have border controls, it isn't a sovereign country.

Personally, I want a lot of Hispanic immigration, I want it to occur legally through regularized border crossings, and I have no problem with a secure fence to ensure that happens. But that's not what we are discussing here; we are discussing the misuse of the term "sovereignty".
9.16.2008 7:20pm
Sarcastro (www):
[Dilan Esper however, the Schengen countries have a ancestral sense of nationality (i.e. you are not a Frenchmen merely by virtue of citizenship, or even being born in France). American is defined primarily by citizenship.

Thus, I would argue, SOME border controls are needed for America to remain a country.

Or we invade Mexico and Candida.]
9.16.2008 7:25pm
Sarcastro (www):
[erm, Canada could also be invaded, for the less musically inclined]
9.16.2008 7:32pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
"Plenty of sovereign entities, from the Schengen countries to Vatican City, have no border controls."

The Vatican City does have border controls as its territory consists of a walled enclave. A wall is a form of border control. Suppose large numbers of Romas were to enter Vatican City on a regular basis and attempt to remain there. Don't you think the Vatican would put a stop to that by exercising a greater degree of control?

"Personally, I want a lot of Hispanic immigration ..."

Why would non-Hispanic Americans want that? Why would they want to change the whole character of their country? Suppose a hundred million Chinese wanted to move to Mexico. Don't you think the Mexicans would object?
9.16.2008 8:00pm
Chem_geek:
Besides, it just wouldn't be the same using the term "undocumented immigrant".
9.16.2008 8:07pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
The Vatican City does have border controls as its territory consists of a walled enclave. A wall is a form of border control. Suppose large numbers of Romas were to enter Vatican City on a regular basis and attempt to remain there. Don't you think the Vatican would put a stop to that by exercising a greater degree of control?

Someone who has been there can correct me, but I believe that anyone in Rome can just walk on in. There's no border control there.

Now you are, of course, shifting your argument, because the ability to impose border controls at some future time is not the same as saying there must be border controls to have any sort of sovereignty. The Vatican doesn't have them now, hasn't had them in the past, and is a sovereign entity.

Why would non-Hispanic Americans want that? Why would they want to change the whole character of their country?

We can have this argument another time. Suffice to say, there are plenty of reasons why Hispanic immigration is good for America.
9.16.2008 8:08pm
trad and anon:
I'm more interested in the fact that, for the first time, I've actually heard a guy who's against border enforcement take the explicit view that we should have "open borders."
That would be the libertarian position. No government licensing schemes for movement from one country to another, just like you don't need a government license to move from Tennessee to Kentucky.
9.16.2008 8:09pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
"We can have this argument another time. Suffice to say, there are plenty of reasons why Hispanic immigration is good for America."

Then you really shouldn't bring it up. But we know this is what's behind the push to open up or decontrol our southern borders. The rest is word games.
9.16.2008 9:01pm
luagha:
The Swiss Guard and their Sig SG 550s might have something to say about illegal border crossing into the Vatican.
9.16.2008 9:07pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
Then you really shouldn't bring it up. But we know this is what's behind the push to open up or decontrol our southern borders. The rest is word games.

I brought it up because somebody accused me of favoring open or decontrolled borders. I don't. I do favor regularized Hispanic immigration to the US.

Our discussion, which you seemed to have abandoned, was as to whether border controls are "necessary" to have sovereignty. Obviously, the answer is no. That doesn't mean the US shouldn't have them. It just means this particular conservative talking point is bunk.

The Swiss Guard and their Sig SG 550s might have something to say about illegal border crossing into the Vatican.

As far as I know, anyone in Rome can walk right into Vatican City without crossing a border checkpoint. The Swiss Guards provide policing and military functions within the city, but that's different from border control. We had a US Army at the same time we didn't have a controlled border for much of this country's history.
9.16.2008 9:11pm
Herb Spencer:
Dilan, First you admit that you "want a lot of Hispanic immigration," then you back off the quantitative approach and say you want "regularized Hispanic immigration." Apart from the "a lot," why the focus on Hispanic? What particular benefit do Hispanics confer? And, however "Hispanic" is defined these days, is it to the exclusion of other races/nationalities? Should we go back to the pre-'60s quotas, and if so, who gets how many? And at what rate, regardless of nationality. One which allows for orderly assimilation, or one like we now have, which overwhelms and continues to cause a multitude of problems in the host nation?
9.16.2008 9:50pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
Herb:

Hispanic is a shorthand for immigration from Mexico and Central America. It distinguishes my position from arguments about skilled immigrants and the like.

In terms of how many, there is no evidence that immigration at the rates that illegal immigrants currently cross causes any more than local disruption, and we benefit tremendously and in all sorts of ways from immigration of Hispanics from Mexico and Central America.

I think if you set the numbers based on previous flows, we'll be fine. The key is to set the number at a rate where people who get on the waiting list in their home country will actually get in. Then there's an incentive not to cross illegally.
9.16.2008 10:20pm
Ken Arromdee:
That would be the libertarian position. No government licensing schemes for movement from one country to another, just like you don't need a government license to move from Tennessee to Kentucky.

Truly having libertarian borders would also mean that Americans be allowed free immigration into Mexico, and be allowed to own property there outside of special zones, etc.

This is not the case. Which means that just opening the borders on the US side would be a partial implementation, and a partial implementation can be worse than the current situation even if a full implementation is better.

Moreover, in a libertarian world, there wouldn't be government benefits that Mexican immigrants would be able to take advantage of, and certainly not partly government funded universities of the type involved in this very court case.
9.16.2008 11:13pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
"Our discussion, which you seemed to have abandoned, was as to whether border controls are "necessary" to have sovereignty. Obviously, the answer is no."

No and No. A border is under control if the sovereign state can deny entry to aliens. In some cases it doesn't have to take active measures on a ongoing basis because it doesn't have a problem. At one time it was pretty easy to cross the Canadian border in either direction. That doesn't mean the border was uncontrolled. In the case of Mexico, we do have a problem. Many Mexicans believe that have a right to cross the border unimpeded. The president of Mexico even made a direct challenge to US sovereignty when he said "Mexico does not end at its borders." And "Where there is a Mexican, there is Mexico." If the US won't control its southern border, then it is weakening its position as a sovereign state. You seem to think "control" means stationing troops. It doesn't.
9.16.2008 11:19pm
Ben P (mail):

I'm not sure what you mean by "seal" in this context, but normally a sealed border is one where no one crosses. I've never heard anyone say we should "seal" US border with Mexico.


I think we've got a bit of a false dichotomy here, but it's not on your part, everyone seems to agree.

Very few people actually think that the US should have totally "open borders."

Some, but very few think the US should actually shut off it's borders totally.

But the consistent pattern of the debate is to treat people who bother to recognize that there's some fashion of middle ground in the debate like they belong in either of those two parties.
9.16.2008 11:33pm
J Reece (www):
How about a totally different term? Immigration is like any other government program, such as subsidized housing, neighborhood and disabled parking permits, public schools and their district residency requirements, etc. There are people cheating on the government program requirements to receive a benefit (being here) they aren't entitled to. So how about "immigration cheaters"?
9.16.2008 11:40pm
Frater Plotter:
"Illegal alien" seems to me to imply that the person is somehow "illegal". Thus, it has connotations of "outlaw" in the sense of a person who is denied any protection under the law. In a discourse that includes armed vigilantes like the so-called "Minutemen", this is a connotation that places human lives in danger.

"Illegal immigrant" is somewhat better -- it implies a person who has committed an act of "illegal immigration", which is pretty much true. An illegal immigrant has broken the law, yes, but is not an outlaw -- shooting him out of hand, or imprisoning him without charges, is still a crime.
9.17.2008 12:00am
The General:
I like to go with "illegals".
9.17.2008 1:59am
Andy Freeman (mail):
> I brought it up because somebody accused me of favoring open or decontrolled borders. I don't. I do favor regularized Hispanic immigration to the US.

I take that to mean that Esper believes that there are some Hispanics that the US should not admit. If that's true, does Esper have any objections to stopping the "not admit" Hispanics from crossing the border?

If he agrees that the US should stop Hispanics who he doesn't want to admit, then the argument is over the "who to admit" criteria with the possible kicker that Esper believes that if he doesn't get his way, that it's wrong to impede the Hispancs he wants who don't qualify under whatever procedure we decide on.
9.17.2008 2:55am
A.C.:
Another vote here for "illegal immigrant." We don't really care if someone is having so much fun in Vail or Las Vegas that he overstays his tourist visa by two days. Or rather, we only care because we want sufficient enforcement to catch the people who overstay their tourist visas by two decades and end up working in the underground economy or with forged documents. The problem is with staying and subverting employment rules (or perhaps even more important laws), not so much just being here.
9.17.2008 9:53am
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
I take that to mean that Esper believes that there are some Hispanics that the US should not admit. If that's true, does Esper have any objections to stopping the "not admit" Hispanics from crossing the border? If he agrees that the US should stop Hispanics who he doesn't want to admit, then the argument is over the "who to admit" criteria with the possible kicker that Esper believes that if he doesn't get his way, that it's wrong to impede the Hispancs he wants who don't qualify under whatever procedure we decide on.

Andy, we are really getting deep in the weeds here. But I think we should set immigration flows based on the number who actually want to come here. Then, rather than primarily screening by skill, family status, wealthy sponsors, and political status as we do now, the main screening should be to keep out potential bad actors, terrorists, criminals, etc. If the screening determines a person is not a risk, they should be issued a permit.

The border should be controlled. As I said, I have no problem with the secure fence proposals.

As far as what happens if "I don't get my way", it isn't up to me to say. I will tell you, however, that I don't think it is possible to stop people from coming here illegally, that even nations with far more secure borders have huge illegal immigration problems. The way you stop illegal immigration is to set your immigration limits high enough to accommodate people who want to come.
9.17.2008 3:10pm
Voting for Batman:
Remember that many "illegals" are those who came in w. a visa and simply let it lapse without renewal or any attempt to fix the paperwork. Not all fall under the "wetback" or "border jumper" perjorative...
9.17.2008 3:43pm
sbron:

Suffice to say, there are plenty of reasons why Hispanic immigration is good for America.


Are there any reasons that non-Hispanic immigration would be good for Mexico, for example? Why should immigration flows always be from poorer, less-educated nations to the wealthier ones? Perhaps Mexico could improve its economy and educational system by loosening its own restrictive immigration policies and simultaneously allowing for more foreign investment, particularly in its oil and tourism industries? Could highly-educated people of pallor perhaps be an asset to third world and developing countries, i.e. colonialism without foreign military and governmental domination?
9.17.2008 5:20pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
Why should immigration flows always be from poorer, less-educated nations to the wealthier ones?

Do you really need an answer for this?
9.17.2008 5:54pm
whit:

As far as what happens if "I don't get my way", it isn't up to me to say. I will tell you, however, that I don't think it is possible to stop people from coming here illegally, that even nations with far more secure borders have huge illegal immigration problems


rubbish. this falls under the "people will commit crime anyway, so why bother enforcing the law" school of argument.

note also that MEXICO's (southern) border is exceptionally well protected. mexico is VERY restrictive in who it lets cross that border, and it places armed military there to ensure its border is secure. how ironic.

note also that even people LEGALLY in mexico, who are not citizens, are prohibited from (among other things) writing political editorials in the paper or participating in demonstrations. again. ironic.
9.18.2008 4:43am
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
rubbish. this falls under the "people will commit crime anyway, so why bother enforcing the law" school of argument.

So I am sure you are in favor of writing tickets to people going 58 in a 55 zone when they are driving at the speed of the flow of traffic, then.

Look, whit, you are a cop. You doubtless know that enforcement decisions are OFTEN made based on what common collective custom is. So why pretend that makes an argument illegitimate?

note also that MEXICO's (southern) border is exceptionally well protected. mexico is VERY restrictive in who it lets cross that border, and it places armed military there to ensure its border is secure. how ironic.

And that proves my point. Despite all that border security, thousands of Salvadoreans and Guatemalans cross that border. You might want to come to LA and visit a pupuseria and talk to the people there about how they got to America.
9.18.2008 3:36pm