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Greg Siskind on Immigration Law and Policy

HERO OR HARBORER?

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I think the answer is pretty obvious. Most of you probably have never heard of Johtje Vos. I certainly hadn't. But I was moved by her obituary in this morning's New York Times. When others in the Netherlands meekly followed the law and turned on their Jewish neighbors during World War II, Mrs. Vos hid dozens in her home and, with the help of her husband, shepherded them by tunnel in to the woods whenever the Nazis would knock on their door. Has Mrs. Jos been caught, she very likely would have been sent to a concentration camp herself.



Mrs. Vos' story reminds me of heroes in this country whose names are not known by all but a few who hid runaway slaves during their escape from the South. Like Mrs. Jos, they risked severe punishment - possibly a long term in prison.



So what does this have to do with immigration? Because a lot of anti-immigrants are totally focused on the fact that unauthorized immigrants have broken the law and are also going after anyone who tries to help them. In the last Congress, the House of Representatives passed legislation that would have imprisoned people acting in a humanitarian capacity. Feeding or giving water to someone who has just walked through the desert - jail. Giving them a ride to the hospital? That would be unlawful transportation. Providing housing to a homeless unauthorized immigrant - that's illegal harboring. You get the picture.



At some point people need to take a step back and ask whether the laws are simply wrong and need reforming. And while I agree with the sentiment that a penalty should be paid for violating our immigration laws, at some point the punishment needs to fit the crime. Deportation for many is the equivalent of Jean Valjean getting 20 years for stealing a loaf of bread.

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  1. 's Avatar
    "So what does this have to do with immigration? Because a lot of anti-immigrants are totally focused on the fact that unauthorized immigrants have broken the law and are also going after anyone who tries to help them."

    Just when I thought you couldn't stretch things any farther, you do.

    You can't compare harboring illegal immigrants with protecting Jews from the Nazis or runaway slaves from their masters. Illegal immigrants have chosen to be here, illegally. Jews in Germany did not chose to be in Germany (or Poland) during Hitler's reign of evil. Slaves in the United States did not choose to be slaves in the United States. They were captives, or born slaves.

    You should really be ashamed for trying to make such a link. How discusting. If you want to find a modern day analogy to Nazi Germany, look at Darfur. But how dare you compare this country to Nazi Germany!!!

    And how dare you compare those who protected Jews and slaves to those who are simply exploiting cheap illegal immigrant labor!
  2. 's Avatar
    "Feeding or giving water to someone who has just walked through the desert - jail. "

    We all know that is complete BS. Even the Minutemen give water to anyone in need. If you didn't provide them with water and they died, you could probably be charged with manslaughter.

    The truth is that illegal employers are causing people to risk their lives to cross dangerous borders. How dare you for not going after the source of this problem!!!
  3. Greg Siskind's Avatar
    >>"Feeding or giving water to someone who has just walked through the desert - jail. "

    We all know that is complete BS. Even the Minutemen give water to anyone in need. If you didn't provide them with water and they died, you could probably be charged with manslaughter.
  4. Greg Siskind's Avatar
    >>You should really be ashamed for trying to make such a link. How discusting. If you want to find a modern day analogy to Nazi Germany, look at Darfur. But how dare you compare this country to Nazi Germany!!!

    And how dare you compare those who protected Jews and slaves to those who are simply exploiting cheap illegal immigrant labor!
  5. 's Avatar
    "Aiding an illegal alien in any way - offering food or drink, transportation, housing, or medicine all would have been crimes under that bill if a person knew or recklessly disregarded immigration status."

    Key word is WOULD have been crimes. The legislation didn't pass, because it didn't make sense.

    People are free to help anyone in need of medical attention or anyone in danger. Just because people oppose illegal immigration and more specifically the employment of illegal immigrants doesn't mean they don't value human life.

    Of course people should help anyone needing food, shelter, or water. Illegal alien or otherwise.

    Now, back to why they come. Illegal employers. They are the culprits here. They are the reason poor people risk their lives to cross the border. Why don't you attack illegal employers for putting the lives of people crossing dangerous borders in danger?

    You know that every year people will die crossing that border. Yet you never say a thing about the employers who lure them here. How discusting.
  6. Greg Siskind's Avatar
    I'm glad that law disturbed you. It didn't disturb the majority of the members of the House who voted for it. And it's about to be re-introduced by James Sensenbrenner. You can call me discusting (please look up the spelling), but I ask you whether you'll oppose legislation that contains these kinds of provisions. If the answer is yes, then you're not in step with a lot of the people who you presumably thing are not "discusting."

    As for employers, I would end the whole mess by creating a legal system for employers to hire the workers they need. That doesn't exist today.
  7. Legal and waiting's Avatar
    Yes, the bill did not become the law, and the US does not torture. It's just... there are a lot of people who are a very comfortable to trade a little bit of their imaginary security for either of those things.
  8. 's Avatar
    "but I ask you whether you'll oppose legislation that contains these kinds of provisions. "

    Of course I'll oppose any law that is inhumane and outlaws providing shelter or aid for people in need. I hope I spelled that right. I would be disgusted with myself if I didn't ;-)

    I'll ask you then, will you oppose or support laws that are punitive on employers who knowingly hire undocumented workers? I've heard just about every reason from anarchy supporters as to why employers deserve to be let off the hook. Just how do we prevent illegal immigration if we don't hold employers responsible?
  9. Sid's Avatar
    "Just how do we prevent illegal immigration if we don't hold employers responsible?"

    IMO, employers should be held responsible only after a guest worker program is in place and/or the undocumented workers currently working for them have been given some kind of legal status - temporary work visa or permanent residency, whatever is agreed upon.
  10. 's Avatar
    "employers should be held responsible only after a guest worker program is in place and/or the undocumented workers currently working for them have been given some kind of legal status "

    So if they knowingly hire an undocumented worker tomorrow, they should get a free pass? Why not set a date. Tell them that anyone caught knowingly hiring unducumented workers from this day forward will be prosecuted. Focus on new offenders, not on past offenses.

    If the President or Congress were to make a statement like that, things would move. Laws would get passed finally resolving this issue.

    Once we get CIR and better documents (fraud proof) then start going after all offenders. The least we can do is stop future offenses.
  11. Legal and waiting's Avatar
    Hiring a worker is a business tranasaction - money for services.

    If you feel so adamant about barring businesses from hiring illegal workers, how about barring them from doing any transactions with those who are unathorized? Like, if you want to get a Big Mac, you would have to show a tamper proof ID and a social security card to prove to McDonald's that they are not dealing with an illegal. You know, if you give a glass of water to every illegal immigrant, there will be no drinking water left for law-abiding Americans!
  12. Sid's Avatar
    There are a couple of issues here -

    The inadequacy of the immigration laws is responsible for the current crisis where employers are forced to hire undocumented workers to keep their businesses alive. So, it doesn't make sense to impose heavy penalties on the employers who are currently employing undocumented workers (knowingly or otherwise) without fixing the laws to allow them hire immigrants on temporary visas.

    The other question is AFTER a sensible guest worker program is created and the undocumented workers are given some sort of legal status, do you continue to allow employers to hire undocumented workers? IMO, there should be some kind of penalty to discourage employers from doing that. I understand the need to wipe the slate clean in order to start afresh but there is no point in creating new laws if you are not going to enforce them as well.
  13. 's Avatar
    "I understand the need to wipe the slate clean in order to start afresh but there is no point in creating new laws if you are not going to enforce them as well."

    We tried wiping the slate clean. Employers simply refused to obey the law. So employers who wanted to compete with companies who ignore the law were also forced to ignore the law.

    Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. We won't be fooled again. The only rational decision is to get tough on employers who knowingly break the law. A jury can decide if there is reasonable doubt or not.
  14. Sid's Avatar
    "We tried wiping the slate clean. Employers simply refused to obey the law."

    That was the problem. During the last amnesty, a sensible guest worker program was not created. The lesson from the last amnesty is that there should be a legal way for employers to hire workers, not that we should not wipe the slate clean.
  15. Lou Dobbs's Avatar
    I Lou Dobbs endorse this kind of deportation.

    http://blogs.usatoday.com/ondeadline/2007/11/should-teen-who.html
  16. JoeF's Avatar
    "Of course I'll oppose any law that is inhumane and outlaws providing shelter or aid for people in need."

    Given that Oklahoma has just enacted such a law, are you speaking out against it?
    http://us.cnn.com/2007/US/11/02/oklahoma.immigration/index.html
    "The law also makes it a felony for U.S. citizens to knowingly provide shelter, transportation or employment to illegal immigrants."
    So, given your statement above, you should oppose the Oklahoma law, since it prohibits providing shelter. Do you?
  17. Greg Siskind's Avatar
    >>We tried wiping the slate clean. Employers simply refused to obey the law.
  18. 's Avatar
    "During the last amnesty, a sensible guest worker program was not created."

    So if we don't have a "sensible guest worker program" or at least a program that you (and supporters) feel is sensible, then everyone is perfectly justified to break the law?

    There is no excuse for breaking the law. The last thing we need in this country are more people who don't obey it. There are laws I don't agree with, but I certainly wouldn't break them.

    There are many laws I would like to break right now. If it weren't illegal, many people might be interested in pursuing vigilante justice. So for all you people who think it's OK to pick and choose laws that you obey, be careful what you ask for. One day, you just might get it.

    Laws are suppose to appeal to our sensible side. Anyone apologetic for law breaking is being insensible.
  19. 's Avatar
    "The 86 law was a recipe for failure because it provided no guest worker program to deal with future demand for labor. "

    Bad policy is no excuse for breaking the law. I could understand you saying "they passed a bad law in 1986" but you go way too far by justifying the breaking of the law by employers.

    Did you know that 5% of the nation's population hold 95% of the wealth? If I use your logic, given that I don't think the unequal distribution of wealth is fair, I would be perfectly justified in robbing from these wealthy 5% and giving it to the other 95%. There is no difference between our two arguments.

    Only I'm smart enough to realize that for a society to succeed, we must obey the laws. Rich people can sleep well tonight.

    Perhaps I should just steal from the companies who illegally gain money by knowingly hire undocumented workers. Just following your logic here.
  20. Greg Siskind's Avatar
    I believe in changing the laws so that we don't need to have this discussion anymore. This is as productive as discussions on punishing bootleggers during Prohibition rather than admitting Prohibition was a failure and moving on to changing the law. Admit the current employment based immigration system doesn't meet the needs of our economy, fix it and then go after employers who will have no excuses. I am all for going after employers who have legal options available and choose to hire illegal workers. But most people who claim to be against legal immigration and not against immigrants usually are really against immigrants and will join the email, phone and fax pitchfork mobs when it comes time to block legal immigration measures.
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