21 November 2006

"See No Evil" (Update)

Scott Henson has replied to my earlier post in a comment which I'll reproduce here:
Of course, I'm not for a 'see no evil' border policy - I'm for rationalizing immigration laws. For most US history - until the late '60s - there were no, none, zero numerical limits on immigration across the southern border. I'm not arguing for NO limits, but current immigration policy simply ignores the realities of border life, history and economics, and IMO often makes us less safe when the vast sums of money thrown at the issue aren't spent wisely.

I think that's a wise position as far as it goes. No government policy should be considered beyond review, and immigration laws are no exception to that rule. Moreover, if money allocated to enforcement isn't spent wisely, the advisability of the underlying program is largely beside the point, in my opinion. Whether the federal funds studied in the El Paso Times article were spent appropriately is an issue which I don't feel was resolved by the study but which should receive some close scrutiny.

Notwithstanding, the debate whether to "rationalize" immigration laws is a separate one from the decision to enforce existing laws for so long as these are in effect. Any number of existing laws could be changed in the future because these do not properly reflect existing realities, changed attitudes, or economic necessities; the argument that immigration laws should be treated differently than others because they need "rationalization" is unpersuasive.

In my earlier post, to illustrate a point, I mentioned a hypothetical person with a pending bench warrant for his failure to appear and answer for some speeding tickets. In an unrelated encounter with police, would that person get a pass if the existing speed limits needed to be rationalized because they ignore the realities of commuter life or money allocated to traffic enforcement isn't spent wisely? Depending on extenuating circumstances, a particular police officer might let him go, just as a given border-area sheriff's deputy might overlook an illegal immigrant's status, but neither of these discretionary acts should be made a matter of official policy.

To digress a bit from our current exchange, I'd like to take this opportunity to recommend Scott's Grits for Breakfast blog to those of you who do not already read it regularly. Agree or disagree, his thoughts are always worth reading, and I've recommended his posts for inclusion in Blawg Review on a regular basis. The fact that grits indeed make a wonderful breakfast only adds to his credibility.

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