George Will

WASHINGTON -- Compromise is incessantly praised, and has produced the proposed immigration legislation. But compromise is the mother of complexity, which, regarding immigration, virtually guarantees -- as the public understands -- weak enforcement and noncompliance.

Although the compromise was announced the day the Census Bureau reported that there now are 100 million nonwhites in America, Americans are skeptical about the legislation, but not because they have suddenly succumbed to nativism. Rather, the public has slowly come to the conclusion that the government cannot be trusted to mean what it says about immigration.

In 1986, when there probably were 3 million to 5 million illegal immigrants, Americans accepted an amnesty because they were promised that border control would promptly follow. Today the 12 million illegal immigrants, 60 percent of whom have been here five or more years, are as numerous as Pennsylvanians; 44 states have populations smaller than 12 million. Deporting the 12 million would require police resources and methods from which the nation would rightly flinch. So, why not leave bad enough alone?

Concentrate on border control, and workplace enforcement facilitated by a biometric identification card issued to immigrants who are or will arrive here legally. Treat the problem of the 12 million with benign neglect. Their children born here are American citizens; the parents of these children will pass away.

Under current immigration policies, America is importing another underclass, one ``with the potential to expand indefinitely,'' according to Heather Mac Donald of the Manhattan Institute. To sentimentalists who cling to ``the myth of the redeeming power of Hispanic family values, the Hispanic work ethic, and Hispanic virtue,'' she says:

From 1990 to 2004, Hispanics accounted for 92 percent of the increase in poor people. Only 53 percent of Hispanics earn high school diplomas, the lowest among American ethnic groups. Half of all children born to Hispanic-Americans in 2005 were born out of wedlock -- a reliable predictor of social pathologies.

The legislation supposedly would shift policy from emphasizing family unification to emphasizing economic criteria (skills) when setting eligibility for immigrants. Critics will say this will sunder families. But the sundering has happened; it was done by illegal immigrants who left family members behind and are free to reunite with their families where they left them.


George Will

George F. Will is a 1976 Pulitzer Prize winner whose columns are syndicated in more than 400 magazines and newspapers worldwide.
 
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