J. KARL MILLER: Immigration reform is necessary, and overdue

Wednesday, July 10, 2013 | 6:00 a.m. CDT

COLUMBIA — It appears that an actual attempt at immigration reform is under serious consideration — sadly, about six years late.

An earlier effort, The Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2007, strongly supported by then-President George W. Bush, failed in the Senate — doomed in part by Republican nonsupport and by Democrat reluctance to enable any kind of victory by Bush.

Of course, it was not perfect legislation; however, it was both timely and necessary and should have been kept alive and sent to the House of Representatives for consideration and reconciliation. Consequently, six years later, there has not only been no progress, but, in reality, a slide rearward.

Admittedly, there are strong feelings on this issue. They range from extremes of immediate paths to citizenship for all to declaring anything less than deportation (self or forced) to be "amnesty."

Led by the Senate's "Gang of Eight," who did the heavy lifting to get the current bill passed (68 to 32), it moves on to the House of Representatives.

Fate of bill uncertain

The immigration reform bill's future in the House is neither clear nor particularly rosy at this time. Roadblocks to its passage are the "wordiness" of the bill (1,000 plus pages), the Republican aim for border security first, strong tea party opposition and a healthy distrust of President Obama and the Democrats playing by the rules.

Nevertheless, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor has indicated the House is ready to take up immigration reform. In so doing, the House intends to review measures already passed by the Judiciary and Homeland Security along with consideration of other immigration proposals to include the Senate passed bill.

It is not likely that Speaker John Boehner will take up the Senate bill in its entirety, instead he will look for measures the Republican majority can agree on. It is also unlikely that Boehner will bring an immigration bill to the floor without the support of the majority of the Republican conference — using the minority party to pass legislation is a delegation of responsibility —  a no-no in any setting.

More than compromise

Immigration reform is a must, and, it will require certain compromise on both sides of the aisle. It will also require ingredients that have been lacking in this equation since 1986 — honesty, integrity and what is best for the country. Party be damned.

For immigration reform to come to fruition, a number of inalienable realities must override the long-time political gamesmanship that has maintained an unsustainable status quo for decades.

First, the estimated 11 million illegal aliens or undocumented workers (take your pick) are, for the most part, here to stay. They are not going to deport themselves voluntarily, be wished away nor deported forcefully. It is estimated that deportation of that number would require buses lined two abreast from the Canadian border to the Tijuana, Mexico, exit.

Second, the notion that the border can be effectively closed at reasonable cost is ludicrous. So long as there are jobs here that able-bodied Americans will not perform and are paid not to do so in the form of food stamps and various welfare stipends, those jobs will be taken by those who learn to foil our border security.

A fence is only as effective as those who physically guard it — hopefully, we have learned this much from our TSA experiment. Deploying the military along the border is a nonstarter for two reasons: posse comitatus renders it unlawful to use the armed forces in civilian law enforcement and to do so would destroy the military as an effective fighting force.

Finally — and this will win me few friends in my political persuasion — the constant  message by talk show hosts, pundits and other diehards that "these illegals have broken our laws and must not be rewarded for it" is neither honorable nor compassionate.

Not criminal to want a job

To be sure, a minute number of them are drug dealers and criminals; however, the majority are simply individuals trying to support families. Originating from countries that don't offer food stamps, welfare, aid to dependent children, et al., the desire to feed one's children is hardly criminal in nature.

As long as there are jobs to be had in the U.S., I see neither logic nor common sense in naming those as greedy who hire those who want a job rather than those who simply wish for a paycheck.

That individual who will show up for a job and give a day's work for a day's pay is a better candidate for guest worker/citizenship than an American-born parasite who has learned to game the system.

Any reform of immigration will not please everyone — but, how long can we accept the embarrassment of abject futility?

J. Karl Miller is a retired colonel with the U.S. Marine Corps.

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Ellis Smith July 10, 2013 | 7:54 a.m.

So long as economic opportunity exists, or at least appears to exist, there are people who will take whatever chances and make whatever sacrifices they believe need to be made in order to obtain it. Why? Because they're human beings, not statistics. They are REAL people faced with REAL situations.

All the utopian nonsense* and speculation foisted upon us these days won't tchange that reality.

*- A far more descriptive word seems possible, but I try not to violate the Missourian's comment policy (a good policy).

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams July 10, 2013 | 10:18 a.m.

"So long as there are jobs here that able-bodied Americans will not perform and are paid not to do so in the form of food stamps and various welfare stipends, those jobs will be taken by those who learn to foil our border security."

True words.

It does amaze me that folks within the US who are without jobs and are on government stipends support this immigration reform. If those individuals/groups view their status in life as poor now, what will be that status if millions immigrate here and take jobs?

It sure seems to me these supporters are being thrown under a future bus in favor of current election needs of those who "lead" them now.

Pass the legislation. We need the workers, we need their work, we need their active participation, we need their citizenship, we need their taxes, and we need more folks participating in this American dream of "movin' on up."

Give them the jobs they came here for and give them upward mobility. Embrace them. They and especially their kids will be Americans in no time at all....

Besides....I wanna see what happens.

(Report Comment)
stephen Kightlinger July 10, 2013 | 11:00 a.m.

A very well articulated piece and persuasive toward a goal that transcends partisanship. Kudos, sir. You are a man of conviction, principle and clarity of vision. I am a little slow, however, and therefore seek clarification on one point.
Who are these "American-born parasites" of which you speak? Or are they a "what"? Parasites are bad, and I had no idea they took human form and lived amongst us. Do they vote? That could really be a disaster, because if they are skilled at "gaming the system" as you advise, then they might redistrict and gerrymander their way into power. Given the seriousness of the situation, I hope you will help the rest of us who by describing what they look like. Do they have any outward manifestations that we who are blind to the parasites among us can use to spot them? Or would one need to be a trained phrenologist to tell? Finally, solutions? Do you have any in mind for the parasite problem and can you share them?
I look forward to your responses to my queries. The leader of a once powerful nation had decried, like you, that his nation was overrun with human parasites, and he declared that his nation "is no longer willing to be sucked dry by these parasites!" He lost the battle. And the war. Or so I've been told.

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams July 10, 2013 | 11:49 a.m.

Stephen: I'll take a stab at it.

A successful parasite gets all-or-most needs from the host animal.

Note this description makes no claim of "form" or "species". There is no descriptor for "how does it look?" A parasite is identified by it's behavior, its strategy for life. That is, if an organism exhibits a behavior or strategy for life designed to "get all or most needs" from a host, it is by definition a parasite.

Thus, it should come as no surprise to you that humans can be parasites, too. Heck, humans can even be parasites at two stages of necessity as babies and teenagers, and then again as adults which is unfortunately sometimes chosen deliberately. Most humans, however, embrace parasitism as a strategy in early life, but then pupate and metamorphose to "host" (as parents or taxpayers or both) once they become adults. A slang term for these successful pupators is "NL" which is short for "not liberal".

So, you've asked the impossible of the good Colonel. He can't tell you what a human parasite looks like....because they look like every other human being. Asking for a description of how they look is an improper request on your part. Rather, you have to ask "How do they behave? What is their strategy for life" Are they stuck in a strategy for life, a culture, that does not permit metamorphosis and graduation to the status of "not a parasite"?

Or maybe you are simply playing a game and have a card to play.

(Report Comment)
Ellis Smith July 10, 2013 | 4:44 p.m.

Parasite, noun. From the Greek "parasitos," "one who eats at the table of another." A person who lives at the expense of another or others without making any useful contribution in return.

Sponge, Sponger, nouns. Colloquial terms for an adult human parasite, stressesing the person's total dependence, disinclination to work and or otherwise support themself, etc.

Maybe "parasite" wasn't the most accurate descriptor. English is SUCH a difficult language: a wealth of terms to choose from. Truly an embarrassment of riches. :)

(Report Comment)
Jimmy Bearfield July 10, 2013 | 5:03 p.m.

The 48% who pay no federal income taxes are parasites because what they pay in sales and other taxes comes nowhere near the cost of the services they consume.

Ditto for any parent whose property taxes are nowhere near the $9,400 that CPS spends on average per student. At some schools, it's $11K to $15K.

Sometimes the truth hurts, but that doesn't change reality.

(Report Comment)
J Karl Miller July 10, 2013 | 5:22 p.m.

Mr Knightlinger,

Much obliged for your kind words-praise in this business is a commodity seldom forthcoming but much appreciated.

And, I am indebted to Messrs Smith, Williams and Bearfield--all of whom are erudite thinkers from the right side of the brain--for their assistance in the identification of parasites.

I suppose my definition of a parasite would be that able bodied individual who choses to exist on taxpayer money rather than by the sweat of labor. I am all for providing for the needs of the widows and orphans but, that is as far as I go.

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams July 10, 2013 | 10:17 p.m.

JKarl and widows/orphans:

I do think the missing element in our discussion on parasites is a word such as "willful".

I hold those who willfully participate as human parasites in total different regard from those folks who had no choice and have had no chance.

Physical infirmities, mental infirmities, accidental injuries, war injuries, injuries to innocents, and the like come to mind. No way I classify such folks as parasites.

The word "parasite" has all-bad connotations with malice aforethought. Hence, the word "willful" or somesuch is important in this definition.

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams July 10, 2013 | 10:44 p.m.

Dear Colonel,

Ok, ok....I admit it.

I had to look up "erudite" to make sure Ellis, Jimmy, and I should not be grammatically offended. I think we're ok, guys, but one of the definitions said "wise" which might be a mite strong for at least one of us, especially if that one had to look up the definition. My saving grace was the alternate definition of "lettered", which I did 4 years in HS high hurdles. So, I think I'm good.

I do have to ask one thing of JKarl, however. How many times did you use that word over your entire Marine career. I'm least 300-400 thousand times and maybe even a million.


(Report Comment)
Skip Yates July 11, 2013 | 2:40 a.m.

@Jimmy: Regarding the parents that don't pay property taxes that cover the cost of their kids in CPS. Remember, for those of us that do pay property taxes, we pay them before we have children and long, long after those children have left the school system. Just sayn'

(Report Comment)
Ellis Smith July 11, 2013 | 6:35 a.m.

Williams, Bearfield and Miller:

Stalin (possibly only in jest) is on record to have referred to Hitler as "erudite." I don't know, Karl... better start watching your step! Perhaps Uncle Joe was confused, or like so much else in the former Union of Soviet SOCIALIST* Republics the dictionaries were faulty. Drink Koo-koo Kulak...the pause that rededicates. :)

*-Capitalization is mine, and is done deliberately.

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams July 11, 2013 | 6:50 a.m.

SkipY: Perhaps JimmyB's approach is similar to my recommendation that if everyone received their FULL monthly salary and then had to write individual monthly checks for fed/state taxes, FICA, futa, etc., we would have better gov't and better citizens.

And if folks had to write monthly checks for kiddie schooling as JimmyB proposes, perhaps we'd have better schools and students.

Just a thought.............

(Report Comment)
stephen Kightlinger July 11, 2013 | 8:24 a.m.

Oh, so the term "parasite" was being used euphemistically. Phew. What a relief. I'm wondering, however, if the parasite analogy is more appropriately applied to states, like Missouri, which take in more in federal spending than they pay in taxes?

(Report Comment)

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