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The Monty Python solution

Don Rogers

Let’s see. Illegal aliens cross the border illegally. They work illegally. They forge documents illegally. They drive illegally. They use social services illegally. They live here illegally.An estimated 11 million to 12 million illegal aliens live, work and drive in the United States today. Illegally.Ah, but the Colorado Legislature and governor have found the key! How shall we deal with illegal aliens who break our laws to come and live here? Why, we’ll pass more laws against them! Brilliant!That’s the ticket. That’ll show ’em. Don’t you feel much better now? Can’t you just hear that giant sucking sound as the illegals beat feet for at least the Colorado border? What, you don’t hear the thunder of the stampede? Oh, dear. Haven’t they heard?In our infinite wisdom we’ve made welfare benefits illegal for illegal aliens who work illegally and live illegally among us. Of course, nearly all these benefits already are illegal for the illegals, but we’ve made them even more illegal. And spent a good amount of time showing that we really mean it now.Never mind that the illegals don’t really tap the welfare trough all that much, unless you mean those emergency room births and other health-care cost spikes that come as consequence of insurance for regular visits to the doctor being, well, illegal.Yep, Colorado’s new laws are a real bulwark of reason, all right. Such a guiding light to a nation overrun – overrun, I tell you! – with that 3-4 percent of the population that’s illegal.This is a Monty Python skit, a Leno line, a Colbert Report episode, not a serious effort to deal with illegal immigration.You remember the Python movie, “Life of Brian,” don’t you? There’s this scene in which the characters cluck about some crisis, a very serious problem indeed, one requiring immediate action.”Right then, let’s form a committee.” In Colorado’s variant, it’s “Let’s call a special session of the state Legislature and pass some more laws.”It’s a joke either way.So is building a wall across the border when nearly half of America’s illegals are people who overstayed their visas and remained here. Illegally. So is wailing about “amnesty” when the thing that attracts this tide is the sheer availability of jobs without a guest worker program that comes remotely near filling the true need.Passing laws is no more than cheap politics, although that’s probably the best course for the American economy. Government treasuries gain revenue from the 65 percent or so of illegal aliens with illegal documents working illegally while paying income taxes at work and foregoing tax returns. They also pay sales tax, property tax (often through rent but also through ownership), gas tax and so on.Filling millions of jobs that would otherwise be vacant alone delivers far more to the American economy than the costs of services and schooling take away.And the low wages at the bottom rungs of society, traditionally filled by tides of immigrants throughout our history, keep the economy from overheating. Real action – most definitely not merely passing more laws and patting each other furiously on the back – would get real expensive real quick.I’m not even talking about attempting to round up those millions of immigrants and sending them home. Building a wall is dumb enough from a cold-blooded cost-benefit standpoint.Even the one thing we could do to put a dent in the illegal alien population apparently is too expensive to contemplate with any seriousness.You know exactly where I’m going here, even if Tamara at the Trail doesn’t understand that waving legislative wands won’t work.A law without enforcement is the sound of one hand clapping. You don’t need the wisdom of Confucius to understand that much.Never mind passing more laws to stem illegal immigration. That just fits the classic definition of insanity: “Doing the same thing over and over again, expecting a different result.Want to really make a difference? It’s actually quite simple: Start by enforcing the laws already on the books. And provide a proper guest worker program that acknowledges the true number of jobs that need filling.At one end we’d show we were serious about keeping illegals out. At the other end we’d stop manufacturing our problem in the first place.Each Thursday, the editors of the Daily and the Trail offer Point-Counterpoint. For Trail Editor Tamara Miller’s side, see the Vail Trail today or visit http://www.vailtrail.comVail, Colorado


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