Immigration Reform – Debate II – George Thomas Clark v. D.A. King

June 13, 2005

Home » Commentary » Immigration Reform – Debate II – George Thomas Clark v. D.A. King

In April my online debate about immigration with D.A. King, founder of The American Resistance, attracted many readers, a stack of letters, and interest from other online publications.  Now Mr. King and I are going to discuss the border security and immigration reform legislation proposed by, among others, Senator John McCain and Senator Edward Kennedy.  I support this legislation.  Mr. King does not.

George Thomas Clark – Since I opened the last debate, I ask you to start this time.  I will follow with a statement.  Then we can move into rapid-fire exchanges.

D.A. King – The idea that the recently proposed amnesty by any other name will somehow secure our borders is as preposterous as the idea that it will somehow return our nation to a rule of law.  Let’s look at the title, for example… “The Secure America and Orderly Immigration Act of 2005…”Hmm…sounds familiar, maybe from 1986… “  The Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 (IRCA).

We as a nation were told in 1986 that the “one time amnesty” would once and for all correct the errors made by not enforcing the immigration laws.  We were told that there would be severe employer sanctions and increased security on our borders.  I can take the time to type the promises of the 2005 version offered up by “I wanna be President” McCain and Teddy Kennedy, but after reading the 1986 IRCA a few times, it gets pointless and repetitive.

Before you begin to repeat the “we are a nation of immigrants, jobs Americans will not do, looking for a better life, our system is broken”…yada yada – please, tell us why you believe, if you do, that if this proposal were made into law, in 20 years we would not be burdened with another 20 million illegal aliens.

Are we to believe that by giving the illegals – and the employers – exactly what they strive for by openly violating our laws, we will somehow discourage them from doing it again?  Again?

Why is this different from 19 years ago?

GTC – “Yada, yada,” sounds a lot like nada, nada.  We better keep an eye on you.  Spanish is edging into your vocabulary as well as your conscious being.  And this is not unprecedented.  After all, a few weeks ago you sent me a one word letter: “Gracias.”  For all I know – since this is an online debate – you’re sitting at your computer, wearing a sombrero and singing along with your Vicente Fernandez album.

Regarding the points in your opening statement, thank you for serving up some softballs.  What’s the difference?  There are many.

First, the most essential difference is that this is not an amnesty.  That’s right.  This is not a wave-the-magic-wand style gift as in 1986.  Permanent residency must be earned through a long and difficult process.  Undocumented workers would have to register for a temporary visa, valid for six years.  They’d also be required to prove they have a solid work history and a clean criminal record.  Then they’d have to pay a $1,000 fine to join the guest worker program.  Six years later, they’d pay another $1,000 fine, this time to obtain a green card proving legal permanent residence.

A second difference is avoiding the myopia of the 1986 legislation which granted amnesty for those here but failed to account for the nation’s future work force needs.  Current legislation permits 400,000 new low-skill workers to enter the first year, and there would be the option to expand.  One of the bill’s sponsors, Rep. Jeff Flake, an Arizona Republican, noted that the previous bill “was out of date the day it was signed into law in 1986.”

A third important difference is that, unlike in the old and inadequate bracero program, guest workers would be allowed to change jobs.  And, as I indicated, they would be allowed to stay.  Their status would therefore be that of legal workers, which addresses your rule of law concerns.

A strong segue is thus made into a fourth key difference.  Guest workers would be issued tamper proof identity cards.  They’d be much easier to keep track of, and they would have no use for the current horde of criminals who forge documents.

That leads to a fifth essential difference, and it’s one of your favorite issues: employer accountability and interior enforcement.  Now no employer – and I mean no employer – could realistically claim he unknowingly hired an undocumented worker.  Either his foreign workers have the tamper proof cards or they don’t.  If they don’t, the employer could readily be proved in violation of the law.

At this time, it is helpful to emphasize that all of the above measures could help to create a national awareness that employers must cooperate, and it would be politically and psychologically feasible to fine them, or worse, if they don’t obey the law.  That certainly contradicts your claim above that this bill gives “the employers exactly what they strive for by openly violating our laws.”

DAK – As I said, typing in the promises of the amnesty that is not an amnesty of 2005 is repetitive, pointless and reminiscent of the last one. Thanks for confirming my thought. The same ironclad promises of enforcement and “it can’t fail” procedures for employer verification and sanctions (not to mention border security) were made in 1986.

GTC – I have clearly stated – as you insisted – the differences between the 1986 amnesty and the immigration reform bill of 2005.  This isn’t an “amnesty” because people acknowledge wrongdoing by paying fines and taking part in a six-year temporary residency program   Only then would they obtain their Green Cards and thus the potential to someday become citizens.  In 1986, the amnesty was spontaneously granted.

DAK – Know this: this amnesty is being pushed by those who make the rules in this country – the same group that will benefit most by its approval…business.  If you refuse to recognize that the “magic wand” is being waved over business interests, will erase all liability and let that group’s last 19 years of the felonious and profitable violation of our rule of law go unpunished, then I submit that you are being less than honest with yourself.

Simply put: the amnesty is not only for the illegal aliens. It is also for the now nervous and threatened employers.

GTC – I assure you I’m not being dishonest with myself.  You may find it naive, but I believe that the current legislation is absolutely serious – as are many citizens of this nation – about reforming the way people enter the country and are hired after they arrive.  The fact that we’re legislatively doing something again after 19 years is not bad; it’s life.  There are no permanent solutions to any problem from personal health to hunger to international peace.  Everything requires maintenance and modernizing.

Additionally, it is naive for you to (evidently) call for the apprehension, prosecution and punishment of employers for the “last 19 years of felonious and profitable violation of our rule of law.”  We know there has been a de facto legalization of their hiring practices.  It would be inappropriate, as well as impossible, to hammer them now.  What we can do, what we’re in the process of doing, is setting up a system wherein regulation is a popularly understood concept and one that will be enforced.

DAK – I am sure that we all find it interesting that you describe what was promised to be a “one-time” amnesty in 1986 as being “myopic.”  I just today read that unemployment in my home state of Georgia has increased. Without an endless supply of illegal labor, willing to work for less than American wages, that would not be the case. I would regard it as “myopic” and irrational to insist otherwise.

GTC – It is nothing less than myopic – in fact, it is preposterous – for anyone to pretend that the United States will not continue to have low-skill labor needs that will be filled by willing workers from economically less fortunate lands.

DAK – Somebody, maybe yourself, please, tell us about unemployment going down and wages going up in America because of our importing labor from Mexico and the rest of the Third World.

GTC – Historically, unemployment has been cyclical.  I don’t know what the current rate is in Georgia but in the future there will be times when that rate is higher and times when it is lower, probably more of the latter.  There’s that echo again – my eternal optimism and belief in the competence of democratic nations, particularly those as well-established and ambitious and energetic as ours.

DAK – Regarding the “tamper proof” cards…the first thing that the illegal alien lobby tells me when I show them any or all of my own three Matricula Consular IDs is that my having them only proves that “any document can be forged.”  (It should be noted here that one cannot open an account to rent a DVD at Blockbuster, or obtain a Mexican voters ID in Mexico with the Mexican Matricula Consular, but in this country, in a war on terror, they are used to board airliners full of jet fuel and people every day.)

I can buy a current generation “tamper proof” Green Card tomorrow for $100.00.

GTC – It used to be easy for underage drinkers to tamper with their driver’s licenses in order to appear older.  The new licenses – certainly in California – now make that much more difficult.  The issue you raise is primarily a technological one, and it is certainly important to use all the scientific tricks to make cards that criminals cannot replicate.  The sponsors of current immigration reform believe making a tamper proof ID is possible.  Your Matricula cards are clearly not as well made as the new tamper proof ID cards need to be.

DAK – Why are we to believe that if such a card can be put into use that the same government, backed by the same business interests, would enforce the new laws any more diligently than they do the existing laws…given to us by the last amnesty?  Again, the promise of employer sanctions is an echo of 1986.

GTC – Failure in 1986 does not foredoom us to eternal failure.  Current legislation is much stronger and more explicit regarding enforcement.  I’ll quote an encouraging passage from a synopsis of Title IV: “Enforcement – Creates a new electronic work authorization system that will ultimately replace the paper-based, fraud-prone I-9 system…”  At this time, I can’t prove that will be the case.  And you can’t prove that it won’t.  I believe them.  Politicians who let the voters down should be voted out of office.  Employers who violate new laws should be prosecuted.

DAK – Why are people, including yourself, so willing to sell American laws and then a path to American citizenship for $2,000?  If the amnesty proposal were to be approved, look for the “fines” to become a discriminatory violation of “human rights” that should be thrown out as “racist” when the illegal alien lobby gets its hands on the issue.

Maybe an amnesty for not paying the fines would be a big seller on Capitol Hill?

GTC – Let’s now state, then, that the $2,000 fines are not discriminatory and are nonnegotiable, and anyone refusing to pay doesn’t get to join the program.  The money is more a declaration of seriousness, and a tool of enforcement, than your insinuation of an unseemly sell-out of “American laws and then a path to American citizenship.”

Immigrants, aliens, whatever you want to call them – they’re going to come.  New legislation gives us a chance – where none now exists – to better control and monitor this influx.

DAK – We have laws at present that are designed to control and monitor the “influx”…they are being ignored.

As for your comments on my use of the word “gracias”…I also say VIVA LA MIGRA!… to make a point.  In what language do you think the amnesty of 2020 would be proposed?

GTC – My goodness, at your current lightning rate of Spanish acquisition, we’ll doubtless be holding our next debate in that esteemed Romantic language.  Regarding the 2020 amnesty language, I predict that it will be in English, and you will be the one to render the Spanish language translation.

And I do have a serious point, one raised earlier.  There are no permanent solutions to anything in life.  Eating now will not forever absolve anyone of the need to address hunger later.

DAK – One more thing…please tell us exactly how our forgiving the crimes of the illegals and the employers is going to secure our borders?  Or does your “magic wand” apply here too?  Wouldn’t it be logical that illegal labor would come to take the jobs that the new (presto -chango!) Americans “will not do”?

There is that echo again.

GTC – First, let’s be realistic and acknowledge that trying to secure our borders in the sense you mean – i.e. making them airtight – is not possible.  Trying to stop all immigration is like trying to stop all rain.  We are talking about a powerful intrinsic attraction – the United States will for a long time continue to be a place people want to come.  And when those next to us are poor, many of them are going to devise ways to enter the country.   And, yes, many in this country will make it possible for them to do so.

I’m not implying that you have this militaristic fantasy but some who hold your positions do have it, and I want to dispel it: the United States is never going to station scores of thousands (or more) troops along the border with Mexico.  Accept it or not, these two countries have a shared future, and Mexicans will not be entering this country unless there are jobs and people anxious to provide them.

It has also often been suggested, quite reasonably, that the United States could dramatically lessen the economic need of Mexicans to leave their homeland by investing in the economic development of the poorest Mexican states.  This could be done at a fraction of the cost of fighting a war in Iraq where no active terrorists loomed before the invasion but where they now multiply daily to combat what many Iraqis – including those in the lamentable Iraqi army – see an iron fist of occupation.

By improving Mexico economically, the United States would not only be reducing the number of people who come here but also creating more affluent markets for its products.  That’s planning.  That’s cooperation.  That makes sense.

DAK – Employers who violate new laws “should be prosecuted”?  Why should (or would) employers who violate “new laws” be prosecuted if the same group is already not being prosecuted by the same government who gave us IRCA ’86 for violating existing laws? See the circle here?

GTC – We’re talking about new rules and perceptions, and therefore a new circle.

DAK – And the war in Iraq?  What?  Since you brought it up, it has far less to do with this conversation than does our domestic “War on Terror”… You are in a large minority if you believe that we as nation can continue to leave our borders less secure than most cattle pastures and not suffer.  When a foreign nation sends millions of its people to and plants its flag in another, while insisting that its culture and language be observed – it is staging an invasion and colonization.

Ask Mario Obledo, a founding member of MALDEF: “California will become a Hispanic state, anybody who does not like it should go back to Europe.”  He does not say to where Black Americans should return if they “don’t like it.”

GTC – As you know, I teach English as a Second Language for adults.  And I am in a position to guarantee you those millions you refer to are vigorously studying and working to acquire a new language and culture.  I’ve seen this daily for many years.

And I do not believe “that we as a nation” should “continue to leave our borders less secure than most cattle pastures.”  One of the key goals of the new legislation is to improve enforcement – thus the tamper proof ID’s, employer accountability, and strengthening of the border.  And most importantly, immigrants would have more options to avoid illegal behavior.

When making the above statement, Mario Obledo was defecating from the mouth.  And what came out is of no relevance to the future of California.

DAK – Illegal immigration is more than poor Mexicans wanting to mow our lawns for low cash wages.  The illegal crossing of our borders is not “rain” – and it is by no means inevitable.

Saying that the strongest nation in the world cannot secure its borders is a fairly lazy and inaccurate excuse for wanting to look noble while watching as others do the politically incorrect job of observing that we are being colonized and Balkanized by Mexico.

GTC – If you’re in the large majority, I’m surprised you feel your position is “politically incorrect.”

This isn’t an issue of military power, if that’s what you’re implying by strength.  Many problems do not have military solutions, or any other short- or even intermediate-term remedies.  This new legislation would put all of us, including immigrants, in a better and more realistic position.  But there are no panaceas.

DAK – Again, amnesties – and this is one – do not promote the rule of law, and they do not stop illegal immigration.  Ignoring that proven fact again would be national suicide.

No, gracias.

GTC – De nada. I mean, you’re welcome.

But I’m sorry that such a thoughtful and sincere man equates illegal immigration with national suicide.  It is nothing of the sort.  It is, rather, a “proven fact” that poor people come here to better themselves, and they succeed.  Assimilating millions of immigrants is sometimes painful and difficult, but in the history of this nation it has worked out quite well.

George Thomas Clark

George Thomas Clark is the author of Hitler Here, a biographical novel published in India and the Czech Republic as well as the United States. His commentaries for are read in more than 50 countries a month.

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