That Big Thing Everyone Is Talking About Today

Friday, June 15th, 2012

So if I’m understanding all of this correctly, today the president said that if you were brought to this country at a young age, by no choice of your own, which is to say that if the United States has been your home for as long as you can remember . . . . we will no longer put you handcuffs, put you on a bus or plane, then dump you in a country where you might have been born, but that is otherwise completely foreign to you.

Somehow, this is controversial?

In a humane, sane world, the country’s collective reaction to today’s announcement would have been, You mean until now, we were actually doing this to people? What the hell is wrong with us?

Also, apparently if you meet all the above criteria, but happen to have reached the age of 30, you’re still out of luck.

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67 Responses to “That Big Thing Everyone Is Talking About Today”

  1. #1 |  Nando | 

    Baby steps…

  2. #2 |  Dave | 

    Immigration is not the problem, socialism is the problem.

  3. #3 |  JimBob | 

    You have to understand, Radley– DEY TOOK ER JERBS!

  4. #4 |  C.E. | 

    I know this makes me a radical, leftist, socialist, fascist lunatic, but as much as I welcome this new policy, I think they should not make a clean criminal history an absolute requirement. Especially if the criminal history involves drug possession. A lot of people will be excluded because of that.

  5. #5 |  doomboy | 

    +1000 Radley

  6. #6 |  Other Sean | 

    Most bad policies stick around because they deliver some kind of benefit to some kind of organized group.

    Our immigration policy is that rare exception: a complete and total disaster that has no winners (or at least none that I can identify).

    Even the marginal laborers who feel legitimately threatened by immigration are worse off under a system where their competition is driven underground to work for illegal rates.

    If this is the best a sitting Democrat can manage in an election year, good god…

  7. #7 |  nigmalg | 

    I was under the impression it was how he did it that was controversial.

  8. #8 |  EH | 

    Somehow, this is controversial?

    No. It’s like gay marriage: nobody has given a toss for at least a decade, it’s only the political class that has pretended otherwise (and who manipulates the media thereby). Pot is the same way, so is universal healthcare. For some reason US politicians like to pretend it’s a big deal to adopt the traits of countries with higher standards of living. I think it has to do with a lot of US history being rooted in Puritanism.

  9. #9 |  EH | 

    Of course, it also has something to do with making it look like they’re big statesmen about it while US foreign policy remains cavemanlike.

  10. #10 |  Bergman | 

    Wait, so if you’ve been acting like the sort of people we want to be U.S. citizen in every way for up to 29 years, you can stay…but if you’ve been an active contributor to our prosperity for twice that, you get dumped on your ass somewhere you don’t speak the language?

    Sounds like a white hair hunt to me.

  11. #11 |  kishnevi | 

    Well,of course we shouldn’t be rewarding these people for breaking the law. They should have climbed out of their baby carriages straight away and turned themselves in to ICE the moment they arrived in the US.

    Plus of course this policy, since it is designed to keep them forever on a series of two year permits with no way of becoming citizens, means we’re letting them become citizens so they can vote for La Raza. I don’t know the legal alchemy that allows this happen. Consult your local GOP congressman if you want to know.

    And Obama had the gall to tell a reporter off when the reporter kept interrupting him.

    Doing it by executive order, especially after Obama has said he can’t do it by executive order but has to let Congress act, is the really worrisome part, but not every one seems to have noticed that. But this is a country where our immigration policy is dominated by the fact that certain ethnicities are perceived as incipient Democrats, and it’s in the interest of both parties to manipulate the current system to re-inforce that belief and against their interest to enact sensible reforms.

  12. #12 |  bbartlog | 

    EH: no one cares? Really now. You come off a little like Pauline Kael – no one *I * know voted for Nixon, so how did he get elected? Maybe among your circle of friends no one gives a toss about illegal immigration, but I can assure you that is not the case nationwide.
    In reality the current government consensus policy on this matter appears to be to the left of public opinion. That shouldn’t surprise you, since government policy is usually somewhere between what the people want and what benefits corporations.

  13. #13 |  Acertainflorentine | 

    The content of the law is fine, ruling by fiat when you couldn’t get it through the legislature is the troublesome part.

  14. #14 |  EH | 

    bbartlog: Where are you getting your sense of “public opinion?”

    When the vast majority of federal revenues are going to bail out bankers and military contractors, yeah, “stealin’ jerbs” immigration issues are nothing more than pitting the little people against each other. It’s an absolute non-issue in the big picture, take a step back.

  15. #15 |  Joe Bar | 

    It is not the actual effect that is the problem. It is the method. Certain Republicans were working towards a compromise, and they might have been successful. We can’t have that, can we? This action makes the Big O look like a hero to immigrants.

    Everything is political.

  16. #16 |  Cynical in New York | 

    If we follow the Pat Buchanan/Frosty Wooldridge “logic” these children are apart of the secret liberal plot to undermine white America and bring it to it’s knees and turn it into a cesspool of brownish goop.

    If we follow the Sharpton/Jackson/Farrakhan “logic” Obama has truly “evolved” on the issue and “knows” that he can’t win back the White House with white voters alone. Or some bullshit along those lines.

  17. #17 |  Dream On » Right Thinking | 

    […] This. Related […]

  18. #18 |  bbartlog | 

    EH: you can look at the list of public opinion polls here, for example:
    Not an unbiased source, but the list nonetheless captures the overall tenor of US public opinion, which is much more opposed to illegal immigration than you suggested above.

  19. #19 |  EH | 

    bbartlog: Any opposition is due to BS stories like this predictable follow-on from Obama’s action:

    It’s bullshit, of course. You know what tightens competition for jobs more? Intentionally high levels of unemployment.

  20. #20 |  Cyto | 

    It seems to me that the controversy is a direct result of the politics, not the policy itself – although there would be controversy there as well. Even the president’s own people are not really bothering to pretend that this is anything other than election year pandering in an attempt to co-opt the Latino vote.

    Since Obama has until now been the “deportation president”, they also had to explain the switcheroo… using the same terms they did about gay marriage: “there’s been an evolution underway for quite a while”, “it is a progression”, etc. I happened to be watching CNN when the press conference was about to begin and the coverage was all about swing states and the rising Latin voter population. They had all kinds of nice graphs ready to go, along with plenty of quotes from “administration sources” about the many months they’ve been studying this change and how great it is for America. It would have been nice if they had bothered to actually put a sane immigration policy into effect, but it appears that the Latino versions of Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson are happy.

    It will be interesting to see what other groups he can pander to over the next 4 months.

  21. #21 |  David Chesler | 

    Remember back in 1986, they said they would have an amnesty but never again? Because if people thought there would keep being amnesties they would keep coming illegally? And we’ve been filling in I-9s ever since (now they require an unexpired passport, I guess in case you stop being a citizen since it expired.)

    Suppose I claim to have a bachelor of science from Stonehill College, and I rise to become CEO of Yahoo. It’s discovered I lied, I don’t have that degree, but what the hell, they already painted my name on the door, and I’ve been a good CEO, so why should I resign?

    Suppose my mother gave me something of great value and didn’t tell me it was stolen. I never used it to do evil. The original owner finds it and wants it back, why should I give it back? My entire life I thought it was mine.

    You want open borders? Think it through, maybe it could work, but why do it backdoor like this?

  22. #22 |  Frank Stein | 

    All people are exactly the same, which is why Des Moine is just like Mogadishu. Let everybody in, it’s just like having a free market (minus any equivalent concept of property rights).

  23. #23 |  Peter H | 

    Unless I’m mistaken, almost anyone who meets the criteria and is over 30 would likely have been eligible for the ’86 amnesty. There is a relatively small (but nonzero) subset who would be ineligible solely due to age. They would tend to have been brought into the US as older children in the late 80s to early 90s.

  24. #24 |  JThompson | 

    @EH: I wish I lived where you do. I know a ton of people that don’t want any kind of immigration. Many don’t even bother with the “Took our jerbs!” mask and just openly admit they hate Latinos, and they’re ignorant so immigrant automatically equals Latino.

    I live in a state that’s more or less determined to make it illegal to have skin between certain shades. Laws which are wildly popular among people that don’t fall in that range, by the way.

    Gay marriage is also widely opposed here to the point that supporting it would be a death sentence for a politician from either party. So at least some substantial chunk of the electorate is bound and determined to have their backward way on these non-issues.

    Yeah, they’re non-issues to us and seem like no-brainers. Problem is an awful lot of people either don’t have brains or refuse to use them.

  25. #25 |  Waste93 | 

    Kind of disappointed in you Radley. The controversy is about the President ruling by fiat. I was under the impression we have a Constitution which is the Supreme Law of the land and that the President takes an oath to uphold the Constitution and the laws passed by Congress.

    You may not like the law but the right to decide immigration policy is an enumerated power of Congress. If the President can invalidate a Congressional law at a whim then I guess he could ignore them all together and just write his own laws. If he can ignore Congress in this regard why couldn’t he decide that the death penalty is appropriate for all drug users? Or that people can’t sell sodas over 16oz. If you can ignore one law and make your own why not do it all the time?

    We have a Constitution for a reason. It’s suppose to be a system of check and balances between the branches. Tossing it aside just because you like the outcome means it can also be tossed aside when you may not like the outcome.

  26. #26 |  Vishnu Schist | 


    I’ll be happy to entertain your point the moment you provide us with the evidence of your fervent opposition to GWB’s many instances of the same thing. I also assume that you vehemently oppose all of GWB’S “signing statements”. Constitution and all.

  27. #27 |  Badtux | 

    The immigration policy has been quite successful for one class of people — farmers, hotel owners, contractors and so forth who want slave labor who can be threatened with deportation if they dare report dangerous working conditions to OSHA or demand the pay they were promised when they signed up to work or so forth. A friend is a master drywaller. Perhaps I should say “was”. He can’t get a job because he’s a native-born American citizen. The contractors prefer the illegals because they can rip off the illegals (not pay them at the end of the day) or send them into conditions they know are unsafe and illegal, etc., without the law being called on them, since the illegals can’t go to the state labor department for help since they’re, duh, illegal.

    So as usual, Big Government turns out to be bought and owned by Big Business on the issue of immigration, using it to obtain a supply of the next best thing to actual slaves by making the illegals illegal, but not actually doing anything to stop people from hiring them (the contractors use cut-offs to avoid responsibility — “well, we didn’t hire Jose, a labor contractor provided him as contract labor! Which labor contractor? Why, Gus, who shows up with a pickup truck loaded with workers whenever we call this throw-away prepaid cell phone number he gave us!”). Well, usually. I must say that I am very surprised that Obama did this at this point in time. Usually he’s more subservient to his masters.

  28. #28 |  matts | 

    Absolutely, the tactic is worrisome. We can’t be outcome driven. We’ve got to make sure we follow the Constitution, and people should want us to do that. As has been pointed out above, Republicans have been looking diligently for ways, within the confines of the law, to recommend relief for these immigrants.

  29. #29 |  Kevin | 

    For me, this is the same as when he declared he approved of gay marriage. Seemingly, he’s either copping to views/values that are only a few baby steps away from what I would consider monstrous (and wants, and shall receive, copious amounts of lauding for doing so), or he’s only feigning such values for political gain.

    Either way, “dude, you’re terrible” is the only appropriate response.

  30. #30 |  Michael Chaney | 

    This is the same guy who is going to end raids on legal marijuana clinics a couple of years ago. If I met the criteria for his amnesty program I would still hide.

    And, to be frank, he’s just doing this to help wrap up the Latino vote in November. If Republicans were smart (ha) they wouldn’t take the bait. But I know they can’t help themselves. The first post I saw for this on facebook was from a conservative friend who likened illegal immigrants to Bernie Madoff. I’m not kidding.

  31. #31 |  supercat | 

    #25 | Vishnu Schist | “I also assume that you vehemently oppose all of GWB’S “signing statements”. Constitution and all.”

    Executive orders are typically used to invoke powers explicitly delegated by Congress to the executive branch (e.g. if legislation says “XX shall be done in such manner as the Treasury Secretary shall direct,” the President can instruct the Secretary as to how he wishes things to be directive.

    Signing statements can be a bit more varied in usage. In some cases, a President may feel that a statute would not violate the Constitution of interpreted narrowly, but would violate it if interpreted excessively broadly. In such a case, a President might sign the legislation but caution the the executive branch not to interpret it so broadly as to violate the Constitution. On the other hand, presidents have at times used signing statements to affect legislation in manners not authorized by the Constitution, nor Congress, nor any other source of legitimacy.

  32. #32 |  Jamie | 

    1) of course it is political. This is what our system does. I don’t like it either.

    2) it was not an executive order or a signing statement. Look it up.

    3) nothing unconstitutional happened. Look it up.

    4) although a small one, this is a victory for people who like freedom.

    5) should he win, Romney can reverse this the same way it happened. Wanna bet on if he will?

    Hint on all of the above: if Obama were to call off the dogs on MMJ, both of the above would be true as well, and I would applaud that, the same way I applaud this. Shit is fucked up and bullshit, but apparently that’s how we roll in the land of freedom.

  33. #33 |  Jamie | 

    1) of course it is political. This is what our system does. I don’t like it either.

    2) it was not an executive order or a signing statement. Look it up.

    3) nothing unconstitutional happened. Look it up.

    4) although a small one, this is a victory for people who like freedom.

    5) should he win, Romney can reverse this the same way it happened. Wanna bet on if he will?

    Hint on all of the above: if Obama were to call off the dogs on MMJ, all of the above would be true as well, and I would applaud that, the same way I applaud this. Shit is fucked up and bullshit, but apparently that’s how we roll in the land of freedom.

  34. #34 |  the other rob | 

    Other Sean @ #6: You’ve clearly never had to deal with USCIS. There is an organized group that benefits greatly from the byzantine and inefficient bureaucratic mess that is US immigration policy and it’s USCIS employees.

    Speaking from experience, much of the system appears to be designed to generate make-work for government employees.

  35. #35 |  Moon | 

    Damn 30 is the cut off. My family came here legally in the early 90s, we are all citizens now with the exception of my uber-lib mom and 31 year old brother. My mom has never left and kept her stuff up to date, my brother though in a moment of stupid teenage rebellion surrendered his green card and moved back to the home country. Of course now he’s back, realized how dumb that was and is working illegally. The irony is that we are white, he went to Johnson and Wales culinary school and he’s typically surrounded by legal Salvadorians in the kitchen. The one time they did an INS check on the restaurant he’s executive chef for they ignored him completely and went after the legals. But it’s all about the rule of law, not race. Surrrrrre.

  36. #36 |  Burgers Allday | 

    @27 by BadTux

    well put.

  37. #37 |  Elliot | 

    As an individualist, I see borders as mere lines on a map, typically made as a result of war or some bureaucrat’s arbitrary cartographic whims. If someone comes here to find honest work and they respect my rights, then it’s not my business where they were born or what paperwork they filled out. I hope they succeed and make this a better place for it.

    That said, anyone who gets excited about Obama’s symbolic stands should remember his promise to stop federal raids on medical marijuana clinics/patients, Gitmo, Afghanistan, drones, and should put his empty comment about gay marriage (in which he inexplicably stood up for states’ rights, unlike every other situation) in perspective by considering the impact on the lives of others (nothing).

    I’m sick and tired of the anti-immigration fever which warps the brains of people, some of whom have otherwise decent approaches to freedom (particularly in the realm of economics). It’s like the anti-gay crap and the mindless jingoism. I’m very glad to have conservatism far in my rear view mirror, because I see how inane such hot-button issues make these people.

  38. #38 |  Pi Guy | 

    You mean until now, we were actually doing this to people? What the
    hell is wrong with us?
    [italics in original]”

    I don’t know how much more blatant it could be. Radley used italics just to be sure we got it. You mean there are people who live off my tax dollars whose only purpose has been, until now, just send ’em back? I’m actually surprised at some of the opposing voices here.

    OMD do I ever hate prejudice bigotry.

    This is why I come here every day in a nutshell: in the battle of Right v. Wrong, Right seems to win every time.

  39. #39 |  marco73 | 

    Baby step in the right direction. Our immigration system is chock full of absurb incentives: If you are Cuban and can get to dry land in the US, you can stay. If the Coast Guard picks you up offshore, you are shipped back to Cuba.
    Any groups who are beholden to an administration, should be very careful; there is no reason to believe that Obama won’t take away this new policy if it gives him a political advantage. These are the sorts of policies that need to be codified in law, not posted on a Friday afternoon by royal fiat.

  40. #40 |  C. S. P. Schofield | 

    Nothing done about “the immigration problem” matters a damn until the rules on immigrating legally get changed to more closely match actual conditions in the real world. Obama has made a nice gesture. If he actually gets his administration to follow through. He didn’t as regards his spoken position on medical marijuana, so I’m unwilling to give him any brownie points until we see what he DOES.

    I am sick enough of BOTH sides of the “immigration debate” that I am beginning to think that the invasion and conquest of Mexico would be a better “solution” than any that have been suggested (at least that I’ve read or heard of).

  41. #41 |  Cynical in New York | 

    Adam Kokesh (the former Marine who was thrown out of the RNC back in 2008 for saying that McCain doesn’t support the troops) who also hosts Adam vs The Man has an interesting take on the subject.

  42. #42 |  Other Sean | 

    Other Rob #34,

    Yeah, you’re right. I forgot about the customs bureaucracy and the enforcement machinery of I.C.E. (which even by the standards of federal law enforcement, is one of the douchiest outfits going – those guys really are the dream crushers.)

    I’m still unsatisfied though, because I can’t identify a public choice style citizen interest group at the center of this issue. Everyone has their usual just-so stories: “It’s puritans!”, “It’s racists!”, “It’s big business!”, “It’s puritanical racist big businessmen who said nothing when George W. signed executive orders!.”

    Those are not very good explanations. 1) I hate to break this to anyone who needs to pretend otherwise while writing a history thesis, but the Puritans are all…um, dead. 2) If racism explains our immigration policy, then why has it gotten WORSE over the last thirty years, while racism has become more and more taboo in American life. 3) Big business (as if that were one group with a unified interest, which it certainly is not) gains nothing from our current immigration policy and loses quite a lot.

    Blacks and unskilled whites in the labor market do have some economic stake in immigration restrictions, but that is clearly not who drives the closed border ideology. The unskilled whites have little political clout; they only get what the white middle class also happens to want. Black voters have quite a bit of clout, but they are certainly not using it for demands to finish the dang fence.

  43. #43 |  Henry Bowman | 

    It should not be controversial to require uninvited guests to leave.

  44. #44 |  Woog | 

    Perhaps you also missed the part of the speech where Le Prez mumbled “… or under 30 and have been without a criminal record for five years …”.

    This is not about keeping the brown people out – this is just another attack on the Rule of Law in the dead republic.

  45. #45 |  SPO | 

    Of course, no one voted for this. In a democracy, that is supposed to be a problem. The Democratic party is importing voters.

    But I’ll make you a deal–if we can deport every single criminal who is born here to illegals, then the law-abiding DREAM Act people can stay.

  46. #46 |  Cornellian | 

    ” I know a ton of people that don’t want any kind of immigration. Many don’t even bother with the “Took our jerbs!” mask and just openly admit they hate Latinos, and they’re ignorant so immigrant automatically equals Latino.”

    I know people like that too, but for some odd reason, I never hear them complaining about white immigrants from Canada, Britain and Australia.

  47. #47 |  Helmut O' Hooligan | 

    Henry Bowman: “It should not be controversial to require uninvited guests to leave.”

    It SHOULD be controversial to separate these “guests” from their families and their lives because their parents may not have followed the rules of the absurd immigration bureaucracy. It SHOULD be controversial to ship people off to countries that they barely know or don’t know at all because of a decision that was not theirs.

    My wife and her family are from Mexico. They know people who have lived in the shadows for years just because they were born in a certain year. Their parents are legal. Their other siblings are legal. But they aren’t due to some ridiculous rule from the federal immigration apparatus. Most of the “uninvited guests” you reference are not narco traffickers. Many of them did not sneak in across the Rio Grande. Most came here to work, not because they wanted to deal with a bunch of white supremecists who would look down on them even as they enjoyed the fruits (often literally) of their labor.

    Henry, don’t be fooled by the statist “the law is the law” propaganda. It is much more complicated than that.

  48. #48 |  EH | 

    JThompson@24: We’re talking federal here, but thanks for reinforcing my stance that there’s no good reason not to change policy, since racism is never a good reason to do (or not do) something.

  49. #49 |  Anonymous | 

    Well he set the single-year deportation record in 2009, broke that record in 2010 and was “pleased” to announce his administration had separated 46,000 children from their parents during the 1st six months of 2011 so I can see why some people would consider this “controversial”. Just as it would likely be considered “controversial” if Obama announced he was going to cease murdering men, women and children across the middle-east. To paraphrase Arthur Silber, it’s one more measure of how profoundly damaged this country is and how accustomed it has become to an endless, ghoulish parade of horrors.

    Of course Radley and other libertarians aren’t going to find this controversial because libertarians believe in property rights and government control of immigration is incompatible with property rights (you can support one or the other, not both).

  50. #50 |  Waste | 

    @ Jamie – Yes it is unconstitutional. The Constitution gives power to Congress to set immigration laws. It is one of their enumerated powers. What the President did was decide he wasn’t going to enforce a law that was lawfuly passed by Congress and signed by a President. Let me know how it goes if you decide to just ignore a law. And part of the Presidents oath is to faithfully execute the laws of the nation.

    @ Vishnu – Yes I oppose signing statements too. If the President thinks something is unconstitutional he can veto the legislation or sign it and take it to court. But in this case it wasn’t even a signing statement nor even an Executive Order. The President just decided to ignore the law. As I said earlier, if he can just unilateraly ignore and change laws just remember that the next time a President you don’t like does the same. Consistancy or hypocracy, you choose.

  51. #51 |  el coronado | 

    As always, I’m amazed at the prevailing shockingly naive opinion here that the US has some sort of…duty? obligation? to let everyone who *wants* to come here in. That criteria seems to be applied to no other country, and for the countries who are most vigilant in keeping immigrants out – Japan immediately comes to mind – the rule seems to be, “Well, it’s OK for them to do that. Just not us.”

    Why is that, I wonder.

  52. #52 |  Brian V. | 


    I suspect it’s because the most of the usual posters here aren’t working-class types, at least not until their parents send ’em packing.

  53. #53 |  Radley Balko | 

    Why is that, I wonder.

    I can only speak for myself, but I don’t criticize Japan’s immigration policy on a regular basis because I don’t live in Japan, I’m not a Japanese citizen, and my taxes don’t fund the Japanese government.

  54. #54 |  Radley Balko | 

    What the President did was decide he wasn’t going to enforce a law that was lawfuly passed by Congress and signed by a President.

    Not exactly. He said he was changing how it’s enforced. The federal government has nowhere near the resources to deport every undocumented immigrant. So Obama is saying the people who meet these criteria won’t be deported. The resources will be committed elsewhere. It’s like a prosecutor prioritizing some crimes over others, because he doesn’t have the staff and funding to enforce them all.

  55. #55 |  Badtux | 

    Let us not forget that every single one of us posting here is guilty of some crime in that block-sized library full of books which is all the state, local, and federal laws on record. Selective enforcement of the law is a reality, because if it wasn’t happening, there would be no guards to guard the prisoners because they’d all be in prison too. Going after some kid who was not personally capable of breaking the law when he was illegally brought here and treating him like a criminal for the rest of his life for the simple crime of existing is wrong, period.

    As for those who claim that there are no winners in the current immigration system, sure there are — employers who want slaves who can be deported if they get uppity, rather than free men. It’s not just the farmers and contractors who agree with the current system because it gives them a supply of slave labor. It’s the whole system. Look at the H1B and green card programs for tech people for an example. They require almost slave-like obedience to your employer to keep these visas, and the H1B program furthermore guarantees *disposable* slaves, who can be traded in for new slaves once all value has been extracted out of them. It is to the credit of most tech employers that we generally treat our H1B and green card employees the same way we treat the rest of our employees, but there are certainly employers who do take advantage of the slave labor provisions of these visas, I see their employees sleeping a dozen employees to a 1 bedroom apartment and waiting en masse to take the bus to Big Fortune 500 Company every morning. People who believe that Big Government and Big Business aren’t in collusion here probably believe in the tooth fairy and those Nigerian princes who want to give you a million dollars too…

  56. #56 |  CANINE CENTRAL | Iced Borscht | 

    […] That Big Thing Everyone Is Talking About Today( […]

  57. #57 |  Leon Wolfeson | 


    At least you don’t have a political party dedicated to killing many your own citizens simply because they came into the country in the last two decades. Perspective!

    @40 – C. S. P. Schofield

    The reality is, there are several companies in the US who would like to hire me. But I’m British. There’s basically no chance they can get a work visa for me, and if they did it would be prohibitively expensive. Never mind I really /am/ a specialist in a fairly obscure area of creative media.

    So I’ll work remotely, or in the EU or Canada. It’s nuts. (I’d add that the current British system, as imposed by our current government, is pretty much identically nuts).

  58. #58 |  Jeff | 

    Libertarians think wrongly about this issue. It’s not that they’re wrong about free immigration, nor that they’re wrong about the welfare state. They’re wrong on the relation between the two.

    In a welfare state, and we’re living in one, you can’t have free immigration.

    There’s an order in which these policies must be taken down. You’ve got to end social welfare before you can have free immigration.

  59. #59 |  Radley Balko | 

    You’ve got to end social welfare before you can have free immigration.

    Undocumented immigrants can’t get welfare. And study after study after study has shown they contribute far more to the economy than they take out of it.

  60. #60 |  Woog | 

    A beneficiary of the socialist EMTALA law needs no documentation, as it’s the 1980-era mandate for emergency rooms to treat/stabilize anyone who shows up, regardless if inability to pay is known. Nothing is free – taxpayers and lawful citizenry have been paying through the nose for this, primarily through the insane increases in medical costs over the last two decades.

    As far as other socialist programs such as welfare, I have no evidence to contradict the claim that it can’t be had by “undocumented immigrants”. However, I’d be extremely surprised to find that such people cannot receive “free” schooling, for example, so I suspect the problem of the drain on the (illegal) socialist programs is more damaging than you believe.

  61. #61 |  Fay | 

    @55 Badtux: well fucking said.

  62. #62 |  Deoxy | 

    This is exactly how we should handle such people.


    There should BE NO SUCH PEOPLE to begin with. That’s the insane part.

    This action is simply addressing a minor symptom of a major illness.

    It’s like gay marriage: nobody has given a toss for at least a decade

    Which is why several states have enacted bans of various strengths, many by referendum, in the past decade. No, wait, that doesn’t make any sense…

  63. #63 |  Deoxy | 

    Undocumented immigrants can’t get welfare.

    Ok, it’s not often I do this, especially to someone who is generally so well-researched as Radley, but…


    Seriously, what you mean is that they can’t LEGALLY get the legal definition of “welfare”, but that’s so remarkably narrow as to be silly.

    As pointed out above, that they make use of EMTALA-provided free medical care (in the most expensive way possible, since that’s all EMTALA allows) is beyond debate. How is that not “welfare” in the general sense?

    And yes indeed, they do make use of food stamps (illegally). Seen it personally. Housing assistance: same thing.

    Maybe those things are more rare (wouldn’t surprise me), but a blanket statement like you made…

    So yeah, Radley, you’re usually so careful about stuff. Please go back and try that one again, seriously this time.

  64. #64 |  Rob R. | 

    Rob@34 and Sean@42, don’t forget the whole prison industry who has been making lots of money on the backs of illegal aliens who are detained while waiting for thier hearings in the ever backlogged immigration courts. It is not uncommon for people to wait a month or more for thier first appearance with an immigration judge, and many spend 6-8 months in custody before thier cases are decided. Many of the detention centers are run by government contractors, others by local governments who rely on the revenue. You’re smart to by following the money: it’s not just USCIS, it is DHS, ICE and lots of governments and contractors.

    One the one hand, there’s the immigration lawyers (like me) who see a large pool of potential clients out there who need some changes in the law to be able to stay in the US. On the other hand, there are lots more people with lots more clout with decision makers who have a vested interest in keeping the laws the way they are: they see lots of people they can detain, make money off of for while, then ship out. Their problem is that it takes more courage most of us have to leave everything you know to go a place where you don’t speak the language in order to support your family and have a better life (not to mention that it is exactly that spirit that formed our great nation in the first place.) Oh, and by the way, if you are the least bit religious, every major religion teaches that your are to be kind to the stanger, help the poor, and take care of those less fortunate than you. Right now, the law (presumably passed by the people) doesn’t do that.

    Finally, compare the rethoric from the mid 1800s in Cal, or from anywhere other period. This is the same debate, with different players, that we’ve had before.

  65. #65 |  ImmLawyer | 

    @Waste 93. A lot of people (mostly those who oppose this new policy) are saying that the President has “sidestepped the Constitution” or “usurped Congressional authority” and done this by “fiat.” That is not what has happened here. The President has not passed a law. He hasn’t even issued an Executive Order. He hasn’t given anybody “amnesty” or a “path to citizenship.” He’s simply announced a new policy to the effect that, from now on, people who meet certain defined parameters between the ages of 15 and 29 will not be prosecuted or deported simply because they entered the country illegally when they were children. He did something similar around this same time last year when he announced that the administration would prioritize deporting those violent offenders and gang members who were most likely to pose a threat to U.S. security (rather than the average undocumented landscaper who cuts your grass, pays taxes and keeps his head down). It’s a principled and conscious choice not to kick people out of the country who are only here through no fault of their own. And it’s completely within the scope of his authority as President to make those decisions on prosecutorial discretion and to announce them – just as it would be within the scope of a President Romney’s authority to revoke such a policy on Day 1 of his presidency without consulting Congress.

  66. #66 |  notanImmLawyer | 

    @ImmLawyer #65. The argument for prosecutorial discretion seems somewhat sound, but it does raise the issue of selective enforcement. Leaving that aside, my problem is with the affirmative grant of work permits. Does that violate any statutes? I was under the impression that it wasn’t a choice of the executive to grant work permits, but a statutory requirement that such permits could only be given to lawful residents of the United States. If there is such a statute, then isn’t the executive branch handing these out to illegal aliens itself illegal? I think that the result here is just, but people seem too willing to shrug off the separation of powers issue here because they like the just result. I was a permanent resident for years before becoming a citizen and I lived in fear of getting caught up in bs law enforcement issues – open containers in college, walking while black in NYC, etc. So I am by no means an anti-immigrant zealot. I just think that there’s a big difference in not deporting people and giving them work permits.

  67. #67 |  Dreams, actions, and DREAM actions | 

    […] Dreams, actions, and DREAM actionsJune 22, 2012 By Fred Clark Leave a CommentRadley Balko: “That Big Thing Everyone Is Talking About Today“The president said that if you were brought to this country at a young age, by no choice of […]