Monday, June 11, 2007

How Much Good Behavior is Good Enough?

There's something I don't understand (What else is new?)

If there's one thing we've learned this past week, just through constant repetition, it's this:

The average prisoner in Los Angeles County serves about ten percent of his sentence, and then is sprung for good behavior. After all, they've paid their debt, right?

Violate twice on a DUI? Just show us you can sit still for three days and it's all good. We might even expunge it from your record.

On the other hand...

What about someone who entered the country illegally?

This guy could be here fifteen years, working hard, paying taxes, keeping good credit, raising a family, heading PTA committees, doing volunteer work for Meals on Wheels and his church...

But if he's caught? Uh oh.

If his fifteen-year-old crime were robbery or fraud, he'd have gotten out of prison long ago. And if he hadn't been caught, under the statute of limitations he'd be home free.

In a lot of states he could have raped someone and the clock would've run out.

Membership really does have its privileges.

Hasn't our hypothetical immigrant amply demonstrated good behavior? And more than repaid his debt to society?

So why is there no statute of limitations on illegal immigration?

I'm still ambivalent on illegal aliens in general. Personally I think there shouldn't be jobs "Americans won't do." If a job is beneath Americans, it's beneath everyone. If you can't run your farm or factory without paying a legal wage, then you can't sustain your business, and you need to shut down.

There are businesses that get padlocked for tax reasons or license problems or zoning issues or safety violations. Why do they have to obey the law or perish, but we all seem to have "agreed" somehow that some corporations need illegal labor to make a profit?

And guest workers? That term makes my skin crawl. We had that program already, a long time ago. As I remember, the "guest workers" didn't like the set-up. Neither did anyone of conscience. That's why we had our Civil War.

Oops. I'm sorry. I meant our "Sectarian Violence."

Seems to me the only way we can make America's borders stronger is to make Mexico a better place to live. If an American company is going to move overseas to get cheap labor, the U.S. and Mexico should partner up to offer incentives to get that company's manual labor moved to Mexico. Put the jobs where the workers are.

In return for these incentives, the companies could pledge to only export the "bad jobs" and to keep all the "good jobs" here. Research, design, marketing, customer service... Let's see if we can raise a generation of Americans who dress up to go to work. Whose jobs are actually careers. Let's make home ownership a real possibility for our children, by building them better places to work.

I'm sure there are a million reasons why this is flawed... but there's no reason not to talk about it. To come up with some other solution. Since no one likes the ones we have.

Again, it's hard to know how I feel about illegal immigrants. My feelings are all over the place because these are individuals, not a single, faceless entity.

I think the law is the law and no one should break it... but this Paris Hilton thing has made me realize there has to be a point when we stop playing Javert and Valjean with these people.

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