When is Amnesty not
© 2009 Thomas W. Goldman & Peter
The debate has started once again. Congress is holding
hearings on what may eventually be a breakthrough in the
immigration stalemate. That is, if the economy does not derail
the latest attempt to deal with undocumented workers.
The concern on the part of some is that allowing
legalization of people who entered the United States illegally,
or remained in the United States illegally, after entering with
a visa, is unfair to those who have been waiting in line for
years. In effect, amnesty penalizes those who have tried to do
things the right way.
And, what happened to the Rule of Law? last time around,
“amnesty” became a word politicians in favor of a new law
avoided at all costs. They argued a new law should require
conditions to be put on those claiming entitlement to a new
pathway to citizenship. Those against a new law granting status
argued this amounts to amnesty, clear and simple.
When amnesty is not really amnesty appears to depend on how
much is required of undocumented workers before they can
qualify for a legalization process. For example, should
illegals be required to return home for a period of time and
wait there for permission to reenter properly? Should they be
required to speak English, or pass a civics test, or both?
Should they have been in the United States for a period of
years and be able to prove they paid taxes, even if they have
The task of Congress will in part be to fashion a law that
will satisfy the American public that the Rule of Law is
important by requiring specific conditions as a part of the
legalization process. We feel this is necessary for the process
to be fair. We are opposed to an “open borders” approach to
immigration and believe that the rules should be clear and
immigrants should play by the rules.