Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Malkin versus "homeland security" (and reality)

Strange: Living her life as a paranoid, xenophobic nutjob doesn't bother Michelle Malkin a bit -- as a matter of fact, it suits her just fine. Not being considered "compassionate," on the other hand, seems to bother her a great deal.

I'd like to help. Really. But I'm all out of "there, there, of course you're compassionate" cards to send. So, I guess I'm stuck with addressing myself to the "paranoid" part, as in "paranoid schizophrenic," as in "total dissociation from the real world." Sorry, 'chelle. When you start quacking about "bring[ing] the homeland security debate" -- or anything else -- "back to reality," an intervention is clearly in order.

Here's some reality for you:

- The US has somewhere in the neighborhood of 100,000 miles of border and coastline.

- Estimates of illegal immigration rates vary -- duh -- but even the lowball figures are in the million plus range per year.

Reality speaks quite clearly on one point: There's no way to secure 100,000 miles of border and coastline (or even the 2,500 or so miles of border with Mexico) against a million people trying to get across. Some of them -- the bulk of them, in fact -- are going to get through. Period.

From a "homeland security" standpoint, of course, most of these millions are, or at least should be, irrelevant. Unless you consider getting your lettuce picked or your toilet cleaned a national security matter, they're no more of a threat than anyone else you pass on the street (which is to say, some of them might be menaces, most of them aren't). Granted, certain special interest groups would like the government to help them distort the labor market by coercively excluding competition, but really stupid economic beliefs do not, strictly speaking, constitute a "homeland security" matter either.

The reason the mass of illegal immigrants constitute a "homeland security" problem is that they are illegal immigrants. Instead of letting them walk in the front door, as they gladly would and as we most assuredly should, we bow to the special interests and slam that door in their faces.

If the US had a reasonable immigration policy -- i.e. "show up at a designated entry station and if you're not a known criminal or terrorist, we'll point you to the taxicabs lined up on the American side and send you on your way" -- they wouldn't be crawling through the windows and knocking holes in the walls.

And when a million-plus ordinary working stiffs are crawling through the windows and knocking holes in the walls for the privilege of landscaping your lawn or plucking your Thanksgiving turkey, those open windows and gaping holes constitute the entry points for criminals and terrorists -- people you'd never let in through the front door -- as well.

As it stands, US immigration policy constitutes a very real national security threat:

- US immigration policy creates a huge population among which criminals and terrorist can easily hide. Ten murderers -- or ten al Qaeda hijackers or bombmakers -- don't stand out in a crowd of a million "undocumented" individuals.

- US immigration policy creates the market demand that drives the "coyote" industry. A million customers a year seeking aid in crossing the border is big business. "Coyotes" don't care if the people they're escorting into the US are Mexican migrant workers or Yemeni assassins -- business is business. But they wouldn't be in business on any kind of large scale if Yemeni assassins were the bulk of their customer base.

- US immigration policy makes it difficult -- nay, impossible -- to properly monitor the borders for actual hostile activity. Is that group wading the Rio Grande at three in the morning an al Qaeda terror team lugging a small nuclear weapon, or just another one of the hundred groups of workers on their way -- at the same time, by the same routes and in the same manner -- to jobs at poultry plants, on construction crews and in farm fields?

Bottom line: No reasonable amount of money, manpower or concertina wire is going to stop economically motivated mass immigration. Any US immigration policy framed on a position of general exclusion is doomed to fail and to damage national security to boot. And nobody who continues to advocate such a policy in the face of the facts deserves to be taken seriously on immigration -- or on "homeland security."

[Note: Yeah, it's a straight policy piece. My bad anarchist self is on vacation today - TLK]

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