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Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Pawlenty's immigration proposals

Well, Pawlenty's immigration proposals are out, and they are less draconian and punitive than I expected: I was expecting something like requiring all dark-skinned people, including children, to show their "papers" before they got any services like education. While I'm sure that there are many people in this state who would applaud such a plan, that's not the road that Pawlenty took. However, that doesn't mean his ideas are worthwhile or will actually accomplish anything.

Some of them don't sound too bad on their face. Some of them don't have much to do with immigration at all. But some are stupid ideas, and none of them are going to have much impact on illegal immigration in this state.

So what are they? Here they are, with comments:

• Creating a Minnesota Illegal Immigration Enforcement Team of 10 state law enforcement officers: where are these officers going to be coming from? Last I heard, we were very short on State Patrol members. It doesn't sound like these are going to be new law enforcement officers, so whoever gets the double duty will be pulled from elsewhere. Plus, what are these people going to do? When I hear this kind of "team," I think Dilbert.

• Stronger penalties on having fake IDs: this goes beyond just illegal immigration, and it would create some stiff penalties for having or creating a fake ID. I'm not sure what the statistics are, but it seems that a lot of underage people could be caught up in this, and I don't think any 19 year-old with a fake ID is going to be pleased with getting a year in jail for trying to buy beer; I'm not sure if the punishment fits the crime. And if this law were passed but the college kids got off with light sentences and the darker-skinned people were thrown in jail for a year...that would be disgusting.

• Increasing penaltis for human trafficking when victims are under the age of 18: I guess this sounds okay, but I have to confess to ignorance on this subject. I don't understand, for example, how this would reduce illegal immigration, but trafficking of kids can't be a good thing.

• Requiring law enforcement officers to record the country of citizenship and immigration status of suspects arrested for serious crimes: okay, I'm really confused with this one. What is this going to accomplish? Seriously. Say Joe Blow is arrested for a felony, is convicted, and is then deported, which is what happens when immigrants commit serious crimes. Joe comes back, and then what? What good is having his immigration status in a record going to be? Is this information going to be collected for arrests, or convictions? Who is going to figure out immigration status (the $64,000 question). What is the point of this?

Okay, those were the not terribly bad ones. The rest are just stupid.

• Passing a state law pre-empting cities from passing local ordinances that prevent local police officers from inquiring about immigration status or enforcing immigration laws: would somebody please sit the governor down with a bunch of immigration lawyers? Please? They would tell him that untangling immigration status is hard for a bunch of lawyers and judges, let alone police officers. I know of people with expired visas who are allowed to stay here. I know of people with valid visas who aren't. I know of people who literally have to undertake two wrongs to make a right. Immigration law in this country is seriously screwed up. Police officers aren't able to handle it. And again, do we have too many law enforcement officers out there that we need to give them more pointless work?

• Putting immigration status on driver's licenses: I don't like feature creep. This is feature creep. Driver's licenses should be for the privilege of driving only. Nothing else.

• Imposing fines of up to $5,000 on employers who knowingly recruit or hire illegal immigrants, and barring such employers from state contracts: ah, the pathetic little stab at holding employers accountable. Notice the word "knowingly" in there. That kind of intent is pretty hard to prove, which means that the big Republican employers will be safe from this new law. After all, it's not going to be hard for an employer to argue that they didn't knowingly hire any illegal immigrants, they were just duped by false documents. That they didn't do much checking of their employees...well, that's life. Incidentally, if you gave this proposal teeth, then conducting raids would give those 10 members of the Enforcement Team something very good to do.

These proposals show that the Governor isn't terribly interested in having a serious discussion on immigration and how it helps (or hurts) our state. As if there was much doubt about that.


At 8:34 PM, January 03, 2006, Blogger Editor said...

Here's the deal. They BROKE THE LAW by entering this country ILLEGALLY. What is it about that simple concept that baffles you?

At 9:21 PM, January 03, 2006, Blogger MN Politics Guru said...

Yes, and 19 year-olds who drink BREAK THE LAW, and I think it is stupid. People who smoke marijuana BREAK THE LAW, and I think it is stupid. In this country, you can be denied a visa because your skin is too dark and the immigration official doesn't like you, and this happens ALL THE TIME. So I think it is stupid to demonize a bunch of people whose only crime is not being born in the right place, if they are coming here to make a better life for themselves.

Let's fix our immigration system so this doesn't have to happen, and then we won't need to waste time arguing about who is BREAKING THE LAW.

At 8:33 AM, January 06, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

But isn't it a civil violation, not a criminal violation of the law? And what are Minnesota cops supposed to do? Deport the illegals? Isn't that really the job of the federal INS?

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