September 30, 2006


With Senate Vote, Congress Passes Border Fence Bill (Jonathan Weisman, September 30, 2006, Washington Post)

The Senate gave final approval last night to legislation authorizing the construction of 700 miles of double-layered fencing on the U.S.-Mexico border, shelving President Bush's vision of a comprehensive overhaul of U.S. immigration laws in favor of a vast barrier.

The measure was pushed hard by House Republican leaders, who badly wanted to pass a piece of legislation that would make good on their promises to get tough on illegal immigrants, despite warnings from critics that a multibillion-dollar fence would do little to address the underlying economic, social and law enforcement problems, or to prevent others from slipping across the border.

It's the perfect piece of legislation: ineffective against immigration; a subsidy for Boeing, but in an area of its business that doesn't matter; and the full-moon Right loves it.

Posted by Orrin Judd at September 30, 2006 9:27 AM

OJ, I don't think it's just the right. I've been reading letters in the Chicago Trib about the same and even some dems are surprised at what their constituents want.

Posted by: Sandy P at September 30, 2006 11:50 AM

Sorry, "full-moon right."

Posted by: Sandy P at September 30, 2006 11:51 AM

If by "ineffective against immigration" you mean it won't stop 100% of immigration, that's no problem as that isn't the goal. But any reasonable barrier will effect some reduction in illegal immigration, and thus actually has some real (as opposed to hand-waving) benefit.

Posted by: Kirk Parker at September 30, 2006 1:31 PM

Only full-mooners write to their papers.

Posted by: oj at September 30, 2006 3:00 PM


How'd all those Cubans and Vietnamese get here?

Posted by: oj at September 30, 2006 3:02 PM

OJ -

Once in a while, we "half-mooners" fire off a letter or two. I save my full-moons for you.

Posted by: jim hamlen at September 30, 2006 10:02 PM

"The economy, [ ]."

As long as it makes economic sense to employ illegals, the ethically challenged will do so. If the present illegals are legalized, then newer, less legal illegals will take their place, because of the economic advantage of employing people off the books..

Reply Obj: That illegals may be better workers than legals supports and does not detract from this argument. Their motivation is part of their economic advantage.

Posted by: Lou Gots at September 30, 2006 10:03 PM

Decent people are obligated to break unjust laws.

Posted by: oj at September 30, 2006 10:41 PM

Here we go again.

The immigration system is not an "unjust law." It may be unwise, or less wise than a different system, it may be corruptly applied, but it is not "unjust" to ask that immigrants or guest workers apply for and receive permission to enter the country.

What is unjust is cynical participation in a system which exploits economic refugees. Just as the purchaser of child pornography is supporting the abuse of children, so is the purchaser of a cheaper piece of fruit or a cheaper house supporting the running of coyote operations.

What I am seeing is the juvenile Vietnam era argument that any government decision with which one disagrees is "unjust" and may be defied. The implication is that objection to the continued exploitation of undocumented aliens is the same thing as telling the SS that your neighbors are hiding Anne Frank in the attic.

Posted by: Lou Gots at October 1, 2006 5:03 AM

You are the one who keeps throwing sin and morality into the mix, Lou, even apparently dragging the sin through to home and fruit buyers. (You make it sound like a bacillus.) We all know the immigration law has been thoroughly corrupted through regulatory confusion, bureaucratic inertia, selective enforcement, corruption and the blithe ignoring of the law by many of influence. Does the sin extend to those who let that happen?

Tell us, do you think that all those modern Americans whose ancestors lied to get through Ellis Island are living in sin? I'm anxious to know your views on what extirpates these sins and who decides. An amnesty?

Posted by: Peter B at October 1, 2006 8:14 AM


It's unjust because solely motivated by hate. It serves no just purpose.

Posted by: oj at October 1, 2006 8:54 AM

No way Jose'. The justice of a law is established by the law, not the motive for the law. A reasonable speed limit is not rendered "unjust" because its proponents are motivated by a spiteful intent to frustrate people who like to drive fast.

Is it reasonable, is it of general application, is it properly enacted, is its end the common good? Answer these questions and we may see whether a law is just. The motive of the law is immaterial.

Whether or not is serves a just purpose goes to the heart of the matter. I submit that the purposes of screening, selecting, and accounting for immigrants are just purposes. Seeing that those immigrants are protected by the laws applying to legal workers is a just purpose. Really, it is Vietnam era anti-nomianism to defy laws with which one disagrees on the grounds that one could have figured out a better way to do it.

Pete B: I am not sure that I understand how you are using the word, "extirpate." I might say that, yes, at some point the connection to the bad deed is so attenuated that the guilt does not attach. Certainly not to grandchildren and creat-grandchildren. At least we are making progress now that you are recognizing that immigration liars and cheats are liars and cheats.

As to the guilt of the knowing or vincibly ignorant consumer of immigrant labor, I may ask why that case is different from that of the consumer of child pornography. Here the former consumer is supporting and enabling a continuing system of exploitation and abuse.

Posted by: Lou Gots at October 1, 2006 2:30 PM


You're confusing legality/constitutionality with morality. Abortion is legal, but unjust. Slavery and Segregation were legal and served pragmatic purposes, but were unjust. Immigration limits were enacted for racist purposes and serve only them.

Posted by: oj at October 1, 2006 2:42 PM

No, that analogy does not work because there is an inherent wrong in child pornography that exists whatever the government has to say about it and that goes far beyond wispy notions of "exploitation". There is no such inherent wrong in buying a house. A better example would be buying a computer that has been priced below cost as part of an effort to drive the competition out of the market in violation of anti-trust laws. On you knees!

Your error is to take the general religious enjoinder to obey the law and convert that into declaring the breaking of any law to be a malum in se. Talk about throne and altar. Sin and unlawfulness are not synonyms and if you continue to insist they are you will just contribute to the continuing disappearance of any notion of objective morality in public discourse. Your argument reminds me of that of radical feminist lawyers who try to extend the notion of wife abuse to being crabby or criticizing anything or other mundane things, thereby undercutting the whole notion and imperilling those who really do need help.

Your other problem is the starting context, which wouldn't vary if we were really talking about sin. It is certainly wrong to cross the border without permission, but this notion that everything the illegal immigrant does once here carries the stain of that wrongness is nonsense. I think we can all agree that murder is wrong anywhere, anytime, but according to you the illegal with three hungry children must tell them they will starve because he can't pick tomatos that day to feed them, as that would imperil his soul. C'mon.

Posted by: Peter B at October 2, 2006 6:33 AM

"How'd all those Cubans and Vietnamese get here?"

Over the Pacific in pathetic little boats, over shark-infested Carribean waters on rubber rafts ... not wading across an overgrown erosion gully like the Rio Grande.

If all this fence does is make it a bit harder to get in, that alone should improve the quality of immigrants we get.

Posted by: Ralph Phelan at October 2, 2006 5:15 PM

Yes, it won't.

Posted by: oj at October 2, 2006 5:26 PM