Immigration

At Least Have the Basic Courage and Decency to Call an 'Amnesty' an 'Amnesty'

Evasive language isn't helping solve our dysfunctional immigration system.

|

Barack Obama insists DAPA is not an amnesty. ||| Whitehouse.gov
Whitehouse.gov

This week, Katherine Mangu-Ward argued (in this space, on Tucker Carlson Tonight, and during our weekly Reason Podcast) that as policy goes, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, which President Donald Trump slapped a six-month expiration date on, is worthy of being adopted, especially by act of legislation rather than sweep of the president's pen. In today's Washington Post, I also take issue with the way an otherwise sensible deprioritization was initially sold—namely by carefully avoiding and even denying the radioactive word amnesty. Excerpt:

"Now, let's be clear," [President Barack Obama] said [in 2012], leading with the classic politician tell for impending opacity, "this is not amnesty, this is not immunity."

Yeah, no.

The whole point of DACA is immunity: from deportation, and the existential uncertainties that flow from the possibility that at any moment you could be detained, cuffed, then dropped off in a country you might not even know. When there are millions of people living outside of any given law, not only is that an excellent moment to ask whether the problem is prohibition rather than criminality — as George H.W. Bush observed during the Republican presidential primary debate in 1980, "we're creating a whole society of really honorable, decent, family-loving people that are in violation of the law" — but the situation also requires that the federal government prioritize scarce law enforcement resources.

It's "amnesty," however, that's the real linguistic third rail here, and it is well past time that we stomped on it.

You can read the whole thing here.

Also, from November 2014: "Obama Waterboards the Definition of Amnesty in Immigration Speech."

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

46 responses to “At Least Have the Basic Courage and Decency to Call an 'Amnesty' an 'Amnesty'

  1. The resulting 1986 Reagan amnesty of course, is what helped taint the word in the first place, since the ranks of the undocumented more than doubled over the next three decades.

    Any opportunity to impugn President Reagan, eh, Welch? No wonder Kennedy fired you.

  2. It’s hard to call it amnesty when you can’t figure out what crime they have committed.

    1. I assume you’re talking about a moral, universally recognized crime vs. a statutory one, because I don’t know if anyone is claiming the people who’d be targeted for deportation are here legally.

    2. You lefties are ignoring the federal laws violated.

    3. “It’s hard to call it amnesty when you can’t figure out what crime they have committed.”

      First, I’m down hard on the open-borders side of things, but I do understand that the constitution allows Congress to regulate immigration. So now you get the easy part: The broke the law entering the US.
      See how easy that was?
      If you’re going to argue, do it honestly, otherwise you end up like turd, Tony and some others.

      1. Re: Sevo,

        Stop equivocating. He’s asking what *crime* have they committed, not what law they broke. Of course undocumented immigrants broke the law, but that doesn’t mean ipso facto they’re criminals. Governments don’t get to shape reality, or do consider them gods?

        1. Considering that up to 50% commit identity theft, let’s start there.

          1. Actually, upon further review- According to the Social Security Administration and The New York Times -As many as 75% of illegal aliens obtain false SS#’s, which is a felony.
            That doesn’t even include other felonies, commonly committed by illegal aliens, like perjury, tax fraud, bank and wire fraud.

            1. If their crime is avoiding having their money stolen and instead sending it to their dependents, you’re not really building a sympathetic case in this neck of the woods. If you can prove that they are stealing the funds that were stolen from someone else, you might have more luck.

        2. Um … OK, I’m a recrudescent redneck, but if they broke the law, they’re criminals. Why is that so hard?

      2. “I do understand that the constitution allows Congress to regulate immigration”

        Really? Care to point to the clause that allows that?

    4. That’s the problem with most proggies, not matter how much damage you do, it’s all ok. Because it feeeeeeelz good!

  3. Devising a more logical immigration policy means having an honest discussion about it, rather than conspicuously emotional arguments about dangerous criminals, soft-focus dreamers, border walls and who’s going to pay for them.

    And then the author goes on to invoke an emotional argument in opposition. Granted, it’s one that I happen to agree with, but still. Reason and all of us should be advocating for a legislative resolution to immigration policy. We have to get away from this imperial presidency we now have, no matter how much we favor his royal decrees.

    1. The more you favor a royal decree, the more you should be screaming it be legislated.

  4. A fun parlor game is finding someone who supports amnesty and increased immigration from Mexico, then asking if that person’s job can be done by a person who doesn’t speak English or have a high school education.

    Everyone at Reason fails.

    1. Re: Masturbatin’ Pete,

      A fun parlor game is finding someone who supports amnesty and increased immigration from Mexico, then asking if that person’s job can be done by a person who doesn’t speak English or have a high school education.

      I have a better question for you: what makes you think you own your job, if the means of production and the capital belong to your employer?

      If my services are no longer needed, I simply find a new customer, not spend my living days bitching about “Dem Illegulz Takum Er Jebz!” like a stupid asshole.

      1. Go home. I’m sure there’re lots of lawns that need mowed in Mexico.

  5. “we’re creating a whole society of really honorable, decent, family-loving people that are in violation of the law”

    You could say the exact same thing about pot prohibition.

    1. Or any victimless crime. Hell, take it to the extreme and we could say any law.

      1. Well, a lot of laws. Lol.

  6. It’s interesting how everyone wants to give Congress a pass on doing their jobs. Everyone including Congress was bitching about DACA “protections” being taken away. But exactly from whom is DACA protecting then from? Congress because Congress is responsible for our immigration laws. Unfortunately everyone wants a King.

  7. Oh good Lord.

    When Tucker Carlson quoted that “100 million unemployed Americans” number, I knew he was completely full of shit and a dishonest hack.

    Tucker doesn’t want to generalize about the Dreamers, “some are good and some are bad” – ok, fine as things go – but he is totally fine generalizing about Americans, that all are worthy enough to get priority for job opportunities over every non-American.

  8. One of the defining qualities of politics, really people in general, is a love of purely semantic arguments. I really wish we could be my straight with our language, it would be a richer intellectual environment if people would just call a spade a spade, and open-borders open-boarders.

    1. Politicians love to use semantics to their advantage. The vaugness of words like terror, torture, and regulation allows them to talk out of both sides of their mouth depending on whom they are trying to pander to. The left especially loves to shift the meaning of words to their opposite (liberal?) Which gives them freedom to lie about everything.

  9. Not honest enough.

    Amnesty is forgiving past sins. For illegal aliens, it would be kicking them out, but still letting them apply for legal status without prejudice *just like any other foreign national*.

    Amnesty is not *rewarding* past sins with benefits.

    All proposals generally called immigration amnesties are actually *criminal rewards programs* for immigration law breakers, letting those who broke immigration law cut in line for benefits ahead of those who got in line lawfully.

    1. But… but… They’re DREAMERS! *commences starry eyed prance dance*

    2. There is no line, moron.

      1. Actually, there is. Immigration law sets quotas by nation, education and skill level. Those and other criteria effectively create a line (actually, more than one). Just ask someone (if you know any such person, I know more than one) who is here legally and is waiting for a loved one to gain admission legally. Yes, it is horribly difficult on these people, but all in all I prefer a society that welcomes “really honorable, decent, family-loving people that are NOT in violation of the law”

  10. I would like to hear an open borders person tell me what is a good population for the USA. 330 million? 500 million? Lets just go to 1 billion people.

    They don’t care about American quality of life for the current Americans just that they want more voters to vote open borders.

    1. Re: loveconstitution1789,

      I would like to hear an open borders person tell me what is a good population for the USA. 330 million? 500 million? Lets just go to 1 billion people.

      How many babies are enough? Don’t think it’s not the same thing, you dishonest hack.

      Your question reeks of eugenics and Neo-malthusianism. Say it ain’t so – I dare you.

    2. “Voters,” both an exquisite racial dog whistle and also a truthful pragmatic confession. This is the Dom Perignon of Frank Luntz horseshit.

      1. Funny how only progressives can ever hear these dog whistles.

        1. The only ones who can hear a “dog whistle” are the dogs…

    3. Why should there be some pre-determined number for a “good population” for the USA? Why should this number be set in advanced and regulated by Top Men? Why shouldn’t we just set people free to express their liberty as they see fit?

      Incidentally, as an empirical matter, the US has a lower population density than the average value for the planet (excluding Antarctica). If the US had a population of 550 million, then it would be at an “average” value for population density.

      1. Fifty years ago, the idea of a United States with a population of ~320 million would have sounded just as horrifying to the neo-Malthusians population control nutters.

        1. So leftists?

  11. At least Welch has the balls to call it what it is: A push for amnesty.

    Deferred Action always meant Deferred Action, not ‘No Action, Ever’ as some wanted to pretend.

    It was always designed to be a wedge issue for a later President/Congress rather than a solution.

    1. Acid, Amnesty and Abortion. Pot, Ass-sex, and Mexicans

  12. “this is not amnesty, this is not immunity.”

    Right, it’s “kinetic military action” or some such Obo bullshit.

  13. Democrats aren’t the ones who are good at turning single words or phrases into off-switches for half the country’s brains. Say amnesty and the cousinfuckers start lighting tiki torches. Say “it’s for the children” and suddenly the exact policy is popular.

    1. Democrats aren’t the ones who are good at turning single words or phrases into off-switches for half the country’s brains.

      “White Privilege”
      “Black Lives Matter”
      “Mansplaining”
      “Love Trumps Hate”
      “Resist”
      “I’m With Her”
      “Russian interference”

      Your non-stop lack of self-awareness continues. And stop projecting your fetish for your cousins on this board, you’re embarrassing yourself.

    2. Really Tony… “Dreamers?” Fuck off….

  14. It’s rough times for cosmotarians. The market for white people hating on other white people ain’t what it used to be.

  15. In this country if a divorced parent (or any relative) sneaks off with a kid it is called child stealing. The kids are always returned to their rightful home. Stockholm syndrome not withstanding.
    Stockholm syndrome: Psychological response wherein a captive begins to identify … deemed socially harmful or dangerous and specifically defined, prohibited, … . the syndrome is marked not only by a positive bond between captive and captor but also by a negative attitude on behalf of the captive toward authorities who threaten the captor-captive relationship.
    No one has accused the Mexican government of persecution which would assume illegal aliens from there require asylum or amnesty. They are going to Mexico, where American college kids vacation every spring, not North Korea.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.