Last week’s big PNU conference on multiculturalism in Korea got me thinking about the new Arizona immigration law that allows police to demand valid identity paper on reasonable suspicion.
As with so many other debates in the US, the new one on Arizona’s ‘racist’ immigration law is ridiculously uniformed by practice in other places. Usually this iconic American ignorance of the rest of the world rebounds to the disadvantage of the US Right. Conservatives, absolutely bedazzled by American exceptionalism, refuse to see how Bushism alienated the world and forced Americans travelling to say they were from Canada. But on illegal immigration, it is really the US Left that is benighted, willfully refusing to see the rule of law problem of 10-20 million undocumented people running about. For example, Chait will tell you how your concern for about unlawful migration is really just racism. How cynically, smugly condescending of the race-obsessed American Left to share its moralism with you racists thinking about law and documentation.
I have lived in other countries for 6 years and counting (about 1/6 of my life), and I simply accept it as routine that I can be stopped by the police and demanded for ID. In Germany, I had to have my ID card at all times; in Russia, I had to carry my passport at all times (rather risky, that). In Korea, I must carry my alien ID card at all times too. I do, and I certainly don’t howl and complain about it. I get asked for it, as well as a copy of my visa, all the time – in hospitals, on the internet, by government officials, cops, etc. Since when did non-citizens carrying proper ID become ‘racist tyranny’? Do US liberals really believe that? Do we really want 15 million illegals running around the US without documentation?
I went through the legal immigration process; let them do it too. Yes, it is a pain. Yes, I pay the Korean government a lot of money for some silly stamps, and I wait forever in some stuffy room for a bored bureaucrat to glare at me. But it’s not ‘orwellian racial profiling.’ Come on already. You’re a guest in someone else’s house. You know the rules are going to be a little tougher. And you should accept that, because you choose to go there. That is their system. You must respect it; you can always leave.
Ultimately, immigrants are guests, and it is our responsibility to follow our hosts’ rules. If you don’t like those rules you – a guest – don’t have the moral standing to criticize. We immigrants take what the residents dish out. It’s their system to set, not ours. And it is extraordinary bad faith to name-call our hosts racists. That is offensive to very people we want to allow us in the door. It’s both stupid and rude.
If you think the US rules are burdensome or racist, try living in Asia or Europe! Dual citizenship is nearly impossible. The Korean government makes me renew my visa every year – even though I am long-term employed resident foreigner with property, education, and all that. They make money off the foreigner population by requiring annual visa renewals, but it is also a way to check up on us that we aren’t screwing around too much.
So where in god’s name did ILLEGAL immigrants in the US get the gumption to expect they shouldn’t have to demonstrate who they are to the lawful authorities? If anything the moral posture should be reversed. Illegal immigrants should bend over backward in thankfulness that Americans are so tolerant they even look the other way on rampant illegality. If I were a publicly known illegal immigrant in SK, I would last about 5 minutes before being shoved onto a plane. If that constitutes ‘racism’ and a ‘police state,’ then you can understand why the Tea Party movement hates the government. By law the government is supposed to deport illegal immigrants. Illegal immigration is a misdemeanor, and repeated attempts are a felony. Yet 15 million people function everyday outside the basic rule of law. That is not ‘victory against racism;’ it is a massive failure of the US justice system.
The heart of the US Left’s critique of Bush – which I accept – is that he violated the rule of law with torture. But that means the Left, and America’s Hispanics, must acknowledge the same on this question. If you want different immigration laws, then change them through the policy process. But the current regime of ‘purposive unenforcement’ is incompatible with political order.
I shudder to say it, but the US Right is correct on this one.