The serenity prayer, often called the alcoholics’ prayer, states, “God grant us the serenity to accept the things we cannot change, the courage to change the things we can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”
These thoughts might well be applied to the contentious and, at times, grim business of immigration.
You don’t have to be a political scientist to see that the immigration system is broken. Worse, it won’t be fixed soon.
In the absence of an immigration policy, the de facto policy is more of what doesn’t work — more cruel deportations and more desperate people seeking the simplest of human needs: safety and the ability to provide for themselves and their families.
A recent ICE raid on seven poultry plants in Mississippi tells the immigration story: People who are doing work Americans don’t want to do are rounded up at incalculable human cost.
Families are ripped asunder; the fathers are to be shipped to places they scarcely know and where there is nothing for them except penury and likely violent death. One man is headed for Guatemala after 18 years in the United States. He leaves behind his children who are, by birthright, citizens.
Poultry production is hurt, affecting the whole supply chain from farm to table.
President Trump has said raids like the one in Mississippi are a deterrent to illegal immigration. Were public hangings a deterrent to murder?
Desperate people do desperate things. Illegal immigration is a crime — a crime that has no statute of limitations. But it is a crime based on a fundamentally noble human aspiration: to be safe and to work.
Ideas about an open border are, at this period in history, insane. That would lead to a kind of conquest by stealth.
What to do?
First, decide what can be done and what might get through Congress.
A starting place: the status for the 11 million living in the shadows. They are the clue to ending the horror of deportation, which has done nothing to stem the tide of migrants — whether the deportations were conducted during the Obama administration or this one.
Neither deportation nor citizenship is an answer. This phantom population needs to be stabilized and brought into the light. The working illegals provide labor where it is needed for American prosperity and, as they send expatriate earnings to their homelands, helps those countries from slipping further into chaos.
Next, the extreme voices of the left and the right need to be quieted.
People who are here and have roots here need to be recognized as the flotsam of broken countries, not persecuted as criminals. Pro-immigrant groups, with their insistence that any solution must contain a “path to citizenship,” don’t help. A right to work and live in peace should be victory enough. That requires a regime of work permits related to what the British call “right of abode.”
I have been drawn to, and written about, the work of a Malibu, Calif.-based outfit called the Immigration Tax Inquiry Group (ITIG) because it seems that organization has a plan that would work, normalizing life for those who are here, ending the savagery of families torn asunder by men with guns raiding at dawn.
The ITIG, the work largely of one man, Mark Jason, a former IRS special agent, aims to provide a 10-year work permit but with a twist. The twist is that the permit recognizes the special nature and special burden of migration and accesses a 5 percent tax on both the employer and worker’s wages. These tax revenues, hundreds of billions over time, according to Jason, should then go to helping those communities with high immigrant populations pay for schools, health care, policing and other services.
In medicine, doctors seek to stabilize the patient before all else. Immigration is in chaos: people desperate to get in, people desperate when they’re thrown out. It may be the law, but it also is state-sponsored cruelty.
We can stop the deportations with a simple work permit; end much suffering as we head haltingly toward a more complete policy.
If we can’t fix the entire immigration dilemma, then let’s have the courage to change what we can and stop the shame of tearing up families.