La Shawn Barber has been complaining about Bush's plan to move illegal immigrant workers into a status where they can be kept better track of and abused less by the employers who illegally hire them. See also Sierra Faith, where I first saw this and commented before seeing it at La Shawn's site.
I agree with La Shawn on many things, but this is something I just can't come on board with. I can understand why some people might oppose this program. I can't understand why they would describe it the way she does. She says it's a program to reward criminals for committing illegal activity, and I can't see how that's what this is. It's not rewarding anyone. It's simply reducing a penalty. There's a huge difference.
If I propose that we should weaken penalties for certain crimes, does that amount to endorsing lawbreaking? Not at all. There's still a penalty. It's just not as harsh as it used to be. So it certainly doesn't amount to rewarding lawbreaking. President Bush has proposed reducing the penalty for illegal entry. Some of the current restrictions on what such people can do would be removed. Not all of them would be. For instance, the path to citizenship would still be a good deal harder than it is for legal immigrants.
It's just plain not a reward for illegal activity any more than reducing the death penalty for murder to 40 years would be rewarding murderers for killing. If they didn't kill, there'd be no 40 years. If they hadn't entered illegally, they wouldn't have a more complicated process toward getting legally recognized. Therefore, there's still a penalty for the crime, just as some other crimes don't have a death penalty but just have a fine. It's not rewarding people for parking in a handicapped spot just because all they get is a fine instead of a night in jail. Why, then, is it rewarding immigrants for their illegal entry if they get a reduced penalty from their willingness to come clean?
If anything's being rewarded, it's that, not the criminal activity. It just seems unfair to me to use the kind of rhetoric La Shawn, Greg, and others are using. The facts don't support such language. This is so whether Bush's proposal is a good idea or not. It's just an inaccurate way to portray the proposal, and even people who disagree with it should characterize it fairly.