The predicament of Jose Vargas
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The predicament of Jose Vargas

Today the New York Times ran the first hand story of Jose Antonio Vargas, a well-known journalist who, in the piece, confesses that he unknowingly came to this country illegally as an adolescent and, after learning of his status when he tried to get a driving permit, still managed to graduate from college and work for some of the country’s top publications, most notably the Washington Post.

I really recommend that you read the story. While I’m sure he feels better having relieved himself of the burden he’s carried all these years, there’s a good chance he’ll wind up being deported unless someone else intervenes on his behalf.

Hopefully his story will shed some light on the state of many people who came to America as undocumented immigrants as children, are for all intents and purposes Americans, and yet face deportation if they’re ever found out. While I understand that giving such people a direct path to a Green Card or citizenship provides an incentive for illegal immigration, I don’t care. There is nothing to be gained by sending people away who are already fully assimilated and who would suffer greatly by being deported.

Editor Chris Suellentrop writes about how the New York Times Magazine came to publish the story.

Update: Suzy Khimm reports that it’s unlikely that Vargas will be deported.

Go to Hell, Arizona
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Go to Hell, Arizona

I’m not too happy with the state of Arizona, but I can’t express myself any better than New York Times Supreme Court reporter Linda Greenhouse did today, in her op-ed piece Breathing While Undocumented. Arizona has passed a law that any idiot can see is inhumane and unenforceable.

Political activists tend to ignore basic issues of enforcement when they propose laws. During the late stages of the health care debate, Senate Republican introduced an amendment that bans the government paying for erectile dysfunction drugs for registered sex offenders. Not to go too far afield, but the idea was that the Democrats would have to embarrass themselves by voting against the amendment for procedural reasons, thus handing Republicans a minor victory.

But what interested me was that while this amendment might have seemed like a good idea, it had huge enforcement issues. Suddenly it turns doctors or health insurance companies into law enforcement agencies — whose responsibility does it become to ask patients whether they’re a sex offender? Do people have to indicate that they’re a sex offender when they enroll in a health insurance plan?

Now that this bill in Arizona has gone into effect, every policeman has immigration enforcement added to their existing list of duties. Not only does it increase their workloads, but it also makes it less likely that immigrants will work with the police for any reason, undocumented or otherwise. If anything, this bill will make life better for criminals in immigrant communities because those communities will be further alienated from the police.

So on top of the reasons of principle that make this bill an awful idea, but it’s likely to be an utter failure for practical reasons as well.