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Broken Borders: The Local Solutions By: Marion Edwyn Harrison, Esq.
FrontPageMagazine.com | Wednesday, February 06, 2008


Regardless of one’s view as to how the very real inundation of unlawful immigrants and unlawful prospective immigrants ought to be handled, it is clear that the Federal Government has not produced a clear and workable process which likely would lead to a solution.  The country remains full of unlawful immigrants, with estimates varying between high and low gigantic numbers - namely, various millions.

For lack of a national plan or even the appearance of a national plan, numerous local jurisdictions have undertaken, and are undertaking, various attempts at solutions.

It is impossible to cite to a certainty which local county, city, town and other type of jurisdiction is the most recent to attempt some kind of local solution.   Virginia Beach, perhaps to the surprise of people unfamiliar with Virginia, is Virginia’s largest city, with a year-round population of more than 425,000 residents. (Fairfax County is larger, with more than one million, but, while it has the characteristics of a city, legally it is a county, with the small City of Fairfax next door.)  Virginia Beach appears to be the most recent major metropolitan jurisdiction to enact an attempt at control of unlawful immigration.

By city ordnance, Virginia Beach is to require vendors doing business with the City to certify that they are complying with Federal immigration laws and at the option of the City to submit to audit.  In view of the relative void of Federal law on the subject and the workload of the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement Administration (with the doubtless-unintended curious acronym of “ICE”) it is questionable whether this procedure, even if fully implemented, would be very effectual in deterring unlawful immigrants from seeking jobs in Virginia Beach and/or from moving their abode to Virginia Beach, much less in getting them out of the United States or even out of Virginia.  Most vendors in the City do no business with the City but do business within the City.   For that reason alone the procedure may be of limited or no effectuality.   

Various smaller communities here and there about the country have conducted public relations efforts to encourage the unlawful to go elsewhere; have sought to close hiring locales to which employers (usually seeking day manual workers) may come to hire; have sought to impose restrictions, sometimes penalties, upon employers who hire them; so on.   The variations are manifold.

Many times this writer, a strong “federalist,” prefers a statewide activity rather than a Federal Government or federally imposed law, regulation, appropriations largess, appropriations denial or other form of control.   In addition to the theoretically and pragmatically obvious advantages, there often is the further benefit that other States of the Union, and for that matter the Feds, empirically can evaluate the workings of a  procedure, benefit, tax or other activity undertaken by one or several States.  However, in this case it would appear that (possibly quite justified) local frustration may have motivated the new requirement and procedure.

The basic point goes not to the merits of the Virginia Beach innovation but to the underlying consideration that there is no effective or reasonably effective nationwide procedure, or even plan, for dealing with unlawful immigrants.   It may be that unless an illegal immigrant was convicted of a felony or several misdemeanors the quantum of illegal immigrants is so gigantic that keeping most of them out of a particular community - or out of the country at large - is not feasible.   It is obvious that at the Federal Government level more research and more implementation, including if necessary larger appropriations, are vitally needed unless the present state of confused affairs is to continue.   The need is imperative whether one wants to legalize all illegals who have committed no crime while living here, wants to deport them all or prefers some intermediate goal.

What, if anything, the White House and Congress will seek to achieve, or achieve, in this quadrennial election year remains to be seen.   In view of the fate of the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2007 in the 1st (2007) Session of the present Congress, apart from the merits and demerits of that defeated legislation, the likelihood is that on the national level nothing will happen.  


Marion Edwyn Harrison is President of, and Counsel to, the Free Congress Foundation.


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