Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Punishment at All Costs

Imagine this situation: Mark Hyman sees someone jaywalking across an intersection. Outraged at this flaunting of the law, Hyman pursues the jaywalker in order to make a citizen’s arrest. The chase happens to take them along a cliff. The ground suddenly gives way and Hyman and the jaywalker slide off, both grabbing a branch to save themselves. They dangle hundreds of feet above the ground. The branch is about to give way, but both Hyman and the jaywalker happen to have a length of rope with them (I know. . . just go with me on this!). The problem is that neither length of rope is long enough to help them climb up the cliff to safety. But if they cooperated and tied their lengths together, they’d both be saved. The jaywalker looks hopefully toward Hyman . . .

Mark Hyman revisits a favorite topic in his latest commentary: undocumented immigration. We’ve seen how terrified Hyman is of the people he calls “terrorists” and “riff raff.” But as we’ve pointed out in this forum, these immigrants fill key roles in the economies of several states, often taking jobs that would go unfilled otherwise.

This is why the Bush administration proposes a plan that would allow undocumented immigrants to work legally in the United States for three years. The idea is that this will allow undocumented immigrants to become part of the legitimate economy, pay taxes, get health insurance, and a number of other things that will contribute not only to their own well-being, but to the well-being of the nation as a whole. The immigrants benefit. Employers benefit. The people who use services provided by immigrants benefit. We all benefit by having these workers pay taxes. It’s hardly a progressive plan, but it’s at least more forward looking than placing machine gun nests and pill boxes along the Texas/Mexico border.

But this is an issue where Hyman is always to the right of even the Bush administration. Ignoring the multiple benefits of humanizing our policies regarding undocumented immigrants, Hyman implies that such policies will increase drug trafficking and violent crime. The evidence? Well, there is none, but that doesn’t stop Hyman from suggesting none too subtly that white America is about to be ravaged by Hispanic hordes. Never mind the fact that most undocumented immigrants become citizens. Never mind that many small businesses rely on the labor of immigrants. Never mind that many studies suggest undocumented immigrants contribute more to the economy than they take from it. Never mind that the supposed “amnesty” offered by Bush only lasts three years. They deserve to be punished, and that’s the top priority for Hyman and his ilk.

As he tumbles into the abyss, death rushing up to meet him, Hyman screams out, “I will not reward illegal behavior!!!!”

And that's The Counterpoint.


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