Mark Ellis
Mass deportation: how it would look
By Mark Ellis
December 12, 2011

Here's the way it would look. In the months before Draconian new mass deportation edicts were to take effect, hundreds of thousands of the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants in this country would self-deport to avoid what was coming.

There would be a labor crunch in the industries in which illegal workers are most represented, but there would hypothetically be enough nonresident workers and resident unemployed to keep the lawns mowed, the nursing homes staffed, and the fields harvested.

But there would be a great chilling effect in the national Hispanic community, as noncitizens contemplated the impossibilities for economic survival under the new immigration order. To seek public assistance of any kind — food, healthcare, or legal representation — would be tantamount to surrendering to deportation. Employers newly constrained by law would double and triple check immigration status for all hires.

Legal challenges would already have been mounted, and defeated, but that would not stop an army of lawyers from descending on the courts with the litigious equivalents of Hail, Mary passes.

An impregnable wall armed with weaponry and equipped with surveillance technology will have been built from San Diego to Brownsville. Ironically, those leaving the U.S. would pass through checkpoints they'd avoided on the way in.

Mass demonstrations and riots would occur, making the protestations of the Occupy Wall Street movement look tame. But the National Guard, I.C.E, the U.S. Border Patrol, Homeland Security and all levels of law enforcement would have their marching orders. As the date of implementation came and went, surgical, prioritized round-ups in areas of known immigrant concentration would commence. It is unlikely large groups would be rounded up simultaneously, but by process of forced attrition the ranks of the undocumented would began to thin.

Across the land, scenes like the one in which young Cuban exile Elian Gonzalez was forcibly removed from his stateside family would play out, only it would be more likely the adults who were taken into custody, with the choice of either taking their children with them or leaving them in the care of legal-resident family or friends.

Tenancy in entire apartment complexes would be decimated. Government bean-counters would find suddenly dollars usually dedicated to services and support for non-resident aliens stockpiling in their coffers. Some of that revenue stream would likely be diverted to fund the massive enforcement effort, buses, trains, holding centers, firepower.

It would come to that. Certain armed resistance cells will have formed. Even if only .1 percent of the 11 million immigrants offer violent resistance to deportation, that equates to eleven thousand individuals willing to go down fighting on American soil. Such cells would become magnets for not only illegals but disaffected "freedom fighters" in solidarity with the largely Hispanic resistance. And certainly, such last-stand cells would attract homegrown and foreign terrorists for whom the issue of illegal immigration is distinctly ancillary to their core objectives.

As the expulsion of the multitudes gathered its own inexorable bureaucratic steam, the president would appear before the people and talk about how the pain, suffering, fear and upheaval was necessary to get us to a brighter day, a saner policy, an ultimately more humane and rational system.

By the first anniversary of the crackdown only the stats, the appraisals, and the status of mop-up operations against pockets of immigrant "cave fighters" would remain to be assessed. At that point, one citizen's perception of the end of the idea of a great nation would be another citizen's huge step toward giving that nation a new lease on its legacy of exceptionalism.

Time for a favorite Clint Eastwood quote: "That's not going to happen."

It's the great gray area of the immigration debate. After the border is reasonably secure, what, exactly, to do with the undocumented people who are already here? Most believe the country will never countenance such a mass, forced deportation. Only the most doctrinaire and committed immigration hawks haven't accepted that.

The Republican presidential candidates all have solid immigration positions and proposals, but watch them skimp on the specifics when asked for concrete examples of what they intend for resident illegals, if not some form of "amnesty."

Mitt Romney says that they have to go to the back of the line, behind prospective legal immigrants. But if you're in this country, you've already come through the line. At that point it becomes a matter of registration and paperwork, not round-ups. Few illegals living in this country would trade places with someone standing in the legal line in Mexico.

Newt Gingrich has floated a timeframe, 25 years, after which illegal but otherwise law-abiding border-crossers would qualify for citizenship. It sounds reasonable, but arbitrary. Why not 20 years, or 15? His criteria for citizenship include family, job, and faith, and who stays and who goes would be decided by a citizen's panel. What if you're an unemployed atheist loner who crossed illegally 23 years ago? Finally, fraudulent obfuscation of the real amount of time a given offender had been in the country would be rife.

Rick Perry's policy of granting instate tuition to the children of nonresidents drew conservative fire, and rightfully so. The Governor has started talking tougher, channeling the consensus that until the inflow of illegal immigration is checked, any and all magnets will be counterproductive.

Michele Bachmann and Rick Santorum are undeniably strong on immigration from a conservative standpoint, but even they answer the question they wished they'd been asked when asked point blank about how exactly deportations for noncriminal aliens would be implemented in practice.

Does anyone really believe that any of these candidates would implement a system which would result in the scenario outlined in this essay? I don't.

Fox News anchor Bill O'Reilly doesn't believe we will mass deport. He has called for a mandatory minimum 10-year sentence for any deported criminal alien found to have reentered the United States. No gray area there.

All of the candidates understand the importance of the Hispanic vote to the future of the Republican Party. Short of the mass deportations most agree will never happen, they, and particularly the eventual frontrunner, must offer similar specific proposals aimed at reconciling the fates of those millions who have broken the law by coming here and those who want to become citizens in accordance with the laws on the books.

© Mark Ellis


The views expressed by RenewAmerica columnists are their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of RenewAmerica or its affiliates.
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