Cesar Munoz: Amnesty … shamnesty in the immigration bill


U.S. Representative John Boehner, R-Ohio, called the Senate immigration bill a piece of crap, except he used a different four-letter word. (This won’t be the first and last time Congress has engaged in coprophilia, the abnormal interest in feces.) Congressman Boehner, like many of his colleagues and fellow Americans, believe the bill “rewards illegal immigrants.” In other words, it gives them amnesty. Confucius said, “Call everything by its proper name.” I know that language is dynamic, ever-changing and evolving, but has the meaning of “amnesty” changed without my knowledge? Doesn’t amnesty mean no punishment? A $5,000 fine is a lot of dinero, lana, pista, plata for a strawberry picker earning minimum wage. (By the way, 52 percent of farm workers are illegal immigrants, so you better not push for mass deportations – that might result in food shortages; however, it would help lower America’s collective B.M.I.)

Would you like to hear an objective, non-American, non-immigrant, non-partisan opinion? The British magazine, The Economist, called the path to citizenship outlined in the bill “tortuous and vindictive.” (And I thought the Brits liked us!) Here’s what I consider to be amnesty:It’s what President Gerald Ford gave President Richard Nixon – actually it was called a “pardon,” but the fact remains Nixon did no hard time. Similarly, President George Bush (No. 41) gave Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger a pardon for his misbehavior in the Iran-contra affair; and charges were dropped against his partner in crime, Olie North. Even the U.S. has received amnesty by the international community! No American was punished by the World Court in 1986 when the U.S. had mined the harbors of Nicaragua during Reagan’s “fight against Communism” in Central America. Even now, no U.S. official has been brought before the Hague court for defying the U.N. and invading Iraq and for violating Article 3 of the Geneva Convention, which prohibits the torture of prisoners. So much for the rule of law. Or do Americans only selectively believe in the rule of law? (Ironically, our $300 billion violation of Iraq’s national sovereignty is a greater negative economic impact than all the illegal immigrants’ violation of our national sovereignty.)

How serious a crime is it that some half-starved peasant violated the sanctity of that human conceit known as a border, an imaginary line that is quickly becoming hard and real as a $750 million three-layer steel fence? (By the way, tunnels in southern California have been discovered thwarting their defensive wall. Money well-spent? Moreover, most illegals become illegal by over-staying their visas.) So now, tell me, what do you consider the opposite of amnesty? What is a fair punishment for someone crossing our border without offical government permission? Then, rate that crime for me on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being a heinous crime like child rape/torture/murder. E-mail your responses to me or submit it by commenting on this column at I’ve recently been asked by many for my opinion on the current Senate immigration bill. Very simply – and in sanitized language, I don’t like it – but not for the same reasons as the Honorable John Boehner. Evey immigration bill this country passes will be worthless until we see illegal immigration for what it is: an economic issue. America, don’t flatter yourself! Many of these illegal immigrants just want to work here, not live here. But our immigration laws/policy give them only rigid and unrealistic options – like walking through the desert in the middle of summer – and many of our laws backfire and exacerbate the very problems we are trying to eliminate while spawning new ones, new heads on the monster Hydra.

More specifically, the guest worker program won’t work because it has not been working now. The guest workers on the tobacco farms of North Carolina are a case in point. In addition, the bill is not good for families and consequently detrimental to building healthy immigrant communities. (American politicians seem only to speak out for the family when defending it against the illusory threat of gay marriage.) The point system favoring the more highly skilled and educated immigrants sounds like social enginnering and reeks of the Third Reich. “Meritocracy” (rhymes with bureaucracy) is good in the workplace, but not good for creating a workforce. Let the marketplace, not government, decide what kind of workers we need. Don’t we trust capitalism? Don’t get me wrong, it would be nice to raise America’s collective I.Q. I bet lot of those H-1B visa immigrants would know the correct definition of “amnesty.”Cesar Munoz writes a monthly column about immigration issues. He can be contacted at

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