It's 2016. Centrist liberal Barack Obama is still in the White House. And the policy of his government is to deport people who illegally enter the U.S. and commit crimes:
Uruchi’s sudden fall — from immigrant advocate to undocumented inmate — has stunned many who knew her. At Casa, the immigrants rights organization where Uruchi worked, colleagues were caught by surprise. Two weeks before pleading guilty to drunken driving, she had led a demonstration outside the Supreme Court urging the justices to support undocumented immigrants, but she never hinted she was one of them. She had spent threeyears helping others fight deportation. Now she faces that very fate.
Her arrest has exposed her husband’s undocumented status and upended her children’s lives. Any day now, Uruchi, 33, could be sent back to Spain. Under Obama administration guidelines, her DUI conviction makes her a priority for deportation. And under the visa waiver program she used to enter the country 14 years ago, she forfeited her right to legal appeal. Her only chance is a plea to Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials for a stay of deportation, citing her otherwise clean record, community service and two American-born kids.
“These stays are not commonly granted,” said Kim Propeack, communications director for Casa, which is helping Uruchi. “And they are not granted without a fight.”
Will she get a stay because of her overall good record? Maybe, maybe not. But she illegally stayed in the USA, and then committed a crime by driving while her blood alcohol was over twice the legal limit of 0.8. She is in a bad legal position because, unlike millions of other people, she did not follow a legal route to residence in the U.S. She could have, but she didn't. She took unfair advantage of a visa-waiver program which makes things a lot easier for law-abiding Spaniards, thus endangering the entire program.
Despite what you read, the U.S. is not a police state. It has an immigration policy far more liberal than Germany's. For instance, it grants automatic citizenship to children born on its soil. Even if Trump were elected, its attitude toward immigrants would still be far more accepting than almost any other country.
But it also has enough self-respect to pass laws saying:
- if you lie to gain access to the country, jumping in line past people who obey the law,
- have no valid reason to be there because you don't qualify for asylum,
- and then violate one of its laws --
-- you're gone.
I would call that a wise, sensible, balanced immigration policy. If it were applied in Germany, the drug dealers in the Görlitzer park and the Frankfurt Central Station would be long gone. And the benefits to everyday Germans would be enormous.
In the immigration debate, it can't be repeated often enough: the current German mainstream consensus on immigration is, in international comparison, way off on the crazy extreme fringe. Other nations governed by the rule of law and (comparatively) humane ideals have a mainstream, centrist policy which permits controlled, beneficial, legal immigration and actively combats the other kind. As it should.
Germany, alone among advanced nations, abandoned border enforcement and allowed its laws to degenerate into such chaos that almost nobody can be effectively deported. The AfD has a lot of positions I disagree with. But on immigration, a vote for the AfD isn't a vote for repression and quasi-fascism, it's a vote to bring Germany back into the mainstream after a bizarre experiment in which it allowed its legal system to collapse into a state where deportation is nearly impossible, then opened its borders to hundreds of thousands of people who have no business being in the country.
The winners of this bizarre experiment are the AfD. And they'll keep winning until Germany moves much farther back into the mainstream on immigration than it has so far.