Some years ago I owned some apartment buildings, a venture that ended badly. When asked to explain my downfall, I said that it was because my apartments resembled Anna Nicole Smith: low-rent and high-maintenance. Those two themes came together again yesterday when Smith won at the Supreme Court while illegal immigrants nationwide engaged in a boycott. The boycott is a practice named after Captain Charles Cunningham Boycott, a landlord so ruthless in his evictions that his employees quit and refused to have anything to do with him.
Not that this nation has been particularly eager to evict, or deport, these visitors without visas. Quite the contrary. Once they have managed to pass Go by hook or by crook, they are likely to collect their $200, take a ride on the Reading, dip liberally into the Community Chest, settle into Free Parking, and eventually take a walk on the Boardwalk. On the rare occasions that they end up in jail, they usually turn on the Water Works and wind up Just Visiting. So why boycott us?
Now there are many legal applicants for green cards whose paperwork has yellowed without action being taken yet. There are prospective citizens who spend years in sitting zones outside bureaucratic offices. They are trying to do it by the book, not to be heels who perform coolie labor; instead, they're cooling their heels in Uncle Sam's anterooms. Those are folks who could theoretically earn some sympathy with a boycott. They are in the right; they perform the rites we require; they write the forms we demand; their riot might be forgivable. Yet they are more pliant than perhaps we deserve. They keep cooler heads despite struggling to prevail.
Who then are the hotheads? Who are the ones demanding things? The very people who have chosen the open window over the partially open door. Chosen to work under the table instead of under the microscope. To take the license of driving without a license. To tax the hospitality of the hospitals without insuring the payment by buying insurance. To take the low road on the highways by driving uninsured. The ones who have chosen to beat the system now demand that it work on their behalf? No one knifed them from behind; if their backs are wet, there must be some other cause.
And so once again, it is the low-rent people who turn out to be high-maintenance. Honorable people play by the rules and accept the rule of the place.
WHICH IS NOT TO SAY that there are no legitimate victims among the illegal population. There are some very heartbreaking stories of families divided by arbitrary bureaucrats or by cases falling into lacunae of the existing structures. People who know the INS and outs of immigration can tell you horror stories, cases that deserve to be rectified, perhaps by the creation of a special multi-agency arbitration board to decide in exceptional or anomalous instances.
However, there again the good guys lose out because of the troublemakers. While the squeaky wheel keeps getting greased, the others fall into neglect. Because these vast mobs of illegals have arrogated the role of grievants, the individuals who are entitled to special consideration are less likely to be identified.
The sum total of all this is that we are being confronted by the core principle of our age, the one hill that is still worth dying on: namely, that terrorism must never win. It's not enough to point out that, unlike the French frying of Beetles and the French toasting of Tauruses, our street-agitator illegals congregated without mayhem. They are still trying to grab by intimidation and muscle what they could not earn by cooperation and loyalty. We have no choice, if we hope to survive as a civilization, but to withhold political reward from terrorist activity, even the bloodless variety.
If someone wishes to solve the illegal immigration problem short of deportation, it cannot be done by capitulation. Among other things, that will lead to recapitulation of today's events before very long, this time by newly arrived millions. In order for any solution to provide resolution, it must clearly specify that any deal allowing illegals to apply now for legal status to avoid deportation must not include any credit for "time served." Their clock starts now, and they get on the back of the line like any new applicant.
It is high time that lowlifes who come here to get high or live high on the hog are made to hightail it out of here. As one legal Colombian immigrant put it during a counter-demonstration: "They are like someone manipulating their way into your house and then demanding a share of the inheritance." And that wouldn't be right, Anna Nicole, now would it?