Comment of the Day: “Observations On The Illegal Immigration Ethics Train Wreck, The Ugliest Of Them All”

green-cardChris Marschner, the Ethics Alarms master of the long form comment, has delivered another. This is his analysis of what a fair, rational and ethical approach to the nation’s illegal immigration problem might look like. I’ve never read a better one, not that there are many lawmakers, and certainly not many advocates for illegals, who appear to be interested in ethics or rationality where this issue is concerned.

I don’t agree with all of Chris’s conclusions, but I would endorse his approach over any other I have seen floated by elected officials, scholars and pundits. Here is his Comment of the Day on the post, “Observations On The Illegal Immigration Ethics Train Wreck, The Ugliest Of Them All”: Continue reading

Observations On The Illegal Immigration Ethics Train Wreck, The Ugliest Of Them All


Nobody, literally nobody, has managed to stay off this Ethics Train Wreck by now. The over-flowing passenger list includes…

Democrats, who cynically want to encourage law-breaking to tilt the nation’s demographics toward what they think will be a permanent electoral advantage

Law enforcement, which has ducked its duty to keep our borders secure

Big business, which wants to preserve an underground economy that provides cheap and frightened labor that allows it to pay unconscionably low wages;

Conservatives, whose refusal to consider any path to citizenship for the millions we have already allowed to stay here by our non-enforcement of our own laws is irresponsible in the absence of any other realistic plan (mass deportation being too repulsive to contemplate);

Democrats, who have foolishly heralded policies, like the Dream Acts, that  provide an incentive for illegal immigration;

U.S. citizens who happily accept the benefits of services provided by illegals while claiming to oppose the process that allowed them to tend their gardens and care for their children

Hispanic-Americans, who have chosen heritage over country by continuing to support continued law breaking by relatives, friends, and others with whom they may share a language or a country of origin;

Congress, which as been lazy and cowardly and avoided its responsibility for decades;

The Justice Department, which has fought to prevent states from taking action to stem the illegal tide that is overwhelming their social services;

Illegal immigration advocates, who have deliberately clouded the issue by calling anyone who doesn’t advocate open borders (that is, sovereign suicide) as racist, and have used deceitful euphemisms to confound immigration, which the U.S. public unanimously supports and has done so for a century, and illegal immigration, which it has not and should not;

The mainstream news media, which has aided and abetted this confusion, supported the race-baiters, encouraged the deceptive use of euphemisms like “comprehensive immigration reform” (which means, “let’s stop enforcing immigration laws”) and outright deception, like calling “illegal immigration” “immigration, ”  while consistently misrepresented the issue as a humanitarian problem rather than a matter of sovereignty, law enforcement and common sense;

The illegals themselves.

The American public, which despite overwhelmingly opposing “amnesty,” whatever it thinks that is, remains inattentive, feckless and ignorant regarding the issue.

Have I left anyone out? Sure I have: President Obama, who has booked a luxury berth on this train. Continue reading

Euphemisms, Manipulation And Deceit On Illegal Immigration

Not that it isn't illegal for you to be here, but come on in anyway...

Not that it isn’t illegal for you to be here, but come on in anyway…

The U.S. needs to fix its illegal immigration policies, and deal with the millions of underground, and not so underground, illegals currently in the country, having children, getting benefits, often being abused and exploited while not integrating into U.S. society. This has been true for decades, and both parties, as well as the U.S. business community, Mexico, and the illegal immigrants themselves, share responsibility for allowing a major problem to metastasize into a crisis.

The proclivity of journalists to isolate blame to one participant in this fiasco to the exclusion of the others compounds the problem, by making a bi-partisan solution impossible and giving individuals a pass on accountability who deserve none. Even worse is the habit of the news media to adopt the misleading and dishonest terminology of open-border advocates and illegal immigrant activists. Attempting to use deceptive language, exaggerations and outright misrepresentations to make ethically dubious policies seem benign to the public has become standard practice among Democrats and progressives in the Obama era (Republicans and conservatives too, but at least at the present, less flamboyantly and with less success.) Abortion is promoted in terms that leave out any mention of the act at the center of the controversy: it’s about “choice.” Life? What life? As for the issue of how a nation maintains its security and rule of law when foreign citizens are entering the country in violation of those laws at will, the news media, like the President and others, works to make the central issue invisible. Continue reading

Sorry To Be AWOL, But There’s Good News


I apologize for getting to Ethics Alarms so late in the day, but I was off to an out of town meeting early.

The good news is not that some of the mainstream media, at least—besides Fox—is paying attention to the I.R.S.’s absurd claim that Lois Lerner’s e-mails had vanished, though it is certainly encouraging (CNN’s Jake Tapper has pounced on the story).

No, my good news is that I spent many hours with high level management of a large corporation talking about ethics, values, and doing the right thing, and left encouraged and impressed. They were focused, dedicated, knowledgeable, had excellent ethical instincts, and were genuinely committed to creating an ethical culture throughout the organization. This is not always my experience, but those who claim that all large companies are amoral monoliths dedicated to profit at any cost should have heard what I did. All is not corrupt and cynical, nor is all lost, in the private sector.

The Illegal Immigration Bill: A 37 Year Ethics Train Wreck Rumbles On, With No End In Sight


The details of the “immigration reform bill” moving through Congress like a water buffalo through a snake are less important than the fact that some action is being taken regarding a problem that has been cynically, incompetently, dishonestly and negligently allowed to fester since the last illegal immigrant accommodation law was passed in 1986. This is one of the rare cases in which doing almost anything is more responsible than doing nothing, and that is the beginning and the end of the list of the bill’s virtues. This is an ugly ethics train wreck  in which there are no heroes, only dunces and villains. There may be a worse one, but at the moment, I can’t think of it.

The 11,000,000 or more illegal aliens in this country have to be given some way to attain citizenship and get out of the shadows. That is an unavoidable, pragmatic reality, the best of a stinking pile of unethical options. All the rationalizations for doing this are unethical, except one: they are here, we allowed them to get here and allowed them to stay, and now we are out of choices. It’s our fault, which is to say our incompetent, irresponsible government’s, and now we have to swallow hard and accept the consequences. Continue reading

October Unethical Website:

Today the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is one of the designated enemies of the Obama administration. This is not a complete surprise. The Chamber, organized at the request of President Taft specifically to communicate the positions and interests of the private sector in contrast to those of organized labor (the AFL-CIO’s offices are virtually next door to the Chamber, which itself looks across Lafayette Park onto the White House) always has a better relationship with Republican administrations than Democrat, because of the two parties’ very different philosophies on labor, regulation, free enterprise, taxation, and other epic issues. Other Democratic administrations have managed to respond to the Chamber’s predictable opposition without vilifying it; but not this one. Taking its cue from the White House’s regrettable enemies-list approach, a coalition of extreme progressive-left organizations have launched to make the vilification intense, focusing on de-legitimizing the Chamber as a national policy advocate.

Typical of such groups and such efforts (by both the Left and the Right), StoptheChamber’s screed  begins with the assumption that its position is the only defensible one, that they have all the answers, that they are good, and therefore the opposition is evil. The Chamber, in this formula, is not trying to avoid untenable deficits and large tax increases, as it claims, but rather working to deny health care for all. It is not questioning the wisdom of spending billions of dollars and handicapping U.S. industry with scientifically dubious solutions to climate change, but rather trying to poison the environment for profit. It is not lobbying, but “buying Congress.” [Clarification: I agree that a lot of lobbying, including that of the Chamber and its members, does amount to “buying Congress,” or trying to. Lobbying, as it is currently practiced in America, too often promotes corruption. It is disingenuous, however, to take the position that one side’s lobbying is corrupt while the other side’s identical activities are virtuous.]

The group’s remedy for the inconvenience of the Chamber’s opposition is typically undemocratic: shut it down with investigations and government harassment. Alleging “criminal activity and fraud” (and, amusingly, quoting disgraced felon Eliott Spitzer, the deposed Governor of New York, to bolster its claims), the group wants to stop the Chamber from lobbying and expressing contrary opinions…essentially because it is a formidable adversary.

OK. The group’s rhetoric (the coalition is called “the Velvet Revolution,” and finding the actual groups it includes is extremely time-consuming—at least the Chamber’s members don’t hide behind their umbrella) is undemocratic, uncivil, hyperbolic, and juvenile, but typical (sadly) of a lot of over-heated ranting on the Right and the Left, and individually harmless. (The cumulative effect of this sort of political offal-throwing on all sides is disastrous to our government, but that is a larger topic for another post.) It announces itself for what it is, an unapologetic, extreme, progressive, take-no-prisoners organization advocating revolutionary change in America. if you didn’t already agree with their assertions, you will not find them especially persuasive. When the group dashed far past the ethical line was when it held a fake press conference under the Chamber’s banner, and supported it with the fake website, The address is misleading, and the site itself is more so. Using graphics indistinguishable from the actual Chamber homepage, the site makes a serious effort to deceive any reader into believing he or she has reached the US Chamber website, and that the Chamber, through a statement by its President, Tom Donohue, is reversing course and embracing climate change legislation.

A hoax, a joke, a parody—this is what the Velvet Revolution is calling the site, which is now, appropriately, the object of legal action by the Chamber. The Chamber has a right to express views contrary to climate change advocates, just as the Velvet Revolution has a right to make its opinions known; the press conference and the website interfere with the Chamber’s message. These cyber stunts may be legal (though I doubt it), but they are not in any sense fair or ethical. They are not designed to educate or inform, or even debate. Their purpose is to confuse, deceive, and annoy, while achieving media publicity as a bonus.

Of course, the Chamber’s choice was to protect itself from misrepresentation and help unsuspecting members of the public from landing on the wrong website, looking like bullies in the process, or to ignore the deception and allow it to continue. It is in a no-win situation, which is exactly as the Velvet Revolution intended. In other words, their tactic was an unqualified success.

That does not make it right.


[Full disclosure: I used to work for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. I was hired to run the Chamber’s policy issue research foundation, which had the assignment of performing open-ended, independent research on issues of concern to the nation and the business community. I was permitted to choose the topics of the research, to choose the researchers, and to pick each project’s advisory committees, which always included representatives from academia, labor, government and other points of view as well as private sector experts. Sometimes the results of our studies supported the Chamber’s position, and sometimes they did not. But I was never pressured to slant the findings; indeed, my boss at the Chamber, an Executive Vice-President, insisted that it was critical not to bias the studies in any way. He insisted on honesty, integrity, and letting the facts show the way, even when others in the Chamber leadership strongly objected.

That boss was Thomas J. Donohue, today the Chamber’s President. He was the most impressive of many impressive and able people I met in the seven years I worked for the Chamber, which was and is far less monolithic in its ideological views than its image suggests. Tom is smart, open-minded, a deft politician and a talented leader. He has a sense of humor. Most of all, I found him to be someone you can trust. He may defeat you, he may outmaneuver you, but he does not cheat, and I never knew him to lie. He has a constituency as president of a business organization, and he will fight for their interests, but not in an unfair way.

I left the Chamber shortly after Tom Donohue did (he became the head of the American Trucking Association), because he was no longer there to make sure my research efforts would have integrity and free reign. Still, I respected the organization, its expertise, breadth and professionalism. Many of its positions were not my positions, and are not today, but the Chamber does its job, agree with it or not, professionally and well.]