Amnesty: A Brief Primer

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Our humorist looks back at the failed immigration bill, and offers some advice to immigrants about the history of amnesty in the United States.


All the noise around that immigration bill which died in Congress last week may now be quieting, but the chatter continues about one big word in the immigration debate: amnesty.

In today's Unger Report, Brian Unger investigates the A-word.

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BRIAN UNGER: Amnesty. Opponents of it say it would be catastrophic to grant it, an affront to the rule of law. How dare we hand over citizenship to aliens and allow them to go about their lives legally, taking our jobs and learning in our schools and driving on our streets as if we don't know how they got here.

So, by doing nothing, those elected to uphold the rule of law permitted aliens to continue going about their lives breaking the law. Legalizing them seemed too illegal.

Aliens, those in Congress who would present your existence legally mean no harm. In fact, they love you like a father loves his own daughter who just came home with 12 million hickeys on her neck. He doesn't approve of her behavior but asks: What can you do to stop it? So illegals, cover yourself up with a turtle neck.

The fat cat out-of-touch men and women we sent to Washington can't reward illegal behavior unless it's rewarding to them. And amnesty is not something you can just buy, unless you're Mark Rich, indicted for tax evasion, fraud and illegal trading with Iran.

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UNGER: Amnesty is like a rare Bordeaux, the Chateau Lafite of pardons, to be offered only to this country's finest law breakers like Richard Nixon. It is to be tasted by those who truly deserve a seat at our nation's table like Muammar Gaddafi.

Political and financial crimes - that's where the real amnesty is. Crossing the Arizona border on foot at midnight after a few tequilas? Aliens, you're going to have to work a lot harder than that.

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UNGER: Before turning out the lights for the July 4th recess, Congress did not dimmed the hopes of all illegal aliens. For those who fought in the Whiskey Rebellion of 1795, you qualify for amnesty granted by George Washington. If you fought in the Civil War against the North, you qualify for the 1863 amnesty granted by Abe Lincoln. If you are Robert E. Lee, you qualify under the amnesty of 1868. Other amnesties were granted by FDR, Harry Truman, LBJ and Jimmy Carter, depending on what war or crime you waged. Lastly…

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UNGER: …if you are a Mexican alien who held a job in Saddam Hussein's Baath Party, you also qualify for amnesty, depending on how much killing you did. To find out if these and other amnesty programs might be right for you, aliens, consult your local public library. But please don't try to check out a book. That is reserved for American citizens who are granted library cards.

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UNGER: And that is today's Unger Report. I'm Brian Unger.

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