Newt Gingrich rightly proposes that we permit illegal aliens who have been here for, say, 25 years, who have a job, a generation or two of family history, and demonstrable ties to the community, to remain in the country, along with their families. To break up that rooted, responsible, and productive family, Gingrich argues, is an anti-family action, and ought not be the policy of Republicans who wish to be truly pro-family.
In response to Gingrich’s proposal, I’ve heard a man ask, “But what if the illegal alien murders someone in your family, how pro-family is that? The question is ill-conceived on several counts.
First, it is sub-rational. It forgets that suppositions are not telling arguments. We all can suppose things that support our views. Doing so does not prove that we are right or that the other side is mistaken. After all, one might suppose an illegal alien whose heroic actions saved the life of one of your family members. And if you had deported that person, and as a result your son or daughter now were dead because the hero had been banished, how pro-family is that?
Second, to suppose that the person in question will become a murderer flies in the face of the evidence. It ignores a quarter-century of peaceable character and conduct, such as getting and holding a significant job, paying taxes, getting married and raising a family, consistently paying rent or a mortgage, and community ties and contributions, like church membership -- none of which suggests in any meaningful way that we are dealing with a murderer. If such persons are potential murderers, then we all are, including the person who made this insulting supposition.
In short, neither side in the debate, whether for or against Gingrich, will deem the other side’s suppositions convincing. That’s because suppositions are not conclusive.
Third, and this is not a supposition: There's typically a statute of limitations (or of repose) on crimes, especially non-violent crimes like this. We rightly understand that the time to prosecute eventually runs out. The statute of limitations is not a reward for crimes; it's a recognition that the intervening years normally yield new conditions and consequences that ought to be taken into account, conditions and consequences like the deterioration of evidence and of memory, on the one hand, and the unintentional punishment of innocent persons, such as the children who committed no crime, children who were born in America and are legal US citizens, on the other. Those children committed no crime and must not be deported along with their parents in order to keep the family together. Nor ought they to be deprived of their parents, if their parents are sent away without them. That's not how we treat law-keeping, natural born citizens.
If possible, we might want to write a law to that effect, which Gingrich calls “creating legality.”