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The President’s Looming Executive Order: Remember, That Which Gets Rewarded Gets Repeated

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“That which gets rewarded gets repeated.”

Nobody knows who said this first, or most famously, as it has been said by a lot of people, many of them powerful and significant.

They have all said it at various times and in various places because it is true, and in all circumstances of human endeavor.  “You get what you pay for,” and “What gets measured gets done,” are variations on the same essential truth about human behavior (and as it turns out, Pavlov’s dogs and millions of rats and mice in cages.)

So when the president’s executive order on immigration gets released next week or next month, see what behaviors it rewards, and then expect more of those behaviors, whatever they are.  If for some wild reason the president made climbing New Hampshire’s Mt. Washington a part of the pathway to citizenship or regularization, the line up the mountain would be staggeringly long.  By the same token, if he makes fathering or giving birth to a child in the United States a ticket to stay, expect a lot of people not presently parents to become one in a hurry.  Etc. Etc. Etc.

The one thing the new Congress should not do is stop lawful immigration reform via a bill passed in regular order by House and Senate after appropriate consultation with opinion leaders and experts.  Rather, the new Congress should accelerate its efforts to provide first, a long, strong, double-sided border fence which runs at least half of the 2,000 mile border, and which can be patrolled via a road between the two layers.  With that in place the American people will begin to believe the border is secure.  Once finished, part two of the reform such kick in: Regularization of the vast majority of those people here illegally though citizenship would only be available to those who returned to their countries of origin and got in line.  Part 3 –a vastly expanded guest worker program geared to the needs of our economy– should not be controversial except among the far reaches of the absolutists opposed to any common sense immigration reforms.

But it all starts with a fence, and the completion of the last mile of the fence should be a trigger for the regularization and other portions of the law.

The president is going to do what he’s going to do.  He cannot change the law, only posture and display the arrogance which has already earned him the “worst president in modern times” title.  The Congress, though, has got to act with the long term interests of the country as its guide, and the immigration mess has to be fixed, beginning with the fence.


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