There’s nothing more amusing in politics than watching Democrats feign concern for the political future of the Republican Party, as they attempt to cajole Republicans into self-immolation. The issue of amnesty is the latest and greatest example of this spectacle.
Behind all that bravado and push-polling perpetrated by liberal special interest groups, Democrats are apprehensive about their immigration deform/voter registration drive. They know that all the real polls show that the public wants enforcement first, and actually desires less overall immigration over more immigration. That is why it is so important for them to make Republicans own the amnesty bill, which is now over 1,000 pages long.
If you listen carefully to the chatter concerning the upcoming Senate vote, most of the focus is not centered on passing the bill, but passing it with bipartisan support. Chuck Schumer has said on several occasions that he is looking for upwards of 70 yes votes in the Senate. Now, why would someone who feels he is sitting on a popular bill, which can be used to bludgeon the other side, desire to share the electoral boon with the enemy? Why not pass it with most Republicans in the opposition, and hit them for it during the 2014 elections, when voters will undoubtedly punish the GOP for opposing something so popular as amnesty? After all, their silly little polls show this bill being more popular with the GOP base than with anyone else?
The answer to all conservatives who live outside of DC is obvious. In the real world, this bill is not only unpopular with the GOP base, it will sink Democrats with Independent voters and Reagan Democrats. That’s why Schumer wants the GOP to take the lead on the bill.
Moreover, the voter intensity gap on this issue is very similar to that of the gun issue – a dynamic that is quite ominous for Democrats. When most people were polled about expanded background checks in the abstract, they answered in the affirmative. Who wouldn’t support such a mellifluous-sounding idea? But how many of those people really supported the idea in reality – enough to act on that abstract expression of support? In fact, it was those who opposed the legislation who were more involved, more intense, and planned to vote based on that single issue.
The same thing applies to the immigration debate. Even in the polls that misrepresent the issue in order to net a positive result for pro-amnesty forces, there is no sense of how intense that support is for a mass amnesty. Obviously, if you ask people if they would support amnesty in the abstract if the illegals will jump through a millions hoops, assimilate, learn English, and pay trillions in taxes, they will answer in the affirmative. But how many of them – other than friends and relatives of the illegals themselves – are up in arms and out in the streets to support this bill? We all know that it is the people who are against amnesty that will be the most intense in their activism on this issue (aside for the special interests).
Every sane person in the country aka most people outside of the DC beltway, is asking the million dollar question of the immigration debate: why don’t we just implement the enforcement measures that actually work before risking another wave of illegal immigration by granting amnesty now? The issue would largely dissipate if they would merely begin enforcing the laws on the books.
But when you listen carefully to the fatuous arguments propagated inside the beltway, you will discover the answer. These people believe that building a fence and monitoring visas will not help end illegal immigration. In their estimation, the only thing that will end illegal immigration, to the extent that they desire to do so, is unlimited legal immigration. In other words, in their view, there is no way to establish sovereignty over our own land unless we invite every individual in the world who would like to move here. Hence, our immigration policy should not be dictated by what benefits the country at large, but by the level of worldwide demand to immigrate to America. #DCbackwardlogic
If I didn’t know anything about our current and historical immigration policies (which aptly describes 90% of the elected officials), I would think we are living in the ‘30s – a period when we only issued 30,000-100,000 green cards per year. Yet, we have issued over 1 million green cards almost every year over the past 2 decades. That’s hardly a closed door policy.
Most notably, the countries from which most people have migrated illegally have been the recipients of the most generous immigration policies of all time. We have issued roughly 5.5 million green cards to immigrants from Mexico (and millions more from other Latin American countries) since 1986 – overlapping with the entire period of illegal migration. From 2000-2009, 17% of all our immigrants were from Mexico, while 41% were from Latin America and Mexico combined. Hence, the time period with the largest expansion of illegal immigration coincided with the most generous period of legal immigration for any particular country or region in the history of American immigration. The idea that the lack of legal immigration options from Mexico and some other Lain American countries is the culprit for illegal immigration is beyond preposterous.
A common ploy in parliamentarian scheming is for leaders to hand out hall passes for vulnerable members to vote against leadership’s proposal, knowing that it has the votes to pass anyway. The rationale is that those members should be able to hoodwink their constituents without compromising passage of the bill. This dynamic usually plays out with the leadership and rank-and-file of the same party, but during today’s Senate Judiciary Committee markup, it was Chuck Schumer who was handing out hall passes to Republicans.
Throughout the past week of marking up the amnesty bill, the Republican gang members on the committee – Jeff Flake and Lindsey Graham – were voting together with the Democrats against amendments that would strengthen the enforcement mechanisms to trigger any amnesty. However, on some of the more embarrassing amendments, the two Republicans have been voting the right way. After all, Democrats have enough votes to defeat those amendments without their participation, so why make them look bad with the rubes in the GOP base? We long suspected collaboration between the Democrats and these members, but today Chuck Schumer gave away the secret.
Senator Jeff Sessions, who has been a statesman on this issue, offered an amendment to bar illegals from receiving refundable tax credits during the “RPI” amnesty status. Remember, that advocates of the gang’s bill are incessantly denying the fact that these people will receive benefits during the first 10 years of the amnesty. Well, every Democrat affirmed what we already know by voting to retain those benefits. Except, in this case, Lindsey Graham and Jeff Flake voted with Sessions and the Republicans. If you watch the roll call (at around the 3:05 mark), you can hear Chuck Schumer asking an aid “do our Republicans have a pass on this one?” The aid says, “yes.”
Hmm…later in the day, Chuck Grassley offered an amendment to bar gang members from receiving amnesty. This amendment was also defeated along a party-line vote…without the help of Flake and Graham. I guess that was embarrassing enough for them to warrant a hall pass from Schumer. Same goes for Cornyn’s amendment which would bar amnesty for criminal aliens , including domestic abusers, child abusers, and drunk drivers, all of whom could potentially get legal status under the Senate bill.
Although the current amnesty bill was drafted behind closed doors, it’s not like it didn’t receive input from outside groups. In fact, every special interest group under the sun – from big business and big labor to big ethnic, big law, and big religion – had their say in the bill. The one group that was ignored (aside from We the People) was the immigration enforcement officers.
Over the past few years, Chris Crane, the president of the ICE union, has done yeoman’s work exposing how the Obama administration hampers efforts of his fellow officers in upholding the laws on the books. Well, it appears that his group is not alone. A 12,000-person union representing the USCIS has come out with a scathing criticism of the Senate gang’s bill:
It looks like we’ve discovered the panacea for all of our economic and social ills. We’ve found the solution to the entitlement crisis as well. We’re going to find the poorest countries in the world and import as many of their people as possible within a short period of time. That way we will have millions of people paying into Social Security, purveying the “trust fund” with endless bounty. This is what passes for sane analysis from the Social Security Administration’s chief actuary.
In an effort to buttress the Democrat Voting Act of 2013 aka the gang’s amnesty bill, Stephen Goss, Social Security’s independent chief actuary, released an analysis last week opining that amnesty will solve the Social Security deficit and *prevent*future waves of illegal immigration. Goss finds that by 2024, this bill will have created 3.22 million jobs, and grow GDP by 1.63%. With regards to Social Security, Goss concluded, “overall, we anticipate that the net effect of this bill on the long-range OASDI actuarial balance will be positive.”
Wow – why didn’t we think of importing mass poverty to save Social Security before? Oh wait…that’s exactly what we’ve been doing for the past few decades.
This analysis was requested by Marco Rubio and is being bandied about by the open-borders elements on the right. The irony is that Goss’s preposterous assertion is predicated on two long-standing left-wing deceptions, both of which have long been rejected by libertarians who are now pushing amnesty.
As we’ve noted over the past few weeks, there are dozens of systemic flaws in the approach of the gang’s immigration bill. But there are two overarching problems with all of these proposals: 1) the legalization (and certainly the suspension of deportations) is immediate and certain; the enforcement measures are later and tenuous 2) it is incontrovertibly clear that granting such a low-skilled population a path to citizenship, when coupled with chain migration and birthright citizenship, will constitute a demonstrative public charge.
Once those two issues are addressed, there will be a broad consensus on how to deal with those already here illegally. At tomorrow’s Judiciary Committee markup, Senator Ted Cruz plans to throw down that gauntlet to the Democrats and Republican gang members. If they truly desire a solution to this problem, which was largely created by some of the members on the committee, they would sign onto Cruz’s amendments.
Ted Cruz will introduce an amendment stipulating that no legalization can commence until the Secure Fence Act of 2006 and the biometric US-Visit exit-entry system are implemented. They can have their amnesty, but the laws already on the books must be followed before that process begins.
In order to address the welfare point, Cruz will introduce a second amendment – just one-page long – barring all amnestied illegals from ever receiving federal, state, or local means-tested benefits or Obamacare coverage.
Imagine the biggest conservative donors in America banding together to form a group, “Progressives for Retirement Security,” for the purpose of promoting private retirement accounts. Imagine that group running ads starring Chuck Schumer promoting private Social Security accounts as examples of bold progressive reform.
Don’t worry, hell will freeze over from global warming before that happens.
If you’ve been watching Fox News or listening to talk radio this week, you’ve been subjected to the most nauseating duplicitous ads ever unleashed on conservatives. Ubber-leftist Mark Zuckerberg’s Orwellian-front group, “Americans for a Conservative Direction,” which is run by Arlen Specter Republicans, is running ads calling the 867-page immigration reform bill “the toughest immigration enforcement measures in the history of the United States” and “conservative reform” designed to end “defacto amnesty.” The ad shows Marco Rubio discussing all the triggers and qualifications for amnesty, even though he has now admitted that they need to be strengthened and that he’d like to work with conservatives to do so.
What’s next? Ads from ‘Conservatives for Obamacare,’ funded by George Soros?
As you may have heard, there is a proposal facing Congress to reform the nation’s immigration laws. This proposal would establish a pathway to citizenship for the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants presently in the country as long as they pass a criminal background check, pay a fine and back taxes, learn English, and wait at least 13 years. The plan would also allow more high-skilled immigrants into the country in technology, science and engineering fields and create a guest worker program to address labor shortages in industries like agriculture and construction. Finally, the plan would require a series of increased border security measures before anyone here illegally can apply for citizenship – including greater enforcement, extended fencing along the border and a requirement that all employers verify the legal status of individuals before hiring them….Do you support or oppose this proposal?
Wow – sign me up…I’m surprised there are even 20% who would oppose such a plan when expressed that way.
Now take a look at real polling data that is as plain and innocuous as can be:
The majority in favor of security-first cut across all party and demographic lines. Seventy-one percent of men support it; 60 percent of women; 59 percent of young people; 67 percent of middle-aged people; 75 percent of older Americans; 68 percent of whites; 62 percent of blacks; 56 percent of others; 82 percent of Republicans; 53 percent of Democrats; 65 percent of independents; 81 percent of conservatives; 59 percent of moderates; 51 percent of liberals; 77 percent of people who make under $30,000 a year; 66 percent of those who make between $30,000 and $50,000 a year; 66 percent of those who make between $50,000 and $100,000; 55 percent of those who make between $100,000 and $200,000; 51 percent of those who make more than $200,000; 75 percent of veterans; and 64 percent of non-veterans.
Then, when asked “how likely is it that the federal government would secure border and prevent illegal immigration,” just 30% answered in the affirmative while 57% said it was not very or not at all likely.
The reality is that no amount of left-wing money can ameliorate this pig. The GOP base is not like the pool of low-information voters they are used to manipulating, and they will not be sucked into this sham. That is…all of them except for the few Mark Zuckerberg conservatives in the country.
When Jim DeMint delivered his farewell speech in the Senate, he touched on a salient point that is often lost in the raucous of political discourse. The entrenchment of political interests and allegiances has often made commonsense ideas that transcend political ideology impossible to implement. Nowhere is this more evident than with the push to hold national security hostage for mass amnesty.
We have a wide open border, through which crossings have tripled amidst the push for amnesty. We have no way of tracking those who overstay their visas. We now know that the third suspect in the Boston bombing was a young student from Kazakhstan who violated the terms of his student visa and was let back into the country without a new one. In 2002, Congress created the National Security Entry-Exit Registration System (NSEERS), which required those visa recipients from countries that represent a security risk to register with an ICE office and report regularly about their plans. That system would have exposed this terror risk, yet it was essentially abolished by Obama’s DHS in 2011. Why is that system not restored immediately? Moreover, why do we let these people into the country in the first place?
These are all questions that We the People – both Democrat and Republican – care about. Yet these are the issues that are being glossed over in the current debate over immigration. Isn’t it commonsense that before we embark on any massive immigration expansion, we protect America first? National security might not be the ephemeral aspect of immigration – one which attracts a plethora of special interest money – but shouldn’t that be the priority of any elected official?
Even those who are sympathetic to amnesty must admit that it doesn’t have to be done this month. It could wait another few years until we implement comprehensive security. Yet, the policies that protect and benefit We the People are not represented in Washington. The illegal immigrants have Big Business, Big Ag, Big Labor, Big Environment, Big Ethnic, Big Religion, and Big Media shilling and inveigling others on their behalf. Border and immigration security-related policies have no lobby, and in fact, are vociferously opposed by the aforementioned coalition.
No Fence: This plan only calls for Janet Napolitano to “establish a strategy”… “to identify where fencing”… “should be deployed” before temporary legal status is granted. Any plan that doesn’t complete the 700-miles of double fencing is worthless.
Internal Enforcement: Any plan that does not limit Obama’s prosecutorial discretion, restore the 287(g) program, ban sanctuary cities and explicitly allow states to enforce federal law and preclude the Justice Department from suing them, is worth less than the paper it is printed on. This plan does nothing to force the hand of this administration or future administrations on enforcement. In fact, on page 496, it explicitly preempts states from enforcing immigration laws.
No real triggers: Senator Rubio keeps saying that we shouldn’t worry about Obama because he won’t be president forever. However, he and Janet Napolitano will be in charge for the most critical years of implementation. All they have to do is submit a plan to secure the border (coming from someone who already believes the border is secured) within 6 months of passage, and everyone immediately becomes eligible for legal status. Even the trigger to green cards and citizenship 10 years later is only that DHS certify they are achieving the goals of their own plan. If not, it triggers the creation of another commission to find a plan to spend more money! The recommendations of the commission will not prevent any LPR status from being granted.
E-verify and the visa tracking system don’t have to be implemented for 5 and10 years respectively. Even then, they never call for a biometric exit-entry system as currently required by law, just an electronic one and it will not be required at land ports of entry. As such, there is no way that this massive expansion in temporary work visas will ever be temporary. By the time they are processing the amnestied aliens for green cards in 10 years from now, we will have even more than 12 million illegals from those who were left on the table (ineligible from the first round of RPI status) and all those new people who overstayed their visas. Border patrol agents have already testified before Congress that illegal entries are on the rise ahead of the amnesty. That will only grow as long as we make it clear that deportations will never occur and have no tracking system to crack down on overstayed visas.
The bill replaces E-verify, the most effective system, with some other unspecified verification system which won’t be in place for another few years (p. 503). This could potentially undercut the 350,000 employers who currently use E-verify on a voluntary basis. It also exempts day laborers from using it (p. 402), which will present a big magnet to future illegal migration. It only requires the use of verification for new employees so as to protect those here already who don’t qualify for legalization from being caught.
Encumbering future deportations: Section 3717 places the burden upon ICE to prove that a given alien should be detained. Section 2313 of the bill offers discretion DHS and immigration judges to grant amnesty to illegals who would suffer personal hardship from being deported.
The bill grants the Secretary of DHS waiver authority (page 12) to proceed with the LPR status after 10 years if the enforcement provisions are not implemented as a result of being enjoined by a lawsuit.
The bill puts drastic limitations on “profiling” and discriminating against illegals both on the employer side (even though we require them to use E-verify) and the law enforcement side. This is yet another provision that invites boundless and perennial lawsuits.
When it comes to the issue of immigration, there are diverse opinions among Republicans and some conservatives. However, as conservatives, there are certain fundamental goals and red lines that we should all unite behind as we debate this issue. All conservatives must share the common goal of ending illegal immigration once and for all. Even those conservatives who believe in some sort of amnesty must share the ultimate goal of ensuring that this never happens again. To that end, any true immigration reform must not be “comprehensively” tied to amnesty; it must be built upon enforcement first, with policies that would eliminate the magnet of future waves of illegal immigration.
There is only one way to ensure that enforcement measures are implemented before any amnesty takes effect. That is to decouple any enforcement provisions from amnesty, while ensuring that the measures are implemented and working effectively several years prior to the passage of any legislation awarding any legal status to illegal immigrants. This waiting period is important not only to ensure that a recalcitrant administration actually implements the legislative proposals, but to confirm whether the enforcement measures are upheld in the court system after the inevitable lawsuits ensue.
Here are some guidelines for enforcement preconditions:
Border: The border fence is constructed, the border patrol is unshackled and allowed to do their job, and apprehensions come to a near stand-still.
Visa Tracking: At least half of all illegal immigration is the result of people overstaying their temporary visas. A full biometric visa entry-exit tracking system must be implemented and working at all land, sea, and airport entry points. Unless it is working fully prior to any amnesty proposal, we will see a flood of new people coming in on temporary visas to utilize the impending legalization.
Workplace Enforcement: Aside for actual enforcement, we must dry up the magnet. Despite the complaints about E-Verify, it is cheap, reliable, and easy to use. Mandatory E-Verify would dry up the biggest magnet of future illegal migration.
Anchor Babies: At present, our legal system operates under the false notion that the 14th Amendment guarantees citizenship for any child born here from someone who entered illegally. This has created the allure of anchor babies, and serves as a huge magnet for illegal immigration. Obviously, any anchor baby already born here is a legal citizen, but we need to fix this going forward. It will be challenged in the courts, but we have a strong case to make that the 14th Amendment never included children of illegals.
Interior Enforcement: At present, we have a perverse reality in which states and localities that uphold federal immigration laws are sued by the federal government, while states and localities that thwart the immigration laws through “sanctuary city” policies are not punished. Any enforcement legislation must unambiguously extend states the power to uphold federal immigration laws. We need the confidence that in the event the current or future administrations fail to uphold the law, states will have the power to take up the prerogative. Those jurisdictions that undermine immigration laws should be penalized.
Benefits: Close the loophole that allows illegals to receive the Additional Child Tax Credit with an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN).
Criminal Immigrants: As much as 30% of our federal prison population is composed of illegal immigrants. In light of the bipartisan agreement that we must deport all criminal immigrants, why are we not embarking on the process of removing some of them from prison and deporting them?
Only if and when most or all of the aforementioned enforcement provisions are in place, will it make sense to discuss any ideas of a guest worker program, legalization, and possible pathways to citizenship.
AGRICULTURAL GUEST WORKER PROGRAM:
Many conservatives from heavily agriculture districts have expressed concerns that there are not enough visas granted for temporary migrant workers. Other conservatives have been concerned that the open borders lobby would use these temporary visa increases as a means of importing more low-skilled permanent immigrants. However, after the full enforcement of visa entry and exit in place, we would be able to establish a guest worker program with the confidence that they wouldn’t stay in the country indefinitely. Moreover, only after we implement welfare reform and qualify our citizenship laws to confer citizenship only on children born from at least one parent who holds a green card, can we be assured that temporary workers don’t become permanent recipients of the welfare state.
Once the enforcement mechanisms are put in place and are successfully drying up the flow of illegal migration, we can begin to discuss what to do with the current group of illegals. In a climate of complete and effective enforcement to prevent future waves of illegal immigration, many more conservatives would be open to some sort of legalization process, which honestly, is amnesty – something we should be honest about if we plan to pursue it. However, before we sign onto any legalization process, the following concerns must be addressed:
Welfare: We spend close to $1 trillion in combined federal and state means-tested programs. Any amnesty plan that provides current or future access to welfare for 12 million predominantly low-skilled illegals is unacceptable.
Chain Migration: Any amnesty plan that allows the new residents to petition for their relatives to come to the country would blow up our immigration system in a way that is unsustainable.
LPR Status: Theoretically, a plan to make them permanent legal residents with no path to citizenship would solve the welfare and voting problems. But conservatives would need to gather together legal scholars to ascertain if it is feasible to wall off those rights once they become legal. Moreover, we must figure out how to prevent future congresses from granting them full citizenship once they are already here legally.
Unless the aforementioned concerns are addressed, no conservative should support ANY legalization.
Only in Washington, D.C. can politicians get away with saying they cannot deal with our broken legal immigration system before they grant amnesty to those here illegally. Our current system is the result of Senator Ted Kennedy’s (D-MA) 1965 immigration bill, which tilted the system towards low-skilled immigrants from the third world and is biased against high-skilled workers. This might have worked during last century when there was no welfare state. But with the current smorgasbord of welfare programs available, the steady flow of low-skilled legal immigrants has helped balloon the size of our welfare programs. Any serious commitment to an immigration system that benefits the country at large, and is not a burden on American citizens, would include the following:
Immediately abolish the inane diversity visa lottery which grants 50,000 visas to third world countries. Concurrently, identify those high-skilled immigrants who benefit the broad populace, not just the special interest, and make it easier and cheaper for them to become citizens.
Reduce the number of low-skilled immigrants, at least temporarily, so we can work on assimilating the 40 million immigrants who are already in the country. As a whole, we do not need more low-skilled immigrants en masse. If we plan to create a temporary guest worker program it should be established in lieu of low-skilled immigration, not on top of it.
A stronger system in place that will screen people who come from countries that represent a security risk. There have been dozens of attempted terror attacks on American soil over the past decade. Almost all of them have been planned by those who came here legally from such countries. Conservatives should seriously consider the recommendations from the 9/11 commission with regards to immigration reform. We should also reinstate the National Security Entry-Exit Registration System (NSEERS), which required those visa recipients from countries that represent a security risk to register with an ICE office and report regularly about their plans in the United States.
Conservatives must also have an internal debate over what level of legal immigration is desirable for our country at this juncture. We all agree that legal immigration is a net positive, but the question is how much? Over the past 15 years, we have, on average, doubled the annual legal immigration rate from 500-600,000 to over 1 million. With states like California estimated at toughly 26% foreign born and patriotic assimilation on the decline, we must consider how future flow will affect the cohesiveness of our nation and preserve our successful model as a melting pot.
The first priority of immigration is to benefit the country and current residents as a whole. Our immigration system must be measured, gradual, and deliberate so as to foster upward mobility and patriotic assimilation instead of balkanization and welfare dependency – all for the benefit of parochial interests.