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Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Another Round of Immigration Reform

“One of the critical issues that we have to confront is illegal immigration, because this is a multi-headed Hydra that affects our economy, our health care, our health care, our education systems, our national security, and also our local criminality.” — Allen West, Florida Congressman.

This nation was built on immigration. As James Madison stated: “America was indebted to immigration for her settlement and prosperity. That part of America which had encouraged them most had advanced most rapidly in population, agriculture and the arts.” We had immigrants from England, Scotland, Ireland, Germany, France, and Spain fighting in the revolutionary war. These immigrants came to the 13 colonies to build new lives and to escape the feudal system and tyrannical rulers of Europe. They did not come to the colonies in search of handouts. Many of them suffered great hardships to get to America and after their arrival worked hard to build a new nation dedicated to unalienable Rights of Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

Over the centuries there have been waves of immigrations to the United States. In 1848 there were the Irish and German immigrations. The Irish came to escape the potato famine that was causing people to stave and the Germans came to escape the oppressive policies of the land-owning barons. At the turn of the 20th Century we had waves of immigrants from Southern and Eastern Europe. They came from Italy, Poland, and Italy. In fact my maternal grandparents emigrated from Hungary in 1911. These were controlled immigrations where the immigrants passed though Ellis Island in New York Harbor and were screened for physical and mental diseases. These immigrants dispersed throughout the nation, mainly into the cities where they worked in the factories, opened restaurants and shops, and worked on farms. Most of these immigrants learned English and became citizens loyal to the United States. It was their sons and daughters who fought in World War II and built our post-war economy. They spoke English, graduated high school and college. They became doctors, engineers, teachers, and business owners. They were contributors not takers even though the majority voted Democrat.

The last great wave of immigrants from Europe came after World War II when thousands of displaced persons from war ravaged Europe came. The quota system was waived for these DPs. The came mainly from Eastern Europe and the Ukraine and were escaping the territories overrun by the Soviet Union. They came to the United States to find freedom and opportunity. They worked hard to assimilate into the culture of the United States while retaining their traditions. They did not bring gangs of criminals and they became loyal American citizens. I can speak to this issue because I grew up surrounded by these folks in the suburbs of Cleveland, Ohio. They worked hard, built houses and churches. They insisted their children speak English and graduate from high school. Once again these were contributors, not takers.

This changed in 1965 with the passage of the passage of Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 (Hart-Celler Act) as part of Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society. The 1965 act marked a radical break from the immigration policies of the past. The law as it stood then excluded Asians and Africans and preferred northern and western Europeans over southern and eastern ones.] At the height of the civil rights movement of the 1960s the law was seen as an embarrassment by, among others, President John F. Kennedy, who called the then-quota-system "nearly intolerable". After Kennedy's assassination, President Lyndon Johnson signed the bill at the foot of the Statue of Liberty as a symbolic gesture.

In order to convince the American populace — the majority of who were opposed to the act — of the legislation's merits, its liberal proponents assured that passage would not influence America's culture significantly. President Johnson called the bill "not revolutionary", Secretary of State Dean Rusk estimated only a few thousand Indian immigrants over the next five years, and other politicians, including Senator Ted Kennedy, hastened to reassure the populace that the demographic mix would not be affected; these assertions would later prove wildly inaccurate. In line with earlier immigration law, the bill also prohibited the entry into the country of "sexual deviants", including homosexuals. By doing so it crystallized the policy of the INS that had previously been rejecting homosexual immigrants on the grounds that they were "mentally defective" or had a "constitutional psychopathic inferiority"

During the debate over the bill on the floor of the Senate, Senator Ted Kennedy claimed:

“First our cities will not be flooded with a million immigrants annually. Under the proposed bill, the present level of immigration remains substantially the same. Secondly, the ethnic mix of will not be upset. Contrary to the charges in some quarters, the bill will not inundate America with immigrants from any one country or area, or the most populated and economically deprived nations of Asia or Africa.”

Johnson, Kennedy and the other Statists were dead wrong, and it’s hard to believe they were not intentionally deceiving the public. In 1964, Republican vice presidential candidate Representative William Miller well understood the overall increase in immigration that would result from the 1965 Act. Miller stated:

“We estimate that if the President gets his way, and the current immigration laws are repealed the number of immigrants next year will increase threefold and in subsequent years will increase even more.”

The bill abolished the decades-old policy of national quotas, which was said to be discriminatory because it favored immigrants from Europe (especially the United Kingdom, Ireland, and Germany) over the Third World. Thus it increased immigration levels from each hemisphere setting in motion a substantial increase in immigration from Latin America, Asia, and Africa — to the detriment of previously favored aliens from Europe. The bill also introduced, for the first time, a system of “chain migration”, which as the Center for Immigration Studies notes, “gave higher preference to the relatives of American citizens and permanent resident aliens than those applicants with special job skills.

Consequently, the historical basis for making immigration decisions was radically altered. The emphasis would no longer be on the preservation of American society and the consent of the governed; now it aliens themselves would decide who comes to the United States through family reunification. With the elimination of national quotas and the imposition of chain migration, aliens immigrating to the United States were poorer, less educated, and less skilled than those who had preceded them — a pattern that continues to this day.

Moreover, as a result of the 1965 law legal immigration soared from 2.5 million in the 1950s to 4.5 million in the 1970 to 7.3 million in the 1980s to about 10 million in the 1990s.

Furthermore, as political and economic circumstances in the Third World deteriorated, particularly in Mexico and other parts of Latin America, Asia, and Africa the egalitarian nature of the 1965 law and the growing American welfare state also encouraged the unprecedented and illegal migration of millions of additional destitute and uneducated aliens to the United States.

The late author Theodore White, who was no conservative, wrote:

The immigration Act of 1965 changed all previous patterns, and in so doing, probably changed the future of America. It was a noble revolutionary — and probably revolutionary — and probably the most thoughtless of the many acts of the Great Society.”

As the numbers of illegal immigrants began to grow and create a drain on the social safety net and medical care of the states Congress passed the Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA), enacted November 6, 1986 (also known as the Simpson-Mazzoli Act).Passed by the 99th Congress and signed into law by President Ronald Reagan the IRCA was supposed to:

  • Require employers to attest to their employees' immigration status.
  • Make it illegal to knowingly hire or recruit unauthorized immigrants.
  • Legalized certain seasonal agricultural illegal immigrants.
  • Legalized illegal immigrants who entered the United States before January 1, 1982 and had resided there continuously with the penalty of a fine, back taxes due, and admission of guilt. About three million illegal immigrants were granted legal status.

For President Reagan to sign this Act Congress made a promise to secure the southern border and make it more difficult for Mexicans and Latin Americans to cross over illegally. This did not happen and the influx of illegal aliens continued to flow north overtaxing or social welfare system. Reagan was tricked by a Democrat controlled Congress. iT was like Charlie Brown trying to kick the football. As the numbers of illegal aliens began to grow and organization like the ACLU and LARAZA began to gain power and turned to the courts. Today these illegal aliens are eligible for most of our social welfare programs and our public education system. No other nation in the world takes this approach, including Mexico.

Steven Malanga, Senior Fellow, Manhattan Institute; Senior Editor, City Journal states during a panel discussion at the Center for Immigration Studies:

“Much of the bulk of our immigration today is low-skill, low-education immigration. In fact, a study by Harvard economists and economists with the National Bureau of Economic Research estimated that about 63 percent of Mexican adult immigrants here in the United States, male immigrants, do not have a high school education. In essence, the educational levels and the skill levels of today's immigrants are not much different than immigrants of the first great generation, but America is a hundred years advanced; the American economy is a hundred years advanced. The American workforce is not the American workforce of a hundred years ago.

That creates enormous differences. One of the things that's done is that's slowed down economic mobility among immigrants. A study done of Mexican immigrants who came here in the 1970s, using 2000 Census data at those same immigrants, found that when those immigrants came here, first of all they had a greater wage differential with the American worker at the time than the immigrants of the first great immigration had with American workers then; it was about a 30 percent wage differential.”

Today the Republicans are ready to embark on another immigration reform program. They believe that they need to cow tow to the Hispanic voters with the hope of winning elections. This is a fallacy. According to a report from the Pew Research Center in the 2012 presidential election Obama captured 71% of the Latino votes while Romney garnered a mere 27%. Even with after Ronald Reagan’s 1986 amnesty program Michael Dukakis got 69% of the Latino vote while George H.W. Bush got 30%. Here are the numbers for presidential elections since 1980:

  • 1980 Jimmy Carter, 56% Ronald Reagan, 35%
  • 1984 Walter Mondale, 61% Ronald Reagan, 37%
  • 1988 Michael Dukakis, 69% George H.W. Bush, 30%
  • 1992 Bill Clinton, 61% George H.W. Bush, 25%
  • 1996 Bill Clinton, 72% Bob Dole, 21%
  • 2000 Al Gore, 62% George W. Bush, 35%
  • 2004 John Kerry, 58% George W. Bush, 40%
  • 2008 Barack Obama, 67% John McCain, 31%
  • 2012 Barack Obama, 71% Mitt Romney, 27%

I don’t believe the issue is immigration reform as much as the desire for more from government. Obama was promising the Latino community more in government handouts than Romney. He was promising in-state tuition for illegals to attend college as a part of his executive orders “dream act.” This was no different than the Democrats have been doing for years with the African American voters and why the vote over 90% for Democrats.

According to the Pew Research Center report the top issues for Latino voters in 2012 were:

“For Hispanic voters, according to the national exit poll, 60% identified the economy as the most important issue (of four listed) facing the country today, virtually the same as the share (59%) of the general electorate that identified the economy as the nation’s most important issue. On the other three issues asked about, for Hispanic voters, the economy was followed by health care (18%), the federal budget deficit (11%) and foreign policy (6%).

Throughout this election cycle, the issue of immigration has been an important issue for Hispanics. In the national exit poll, voters were asked about what should happen to unauthorized immigrants working in the U.S. According to the national exit poll, 77% of Hispanic voters said these immigrants should be offered a chance to apply for legal status while 18% said these immigrants should be deported. Among all voters, fewer than two-thirds (65%) said these immigrants should be offered a chance to apply for legal status while 28% say they should be deported.”

According to Pew in the 2012 Battleground States:

“Hispanics made up a growing share of voters in three of the key battleground states in yesterday’s election—Florida, Nevada and Colorado.

Obama carried Florida’s Hispanic vote 60% to 39%, an improvement over his 57% to 42% showing in 2008. Also, Hispanics made up 17% of the Florida electorate this year, up from 14% in 2008.

The state’s growing non-Cuban population—especially growth in the Puerto Rican population in central Florida—contributed to the president’s improved showing among Hispanic voters. This year, according to the Florida exit poll, 34% of Hispanic voters were Cuban while 57% were non-Cuban. Among Cuban voters, the vote was split—49% supported Obama while 47% supported Romney. Among the state’s non-Cuban voters, Obama won 66% versus 34% for Romney.

In Colorado, Obama carried the Latino vote by a wide margin—75% to 23%. The president’s performance among Latino voters in Colorado was better than in 2008, when Obama won the Latino vote 61% to 38%. Hispanics made up 14% of Colorado voters this year, up from 13% in 2008.

In Nevada, Obama won the Hispanic vote 70% to 25%. However, the president’s Hispanic vote was down from the 76% share he won in 2008. Among voters in Nevada, the Hispanic share was 18%, up from 15% in 2008.

In other states, the president also carried large shares of the Hispanic vote. Among other battlegrounds, Obama won 68% of the Hispanic vote in North Carolina, 65% in Wisconsin, 64% in Virginia and 53% in Ohio.”

As you can see from the above exit polls the top four issues for Hispanic voters were; the economy (jobs), health care, the deficit, and foreign policy. The Democrats did a better job of convincing these voters that he would give them more than Romney. Keep in mind that Obama’s victory in those battleground states was less than his overall plurality of 52% (3.4 million votes). According to Politico in Florida it was 0.8% and Ohio 1.9%. Of course 95% of African Americans voted for Obama. Immigration was not an issue with them; it was the traditional Democrat offerings of more from government.

The subject of immigration (and evidently, illegal immigration) has proven to be a divisive issue for conservatives. There are divergent opinions as to which policies should be pursued vis-à-vis the 12 million illegal immigrants who reside in the country. However there are certain fundamental goals and red lines that conservatives and Republicans should all unite behind as we commence debate on this issue. Any so-called comprehensive immigration reform proposal that is worth more than a bucket of spit must ensure the following:

  • We are not saddled with 12 million new consumers of the welfare state;
  • We don’t have 12 million new Democrat voters;
  • Those receiving the amnesty will not have the ability to spawn chain migration;
  • Before any amnesty is implemented, there is a complete establishment of visa tracking, border control, and mandatory E-verify to ensure that this won’t create another ‘Charlie Brown with the football’ scenario of more waves of illegal immigration;
  • Our legal immigration system move towards a merit-based process that favors high-skill immigrants instead of the current “Kennedy” system that is random and tendentious towards low-skilled immigrants.

Undoubtedly, Republican negotiators of reform proposals, like Marco Rubio, are well-intentioned in their desire to solve a serious problem with thoughtful solutions. However, if they are really committed to advancing conservative solutions and addressing conservative concerns about the immigration system, they must understand the adversity we all face with our Democrat opponents on this issue. Their proposals must be crafted to work not just in a world full of Marco Rubios and Paul Ryans, but in a political system full of Luis Gutierrezs and a judicial sphere full of ACLU and MALDEF (Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund) types. Hence, when proposing immigration bills, to know thy enemy is key. We know that whatever plan is turned into law the ACLU and MALDEF will make every effort to take each issue to a sympathetic court to revise the law in their favor. They, like all progressives will not quit. If they can’t get their way in Congress they will turn to the courts.

Democrats like Luis Gutierrezs and Chuck Schumer believe that all 7 billion people in the world are born with a God-given right to immigrate to the United States. When they speak of “our broken immigration system,” they are not bemoaning our policies that are biased towards low-skilled immigration; they are complaining that our generous acceptance of over 1 million new immigrants every year, predominantly from the third world, is not enough. As such, they believe that illegal immigration is a natural and justified result of our refusal to let in even more low-skilled immigrants than we have already admitted over the past two decades. They believe that our unwillingness to immediately grant them amnesty is a violation of their natural rights, and is a reflection of our sinister bigotry towards others.

Inevitably, when they speak of “comprehensive immigration reform” they are referring to the following: complete amnesty of all illegals so they can immediately sign up for welfare programs and commence the path towards becoming a permanent Democrat voting bloc; an even larger increase in legal immigration from the third world and from countries that represent a security risk; more welfare recipients now — enforcement later (or never).

This is the brutally honest reality of the liberal immigration policy yearning. Any Republican who plunges into this debate while disregarding this reality is willfully ignoring the statements and actions of Democrats over the past several decades.

Marco Rubio is in the process of formulating and negotiating a proposal which he tells conservatives would deal with the aforementioned concerns. He claims that his proposal to grant work visas to a selected group of illegal immigrants based on paying a fine and learning English (much like the 2006/07 McCain-Kennedy amnesty bills) would not result in them receiving welfare benefits, and would force them to go to the back of the line to embark on the process of obtaining a green card and eventual citizenship (although they would not have to return to their country of origin — the place of the real line). He also says that he would like to reform our legal immigration system to one that pursues higher-skilled workers.

Again, the brutal reality is that if his proposal would indeed contain those guiding principles and red lines, his Democrat counterparts would never support it. Never. They will seek to adulterate it with poison pills that reflect their goals and aspirations. All too often, we’ve witnessed Republicans who become so emotionally invested in their proposals that they continue to promote them, even after they are completely co-opted by the left. Will Marco Rubio promise conservatives that he will stand by his demands and will not let the Democrats cross our red lines? Or will we stay the course and face the inevitability of a reform bill that guarantees amnesty/chain migration now with the vacuous promise of enforcement/conservative reforms later (think tax hikes now/spending cuts later)?

Will we really hold off on any amnesty until there is adequate visa tracking in place and operational control of the border? Why would all of the promises of enforcement actually work this time? Also, given Obama’s penchant for selective enforcement of our immigration laws, does anyone really believe he would enforce new laws? His record of ignoring laws is clear. These are all questions that must be answered with confidence.

Furthermore, even if by some miracle Democrats agree to this grand bargain, they will view this as the first step, not the final piece of legislation. Once a significant portion of illegal immigrants become permanent legal residents, Democrats will demand that the rest of them obtain that status, even the ones who are not ‘churchgoing grandmothers’ who were here for 20 years. They see this this as a perpetual lock for Democrats on our government.

Also, the next civil right will be welfare benefits and voting rights. It will never end. You simply can’t win a bidding war with Democrats over pandering to this constituency. Once Republicans agree to legalize them, it will be virtually impossible to stop the runaway train of subsequent congresses from granting them full privileges. As long as Republicans compromise, but leave a few issues on the table, Democrats will continue to use them as political footballs. A permanent legal underclass is a much more potent force than an illegal constituency. We can never get to the left of the Democrats on the issue. Ultimately, we will never make inroads with the Latino vote by out-flanking Democrat on amnesty; we will only win their vote, as Jim DeMint has said, by communicating to them how liberal policies have utterly failed them.

Moreover, proponents of Rubio-style proposals need to explain how we can legally firewall welfare benefits from those granted amnesty. There is a well-oiled, truculent legal defense community that will relentlessly sue for full privileges and an end to this status of “second-class citizen.” At present, these people lack many legal protections. Once they become legal, it will be very difficult to ensure they do not join the dependency utopia of blue America.

Remember, just the refundable portion of the Child Tax Credit for illegal immigrants — a tiny portion of the welfare state — costs $24 billion over 10 years. That figure accounts for just 2.18 million illegals who are able to use a loophole to obtain the refundable credit. When you factor in the entire smorgasbord of programs for millions more, we’re talking about trillions in new welfare spending. This is a far cry from the immigrants who came here in the 1950s.

These are all legitimate questions that need to be debated and analyzed before conservatives sign off on such a deal that the “secret bipartisan working group” plans to foist upon us. Let’s remember that full amnesty for those who are here illegally is a lot to ask for. Many conservatives would be willing to entertain such an idea so long as we are ensured that it will not play into the hands of the left. However, we cannot panic and impetuously pursue amnesty under the false pretense that we will gain Hispanic support without first addressing some basic concerns.

If we’ve learned anything from the 1986 amnesty, it is that trust but verify is not going to cut it when it comes to illegal immigration policy. We need inviolable enforcement mechanisms on the enforcement side before we are prepared to make painful concessions. Otherwise, comprehensive immigration reform will look a lot like comprehensive healthcare reform. And we will be having this same debate in 20 years from now, albeit with a permanent Democrat majority.

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