WOW! Two great ThreeSources issues in one post! Had Bradley Jansen snuck in some NATALEE HOLOWAY PICTURES, we'd be handing out awards.
While most Americans and others might not immediately understand the concept of "currency competition," there is one segment of the population that already gets it: immigrants. Since most countries use their own national currency, those individuals who have moved, lived and worked in other countries understand the concept and mechanics of competing currencies. Yes, in this example, the competing currencies are only nationalized currencies with a central bank which is not what we are promoting, but having people understand the concepts is a great first step.
There was a ruckus-bordering-on-a-kerfuffle a few years back, where a pizza place very near to my first house in Aurora, Colorado publicly accepted Mexican Pesos. The nativists lost their mind. Sovereignty was clearly threatened. But I saw this as a possible -- albeit probably illegal -- experiment in competing currencies.
I don't know what ever happened with Pizza-gate -- perhaps President Obama just droned the place. But Jansen makes an interesting and easily forgotten point about the scale of remittances :
[N]ot only do immigrants understand the concept of competitive currencies, but remittances (people sending money back to their home country) are, I believe, the best opportunity for competitive currencies to develop. I would put Bitcoin, broadly speaking, into this category too. Remittances--which globally dwarf not only official foreign aid and foreign direct investment but both of those combined!--offer a huge market especially in conjunction with mobile apps.
In many developing countries, especially in Africa, people are leapfrogging over bricks and mortar banking for mobile banking. That environment, coupled with the remittances factor, offers fertile ground for free banking.
In 2001, my wife, Shawnna, and I moved to Arizona. I love nearly everything about my adopted state, but the one thing that troubles me greatly is Arizona’s widespread hostility toward Mexican immigration, not just illegal but legal as well. Among many Arizona conservatives, opposition to immigration dwarfs all other political issues, even in the face of economic recession. The vehemence on this issue initially puzzled me, given that Arizona still is the land of Barry Goldwater and largely reflects his libertarian, live-and-let-live philosophy.
Indeed, I have often joked that if Arizonans are really serious about protecting our traditional values against assault from hostile newcomers, we should wall off our western border to California rather than our southern border.
Governor Jeb Bush and Clint Bolick provide a solid blueprint for moving forward in Immigration Wars. I don't agree with every word of it, and I'm rather certain it would not be any ThreeSourcer's idea of perfection. It is a contentious debate, and apart from the bitter clingers on both extremes, I think the authors understand it is about compromise and understand it is about moving forward. While imperfect, if Congress were to pass it exactly as written, there is nothing in this book that I could not live with.
The best part is its two foundational premises:
We believe comprehensive reform should be constructed upon two core, essential values: first, that immigration is essential to our nation, and second, that immigration policy must be governed by the rule of law. Those who expound only one of those values to the exclusion of the other do violence to both, because the two values are inseparable.
Many of our circular, circuitous, and cicumlocutious immigration debates have danced around this, because I was unable to state my premises so clearly.
The authors are as pro-immigration as I am and the book celebrates many reasons for increasing and legalizing/normalizing additional immigration. The talk shows and political reviews have focused on their solution to current undocumented aliens. Those who came here as adults are offered a pathway to permanent legal status but not a head start toward citizenship. This is not the plan I'd write, but I can sign on if this is un-am-nasty enough for a plurality.
This is the most contentious issue, and the position of a prominent Republican is newsworthy. Some of the more subtle points are more interesting. Bush and Bolick call for refocusing preferences on skills and economic need in favor of "family reunification."
Reuniting someone with their long lost third cousin twice removed is sweet. But it sets up a chain migration that can grow without bounds. Plus, it is biased toward less productive new citizens. Spouses and children can follow an immigrant but no further. We're sending home doctors and entrepreneurs and physics geniuses to bring more grandmothers in. Sweet, but not in our best economic interests.
One hopes that this might get resolved. We cherish rule of law, yet look the other way for startling abuses to people and equal enforcement.
It is in no one's interest for illegal immigrants and their families to live in the shadows. We need everyone to participate in the mainstream economy, to pay taxes, to participate openly in their communities, to be willing to report crimes-- that is to say, to be accountable, responsible members of society. That cannot occur when people fear they will be arrested if their immigration status is known.
It is an enjoyable and quick read touching economics, education and politics. If the debate were moved forward in this direction, that would be a huge net positive.
UPDATE: That other fella named Bush has a very good guest editorial in the WSJ today.
That sound you hear is the stumbling of a Congressional giant, mixed with my sigh of disappointment. Rep Jeff Flake (HOSS [Ret.] - AZ) has been a champion of not only spending restraint but also a gifted expositor of the non-intuitive benefits of liberty. He can tell it like it is and make a powerful case for less government.
How sad to see him joining the Tancredo wing to try to win a Senate Seat in The Grand Canyon State. Jason Riley on the WSJ Ed Page:
Mr. Flake has represented suburban Phoenix since 2001 and distinguished himself as, among other things, a champion of comprehensive immigration reform that includes not only more border security but also viable guest worker programs to meet U.S. labor market demand and a pathway to citizenship for undocumented workers already here. These days, he sounds more like Arizona's Sheriff Joe Arpaio, denouncing comprehensive immigration reform as "a dead end" and saying it's no longer "possible or even desirable." He touts his support for walling off the Mexican border and suggests (incorrectly) that illegal Latinos drive violent crime in the U.S., telling one interviewer that "virtually all" of the people entering the country illegally today are tied to smuggling rings and drug cartels.
A Senator Flake would surely be an additional vote for spending restraint in the Upper Chamber. Unfortunately, he might also be another vote for the immigration status quo that he once bravely fought to change.
The idea that the WSJ Ed Page (and me) would be lukewarm to the candidacy of a fiscal hawk like Flake would have been unthinkable.
I all but wept. One of the great Hosses of all time hit it out of the park on Kudlow last night (Joe Kernen guest hosting).
Rodgers's bit starts at 4:50 if you don't have 10:46. I agree with every word and don't think I have heard it said better.
The whole concept that somehow people are dragging the economy is wrong, People are the economy. The intelligence and wealth they create is what creates the jobs.
Rodgers also criticized the increasing militarization of the border, alluding to a famous Ronald Reagan speech.
To me, that makes the country look weak. What made the Soviet Union look weak? "Gorbachev, tear down this wall." When a country is so screwed up it has to put a wall between itself and its neighbor, that puts weakness on the other side of the fence.
I rarely imagine that I owe the world a post. Maybe if Governor Chris Christie released an album of Hayek quotes and Buffy lines set to jazz music, some readers might wonder what jk thought on the topic... but as a general rule I consider silence an option.
Yet President Obama's callow, opportunistic, and completely unconstitutional principled and humanistic immigration policy does inspire some thoughts. Like Larry Kudlow, I agree with most if not all of the policy but disagree with the process of bypassing Congress. The WSJ Ed Page takes this on using the President's own admission that this exceeds his authority:
In a speech last year to La Raza, a Hispanic civil rights organization that has criticized the White House for the lack of progress on immigration reform, President Obama mused that he'd like "to bypass Congress and change the laws on my own." He added, "Believe me, the idea of doing things on my own is very tempting. I promise you."
Looking at the demographics of swing states, President Constitutional Law Professor succumbed to temptation. Like his equally opportunistic stand on gay rights, I don't understand why even when I agree with the President, he cannot lead or craft bipartisan legislation. He has to demagogue the things I like.
John Yoo, the left's beta-noir for his envelope-pushing of Executive power, has an interesting article in NRO today.
There is a world of difference in refusing to enforce laws that violate the Constitution (Bush) and refusing to enforce laws because of disagreements over policy (Obama).
Under Article II, Section 3 of the Constitution, the president has the duty to "take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed." This provision was included to make sure that the president could not simply choose, as the British King had, to cancel legislation simply because he disagreed with it. President Obama cannot refuse to carry out a congressional statute simply because he thinks it advances the wrong policy. To do so violates the very core of his constitutional duties.
Among the exceptions, Yoo lists "prosecutorial discretion" which I defended on these pages as a legitimate tool for the DOJ to de-emphasize drug prosecutions. In both instances, I would prefer a clear and comprehensive legislative solution. And in both I would welcome a soft-pedal on enforcement while issues are resolved.
But the naked politics of this combined with the President's casual willingness to overstep executive authority is a step too far. It is also a reminder that he did NOTHING on gay rights or immigration with a Democratic Congress or with GOP Senators who have supported comprehensive reform. He'd rather demagogue than legislate.
UPDATE: Jim Mantle catches it in sub-140: @jimantle President Obama invokes the all-powerful Right Thing to Do clause in the Constitution.
UPDATE II: Blog friend Terri asks "Right thing for whom?"
He keeps setting up all of these new rules but they hardly ever seem fair to me.
-- I'm 31, came here when I was 5 and this doesn’t apply?
-- I'm 18, came here when I was 16 and this doesn’t apply?
-- I'm 21 and a citizen and can’t get a job....how is this right for me?
-- I'm the employee of 20 of these folks and paying them the prevailing wage, when they all quit because there are now better opportunities....is this right for me?
-- I'm the one who’s been waiting in line at the immigration office for 4 years to get into the US legally. I don’t really have skills, but can contribute. Is this right for me?
Good points, all. This is, of course, one topic on which our blog friend and I do not see eye-too-eye. I agree that the rules are capricious and will even up the ante -- these laws are still on the books and will be enforced whenever it is politically expedient for this or any president or Secretary of Homeland Security.
I haven't been able to post in a while due to a very hectic schedule.
I know that immigration has been a hot topic on 3sources in the past, and I thought I would try to reignite the debate. I tend to have a more "open borders" approach when it comes to immigration instead of the more "protectionist" approach favored by mainstream conservatives. I came across this article today that makes a great economic argument for the liberalization of human capital flows in the same way and for the same reasons as the liberalization of traditional capital and trade markets.
It is interesting to note how many "free market" folks out there adopt immigration polices that are totally inconsistent with their views on free trade.
See, you can already see the elevation of discourse and heightened understanding now that I have read Jonathan Haidt's superb "The Righteous Mind." (I sold a couple lefty friends on that -- I'll let you know how it goes.)
But I think I can enjoy a good gloat with Michael Barone as he reports net illegal immigration from Mexico is now zero. The data hail from Think Progress so a pinch of NaCl is warranted, but I do not think anybody can deny the trend. Insty quips that "The way things are going here, the flow may soon go the other way."
Barone underlines the incredibly underreported story of the improving Mexican middle class.
Among the reasons: Mexico has been growing more prosperous, its birth rates declined sharply two decades ago and it now has a middle class majority (as former Foreign Minister Jorge Castañeda argues in his 2011 book Mañana Forever?). For some years I feared that Mexico could not achieve higher economic growth than the United States since our economies have been tied so tightly together by NAFTA since 1993. But in the past two years Mexico's growth rate has been on the order of 5% to 7%. It's looking like Mexico's growth rate is tied not to that of the United States but to that of Texas, which has been a growth leader because of its intelligent public policies which have prevented public employee unions from plundering the private sector economy. Anyway, looking ahead, anyone seeking changes in our immigration laws should keep in mind that immigration in the future is not likely to look like immigration in the recent past.
But I claim credit because it vindicates my claim that the bulk of "undocumented immigration" was to pursue employment, and that we all reaped -- as Ricardo predicted -- increased wealth from comparative advantage and the growth of the economic pie (more a nice flan than pie...)
They came to fill and fulfill a need and as that need subsides, so does the wave. When President Obama leaves office and the recovery begins again in earnest, the voices of the Tancredo wing will rise pari passu. But this time, ThreeSourcers will not be fooled. Next time, my brothers and sisters will see these workers as the important piece of the economic engine.
But this proud naturalized American, who arguably did more than any contemporary figure to restore the faith of Americans in America, might have been hounded out of the country if one of our current crop of Republican hopefuls had been president when she arrived. Why? Because Rand lied and bent every rule to gain entry into the United States.
I set out on the internet this morning to find support for a personal premise: The existence of unenforced laws undermines respect for those laws that are enforced. The experience caused me to recognize an unacknowledged subsequent premise: Individual liberty is enhanced in a law-abiding society. For some time now I have thought the first premise was a call to action in furtherance of the second premise but then I questioned the validity of that objective, and of the second premise itself.
Slate magazine published, in October 2007, a rather wide-ranging compendium of unenforced law discussion by Tim Wu.
He addressed the drug war, illegal immigration, copyright, polygamy and more. Wu seems to conclude that non-enforcement is good for America. Not, as I would attempt, in furtherance of greater liberty but of "the economic interests of the nation."
Immigration policy is perhaps the strongest example of the ways in which tolerated lawbreaking is used to make the legal system closer to what lies in the economic interests of the nation but cannot be achieved by rational politics. All this is why the Bush administration faces an uphill battle in the course of trying a real internal enforcement strategy.
I tend to agree with this conclusion but I attribute as cause the very American attitude of individual liberty amongst voters who won't tolerate a heavy hand against individual workers and employers. More to the point is what this does to our representative government. Since our legislatures cannot achieve rational laws our judiciaries and our executives, at both state and federal levels, exercise discretion in which laws are enforced and to what extent. This appears, at first, to be a good outcome since the forces that guide the police and the courts are those of public opinion which derive, in turn, from individuals. We effectively have 300 million citizen legislators. However, this system has (at least) two major flaws.
First is the disparate influence on the legal system from concentrated versus individual interests and the tyranny of the majority. Allowing the trial lawyers lobby, the AARP and SEIU to dictate which laws are left to wither (and which to be bolstered) is no boon to liberty.
But worse yet, the ability of government to "get" any individual on some trumped up charge whenever it is "necessary" is a hallmark of totalitarian states.
At the federal prosecutor's office in the Southern District of New York, the staff, over beer and pretzels, used to play a darkly humorous game. Junior and senior prosecutors would sit around, and someone would name a random celebrity--say, Mother Theresa or John Lennon.
It would then be up to the junior prosecutors to figure out a plausible crime for which to indict him or her. (...) The trick and the skill lay in finding the more obscure offenses that fit the character of the celebrity and carried the toughest sentences. The, result, however, was inevitable: "prison time."
It's one thing when government lawyers make selective prosecution into a drinking game, but quite another when used as a tool of coercion and intimidation. In the name of liberty, laws to prevent "injuring a mail bag" have no place in a just society. Liberty is enhanced when laws are obeyed, but said laws must first be not just objective and knowable but also justified in the cause of protecting individuals from others and not from themselves.
This is the name that Emma Lazarus gave to the Statue of Liberty when it was gifted to America from France in the 19th century. The poem she reluctantly wrote to aid in raising funds for the building of a base to place it upon came to be the statue's meaning put into words:
Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame,
"Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!" cries she
With silent lips. "Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore,
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"
One analysis of the poem published by the University of Virginia errs in its characterization of an irony:
"As political propaganda for France, the Statue of Liberty was first intended to be a path of enlightenment for the countries of Europe still battling tyranny and oppression. Lazarus' words, however, turned that idea on its head: the Statue of Liberty would forever on be considered a beacon of welcome for immigrants leaving their mother countries."
I disagree with this conclusion. The statue and Lazarus' words were, in fact, symbols of enlightenment and freedom and did stand in contrast to European tyranny and oppression. However, the fault for European emmigration was not America's new statue but the fecklessness and intransigence of Old Europe's governments.
Is this germane again, today? Do the words in the great statue's base beckon to a new generation of American Patriots to strive for not just "democracy" but liberty?
It is true that much progress toward liberty has been made in America's 19th and 20th centuries, but in many other ways the once "golden door" of America has become as tarnished as the oppressive societies to whom she once showed the way. From the U of VA's concluding paragraph:
Just as Lazarus' poem gave new meaning to the statue, the statue emitted a new ideal for the United States. Liberty did not only mean freedom from the aristocracy of Britain that led the American colonists to the Revolutionary War. Liberty also meant freedom to come to the United States and create a new life without religious and ethnic persecution.
Yet this means little if economic persecution remains. Let not the New Colossus be transformed from the Mother of Exiles to the Mother of Equals, nor let our "tired" our "poor" our "huddled masses" once able to breathe free, succumb to the persecution of "shared sacrifice." Some lecture us that "cutting programs that help those who need them most is morally wrong" and "when Jesus talked about how God will judge nations, he said that God will focus on what we did or did not do for the neediest among us." And yet, how do government policies which violate the eighth and tenth commandments advance Jesus' word?
God's judgement, and liberty itself, are things reserved only to individuals and not to the abstract form we call "nations." Our government "overlords" would do well to remember this important distinction, as would voters.
A few excellent passages from a Mark Steyn IBD editorial on the "random" murder of US airmen in a German civil airport:
The strange shrunken spectator who serves as President of the United States, offering what he called "a few words about the tragic event that took place," announced that he was "saddened," and expressed his "gratitude for the service of those who were lost" and would "spare no effort" to "work with the German authorities" but it was a "stark reminder" of the "extraordinary sacrifices that our men and women in uniform are making . . ."
But relax, this fellow in Frankfurt was most likely a "lone wolf" (as Sen. Chuck Schumer described the Times Square Bomber) or an "isolated extremist" (as the president described the Christmas Day Pantybomber).
There are so many of these "lone wolves" and "isolated extremists" you may occasionally wonder whether they've all gotten together and joined Local 473 of the Amalgamated Union of Lone Wolves and Isolated Extremists, but don't worry about it: As any Homeland Security official can tell you, "Allahu akbar" is Arabic for "Nothing to see here."
Okay, why is a Muslim who wants to kill Americans holding down a job at a European airport? That's slightly easier to answer. Almost every problem facing the western world, from self-detonating jihadists to America's own suicide bomb -- the multi-trillion dollar debt -- has at its root a remorseless demographic arithmetic.
In the U.S., the baby boomers did not have enough children to maintain their mid-20th century social programs. I see that recent polls supposedly show that huge majorities of Americans don't want any modifications to Medicare or Social Security.
But even with looming bankruptcy America still looks pretty sweet if you're south of the border.
And this last applies to Western Europe just the same.
So among other things we have some sobering news for your favorite, possibly marijuana-medicated, effete urbane egalitarian idealist who most likely calls himself "Progressive:" What killed the social welfare state, or at least hastened its demise? The sexual revolution.
And in bleak contrast with the western immigrants from Islamic regions who want to manage a 7-Eleven or drive a taxi or go to med school in the land of opportunity are the Islamic refugees looking for a free lunch. These are the ones most likely to, in Steyn's words, self-detonate. And what brought them to our neighborhoods? The social welfare state.
Raja Ratna Murthy Ayyagari
Wendy Wenyu Cai
Fang Y Cao
Andrew Christopher Das Sarma
Winston W. Liu
Sharon Ren-Wei Ong
Montgomery County, Maryland students who were named as semifinalists in the prestigious Intel National Science Talent Search competition.
In a comment reminiscent of the claim that a tree falling in a forest makes no sound unless someone is there to hear it, Leo Laurence writes in the magazine for the Society of Professional Journalists that the term "illegal immigrant" does not apply to non-citizens. Why? Because of the Constitution, he asserts.
In an appearance on FNC's Fox and Friends this morning Laurence said, that an "undocumented immigrant" is not an illegal immigrant "until a judge says so." This is because of the Constitutional provision of innocence until proven guilty before a jury of one's peers. "No. No. They are not. The only person who can say someone is here illegally is a judge."
So the bank robber hasn't committed a crime until he is found guilty, according to this logic.
Laurence added that, "It's a very conservative issue because we're following our Constitution."
I attribute the smug, self-confidence of Mr. Laurence to a collision between the philosophy of subjective idealism and the TEA Party movement.
For what it's worth, Leo closed the segment by spelling out his telephone number and email address for those who want to discuss the matter with him. Repeated as a public service: 619 757 4909, firstname.lastname@example.org.
They re called Brincos, and they re shoes designed to help illegal immigrants cross the U.S.-Mexican border. Designed by Argentinean artist Judi Werthein, these shoes feature an array of items designed to make the dangerous trip across the border a little less so. There s a built-in compass, a pouch inside the tongue used to store aspirin and a map of popular routes going from Tijuana to San Diego on the insole. An Aztec eagle adorns the heel, while the shoes red, white, and green colors remind you that, yes, the shoes were designed with Mexican nationals in mind. The Brincos (the name derives from the Spanish verb brincar, to jump, as in, to jump the border) were handed out for free to migrants, while so-called hip stores in San Diego were spotted selling them for $215.
The Tea Party Patriots send an email (web version here) that asks "Will you stand with AZ tomorrow?"
I accept that a populist movement will exhibit a bit of populism, but frozen-illegals-on-a-stick, man, this is a dilution of the message. I'll stand toe-to-toe with the enforcement first folk in a battle for Constitutional rule. But to hijack the name and the mailing list for the conservative cause du jour is disturbing.
For another side, Patriots, let me suggest a guest editorial today by Alex Nowrasteh of the CEI. Nowrasteh is not bleeding hearts for the poor migrants. He makes a startling and substantive case for the interests of business, law enforcement and liberty.
The problems begin in Section 2 of the law, which grants all legal residents the power to sue any state agency or official that they believe is failing to enforce immigration laws. This provision will funnel millions of dollars to trial lawyers and put Arizona police officers in a no-win situation.
As 19-year Phoenix Police Department veteran David Salgado has said, enforcing the law could get him sued by the federal government for violating civil-rights protections, while failing to enforce the law could get him sued by anti-immigration activists. Two county sheriffs in Arizona have already created funds to cover their departments against the lawsuits that will inevitably come, undermining law enforcement and enriching trial lawyers along the way.
Awesome piece -- let me know if you'd like me to mail it to you.
We've seen news stories posted here to criticize police for excessive force in drug cases. Here's a news story that shows poorly on America's metropolitan District Attorneys, or at least the one in Jefferson County wherin Wheatridge, CO is located.
The Jefferson County DA's office said that neither Torres nor Cardona have been charged with anything at this point, even though Torres confessed to the crime. However, the homeowner, Wallace is facing twelve felony counts, including four counts of attempted first degree murder. If convicted, he could spend the rest of his life behind bars.
Four counts? Two bullets and two fleeing larcenists, I suppose. Attempted first-degree murder? Doesn't that require premeditation, and the absence of self-defense? And not even an illegal lane change ticket for the "immigrants?" Hey, what's that smell? Smells like ... sanctuary.
WASHINGTON (AP) – Hoping to breathe new life into the stalled immigration effort, President Barack Obama on Thursday blamed the delay on recalcitrant Republicans whom he said had given in to the "pressures of partisanship and election-year politics."
I'm proud to stand with a conservative, America-loving, free-trader, Californian hero of mine on the issue of immigration.
My arguments are economic but I do enjoy, on occasion, throwing some juicy quotes from President Reagan at my conservative interlocutors. So I sent today's editorial by Peter Robinson to my (biological) brother and brother-in-law today. I'll sit back and wait for the thanks to come pouring in.
Robinson wrote a superb book on our 40th President, What I Learned from President Reagan. I highly recommend it. The book is about applying Reagan’s beliefs and principles to everyday life, and curiously, I read it in the hospital after my MS diagnosis and left it there (In Boulder that may or may not be a mitzvah).
Robinson worked for and carries a deep appreciation for President Reagan. As in his book, he assembles quotes, actions, and anecdotes to portray a belief. He starts with Reagan's signing -- dare I use the word? -- Amnesty!
Anyone who retains a high opinion of Reagan, whom John McCain himself has described as one of his heroes, can hardly help wondering. In 1986, Reagan signed legislation granting amnesty to millions of illegal aliens. Instead of denouncing the undocumented, Reagan invited them to become citizens. If Reagan was right then, isn't Sen. McCain wrong now? To attempt an answer, I've listed what we know for certain about my old boss and immigration. Then I've done my best to figure out what each item tells us about where Reagan would have stood on the issue today.
What we know for certain, item one: Ronald Reagan was no kind of nativist. In a 1977 radio talk, for instance, Reagan dismissed "the illegal alien fuss," arguing that we need immigrant labor. "One thing is certain in this hungry world," he said. "No regulation or law should be allowed if it results in crops rotting in the fields for lack of harvesters."
If that story is behind wicked Rupert's pay wall, let me know -- I'll be happy to email it to you.
Last week the Attorney General of the United States was asked if he has read the Arizona immigration law that he had said could result in people being "picked on" because of their appearance. The law that so concerns him and his boss that they are reviewing it for openings to a federal legal challenge. The law he says may have consequences "we have to try to avoid at all costs." Uhhh, no sir Representative Poe, I haven't.
"I've just expressed concerns on the basis of what I've heard about the law. But I'm not in a position to say at this point, not having read the law, not having had the chance to interact with people are doing the review, exactly what my position is," Mr. Holder told the House Judiciary Committee.
I wonder if he takes his case to the Supreme Court, will the Justices make their rulings without reading the "unfortunate" law too?
I guess she has more important things to spend her time on, like telling reporters the law is "misguided." From the same story: "Holder said he plans to read it before determining whether it's constitutional." No word on whether Napolitano plans to read it before refusing to cooperate with Arizona authorities on implementation.
More Mean-Spirited Diatribe Against Illegal Immigration
This one takes a more worldly view, looking at similarities between American (illegal) and European (condoned) mass immigration. As an example of over-the-top hate speech, author Mark Steyn tells us what English grandmother Gillian Duffy said to PM Gordon Brown which prompted him to say of her, in an unguarded moment, "She's just this sort of bigoted woman." Gillian had lamented that "you can't say anything about the immigrants."
The quick 3-page piece is packed with Steyn's trademark humor which is it's own reward so I'll just plagarize the dry conclusion:
A dependence on mass immigration is not a gold mine nor an opportunity to flaunt your multicultural bona fides, but a structural weakness, and should be addressed as such.
The majority of Arizona's schoolchildren are already Hispanic. So, even if you sealed the border today, the state's future is as a Hispanic society: That's a given.
Maybe it'll all work out swell. The citizenry never voted for it, but they got it anyway. Because all the smart guys in the limos bemoaning the bigots knew what was best for them.
I'll see your Harsanyi and basically agree. We're not as far apart as usual. I do see the Arizona law as a rebuke to fed incompetence (heckuva job, Brownie!) and you can image my discomfort with my newfound allies. Sure Shakira is serious, but some of those other celebs appear to be posturing. The Denver Public Schools' boycott of Arizona travel is silly, but I'm glad to know some teachers can find a state that borders us on a map.
Requiring successful enforcement of the current immigration laws before they can be changed is a non sequitur. It’s like saying, in 1932, that we can’t repeal the nationwide prohibition on alcohol consumption until we’ve drastically reduced the number of moonshine stills and bootleggers. But Prohibition itself created the conditions for the rise of those underground enterprises, and the repeal of Prohibition was necessary before the government could “get control” of its unintended consequences.
Ultimately -- and I wish we were not doing this in an election year -- we will get back to this and reach impasse. His comparison to prohibition is more deftly worded than my "relieve pressure" argument. But they are the same. Prosperity and freedom requires more liberal immigration than my pals, brothers, and sisters around here will accede to.
Americans value immigration. They recoil from lawlessness. And frustration over the impotent border enforcement has manifested itself in a flailing overreach. Arizona's law isn't a referendum on Latinos or even immigration itself. It's an unambiguous rebuke of Washington.
But if you, like me, believe it's possible to advocate for a broad-minded immigration policy -- one that creates more expansive guest-worker programs, offers amnesty (though not citizenship) to some immigrants already here and enforces border control -- this administration is not making it easy on you, either.
The uplifting tale of the hard-boiled immigrant, dipping his or her sweaty hands into the well of the American dream, is one thing. Today we find ourselves in an unsustainable and rapidly growing welfare state. Can we afford to allow millions more to partake?
When Nobel Prize-winning libertarian economist Milton Friedman was asked about unlimited immigration in 1999, he stated that "it is one thing to have free immigration to jobs. It is another thing to have free immigration to welfare. And you cannot have both."
National Journal's Ronald Brownstein gives dismissive lip-service to violence in Mexico and unemployment in the US before blaming racism and nativism for the "hardening GOP position" on McCain-Kennedy style amnesty. I think he needs to read the Harsanyi piece too - "It's the welfare state, stupid!"
I was going to post this yesterday, then I wasn't.
The segue today is the Cato video a few posts down with its admonition that "Democrats are not always your enemies." I don't know if anybody is going to like this but me, yet I encourage you to consider this counter-intuitive thought from Forbes's Shikha Dalmia:
If universal health coverage was part of the longstanding liberal agenda to implement a European-style welfare state in America, Arizona's tough new anti-immigrant law represents the conservative agenda to install a European-style surveillance state. Indeed, the very same conservatives who could not find words strong enough to condemn the Europeanization of America under ObamaCare are now greeting the Arizona law--which will require residents to prove their lawful status to authorities on demand--with a cheerful smile and a shrug.
I'll concede that Article IV gives legitimacy and consistency to one who supports Constitutional limits on government and strict enforcement on immigration laws. Unlike Tea Partiers who like Medicare and <merlehaggardvoice>Social Security</merlehaggardvoice>, they are on firm Constitutional ground.
But because things are allowed by the Constitution doesn't mean we want a ton of it. We are at war but I really don't have room to billet a dozen soldiers in my condo.
I've kept silent on the Arizona contretemps because I know we will divide along the same old lines (that is, everybody against me) but I think Dalmia is on to something here.
Likewise, a compelling case can be made that the State of Arizona is in an emergency situation with increased violence and increased breakdown in the social order to its South. I actually accept this and have criticized the law only from a Constitutional, civil liberties perspective. I'll look the other way if they need to get rough on the border.
But the other escalation, as mentioned in a comment, is that the the leading candidate to be the GOP Gubernatorial nominee, Rep. Scott McInnis, made headlines last night saying that he would like to sign a similar law in Colorado. We do not face the same situation as Arizona and it is clearly out-of-bounds in Colorado. That he so quickly accedes to such an authoritarian solution does not speak well for his devotion to liberty.
Shikha Dalmia says that neither the time nor the President is right for immigration reform (hmm, something we might all agree on). Dalmia links to one of my favorite charts and -- among many good points -- makes yet another immigration statement that we might all agree with (I said "might):
The fundamental problem with America's immigration system is that it forces Americans to justify to their government why they want to bring someone into the country, instead of requiring the government to justify to them why they can't. Uncle Sam is less gatekeeper, more social engineer. Instead of focusing on keeping out those who pose a genuine security or public health risk-- the only immigration policy consistent with ideals of limited government -- it is driven, among other things, by a need to manage labor market flows and the national demographic makeup.
An excellent article. I only wish Forbes would replace Ms. Dalmia's picture with the small poorly-lit mug shot we expect. Hers is somehow distracting.
Sens. Schumer and Graham (probably not a pair of Threesourcers favorites) are proposing legislation to create a biometric ID card that, at a minimum, would be used for proof of employment eligability.
The Refugee will put an initial stake in the ground and say that such a plan does not sound like a bad idea. In fact, he would make presentation of such identification a requirement for social benefits, health services (i.e., non-emergency hospital care), school registration and - yes - voting. The cards may significantly reduce fraud.
Opponents say that such a card would be a defacto national ID card and a way for the government to track citizens. However, the SSN is already a defacto national ID and the government has so many tools to track us now that the benefits seem to outweigh the risks.
The Refugee will admit that he may not have thought of every possible threat to liberty that these cards may present and therefore has an open mind; he would like to hear what Three Sourcers have to say. What say you?
Michael Barone suggests the immigration rift may be over.
But there's another reason why Congress and the administration would be unwise to revive the 2006-07 legislation. The facts on the ground have changed. The surge of illegal immigrants into the United States, which seemed to be unrelenting for most of the last two decades, seems to be over, at least temporarily, and there's a chance it may never resume.
Reading this, I thought it might be the first time I have to disagree with his Barone-ness, but I think we're pretty close. Barone cites improvements in border security as the first reason that wholesale immigration will not resume when dGDP/dT > 0 again.
To which I intellectually retort "Hah, you're nuts, dude."
But, flip his second point with his first, and I am intrigued if not all in:
And the reservoir of potential immigrants may be drying up. Birthrates declined significantly in Mexico and Latin America circa 1990. And as immigration scholars Timothy Hatton and Jeffrey Williamson write, emigration rates from Mexico and Latin America -- the percentage of population leaving those countries -- peaked way back in 1985-94.
Moreover, people immigrate not only to make money but to achieve dreams. And one of those dreams has been shattered for many Hispanic immigrants. Most housing foreclosures have occurred in four states -- California, Nevada, Arizona and Florida -- and about one-third of those who have lost their homes are Hispanic. Immigration is stimulated by the reports of success that immigrants send back home. It may be discouraged by reports of failure.
I am preparing for a long recession as I watch the people who think they are steering this economy. By the time demand improves, it could well be that the factors Barone cites will become significant.
So, all those wars were all for naught. A moot point. And the ThreeSourcers are all once again in perfect agreement on the side of righteousness. Whew, glad that's over!
Should he wade in again? Everybody is getting along so well. Oh yeah.
The WSJ Ed Page reports on a CATO study suggesting relaxed immigration to encourage economic recovery:
Using a dynamic economic model that weighs the impact of immigrants on government revenues and expenditures, the study seeks to quantify the benefits of comprehensive immigration reform versus the enforcement-only approach. It finds that legalizing the entry of more low-skilled immigrants would result in economic gains of about $180 billion annually to U.S. households. A focus on more enforcement alone would not only result in an annual net economic loss of around $80 billion, say the authors, but fewer jobs, less investment and lower levels of consumption as well. "Modest savings in public expenditures would be more than offset by losses in economic output," says the report.
The common assumption is that low-skilled Latino immigrants are displacing U.S. natives and driving unemployment. The reality is that these immigrants don't tend to compete directly with natives. They more often take positions in the U.S. labor market that go unfilled by Americans, who are increasingly more educated and have better job opportunities.
I'm glad Republicans, conservatives, and libertarians (note the little-l) are reexamining their tactics and message after the drubbing they all took in November-oh-eight. A little navel-gazing is probably well warranted.
While many topics are on the table, it appears to me that Republicans have forgotton or choosen to ignore the immigration rift. (They should read ThreeSources Immigration Category.) The debate turned me into a name-caller and separated me from Michelle Malkin, National Review (especially NRO), and Hugh Hewitt. It made me even more skeptical of Rush Limbaugh, Ann Coulter, Laura Ingraham, and a large list of right-wing bloggers.
Like the Civil War, it pitted brother against brother as I fought blog brothers, biological brothers and even a brother-in-law. The news may have moved on to the new administration and the stimulus bill, but I was reminded of the underlying rift yesterday. Allahpundit, whom I admire very much, had a post on the HotAir site where he complimented -- rightfully -- the tough and well reasoned stand that Senator Lindsey Graham has taken against the stimulus bill. Allahpundit could not resist pointing out that Michelle Malkin was now in agreement with "Grahamnesty."
Grahamnesty is a good line. But as we ask the last 41 Republicans who count to stick together against overwhelming odds, name calling seems a little churlish. I don't know that a Jesus-Christopher Hitchens ticket could have beaten Obama this year, but how many Republican activists were unable to get 100% behind the party's nominee because of immigration?
Regular ThreeSourcers know I stand pretty closely to McCain/Graham/Bush on immigration. I don't want to re-ignite the debate. I do, as a political pragmatist, want to seek out a New Fusionism. If the atheists and evangelicals could get together for decades to pursue their common interests, perhaps the populists and the free-border crowd need to do the same.
I get tense when I hear Rep. Tancredo rail on about deporting valedictorians and I wince when Governor Huckabee says "we have to make the Constitution match God's law." Yet it seems that the whole idea of individual liberty is under serious threat. Looking for electoral majority, we may need to paper over these differences.
As I have suggested, there is some middle ground. We could all support a platform plank of "reasonable border enforcement," "expanded legal immigration possibilities," "increased efficiency of INS and enforcement personnel," and "dignified treatment of current undocumented workers."
I'll even stop calling you xenophobic, economically-ignorant, populists names. What do you say?
Obviously, the entertainment quality of Fox's '24' is too much to handle. In the holiday spirit, I will change the subject. To immigration.
Though it was not a key issue in 2008, my pals on the WSJ Ed Page, point out that "the political reality is that Republicans who thought that channeling Lou Dobbs would save their seats will soon be ex-Members."
Virginia Republican Congressman Virgil Goode's narrow loss to Democrat Tom Perriello became official last week, and it caps another bad showing for immigration restrictionists. For the second straight election, incumbent Republicans who attempted to turn illegal immigration into a wedge issue fared poorly.
Anti-immigration hardliners Randy Graf, John Hostettler and J.D. Hayworth were among the Republicans who lost in 2006. Joining them this year were GOP Representatives Thelma Drake (Virginia), Tom Feeney (Florida), Ric Keller (Florida) and Robin Hayes (North Carolina) -- all Members of a House anti-immigration caucus that focuses on demonizing the undocumented.
"Republican share of the Hispanic vote fell to 31% this year from more than 40% in 2004." As the GOP struggles to define itself and its positions, I hope the caucus will choose freedom. Pretty soon, the Tancredo wing will be on the outside looking in. That will be a plus. It is bad economics, bad philosophy, and bad politics.
We can't all go off to our Fourth celebrations as indivisible, proud Americans, can we?
I wonder if the forces at ThreeSources who are -- shall we say -- less tolerant of illegal immigration than I am -- are you disturbed that Senator McCain is spending the Third in Mexico? Mickey Kaus sure is:
So the Fourth of July newspapers will have John McCain in ... er, Mexico plotting how to achieve comprehensive immigration reform with Felipe Calderon. ... And some people say the McCain Team has a tin ear!
I've heard some good points made around here -- I like the prosperity that they bring to us and am more willing than most around here to shrug off some of the problems. I'll agree that it is complicated, and I will cede that the other side has honest interlocutors.
But Kaus -- whom I admire greatly -- is not one of them. I feel a little sorry for him -- a Democrat yearning for Tancredoism has a tragic side to it.
I would think that one thing we might agree on is that the government of Mexico will continue to be mui importanto to future immigration concerns. I think this episode exposes the flaw in the Kaus theory. Why is the candidate holding talks without preconditions with Calderon? The solution is to be found on the north side of the Rio Grande. It's 14 feet high, has barbed wire on top and a lot of armed people in its shade to ensure its integrity.
Sorry, Mickster, a real solution involves Mexico. To deny that is to expose your thinking as being too small for the problem.
NEW YORK (Reuters) - A New York congressman who has been romantically linked by tabloid newspapers to several high-profile, beautiful women, is one step closer to creating a special work permit for foreign fashion models.
Democratic Congressman Anthony Weiner, a 43-year-old bachelor, has proposed legislation giving international beauties their own U.S. visa category, rather than have them compete with computer analysts and scientists for the non-immigrant H-1B visa for skilled professionals.
For the record, it is not that hard to tell models and computer professionals apart. All the same, as the pro-Immigration guy around here, I'll take more fashion models however it works.
The evil, populist Kaus-Reynolds axis is at it again. (Mickey & The Professor?) I have the highest respect and admiration for both Mickey Kaus and Glenn Reynolds, but their position as Lou Dobbs of the Blogosphere always gets me down.
Today, Kaus writes about a Pennsylvania farmer who is no longer planting tomatoes because of labor concerns. Kaus points out that tomatoes are not rotting in the fields (sad news in an election year), but that the farmer has chosen a less labor-intensive crop:
But note that no tomatoes are rotting in the fields in this story. Eckel has just decided to plant another, less labor-intensive crop: "45 acres of sweet corn, and 1,200 acres of corn for grain." Is this a tragedy, or a surprisingly painless transition away from a business that used illegal labor to a business that uses legal labor? We will buy fewer Pennsylvania tomatoes and more Pennsylvania corn. So? ...
So we are poorer, Sir, instead of using trade and comparative advantage to enrich our lives, we are choosing self-sufficiency. Enjoy your Bacon, Lettuce and Corn sandwich!
Rep. Tom Tancredo is back. His Presidential campaign is over, he is not seeking reelection, he can now worry full time that somewhere an illegal alien is happy.
I get emails from the Center for Individual Liberty. I think I signed a pro war or support-the-troops petition once and I have been on the mailing list for some time. I guess we see eye-to-eye on the war, but I haven't agreed with anything they've included in their emails. Today's subject is "Warning Illegals May Still Get Rebate Checks Under Stimulus Plan" And it seems Rep. Tancredo is unhappy. Even though they amended the bill to not purposefully send checks to illegals, there might be a slip up or two:
Here's what else Tancredo has said of the Ensign Fix:
"Unless language is added to the package that both expressly prohibits the issuance of rebate checks to illegal aliens and directs the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), the Social Security Administration and the Department of Homeland Security to share information and work together to prevent these payments from being made to illegal aliens, we will not address this glaring deficiency in the stimulus legislation."
I will shock and astound ThreeSourcers when I say that I am not seeking direct subsidies to the undocumented. But this stimulus bill is nonsense on stilts. In quicksand. With a plate-balancing monkey on your back.
The depreciation provisions may actually help a little, but the rebates are bad from every angle. They won't help, and the deficit they exacerbate will preclude extending tax cuts that do help. Stupid, stupid, stupid.
But to single out immigration as the problem with this legislation highlights the depravity of the Tancredo crowd. It's like worrying whether burning your house down is an efficient use of matches.
Nothing gets the folks at Three Sources as riled up as a conversation on immigration. With that in mind, here is my immigration solution:
Okay, that is a bit facetious. In actuality, what I mean is that we should "do nothing" in terms of legislation. Here is why:
The sheer magnitude of the task of removing 12 million people from the United States makes any attempt to do so nearly impossible. This should not be the focus of any immigration policy. We need to treat the problem, not the symptom.
Secure the borders. There is no need for legislation. The United States government already has the authority, they have simply failed to do so.
On his Comedy Channel TV show, Carlos Mencia got big laughs when he riffed on the border fence. "Just who do you think will build it?" "You'll have to tell them to go over to the other side to check it out and then shut the gates."
Mary Anastasia O'Grady may or may not be getting laughs with the same riff. In Political Diary today, she says:
It turns out that to build barricades to keep "them" out, we might need to let "them" in because the construction companies building border fences need illegal workers.
Just ask Mel Kay, who runs a company called Golden State Fence and was busted two years ago for hiring undocumented migrants. On January 12th the Associated Press chronicled his path to arrest, explaining that he gave employment to illegals whose job it was to build fences along the U.S.-Mexico border and at two immigrant jails.
Mr. Kay says that over the years much of the output from Golden State Fence was produced by illegals. He hired them, he says, not because they were cheap, but because he relied on referrals from his Mexican employees as the only way to get reliable, stable help.
A prospective candidate's status with immigration authorities wasn't nearly as important, he said, as whether a potential employee's connection to family and friends meant he was "trustworthy and more apt to stay long term." A building boom in California made it hard for him to find workers any other way, even paying a starting salary of $35,000 that increased to $60,000 after three years. Full-time employees also got medical benefits, sick leave and two weeks vacation.
But I've used that argument around here and nobody has been convinced. So, here's her second point. I saw it in a FOXNews crawl a few days ago. To build this fence will require vigorous exercise of the hated "takings clause." ¿Kelo no beuno, anybody?
But that's only one barrier to building a wall to keep out illegal migrants. A second is resistance from property owners along the border who don't want a Berlin Wall in their backyards. Many are now vowing to fight the government. Texas's Rio Grande Valley has lately become flush with "No border wall" signs.
Does all this mean that Texans don't care about the rule of law? Not at all, says Mayor Richard Cortez in the border town of McAllen. "Our fight with the government is not over their goals, it's how they go about them." He says Washington should deepen the river, clear brush for better vigilance and create a program to allow for legal workers to cross the border. Then, U.S. law enforcement could spend its time going after real criminals rather than tracking down and deporting bus boys and construction workers.
Justice Brandeis, call your office! States are indeed "laboratories of Democracy" and in the absence of a Federal immigration solution, states are passing their own legislation.
The Wall Street Journal news pages -- not my wingnut buddies on the Editorial board -- report on the business community's preparations for a new law
PHOENIX -- Arizona businesses are firing Hispanic immigrants, moving operations to Mexico and freezing expansion plans ahead of a new law that cracks down on employers who hire undocumented workers.
The law, set to take effect on Jan. 1, thrusts Arizona into the heart of the national debate on illegal immigration, which has become a hot topic on the presidential campaign trail. Republican candidates, in particular, have been battling to show how tough they are on the issue.
Arizona's law, believed to be the strictest in the nation, is shaping up as a test of how employers will react when faced with real sanctions for hiring undocumented labor. It is being closely watched by businesses across the country. While proponents say the crackdown will save the state money on services for illegal immigrants, some businesspeople fear Arizona's economic growth may be at risk.
Businesspeople should fear. The law is having its intended effect. Immigrants are leaving the state and employers are very cautious about the status of new hires. But my Friends at ThreeSources (F@TSs) who would rightly scream about unintended consequences for subsidies or CAFE standards, still do not recognize the massive consequences of such a crackdown:
A University of Arizona study released earlier this year concluded that economic output would drop 8.2% annually if noncitizen foreign-born workers were removed from the labor force. Researchers estimate about two-thirds of the workers in that category are in the state illegally.
"Getting rid of these workers means we are deciding as a matter of policy to shrink our economy," says Judith Gans, an immigration scholar at the university's Udall Center. "They're filling vital gaps in our labor force."
Sheridan Bailey, president of steel-beam manufacturer Ironco, said he has fired several Hispanic employees in anticipation of the sanctions law. "This law has the potential of sinking a business," he said. Mr. Bailey, who has formed a business group to address the issue, said Congress's inaction has allowed "policies to be generated on the fringe."
Ironco recently sealed a deal to outsource some production to a Mexican company. "The labor market is tight, and I face fines if I don't meet my commitments," said Mr. Bailey. Pacing his company's steel-fabrication bay, where welders and fitters build columns, he asked rhetorically: "Who will work here in 112-degree heat, come the summer?"
Dora Cardenas, who owns a small Mexican restaurant in Phoenix, has lost six out of 12 employees since late November. They moved to other states. "They say they were afraid to be here," said Ms. Cardenas. "I'm even afraid to be here, and I am a legal resident." She said business is down almost 40% since the summer at her restaurant, which caters mainly to a Latino clientele.
Jason Levecke, the grandson of the founder of the Carl's Jr. fast-food empire and the state's biggest franchisee, has put on hold plans to open 20 more outlets statewide. "That's $30 million that could blow up in my face," he said. "The risk is too great."
I do not claim that my F@TSs are inconsistent, hypocritical, or fat. The country has a legitimate right to regulate immigration which it lacks for energy mix, toilet water use, or washing machine design. And F@TS is just an unfortunate acronym.
But I'd ask them to consider these consequences and to refrain from calling for a crackdown until there is some method to ameliorate these effects.
I suppose he'd have to give up his seat when he's inaugurated.
I know that other ThreeSourcers are closer to Tancredo's views on immigration than I am, but I think we might all maybe sorta agree that his extremist positions do not do the GOP any good. (I still remember when he wanted to deport the class valedictorian). John Fund, in the Political Diary, hammers him for blocking comprehensive immigration reform:
The 61-year-old Congressman certainly had a rabble-rousing impact on his fellow Republicans. While the comprehensive immigration bill proposed by a bipartisan group of Senators earlier this year turned out to be hastily written and deeply flawed, Mr. Tancredo had no effective alternative in mind. He simply wanted to kill the bill, pouring cold water on efforts by members such as Rep. Mike Pence to craft a compromise that would deal in a practical way with aliens already in the country and businesses that desperately need a reliable guest-worker program.
Fund then speculates on his political future:
But while Mr. Tancredo is leaving Congress, don't think you've heard the last of him on his pet subject. He plans to continue speaking and writing and (for now) pursuing his presidential bid. Then there's the 2010 U.S. Senate race in Colorado, when Democratic Senator Ken Salazar, whom Mr. Tancredo sees as 180 degrees opposite him on immigration matters, will be running for re-election. The problem is, Mr. Tancredo thought long and hard about running for the same seat in 2004, only to discover that polls showed he would have trouble winning even the GOP nomination statewide.
Don't let the door hit you in the ass on your way out, Congressman. (I may have promised no more nasty comments like that about Rep. Tancredo -- but this is a special occasion.)
Awesome interview in TCSDaily today between Nick Schultz and "British author and economist Philippe Legrain." Schultz serves up, pretty astutely, the bulk of legitimate questions about legal and illegal immigration. The author of Immigrants: Your Country Needs Them politely, but convincingly answers them.
Schulz: Can we know what the right level of immigration is? How do we know?
Legrain: I don't think that "we", whoever that "we" might be, can determine the "right" level of immigration, any more than we can know the right level of international tourism, the right number of foreign business trips that should be taken or the right number of children people should have. What we can say is that because immigration controls restrict people's ability to move freely and companies' and workers' ability to reach mutually advantageous employment contracts, the current level and composition of migration is "wrong", in the sense that arbitrary controls stop some people from moving, cause others to migrate illegally, result in many people staying in the US longer than they would otherwise choose to do, and prevent the labor market operating efficiently and fairly.
It's a great, serious discussion without the name calling and ad hominem attacks we have around here. It is well worth a read in full.
The WSJ Ed Page (or, as Michelle Malkin would call them, the "Open Borders WSJ Ed Page") asks whether Mitt! and Rudy! are "competing for the Republican Presidential nomination, or for the job of vacation replacement for Lou Dobbs?"
Both candidates, however, ignore the reality that more security measures will have limited effect if not paired with a guest worker program that gives foreign nationals more legal ways to access job offers in the U.S. The same goes for the Bush Administration's recently announced plans to step-up "interior" enforcement. Taking U.S. employers to the woodshed won't fix the illegal immigration problem, and it could do real economic harm.
Then again, maybe Hugh Hewitt is right. Trashing the economy and alienating the fastest voting block in the country really is the path to big Republican sweeps in 2008. Yaaay Team!
"Immigration will be to the Republicans what Iraq withdrawal is to the Democrats," says Jeff Birnbaum on FOX NEWS's The Beltway Boys. It is August and the folks at FOX could not round up a liberal to fill Morton Kondracke's seat.
But both conservatives -- I emphasize the word "conservative;" these guys are both more conservative than I -- see the approaching electoral train wreck. They don't blame the other ThreeSourcers directly but...
UPDATE: YouTube is a great forum for nuanced debate. The comments I drew to my posting on Speaker Pelosi made we want to join her side. Today I get this:
The Beltway Boys are for Open Borders. Screw them!
I can't sit on bad news. John Fund writes a troubling item in Wednesday's Political Diary:
Rudy Giuliani has decided to become very tough on immigration. Stung by criticism from Mitt Romney that he presided over a "sanctuary city" in the 1990s when New York refused to report the immigration status of illegal aliens, Mr. Giuliani gave a speech in South Carolina yesterday in which he announced: "We can end illegal immigration. I promise you we can end illegal immigration."
The former New York mayor backed up his words by announcing he would push for a "national database of foreigners," an increase of 20,000 border patrol agents to deport illegal immigrant felons, and the erection of a fence along the U.S. border.
All this tough talk amuses anti-immigration forces, which have been critical of Mr. Giuliani ever since he opposed the 1996 welfare reform bill in large part because of its treatment of illegal immigrants. "It sounds like an effort by Giuliani to make himself seem like a hawk on immigration when, in fact, he's been a dove all along," Mark Krikorian of the Center for Immigration Studies told the New York Sun.
Advocates for immigrants are appalled at Mr. Giuliani's new tack. They point out that while mayor he created the mayor's office of immigrant affairs and also sued the federal government for trying to allow city employees to turn in illegal immigrants who applied for government help.
Indeed, in 1996 Mr. Giuliani gave a speech at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government in which he declared: "The reality is, people will always get in. And the reality is, the federal government does not deport them... So illegal and undocumented immigrants are going to remain, and even increase. And nothing that is now being proposed in Washington would realistically change that very much."
Everyone is allowed to alter his or her position on issues, and Mr. Giuliani says he remains firmly committed to more legal immigration than is now allowed. But nonetheless his current attempt to remake himself into a "Border Patrol" champion is one of the more dramatic and surprising transformations of the presidential race so far. It is further proof of just how much the politics of immigration have changed in recent years.
I'm still on board, but this is easily the most disappointing thing I have read about Giuliani. His position has "evolved" from right to wrong.
Let the record show that I didn't start it this time.
Former Deputy Editor of the Wall Street Journal Editorial Page, George Melloan, has a guest editorial today (paid link). He contrasts the arresting of workers in Arizona against news that potatoes are rotting in the ground in Idaho because of insufficient labor to harvest them. It's all my arguments that have not convinced anybody around here yet:
Still, the $13 trillion American economy demands labor. Mexico has had a high birth rate (although it is rapidly slowing) and can supply the needed workers, with benefits on both sides of the border. But the U.S. political class can only talk of new barriers. Why is this such a hard equation for politicians? The longer this problem festers, the more likely it will push the Mexican polity to turn away from being an uneasy friend of the U.S. to becoming a troublesome enemy.
But there was a new twist I enjoyed:
The fundamental mistake, one that American politicians have made over and over again, is the belief that the government's police powers can overwhelm powerful market forces. Richard Nixon and the Congress attempted this feat in 1971 with wage and price controls, stalling American growth for a decade. Simpson-Mazzoli was a similar effort to strong-arm a key market -- for labor -- by threatening something that proved to be unenforceable, jail sentences for employers of illegal aliens. Luckily, that didn't shut off the labor supply from Mexico, it just drove it underground. Estimates are that there at least 12 million illegals in the U.S. and that may be far lower than the actual number.
Nixon wage and price controls. Blanket government interference in opposition to market forces. Why not institute a guest worker program instead of a fence?
My friend Robert Halbrook, a retired lawyer living in Tucson, Ariz., is aware that politics are not always logical or even rational, but offers a logical solution nonetheless: Legislators must do away with all the threats and penalties that drive labor and its employers underground. It must be made possible for illegal workers to achieve legal status without fear. That way Mexicans can come to the U.S. to fill jobs and go home safe in the knowledge that when their work is demanded they will be able to come back again. Many will go back with skills learned in the U.S., enabling them to earn a living at home. Most, he believes, do not crave U.S. citizenship. Why should they want to cope with a new language and culture, if they can return home without penalty? They just want to feed their families and try to move up the economic ladder.
Is it too much to ask of Congress that it employ some of this clear logic? Apparently so, judging from the paralysis in Washington.
Let’s be clear about what’s going on here. No matter what some groups may be trying to do to muddy the water and portray Hazleton’s law as something playing to an uglier agenda, this law is not about legal immigration. This law is about dealing with the illegal immigration problem in Hazleton. The town’s mayor and city officials made this clear from the beginning, and it seems like they took a common sense approach.
Our constitutional system allows cities to take reasonable steps to protect their citizens. When the federal government is unwilling to enforce immigration laws effectively, then cities need to be able to act, and take reasonable steps to secure their citizens from the social, financial, and criminal costs of illegal immigration.
No doubt, this ruling will be appealed. And it should be.
The decision sets up the situation where a city or state wants a law enforced but federal law prohibits it, leaving it to the federal government, who don't want to enforce it.
As regulation scares companies away from our capital markets, protectionism pushes trade away, our overly restrictive immigration policies are reducing our competitive advantage in technology. The WSJ reports(paid link)
TORONTO -- Microsoft Corp. plans to open a software development center in Canada this fall to attract talent and avoid U.S. immigration issues.
The Vancouver, British Columbia location will be one of only a handful development centers outside the company's headquarters in Redmond, Wash., the software company said Thursday. It previously announced plans to build sites in Boston and Bellevue, Wash.
Microsoft said the Vancouver location will "allow the company to continue to recruit and retain highly skilled people affected by the immigration issues in the U.S."
Good for Canada. But America becomes just another overregulated, socialist nation and there is no place left for classical liberals and innovators.
My brother in law called me last night for a quick gloat on the death of comprehensive immigration reform. While I had purported to give up last week, I cannot lie. This loss stung. I got a little grouchy and told him "that's okay, a lot more people will die but they are poor and brown, so who cares?"
Regaining my composure, I saluted President Bush for standing up to do what was morally and economically right against vocal opposition. It's the kind of Profile in Courage behavior we are always clamoring for at ThreeSources. The WSJ Ed Page joins me:(paid link)
As for the politics, the press will call this a defeat for President Bush, but he deserves credit for trying. This late in his term and with his low approval rating, he simply lacked the political capital to persuade Republicans spooked by talk radio and cable TV hosts. Mr. Bush was also trying to do his fellow Republicans a favor by forging a new relationship with Hispanic-Americans, even though he'll never be on another ballot. We look forward to seeing how GOP candidates win elections as Democrats grab a larger share of America's fastest growing voter bloc. Perhaps Lou Dobbs has some campaign tips.
As for Democrats, their cynicism has rarely been so obvious. Senate Majority Harry Reid pulled the bill earlier this month when GOP leaders wanted only another day or two for amendments. Then when he brought the bill back to the floor, he doomed it with faint support and by letting his party add amendments he knew would drive Republicans away. Now he and his fellow Democrats will tell Hispanic voters that they could have passed reform if not for those bigoted Republicans.
Mark it down: Chuck Schumer will use this against GOP Senators next year. And should they win more Senators and the White House, Democrats in 2009 will be in position to pass their own immigration reform that will be far less restrictive than this one. The conservatives who "won" this week will deserve much of the credit.
I'll lick my wounds and move on but this is a disappointment.
-- and begins addressing himself in the third person. Both are scary.
Instapundit links to a post on the Influence Peddler blog that asks "Has Bush Squandered the Last of His Political Capital on Immigration?" Professor Reynolds says "I'd say the answer is pretty much yes, which is unfortunate with more war-funding battles coming up soon."
I still think that the President's immigration views are 100% right. I think he understands the economic needs of the nation and, as a border state Governor, understands the human cost of the present system. I do not share his religious convictions, but I am guessing that they play a part here as well. He is doing the right thing for all the right reasons, and exhibiting political courage.
This President has been called to deal with Islamist terrorism and has been forced to preserve the Enlightenment. He wanted to do Faith Based Initiatives and Guest Worker Programs and limn out the Ownership Society. I wanted to keep playing hockey and riding my bike. He got 9/11 and I got MS. Tough titties all around, Mr. President.
I don't know why I was wrong when I called it a big GOP win in 2005. It still makes sense to me but I was wrong. I misunderstood the electorate. This is too hard and the President should concentrate, instead, on the war. It is one thing to see Rep Tancredo and a bunch of uber-Conservative talk show hosts stand so firm on this topic. I'm used to disagreeing with those folks. I lost my ties to National Review when they put the FMA on the cover.
I'm quitting because we couldn't get Glenn Reynolds. He is the one human with a nuanced approach to Global Warming. If he cannot or will not see the arguments for more liberalized immigration, it's over. In the same post, he links to Laura Ingrahm and to a Gateway Pundit posts that expresses anger that Senators Kennedy and Martinez are seen...wait for it...laughing together at a press conference.
Jk folds, Mr. President, and suggests you keep your few remaining chips for the war.
Amazingly, 18% chose "I Like Amnesty" from this cartoonish "survey"-- on Hewitt's site no less. I picked it, of course, and they're "sorry I feel that way" but provided some links to straighten me out. And it's not too late to change my vote.
UPDATE: Warning! clicking that link counts as an "I Like Amnesty" vote. I can't quite crack the url to just view the results. At least I'm honest.
A open letter to conservatives, asking them to band together on the Immigration Blill in today's Dallas News.
Border security, the rule of law, national interest, economic competitiveness — these are the conservative concerns at the heart of the agreement. Yet conservatism is also, as Ronald Reagan reminded us, about optimism and self-confidence — about an America sure enough of itself to be a big tent and a beacon.
The Senate framework will allow us to go on attracting immigrants and maintain the rule of law, too. The benefits of the bill far outweigh its shortcomings. We believe it offers the only realistic way forward, and urge conservatives — and all Americans — to embrace the promise it holds out.
Jack Kemp, former New York congressman
Jeb Bush, former governor of Florida
Ken Mehlman, former chairman, Republican National Committee
Tamar Jacoby, senior fellow, Manhattan Institute
James Q. Wilson, professor of public policy, Pepperdine University
Bill Paxon, former New York congressman
Michael Gerson, senior fellow, Council on Foreign Relations
Hector Barreto, chairman, The Latino Coalition
Ken Weinstein, CEO, Hudson Institute
Lawrence Kudlow, economics editor, National Review Online
Linda Chavez, chairman, Center for Equal Opportunity
Charlie Black, chairman, BKSH & Associates
Mike Murphy, Republican strategist
Francis Fukuyama, professor of political economy, Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies
Max Boot, senior fellow, Council on Foreign Relations
Richard Gilder, partner, Gilder Gagnon Howe & Co., LLC
Jeff Bell, principal, Capital City Partners
Steven Wagner, former director, Human Trafficking Program, Department of Health and Human Services
Gregory Mankiw, professor of economics, Harvard University
Donald J. Boudreaux, chairman, Economics Department, George Mason University
Philip I. Levy, resident scholar, American Enterprise Institute
Kevin Hassett, director of economic policy studies, American Enterprise Institute
Jerry Bowyer, chairman, Bowyer Media
Clint Bolick, senior fellow, Goldwater Institute
Robert de Posada, president, The Latino Coalition
Gary Rosen, managing editor, Commentary
Joseph Bottum, editor, First Things
John McWhorter, senior fellow, Manhattan Institute
Larry Cirignano, Catholic activist
Pancho Kinney, former director of strategy, White House Office of Homeland Security
At one point McCain went back and forth with one audience member, who said he was upset that the immigration proposal before Congress is not tough enough.
The man asked McCain why the United States couldn’t execute large-scale deportations, as he had heard they did in France and other countries.
“In case you hadn’t noticed, the thousands of people who have been relegated to ghettos have risen up and burned cars in France,” McCain replied. “They’ve got huge problems in France. They have tremendous problems. The police can’t even go into certain areas in the suburbs of Paris. I don’t want that in the suburbs of America.”
perhaps the real lesson of the French experience is that citizenship doesn’t guarantee assimilation. Or perhaps it’s the idea that if you doubt your ability to assimilate people culturally, be sure you can control how many of them are coming in.
Conservatives certainly have plenty to disagree with the Bush administration about. However, as I argue at the AOL blog, we have no right to consider ourselves victims. President Bush never presented himself as a traditional conservative. We supported him anyway, in large part I think because we understood that a traditional conservative would stand little chance of succeeding Bill Clinton, who had re-popularized activist government.
This excerpt rings of "damning with faint praise" but I think he is right on. One thing that conservatives have learned to like about our 43rd President is his consistency and steadfastness. The Powerline guys aren't exactly celebrating his dedication to comprehensive immigration reform, but I appreciate their pointing out that this is not betrayal, this is the long term effort of a former border state governor, doing what he thinks is right for the country economically and morally.
Hat-tip: Terri @ I Think ^(Link) Therefore I Err who highlights a great line in John Hinderaker's response: ”Bush is about two more noble actions away from being ridden out of Washington on a rail.”
My right-wing crazy buddies at the WSJ Editorial Page deliver a little badly needed cover for the "liberal-on-immigration" Republicans today.
First is a guest editorial(paid link) by Gov. Jeb Bush and former RNC Chief Ken Mehlman supporting the current Immigration Bill.
Immigration reform is very tough. It's an issue that divides both political parties and, on the right, has led many close personal and ideological friends -- people we respect and whose criticism we take seriously -- to oppose new rules governing how people enter this country and how we handle those who are here illegally. But we hope our friends reconsider.
We support the immigration reform compromise worked out in the Senate for a few simple reasons. It strengthens our national defense. It makes our economy more competitive and flexible. It enhances the rule of law and promotes national unity. And it also does these things in a fair, practical way.
Here's what the bill does not do. It does not grant amnesty to the 12 million illegal immigrants already in the country and nor does it give a free pass to others who want to enter the country illegally.
The bill provides real border security for the first time, protecting us against the entry of terrorists and stemming the flow of illegal drugs. It doubles the border patrol, expands the border fence and informs law enforcement about foreign nationals in the United States. Because it requires foreign workers to carry tamper-proof identification, both law enforcement and employers will be able to identify and apprehend those who violate the law.
The temporary worker program will reduce the number of people trying to sneak past the border patrol, allowing law enforcement to focus on those who pose a threat to the U.S. By putting border security first, this immigration reform adds a provision that many Republicans suggested last year. It adopts the "trigger" mechanism suggested by Sen. Johnny Isaacson, a Georgia Republican. Until and unless security improves on the border, the temporary worker program and "Z" visa provision for three-year work permits will not be implemented.
Second is Dan Henninger's Wonderland column(free link). Henninger suggests that the quantity and destination of the immigrant flow is a perfect example of market forces at work, and he challenged conservatives who champion the market to recognize this.
Conservatives and liberals will fight unto eternity over whose notions of the law, society and justice are right. But the one idea owned by conservatives is the market.
For many Democrats in politics, the market--the daily machinery of the private economy--is a semi-abstraction. It's a barely understood thing that mainly sends revenue to the government, without which the nation is incapable of achieving social good. Liberals happily concede the idea of salutary "market forces" to their opposition. For them, markets are for taming.
Why, then, would Republican politicians and conservative writers want to run the risk of undermining, perhaps for a long time, their core belief in the broad benefits of free-market economic forces in return for a law that hammers these illegal Mexicans?
If I'm a liberal or progressive Democrat, I'm gleeful to see conservative foes who have preached "the market" at me since the days of FDR now arguing that these millions of workers are an artificial, "unskilled" labor force whose presence merely prevents "the market" from replacing them with machines.
Conservatives also argue, with considerable force, that any conceivable path to citizenship or guest-worker status for these workers--no matter how long or arduous--would be "amnesty" and so make a mockery of the rule of law. But so massively setting aside years of principled, market-based argument--the environment, pharmaceuticals, labor, antitrust--to thwart these movements of immigrants is a risky proposition.
Immigration is down this year without a post hole for a fence having been dug. Immigrants come when their relatives tell them there is work, Henninger is right.
No, not my shoes. A very legitimate complaint is surfacing on the new Senate immigration bill. Bill Kristol said it yesterday on FOXNews Sunday, and it goes something like this: last year, the McCain Kennedy bill was debated thoroughly on the Senate floor (and on ThreeSources). Kristol and I expect that this bill is similar, and I have a predilection toward supporting it. But this bill is being rammed through in the dark of night; neither the Senators nor their constituents are getting any opportunity to review this complex and important bill.
Many immigration experts say they can't know if they support the current compromise until they've absorbed the entire 1,000 page bill. They are concerned that Mr. Reid seems determined to bypass normal committee review and hearings and rush the bill to the floor. "That's like trying to eat an eight-course meal on a 15-minute lunch break," said former senator Fred Thompson on ABC Radio Friday.
Why the rush? Because, to be blunt, the senators don't trust the American people to make sound judgments on such emotional issues as family reunification and national sovereignty. But the proper response to this is to engage the public in the discussion, not to short-circuit the deliberative process. One of the reasons the American people are cynical about government is that they don't believe its officials take the time to discharge their duties properly. Now a 1,000 page immigration bill is being put before senators for a vote without anyone having the time to study its details. Many will merely be leaning on talking points prepared by their staff.
The partisan hack in me has to point out that this is just the sort of thing the Democrats weren't going to do if we elected them. Leader Reid has managed to turn me off a bill I really wanted.
I'm still tentatively supporting this bill. I think it does most of what I want. Unlike Kristol, I think a confusing bill is better than no bill. But when even I can't get fulsomely behind it, they have --if I may use legislative jargon -- "boogered it up" pretty badly.
WASHINGTON - Senate leaders agreed Monday that they would wait until June to take final action on a bipartisan plan to give millions of unlawful immigrants legal status.
The Bush administration insisted on a little-noticed change in the bipartisan Senate immigration bill that would enable 12 million undocumented residents to avoid paying back taxes or associated fines to the Internal Revenue Service, officials said.
An independent analyst estimated the decision could cost the IRS tens of billions of dollars.
A provision requiring payment of back taxes had been in the initial version of a bill proposed by Senator Edward M. Kennedy, the Massachusetts Democrat. But the administration called for the provision to be removed due to concern that it would be too difficult to figure out which illegal immigrants owed back taxes.
There was another Kennedy who said, "we choose to go to the moon not because it is easy, but because it is hard."
Getting illegals to pony up on back taxes. Harder than a moon mission.
Michelle Malkin carries a post called "It's here: The Bush-Kennedy amnesty Report: Potential cost = $2.5 trillion." With an online poll which asks "Will you support a GOP presidential candidate who supports the Bush/Kennedy amnesty?" The three choices are Yes, no, and "hell No!"
I hate to be humorless. But I like to think that the right wing blogosphere is a little more thoughtful and intelligent than the left wing "netroots." Malkin frequently proves me wrong.
Lastly, I'd make the comment that I made about Hugh Hewitt. Can you not broach any intra-party dissent on this topic? Are we going to chase out all the free traders that support liberalized immigration? Honest people can disagree -- well, no, I guess they can't. Michelle and Hugh will tell us what Republicans think.
BTW, thanks to ThreeSources enforcement fans for their respectful and intelligent debate.
Hugh Hewitt has been hyperventilating all morning that the GOP Senate was about to "cave" on immigration reform. I resent this, because the language and tactics were taken from efforts to bolster the GOP House and Senate in supporting the troops and the war. Hewitt commandeers this pitch, implicitly comparing Immigration with the war.
I don't mind calling the war Dogma de Fide for the Republican Party (See, I learned something in Catholic Schools, Dogma de Fide, "of faith," is what you must believe to be Catholic.)
But there is a large body of intelligent opposition to Hewitt's immigration views, including Larry Kudlow, William Kristol, President Bush and me. If the four of us are "not Republican enough" you have a losing party. The Senate has passed a compromise bill. I don't know all the particulars but I applaud it. AP
WASHINGTON - Key senators in both parties announced agreement with the White House Thursday on an immigration overhaul that would grant quick legal status to millions of illegal immigrants already in the U.S. and fortify the border.
The plan would create a temporary worker program to bring new arrivals to the U.S. A separate program would cover agricultural workers. New high-tech enforcement measures also would be instituted to verify that workers are here legally.
The compromise came after weeks of painstaking closed-door negotiations that brought the most liberal Democrats and the most conservative Republicans together with President Bush's Cabinet officers to produce a highly complex measure that carries heavy political consequences.
Take a deep breath, guys, it's going to be okay...
Hazleton Mayor Lou Barletta, who gained national prominence by targeting illegal immigrants living in his small northeastern Pennsylvania city, cruised to the Republican nomination for a third term on Tuesday - and unexpectedly won the Democratic nomination, too.
Barletta trounced GOP challenger Dee Deakos with nearly 94 percent of the vote. And he beat former Mayor Michael Marsicano for the Democratic nomination by staging a last-minute write-in campaign, all but guaranteeing himself another term, unofficial returns showed.
"I think the message is clear," Barletta said. "The people of Hazleton want me to keep fighting for them."
Officially, tax day isn't until Tuesday (due to the 15th being on a Sunday and the 16th being an official holiday in D.C.) but the well known and lamented date of April 15th mustn't go by without some discussion of the state of taxation in America.
"Work hard. Be faithful. You'll get your just reward."
Those words appear on a statuette my father was given on the occasion of the closing of the College of Engineering at the University of Denver, where he had tenure. (The statuette was of a conscientious gentleman with a giant blue screw through his torso.) They can just as well be applied to American taxpayers who have earned a high school diploma or better in their educational career.
Chart 7 compares households headed by persons without a high school diploma to households headed by persons with a high school diploma or better. Whereas the dropout-headed household paid only $9,689 in taxes in FY 2004, the higher-skill households paid $34,629— more than three times as much. While dropout-headed households received from $32,138 to $43,084 in benefits, high-skill households received less: $21,520 to $30,819. The difference in government benefits was due largely to the greater amount of means-tested aid received by low-skill households.
Households headed by dropouts received $22,449 more in immediate benefits (i.e., direct and means-tested aid, education, and population-based services) than they paid in taxes. Higher-skill households paid $13,109 more in taxes than they received in immediate benefits.
OK, so you're probably wondering, what's new? What's new is the trend in dropout households in the U.S. According to the World Net Daily article that cites the study:
About two-thirds of illegal alien households are headed by someone without a high school degree. Only 10 percent of native-born Americans fit into that category.
I have advocated on these pages (and stand by it today) that immigration should be free and unlimited to non-criminal aliens, provided that citizenship (and voting rights) must still be earned and that entitlement programs that make immigrants a burden on the taxpayer are first reduced or eliminated.
The Rector report explains the realities we face.
Politically feasible changes in government policy will have little effect on the level of fiscal deficit generated by most low-skill households for decades. For example, to make the average low-skill household fiscally neutral (taxes paid equaling immediate benefits received plus interest on government debt), it would be necessary to eliminate Social Security, Medicare, all 60 means-tested aid programs and cut the cost of public education in half. It seems certain that, on average, low-skill households will generate deep fiscal deficits for the foreseeable future.
Click continue reading to see the report's conclusion in its entirety.
Households headed by persons without a high school diploma are roughly 15 percent of all U.S. households. Overall, these households impose a significant fiscal burden on other taxpayers: The cost of the government benefits they consume greatly exceeds the taxes they pay to government. Before government undertakes to transfer even more economic resources to these households, it should have a very clear account of the magnitude of the economic transfers that already occur.
The substantial net tax burden imposed by low-skill U.S. households also suggests lessons for immigration policy. Recently proposed immigration legislation would greatly increase the number of poorly educated immigrants entering and living in the United States. Before this policy is adopted, Congress should examine carefully the potential negative fiscal effects of low-skill immigrant households receiving services.
Politically feasible changes in government policy will have little effect on the level of fiscal deficit generated by most low-skill households for decades. For example, to make the average low-skill household fiscally neutral (taxes paid equaling immediate benefits received plus interest on government debt), it would be necessary to eliminate Social Security, Medicare, all 60 means-tested aid programs and cut the cost of public education in half. It seems certain that, on average, low-skill households will generate deep fiscal deficits for the foreseeable future. Policies that reduce the future number of high school dropouts and other policies affecting future generations could reduce long-term costs.
Future government policies that would expand entitlement programs such as Medicaid would increase future deficits at the margin. Policies that reduced the out-of-wedlock childbearing rate or which increased the real educational attainments and wages of future low-skill workers could reduce deficits somewhat in the long run.
Changes to immigration policy could have a much larger effect on the fiscal deficits generated by low-skill families. Policies which would substantially increase the inflow of low-skill immigrant workers receiving services would dramatically increase the fiscal deficits described in this paper and impose substantial costs on U.S. taxpayers.
I have written many a harsh word about Rep. Tom Tancredo on these pages. In fairness, I must admit that he was eloquent and charming in an appearance on "Kudlow & Company" last night. He opened and closed with humorous comments recognizing their differences.
I still think that he is wrong about the economics of immigration and the politics off immigration. I will refrain, however, from calling him "a yahoo" (William Kristol's term I think) or even "bombastic" (mine). He is a man with whom I disagree on his signature issue, but he is an elected representative from my home state in my political party. I will show him the respect he deserves.
At the risk of ending on a sour note, I'm glad he's looking at the Presidency in 2008. He could cause a lot more trouble seeking Senator Allard's Senate seat.
Full of Christmas Spirit, I thought I mightn't start a squabble about immigration on December 22. Naaah:
The lead editorial(free link) questions the cost benefit ratio of the immigration raids on the Swift meatpacking plants.
Immigration restrictionists would have us believe that harassing businesses like Swift, the world's second-largest beef and pork processor, helps make America safer. But so far the Swift raids haven't uncovered any al Qaeda cells, merely a bunch of hard-working people trying to feed their families. The operation involved more than 1,000 federal agents in six states. And of Swift's 15,000 or so employees, a grand total of 144 have been charged to date with misidentifying themselves to get hired.
Put another way, 1,000 federal agents that could have been focused on potential terrorists or other dangerous threats were instead focused on a meatpacking company that hires thousands of willing unskilled workers and pays them more than twice the minimum wage with full health benefits after six months. How's that for government efficiency?
I suppose that enforcing the law is its own good and I do not post this to criticize. I post this to rebut those who say that it should be the responsibility of employers to enforce our immigration laws. It seems that Swift tried.
There's a common notion that businesses seek out illegal aliens to employ. So it's also worth noting that since 1997 Swift has voluntarily participated in a government program for vetting new hires known as Basic Pilot. Under this system, the names and Social Security numbers of all job applicants are checked against a federal database. Which is to say that the presence of illegal workers at Swift is not the result of a company's indifference to the rule of law. It's the result of a flawed government system for determining who's eligible to work here. A few years ago Swift's management attempted to go even further than Basic Pilot to screen job applicants, only to be sued by the Justice Department for employment discrimination in 2001.
Full of hope for the season (that's twice he's said "full of it..."), this might be a big plus for having a Democratic 110th Congress.
On Wednesday, Mr. Bush reiterated his position that the most "humane" way to deal with illegal immigration is to combine enforcement with a guest worker program that would address the country's obvious labor shortage. "I want to work with both Republicans and Democrats to get a comprehensive bill to my desk," said the President. "It's in our interest that we do this."
It's December, and the GOP losses from immigration populism are still stacking up. Robert Novak thinks it was a negative factor for Rep. Harry Bonilla in the newly mapped TX-23 district.
The loss Tuesday of the 30th Republican House seat, representing a U.S.-Mexican border district in Texas, marked another political failure of hard-line immigration policies.
Immigration was not the central issue when Democratic former Rep. Ciro Rodriguez upset seven-term Rep. Henry Bonilla, a rare Latino Republican in Congress. Bonilla, who supported a border fence while Rodriguez did not, lost border counties he previously had carried. He won Maverick County, 95 percent Hispanic, with 59 percent in 2004 but lost it with just 14 percent Tuesday.
A footnote: Six-term Rep. J.D. Hayworth lost in Arizona after stressing immigration. Randy Graf lost an Arizona border district where he made immigration his major issue. Six-term Rep. John Hostettler, chairman of a House immigration subcommittee, lost his Indiana district despite stressing his opponent's softness on the issue.
Except in safe Republican seats, hard-line, enforcement only Republicans are all footnotes now. To be fair, Novak himself says in his e-mail report that the loss was complex but was hurt more than helped by his immigration stance.
Texas-23: Rep. Henry Bonilla (R) was crushed in the special election runoff after receiving 49 percent in the first round on November 7. The reasons are complicated, and they go back to a controversial Supreme Court decision earlier this year demanding a re-map of his district.
For one thing, Bonilla was at fault in many ways. He did not spend enough money to get himself over the 50 percent mark on Election Day, leaving $1.4 million in his campaign account on November 8. Bonilla had harbored ideas of running for statewide office -- possibly a Senate seat if one opened up. The saving of money that could have gotten him the few thousand extra votes he needed to pass the stake on November 7 proved costly. He only turned out 60,000 voters in the first round, just half of what 50 percent equals in many districts in a midterm election. Part of this is because of the number of illegal immigrants in the district, but there were enough votes in the district to put him over the top in the first round.
Democrats also acted cleverly in the first round with a calculated strategy. They fielded three semi-credible candidates in the race in order to appeal to different parts of the newly constituted district, knowing that none of those Democrats would have a serious chance of a first round victory. This would force a second round race with just two candidates by law and no chance that Bonilla could win with a plurality.
There was little reason to believe that yesterday's victor, former Rep. Ciro Rodriguez (D), could come out on top after taking just 20 percent in the first round. But the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee carried Rodriguez, a poor candidate in his own right, over the finish line, driving a powerful early-voting operation in advance of the election. The Hispanic group LULAC pressed for three extra days of early voting, which helped Democrats. Many Republicans did not think Bonilla could lose and, therefore, failed to help.
Bonilla, meanwhile, continued running positive ads for too long after November 7, but then suddenly launched a series of ads that overreached in their extreme negativity, asserting that Rodriguez had ties to Islamic terrorists. Bonilla also focused his entire voter turnout operation on Bexar County, his home base of voters that had saved him from a strong challenge in 2000. But there just weren't enough votes there -- his vote total on December 12 was just half of what it had been a month earlier, and he lost by almost 10 points.
Bonilla was also slightly harmed, and certainly not helped, by his embrace of the conservative position on the border security and immigration issue. Once again, it proved woefully ineffective in bringing out white voters, and whatever-sized effect it had among Hispanic voters -- who make up more than 60 percent of the new district -- it was a negative effect. Bonilla lost counties in the second round that he had never lost in any previous election.
Hat-tip: ThreeSources friend Sugarchuck, who used to be thought highly of by JohnGalt.
I know my blog brothers hold immigration views that are closer to Rep. Tom Tancredo's than mine. I would ask how much they like his bombastic style. I think he frequently goes over the top and sets not only his party but his cause back. Add Florida Governor Jeb Bush to his lengthy Republican enemies list. John Fund in the OpinionJournal Political Diary:
Take Tom Tancredo - Please!
Republicans don't know what Rep. Tom Tancredo of Colorado, the nation's leading anti-immigration spokesman, plans to do in 2008. Some think he will launch a Pat Buchanan-like run for president while others point to the likely retirement of GOP Senator Wayne Allard of Colorado, creating an open seat for Mr. Tancredo to run for.
In any event, controversy is sure to dog the publicity-savvy Mr. Tancredo. He recently stirred the pot when he said ethnically-diverse Miami resembled a "Third World country" and that "you would never know you were in the United States of America." That prompted Florida Governor Jeb Bush, who lived in Miami before his election, to defend the city. Mr. Tancredo promptly accused Mr. Bush of being "naive" and said he was trying to "create the illusion of Miami as a multiethnic 'All American' city."
The Florida governor then called a halt to the exchange. "What a nut," the president's brother told reporters. "I'm just disappointed that he's a Republican. He doesn't represent my views." What worries Republicans, including many who believe that secure borders are important, is that Mr. Tancredo's in-your-face approach to immigration could either overshadow other candidates in the early 2008 primaries or lead to the loss of yet another Colorado Senate seat.
The holidays. It was nice to take a break from arguing about immigration with my blog brothers and spend some time arguing about immigration with my real brothers.
To be fair, the food was better. And, actually, it was my brother-in-law, whom I will call "Alejandro" to protect his privacy. Alejandro and I kept quiet cool on Thanksgiving Day, but we ended up going to lunch together on the day after. Al is a reliable Republican vote these days, but, like my blog brothers, has been seduced by the enforcement only camp. "'Dro" as we sometimes call him, contributed to Randy Graf's campaign in Arizona.
I suggested, as I did here, that the enforcement-only wing deserves some of the blame for the GOP losses in 2006.It was a tough climate in a historically difficult six-year midterm. I'm not saying that the GOP would be popping the corks on great gains, but I have great company in the belief that convincing the electorate we had a national emergency and then doing nothing to solve it hurt the party's chances.
Alejandro asked me to read Mark Krikorian's column in the December 4, 2006 issue of National Review. If the Wall Street Journal Ed page has led the charge for comprehensive immigration reform, I think it is fair to say that NR has led the enforcement-only wing.
Krikorian wonders if "Amnesty" is so popular, why the Democrats didn’t come out for it as a campaign issue. He makes arguments that ThreeSources own JohnGalt made: that many Democratic victors were tough on immigration and that some tough GOP pols did win. Alejandro asked me to specifically address the Krikorian column as it seemed to him to contradict our friendly discussion at Chilis. I never turn down a request:
First of all, I don't think Krikorian contradicts me. The thesis of his article is that there is no electoral mandate for amnesty. I do not claim there is. I claim that the GOP looked feckless after creating a crisis and not solving it, and that compromise is popular. Sometimes compromise means watered down mush that makes nobody happy. In this instance, it is good policy and good politics.
I abhor his use of the word amnesty. I never once heard any of the most liberal proponents of comprehensive immigration come out for amnesty. I suspect that Krikorian considers anything less than shooting border crossers on sight amnesty. He calls his opponents by name: Tamar Jacoby, Fareed Zakaria, Fred Barnes and Linda Chavez. He snarkily calls them "the smart set" and their movement the pro-amnesty side. I don't expect that any of the people listed would call themselves pro-amnesty. Also, while I respect Zakaria immensely, he does not belong in that group. There are many principled conservatives who have lined up squarely on the comprehensive side (Paul Gigot, Larry Kudlow, Arthur Laffer, Milton Friedman). Without saying he did it on purpose, his shopping basket is not representative of his opposition.
Krikorian also cherry-picks some statistics. He points out that only seven percent of the members of Rep. Tancredo’s Immigration Reform Caucus lost, against 11% of the GOP caucus. I would suspect that members of the IRC might be more likely to be in safe seats. The Weekly Standard and WSJ Ed page pointed this out before the election, suggesting that those in more competitive districts not “follow the Yahoos off the cliff.” It’s hard to slice and dice reasons in a thunderous loss, but the loss of Rep J.D. Hayworth in AZ-05 (Hayworth won by 21% in a district that went 54-45 for President Bush in 2004) and Randy Graf’s loss in AZ-08 (53-46% Bush) offer the clearest data. If they can’t make it there, they can’t make it anywhere.
As soon as the House and Senate GOP have their leadership teams in place, and soon after the lame duck session ends, the 250 House and Senate members should repair to a conference center somewhere for a long conversation on illegal immigration leading to a consensus position. Certainly there will be outliers, but an ongoing bloodletting over the issue is the only major obstacle in the path to return to majority status. An ongoing focus on the issue is found at Powerline, and though I am unwilling to simply credit Tamar Jacoby's take on the subject, she is generally correct that the issue of illegal immigration did not deliver a wave of support for GOP candidates who thought it would.
It's a thoughtful piece as I would expect from Hewitt. The link arrived without comment from one of my many detractors.
I sense that even Hewitt is humbled by the loss. He admits, in this piece, that he was never certain it was a winner and now concedes to being close to Tamar Jacoby's position.
I was very disappointed when Hewitt changed his "12 words" from his excellent book, Painting The Map Red, to "15 words" by adding "seal the border." The original twelve:
Win the war.
Confirm the judges.
Cut the taxes.
Control the spending.
Those would have galvanized all the GOP-leaning ThreeSourcers, WSJ, Weekly Standard, National Review, maybe even George Will and David Brooks on a good day.
When Hewitt released a T-Shirt, it was up to 15 and I feared the next week would be 18 with the addition of "Queers Cain't Marry!." I will credit Hugh with learning from the vote totals. But I sense he is ducking the complicity of the talk radio movement in fueling the border hysteria.
Last week, in JK's latest installment of "border security is a political loser" he appears to remain convinced that campaigning on border control hurt the GOP candidates who did so. Or perhaps he's only suggesting that it didn't help them. Either way, it appears the same is also true for the new Democrat majority.
But when it comes to immigration, things are never easy. In the days after the election, Democratic leaders surprised pro-immigration groups by not including the issue on their list of immediate priorities. Experts said the issue is so complicated, so sensitive and so explosive that it could easily blow up in the Democrats' faces and give control of Congress back to Republicans in the next election two years from now. And a number of Democrats who took a hard line on illegal immigration were also elected to Congress.
In fact, just months after House Republicans used a crackdown on illegal immigrants to energize their party's conservative base, Hispanic voters responded yesterday at the voting booth, shifting decisively toward Democrats.
Exit polls showed more than seven in 10 Hispanics voted Democratic in races for House seats. Meanwhile, some 27% voted Republican -- an 11-percentage-point drop from the prior midterm election in 2002.
This is a loser guys. Besides Hispanics, it offends the business community, free-marketeers, and damages religious vote. The same article points out that that GOP advantage among religious voters is reduced.
My uber-liberal niece is working for Catholic Charities in California. She's about as religious as JohnGalt but told me that she has found one thing to agree with the Church on: California Catholics have taken an anti-Tancredo position as a moral issue (of course, they're right).
Exhibit B is TCS Daily's Walls Are For Losers. Nathan Smith remembers the Ming Dynasty's Great Wall, The Maginot Line, the Berlin Wall, and points out:
Republicans had held the House of Representatives for twelve years. After the fence bill was signed, they lasted just twelve days before the voters gave them the boot. Of course immigration wasn't the only, or the main, issue; Iraq was. Nonetheless, the "walls are for losers" pattern has claimed another scalp. Meanwhile, even the Republican Senate, which, before the fence bill, hardly anyone thought was even in play, looks at present writing like it may have fallen to the Democrats.
Can we chase away the fastest growing minority group, the business community, an important swing constituency, and ideological fellow travelers? Yes. But can we replace them with Pat Buchanan/Lou Dobbs/Bill O'Reilly angry pitchfork warriors? I say that 's a bad trade.
UPDATE: Okay, I'll add something from those crazies on the WSJ Ed Page. Here's John Fund in Political Diary:
This summer, as polls showed GOP House incumbents increasingly in trouble, the talk in closed-door meetings of GOP members was that the party needed to use opposition to illegal immigration to deflect voter anger on other issues. "The issue is a magic carpet to victory for us," was the memorable way one anti-immigration member put it. Later that same month, the House GOP pushed through a bill that authorized the building of a massive border fence without adding a sensible guest-worker program to provide a legal means for needed workers to enter the country.
Well, the returns are in and the strategy was a clear failure. GOP candidates who ran almost exclusively on the immigration issue lost in districts that President Bush easily carried in 2004. The most surprising loser was Rep. J.D. Hayworth of Arizona, who wrote a book on immigration called "Whatever It Takes" and yet managed to lose a district Mr. Bush won with 54% of the vote two years ago. Another Arizona GOP candidate, former state legislator Randy Graf, did ride the immigration issue to a plurality win in the GOP primary only to lose badly in a Tucson district last night that Mr. Bush had won with 53%.
The biggest bellyflop on the immigration issue came in Indiana, where Rep. John Hostettler, the hardline chairman of the House Judiciary subcommittee on immigration, lost by a stunning 22 points in a district that gave John Kerry only 38% of its votes just two years ago. "Immigration has never been an issue that brings people to the polls in single-minded desire to vote on that one issue," says political analyst Michael Barone, co-author of the Almanac of American Politics. "Voters end up having other concerns, and anti-illegal immigration polling numbers are more often than not political fools' gold."
The WSJ editorial page and a beloved blog brother are deriding the efforts of republicans in the House of Representatives to "do something about this immigration problem about which they've whipped everybody up." FNC's Major Garrett gave a detailed report on events in the legislative body during Thursday's 'Special Report with Brit Hume.'
Here are the highlights -
Republicans "steamrolled" three bills through the House: Bill 1- Imposes a 20-year prison sentence for anyone constructing or financing the construction of a cross-border smuggling tunnel. Bill 2- Allows for longer detention and swifter deportation of illegal alien felons or illegals who belong to criminal gangs. Bill 3- Encourages local and state police to find and apprehend illegal immigrants.
"Democrats say the bills have little chance of becoming law."
Republicans Hastert and Boener presented a chart entitled, "House Republicans' Border Security Now September Agenda" which listed the following bullet points: - More Border Fencing and Improved Surveillance Technology
- "Catch & Return," not "Catch & Release"
- Detention and Deportation of Alien Gang Members
- Expedited Removal of Alien Criminals
- Increase in Prosecution of Alien Smugglers
- Criminalization of Construction and Financing of Border Tunnels
- Detention of Dangerous Aliens Unable to be Deported
- Reaffirm Authority of State and Local Law Enforcement to Enforce Immigration Laws
- Funding for Secure Border Initiative
- Funding for More Border Patrol Agents
Personally, I fail to see how any of these individual measures are "bad politics, bad economics" or "bad imagery." Better yet, taken as a whole they give the appearance of a "comprehensive" approach.
While detractors share common cause with representatives John Conyers and Sheila Jackson Lee who decry the failure to pass "comprehensive immigration reform," the three house bills passed today with large bipartisan margins, as Democrats hasten to put themselves on the politically popular side of these obvious steps.
Bill 1- Passed unanimously. Bill 2- Passed with 100 democrat "yea" votes. Bill 3- Passed with 62 democrats piling on.
The three bills have no companions in the Senate, but House leadership hopes to roll them into the "must pass" Homeland Security spending bill scheduled for hill action next week.
This is shaping up to be quite a mighty "gasp."
And don't forget the 700-mile border fence the house already approved, which is also scheduled for a Senate vote next week.
Here we go again. The Wall Street Journal Ed Page wonders about the message and politics of the Congressional GOP's last gasp measure do something about this immigration problem about which they've whipped everybody up.
I hope they'll move it to the free site this weekend. It is a very thoughtful piece. It runs as the lead editorial today, The Great Wall of America, which opens with "It wasn't so long ago, during the Reagan era, that Republicans sought to tear down walls, not erect them."
Now that they've created this frenzy, they have to show how tough they are:
Here's one example of how tough they are. Steve King of Iowa suggested in front of the C-SPAN cameras that at the top of this new fence "we electrify this wire with the kind of current that would not kill somebody, but it would be a discouragement for them to be fooling around with it." Then he added: "We do this with livestock all the time." Equating people with cattle: There's an inclusive political message for you.
Nor is a "sealed border" desirable, even if it could be achieved. More than nine of 10 of the three million net new jobs created from 2000-05 have been filled by immigrants, according to Census Bureau data. With many regions of the country now suffering from a shortage of workers, not even Pat Buchanan could argue with a straight face that immigrants are stealing jobs from Americans. The fence itself will probably have to be built by immigrants.
I'm the lone voice 'round these parts, but this is bad politics, bad economics, and as this article reminds, bad imagery.
Republicans cite polls indicating that Americans want a secure border, but the political appeal of walls and fences is exaggerated. Just last week Don Goldwater, the man who held a press conference at the border urging, "Mr. Bush, build this wall now," was defeated in a GOP primary for Governor of Arizona -- in the very border state where these policies were thought to be most popular. The Arizona Republican who won a Congressional primary on immigration in the Tucson district is expected to lose in November.
The only real way to reduce the flow of illegal Mexican immigration is to provide a legal, orderly process to match open American jobs with workers who want to fill them. Mr. Bush is for that, and so is the Senate, but House Republicans have concluded that they're better off building fences. When Ronald Reagan spoke of America being a "shining city on a hill," he wasn't thinking of one surrounded by electrified barbed-wire fences.
While other cities in the county aggressively attempt to rid their communities of undocumented immigrants, local activists are planning to turn National City into a “sanctuary city.”
Such a classification means city funds will not be used to enforce federal immigration laws, which is already the case in National City.
Mayor Nick Inzunza declared in an interview on National Public Radio last week that he wants National City to be a sanctuary city, a designation being promoted through a grass-roots effort in other parts of California and the country.
I look forward to the day some town out there declares itself a sanctuary city from federal income taxes. There's a sanctuary I can get behind.
But seriously, are there any cases like this? I suppose medical marijuana is sort of like this... or Alaska's repeated attempts at legalization. But in regards to a border / security issue?
Would a city say it's airport is not going to do any X-Ray screening?
I'm down with the Tenth Amendment, but isn't this the wrong direction?
I had a spirited discussion with my brother-in-law yesterday. He and I agree on much, but not on immigration. I got a little cranky and thought I should share it with all of you.
We have argued the merits and the economics around here but the politics are now becoming clear. I'd like to ask my more restrictionist blog brothers if they have buyer’s remorse on their intransigence, which is a rhetorical device for me to suggest that they should.
Congress will come back from an August recess for a short session before heading home to campaign for the midterms. My nine months of optimism are coming to a close. The idea of a conference committee hammering out a bill of this size and divergence in a month -- two months before an election -- is preposterous. Ain't gonna happen. That, my brother-in-law and I can agree on.
A few months ago, Bill Kristol at the Weekly Standard asked the House GOP members if they were going to follow [Rep.] Tom Tancredo over a cliff by insisting on an enforcement-only solution, against the wishes of business, free-traders,, minority groups, and high-ranking party politicians. The answer, many weeks later is a resounding "well, gee, I guess so...the water down at the bottom of those rocks looks pretty warm."
By refusing to compromise, the Tancredo wing of the party has prevented an immigration bill and helped make the party look feckless right before a six-year midterm which is historically difficult for the President's party. So my questions to the Tancredoites around here are:
By preventing any bill, you have kept the status quo on immigration for at least another year, more likely many depending on the vicissitudes of elections and public opinion. Do you believe the status quo is better than a compromise security + guest worker + citizenship path that might have some elements you don't like? Are your interests better served with no bill?
Failure and intransigence will clearly hurt the GOP in the November elections and contribute to the severe risk of losing at least the House. Do you believe you'll get a better bill out of a Democratic -- or at least less Republican -- House?
Chances are slim, but perhaps not yet none. Seeing the real danger, would any of you get behind the Pence compromise (which includes much we both hate) just to get something done to give the GOP an achievement to run on and not wait for the Democratic 110th to write?
Rep Tancredo is one of 535 legislators. Let him influence a compromise but don't let him derail the train.
The serious situation in the Middle East has brought the freedom lovers of ThreeSources together. Allow me to fire a rhetorical Katyusha somewhere into the comity.
Virginia University professor Larry Sabato is a pretty serious guy in reading and interpreting polls. While he is not expressly partisan, he is obviously sympathetic to conservatives and Republicans.
Friday night on Larry Kudlow's show, Sabato said if the election were held today, Republicans would lose the house by a wide margin and would lose five Senate seats, keeping the Dick Cheney majority unless the Democrats found a lucky sixth. Rep. Harold Ford was on the same show. He's not one of the five, and he is a very impressive candidate whom the party will back to the hilt.
Rep. Marsha Blackburn was on as well. She is convinced the answer is border security. Her constituents in Tennessee are swamped (really?)
I like Rep Blackburn, but I have to go with the Wall Street Journal Ed page. Today they wonder if Rep. Pence and Sen. Hutchinson will be able to "talk the party down from the ledge."
GOP Representative Mike Pence of Indiana has been pushing an immigration compromise that he hopes will end the stand-off between the House, which has passed a bill focusing entirely on enforcement, and the Senate, whose bill combines more security with a guest-worker program.
This is compromise sausage, the editorial and I find much to dislike about it Yet Rep Ford presaged the campaigns to come, accusing his GOP colleague of "getting nothing done on Immigration, even though you control both houses of Congress and the White House.”
The Tancredo wing is still convinced that obstructionism is a winner.
These objections aside, we'd consider it progress if the House and Senate ever reached the point of discussing these details. And thanks to Representative Pence and Senator Hutchison, there's still a chance that might happen. First, however, they must convince their GOP colleagues that voters would prefer a solution to divisive rhetoric. That will be a tough sell, especially without the help of Democrats who are only too happy to use the stalemate as a campaign issue in November.
Meanwhile, Republican House leaders have announced that they'll spend the rest of the summer holding more immigration "hearings" like the one last month titled, "Should We Embrace the Senate's Grant of Amnesty to Millions of Illegal Aliens and Repeat the Mistakes of the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986?" That sounds more like a Lou Dobbs ratings ploy than a GOP interested in compromise.
Sounds like "Speaker Pelosi" and "Majority Leader Reid" to me...
So, what does everybody think of the Pence-Hutchison compromise? If it will bridge ThreeSourcers, it might keep the GOP together for a couple more years.
Speaking for myself, I'd pretty anxious for compromise and am willing to not get everything I want. Most any compromise would be an improvement over the status quo.
The WaPo reports that "White House officials, including presidential adviser Karl Rove, have been told of the framework but not the details. A Republican close to the White House said President Bush 'won't be crazy about it, but I think he would sign it.'"
The best thing about it is a chance to get conference committees talking again. I'm not calling for more talk in the MidEast, but I think the Senate and the House might do better by talking.
Here's a cartoon for JK. The Allen Forkum analysis that accompanies it on the coxandforkum.com site is also excellent. He cites the same WSJ editorial that JK did two days ago, and singles out the arbitrary legal immigrant quota as largely responsible for the ongoing crisis. Forkum also challenges the WSJ assertion that "the conservative silent majority is pro-immigration" by referencing a blog poll of right leaning bloggers who favored the House bill to the Senate's 44 to 6. I can't see the connection between "conservative silent majority" and bloggers, but the result is strikingly similar to the tone on right leaning talk radio.
Personally I suspect that many conservatives would temper their opposition if given the conditions on legal immigrants that I offered in my comments yesterday:
1) That they learn English, some basic US history, and show personal initiative to assimilate themselves into "The American Way." [...] 2) Reverse America's drift toward democracy, i.e. "mob rule" and the "tyranny of the majority." America is a "Republic madam, if you can keep it."
Forkum speculates that many of these right leaning bloggers are primarily concerned with American security in a post-9/11 world, but I suspect a general fear of negative unintended consequences of more and more immigration, legal and otherwise. Conservatives rightly distrust the government to prevent these consequences, given the track record of the last 20 or more years. The most threatening of these consequences is the one addressed by my condition number 2: As things stand today, there is a genuine risk that one day a majority of Americans will vote to make Spanish our official language, not to mention scores of other initiatives that would effectively make the US more like Mexico than the land of liberty we grew up in.
The opposition is not, therefore, to immigration per se, but to the threat of statism that illegal immigrants are a visible component of. The less visible elements include John Dewey's postmodern educational system, the widespread acceptance of altruism as a moral code, and the mythical belief that America is governed by democracy. All of these elements are promoted to varying degrees by one or both of the two dominant political parties, so they have become mainstream beliefs. (Worse yet, one party promotes ALL of them, all by itself!)
Unless Americans defend the ideas that American exceptionalism is real, that every man is entitled to his own property, and that the Constitution limits the powers of the government to infringe the rights of individuals, the forces of statism will destroy the beloved institutions that empower those ideas. The Americans who make up the so-called "conservative silent majority" understand this threat, though perhaps not its causes or champions. The simple fact that they're willing to fight against it in whatever way they can is encouraging.
It is all happening here in Colorado, as Governor Owens has called a special session to recraft a bill to pass the state supreme court. Brendan Minter of the Wall Street Journal examines the politics and economics of the debate. His short column is far more informative than the daily stories on local TV news (recent storms have forced me to watch). He discusses the GOP's hopes of retaking the state legislature and speculates that Owens might use the issue to re-ingratiate himself with the party faithful after he stood with the tax raisers in 2004.
What caught my eye and that of an emailer was this attempt to calculate the costs and benefits of illegal immigrants to the state:
The one good thing to come out of the political wrangling in Colorado is that voters have been treated to a state-wide debate over how much illegal aliens actually cost in government services. Estimates range from as high as $1 billion a year to as low as $31 million. The Denver-based Bell Policy Center issued the latter estimate after finding that illegal aliens receive about $225 million a year in non-mandated state services, but pay between $159 million and $194 million in property, sales and other taxes. The issue is too hot for anyone to point out that illegal immigrants working as day laborers cost the state what the working poor as a whole cost the state--a bit more than they pay in.
I have read a bucket of these studies now, and I flatly reject that an accurate accounting is possible.
Bastiat talks about the seen and the unseen. The scourge of my life is that my positions always seem to rely on the unseen. You can't possibly compare an economy without illegal immigrants to the one we have and compute any realistic numbers . There are too many variables. Here's my seen and unseen:
Seen. Immigrants cost money in public schools and emergency services.
Unseen. Immigrants fueled the housing boom (call it a bubble if you want, it has created trillions of dollars of wealth). Immigrants rent lower cost housing, providing income to those who with to move up. Immigrant labor reduces the cost of larger homes, facilitating the opportunity to purchase something larger. The trade generates income for financial services and brokers. Most importantly, the higher values allow people to refinance and use the income to start business or purchase consumer goods.
You cannot tell me that anybody has successfully and accurately tabulated how much wealth that has added to our economy. So I tell people, but I am swimming upstream.
My emailer suggests I am doomed because of cultural arguments as much as economic. Crime committed by a Spanish speaker plays into a narrative and reinforces a concern. The same crime committed by "Dirt Bag Dick and his motorcycle meth buddies on their way to a Klan meeting isn't going to have the same impact in Iowa or Minnesota or Green Bay as someone from somewhere else bringing that behavior in. It's not fair, but that is what you are really fighting when it comes to illegal immigration." (I get pretty good email. He had me until he tried to sell discount Cialis...)
My optimism is predicated on the inefficacy of legislators -- they will have to compromise, and a compromise will be mostly good. More enforcement IS better; higher legal immigration IS better; a legal path to citizenship would be better.
I liked Brendan Minter's piece because of the caution to GOP candidates’ hopes of riding this train to stardom.
Jack Kemp (former congressman from New York);
George P. Shultz (distinguished fellow, Hoover Institution);
Jeanne Kirkpatrick (former ambassador to the U.N.);
Tamar Jacoby (senior fellow, Manhattan Institute);
Cesar V. Conda (senior fellow, FreedomWorks);
Ken Weinstein (CEO, Hudson Institute);
Grover Norquist (president, Americans for Tax Reform);
Jeff Bell (board of directors, American Conservative Union);
Larry Cirignano (president, Catholic Alliance);
Bill Kristol (editor, The Weekly Standard);
Arthur B. Laffer (chairman, Laffer Investments);
Linda Chavez (chairman, Center for Equal Opportunity);
Elaine Dezenski (former acting assistant secretary for policy development, Department of Homeland Security);
Lawrence Kudlow (economics editor, National Review Online);
John Podhoretz (columnist, the New York Post);
John McWhorter (senior fellow, Manhattan Institute);
Joseph Bottum (editor, First Things);
Max Boot (senior fellow, Council on Foreign Relations);
Vin Weber (former congressman from Minnesota);
Richard Gilder (partner, Gilder Gagnon Howe & Co., LLC);
Ed Goeas (Republican strategist);
Martin Anderson (senior fellow, Hoover Institution);
J.C. Watts (former congressman from Oklahoma);
Ed Gillespie (former chairman, Republican National Committee);
C. Stewart Verdery, Jr. (former assistant secretary for border and transportation security policy, Department of Homeland Security);
Diana Furchtgott-Roth (senior fellow, Hudson Institute);
Robert de Posada (president, the Latino Coalition);
Clint Bolick (winner of 2006 Bradley Prize);
Steven Wagner (former director, human trafficking program, Department of Health and Human Services);
Steve Forbes (CEO, Forbes Inc.);
Gary Rosen (managing editor, Commentary);
Michael Petrucelli (former acting director, U.S. citizenship and immigration services, Department of Homeland Security);
And John C. Weicher (senior fellow, Hudson Institute).
I'm doing myself a favor calling myself one third, but I proudly add my name to their paper.
The WSJ Ed page carries their letter and a lead editorial detailing its support.
Our own view is that a philosophy of "free markets and free people" includes flexible labor markets. At a fundamental level, this is a matter of freedom and human dignity. These migrants are freely contracting for their labor, which is a basic human right. Far from selling their labor "cheap," they are traveling to the U.S. to sell it more dearly and improve their lives. Like millions of Americans before them, they and certainly their children climb the economic ladder as their skills and education increase.
Don’t even joke about it! The WSJ Ed Page points out that "On immigration, Mr. Tancredo is now the real speaker of the House."
The lead editorial(free link) today points out that Tancredo Republicans' do-nothing strategy is not a winner. Looking at the vulnerable races, it is more likely to hurt than help. And that's just the 2006 politics.
Even if all of this somehow works this election year, the long term damage to the GOP could be considerable. Pete Wilson demonized illegal aliens to win re-election as California Governor in 1994, but at the price of alienating Latino voters for a decade. The smarter Republicans--President Bush, Karl Rove, Senator John McCain, Colorado Governor Bill Owens and Florida Governor Jeb Bush--understand that the GOP can't sustain its majority without a larger share of the Hispanic vote. Making Mr. Tancredo the spokesman on this issue is a surefire way to make Hispanics into permanent Democrats.
Every poll we've seen says that the public favors an immigration reform of the kind that President Bush does. That's because, whatever their concerns about border security, Americans are smart enough to know that immigrants will keep coming as long as they have the economic incentive to do so. They also don't want the social disruption favored by the deport-'em-all Tancredo Republicans.
On policy, the country could do worse than pass nothing this year on immigration. We've muddled through for years, and at 4.6% unemployment the U.S. economy is easily absorbing the illegal workforce. But having turned the immigration issue into a rallying cry, Republicans have put themselves at political risk if they do nothing. If the GOP finds itself in the minority next year, we trust its restrictionists will stand up and take a bow.
I disagree with the WSJ Ed Page that this is unprecedented. The Democrats thought obstructionism on judges was a winner. If you catch former leader Tom Daschle in a coffee shop in South Dakota, you can ask him how that worked out.
Not at ThreeSources! But the WSJ Ed Page credits a consensus among economists. Here's the editorial.stolen posted in full:
Finally a consensus has been reached on immigration. No, not among politicians, who can't agree on a rational immigration reform. The agreement is among professional economists.
In an open letter to President Bush and Congress last week, more than 500 prominent economists, including five Nobel laureates, proclaim that "immigration has been a net gain for American citizens." The letter adds that "while a small percentage of native-born Americans may be harmed by immigration, vastly more Americans benefit from the contributions that immigrants make to the economy, including lower consumer prices. As with trade in goods and services, gains from immigration outweigh the losses." Alan Greenspan often made this same point about the benefits of immigration while he was Federal Reserve Chairman.
What is striking about this immigration letter is that it is signed by economists from different fields of research, political affiliations and ideologies. It is possible that no other issue in the economic field, with the exception of the benefits of free trade, inspires such unanimity of professional opinion as immigration does.
Several years ago the Cato Institute surveyed the past presidents of the American Economic Association and the past chairmen of the President's Council of Economic Advisers. Eighty percent agreed that immigration has had "a very favorable impact on the nation's economic growth," and 70% said that even illegal immigrant workers "have a positive economic impact." These experts agree that on balance immigrants don't displace native workers, depress wages or abuse welfare. If only these economic facts could break through an immigration debate that is dominated by emotion and political fear.
One of the major reasons for America's great success as the world's first "universal nation," for its astonishing and unmatched capacity for assimilating immigrants, has been that an automatic part of acculturation was the acquisition of English. And yet during the great immigration debate now raging in Congress, the people's representatives cannot make up their minds whether the current dominance of English should be declared a national asset, worthy of enshrinement in law.
The Senate could not bring itself to declare English the country's "official language." The best it could do was pass an amendment to the immigration bill tepidly declaring English the "national language." Yet even that was too much for Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid, who called that resolution "racist."
Less hyperbolic opponents point out that granting special official status to English is simply unnecessary: America has been accepting foreign-language-speaking immigrants forever--Brooklyn is so polyglot it is a veritable Babel--and yet we've done just fine. What's the great worry about Spanish?
A US state is to enlist web users in its fight against illegal immigration by offering live surveillance footage of the Mexican border on the internet.
The plan will allow web users worldwide to watch Texas' border with Mexico and phone the authorities if they spot any apparently illegal crossings.
Texas Governor Rick Perry said the cameras would focus on "hot-spots and common routes" used to enter the US.
This is a clever idea, except for the one tragic downfall.
The toll-free call in number. How long before it's rendered useless by crank calls?
Well before police tactical teams began their sweeps around Toronto on Friday, at least 18 related arrests had already taken place in Canada, the United States, Britain, Bosnia, Denmark, Sweden, and Bangladesh.
Why it is a national security emergency to close the southern border?
The problem of "illegal" immigration can be solved at the stroke of a pen: legalize immigration. Screen all you want (though I want damn little), but remove the quotas. Phase them out over a 5- or 10-year period. Grant immediate, unconditional amnesty to all "illegal" immigrants.
Though we damn well need to screen, as the story below, from the Counterterrorism Blog, shows -- or take politicization and lies about Islamofascism out of the process, and let the CIA and FBI actually do their jobs. (And we don't need people coming over, bringing diseases with them, either.)
Thanks to IT expert and CT Blog regular reader Timothy Thompson, we learn the deportation case in Seattle against an African Muslim Imam is proving to be yet another indicator the US - Mexican border poses a very real threat to the Nation’s counter-terrorism efforts. Abrahim Sheikh Mohamed is the Imam of the Abu Bakr Mosque in Rainier Valley, Washington and was arrested by ICE agents in November for immigration removal (deportation) violations, allegedly stemming from his falsifying an application for asylum, per reports
Mohamed is now reported to have agreed to give up his fight against deportation. There appear to be issues, however, concerning his true citizenship...whether he is really Kenyan or Somali, and to where he may actually be deported. As previously noted here, and here, while deportation to Somalia is legally possible for the US Government, physically accomplishing such a task is problematic.
That issue aside, the deportation case against Mohamed, who is suspected by the Government of having ties to and supporting radical Islamists, identified that he originally entered the United States by being smuggled in from Mexico in 2000.
On June 15, 2005, Mahmoud Youssef Kourani, a Lebanese citizen and illegal alien, was sentenced in Detroit to 54 months imprisonment after he pleaded guilty to the charge of conspiracy to provide material support to Hezbollah. The investigation leading to Kourani’s prosecution and conviction, that was conducted by ICE and the FBI, revealed that Kourani’s brother was the chief of security for Hezbollah in Lebanon. The investigation also revealed that Kourani sponsored Hezbollah fundraising meetings in his Dearborn, Michigan home.
The Kourani investigation identified that he, too, was smuggled into the United States from Mexico.
Nathan Smith, at TCS, suggests that the US Senate is playing its intended Constitutional role in the Immigration debate.
It is also a reminder of why the framers of the Constitution were wise to establish a Senate in the first place. Mark Steyn lampoons senators like John McCain and Arlen Specter as "presidents-for-life of the one-party state of Incumbistan." But that was the point of the Senate all along. As Alexander Hamilton wrote in the Federalist Paper No. 62:
"The necessity of a senate is not less indicated by the propensity of all single and numerous assemblies to yield to the impulse of sudden and violent passions, and to be seduced by factious leaders into intemperate and pernicious resolutions... [A] body which is to correct this infirmity ought itself to be free from it, and consequently ought to be less numerous. It ought, moreover, to possess great firmness, and consequently ought to hold its authority by a tenure of considerable duration."
A recent example of an "intemperate and pernicious resolution" motivated by "violent passions" is the Sensenbrenner bill, HR 4437, passed last December, which would build a big wall along the southern border and declare illegal immigrants "felons." Because senators are fewer, with more scope to deliberate -- and because they are elected less frequently and so are less vulnerable to the voters' knee-jerk reactions -- they disdained HR 4437 and instead passed the far wiser and more ethical Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act.
It's a very good piece that also congratulates the Democrats for choosing the right side of an important issue.
Millions of libertarian and compassionate conservative Americans have a new reason to take a look at the Democratic Party.
(Memo to Democratic websites and bloggers: Over the next few weeks, you will be getting visits from people who had previously written you off, but who were impressed by Senate Democrats on immigration reform. Try to be hospitable. Clean up your language. Also, since House Republicans have now moved into what immigration foe Mark Krikorian calls "loyal opposition" to the White House, Bush-supporters may be the swing voters in 2006. So you might want to tone down the Bush-hatred a bit.)
Since the health of democracy is served by party competition, the resurrection of the Democrats is another reason to cheer the passage of CIRA.
He has some negatives to offer as well, but I'm going to make you find those for yourself. jk is Merck; you're the tort bar. You know what to do.
Many Americans - perhaps out of understandable and well-meant empathy for the dispossessed who toil so hard for so little - support this present open system of non-borders. But I find nothing liberal about it.
Zealots may chant ÁSi, se puede! all they want. And the libertarian right may dress up the need for cheap labor as a desire to remain globally competitive. But neither can disguise a cynicism about illegal immigration, one that serves to prop up a venal Mexican government, undercut the wages of our own poor and create a new apartheid of millions of aliens in our shadows.
We have the entered a new world of immigration without precedent. This current crisis is unlike the great waves of 19th-century immigration that brought thousands of Irish, Eastern Europeans and Asians to the United States. Most immigrants in the past came legally. Few could return easily across an ocean to home. Arrivals from, say, Ireland or China could not embrace the myth that our borders had crossed them rather than vice versa.
Today, almost a third of all foreign-born persons in the United States are here illegally, making up 3 to 4 percent of the American population. It is estimated that the U.S. is home to 11 or 12 million illegal aliens, whose constantly refreshed numbers ensure there is always a perpetual class of unassimilated recent illegal arrivals. Indeed almost one-tenth of Mexico's population currently lives here illegally!
The President's 'Balanced' Plan for Immigration Reform
Days after the Presidential Address to announce 6000 National Guard troops sent to "back up" the border patrol for 1 year, JK asked if I would call myself "supportive of the president's outline [of a "balanced plan" describing a "rational middle ground" on immigration.] My answer at the time was that it seemed more like the Reagan amnesty than a sustainable solution to an on-going problem. You see, I hadn't actually listened to the entirety of the 16 minute address... until last night.
One factoid I learned was the one about the National Guard. Irrespective of their assigned duties, they will be there for only a year before being "reduced as new Border Patrol agents and new technologies come online." Then there was this stunner:
"Second, to secure our border, we must create a temporary worker program. The reality is that there are many people on the other side of our border who will do anything to come to America to work and build a better life. They walk across miles of desert in the summer heat, or hide in the back of 18-wheelers to reach our country. This creates enormous pressure on our border that walls and patrols alone will not stop. To secure the border effectively, we must reduce the numbers of people trying to sneak across."
Memo to President Bush: We already have a temporary worker program. It's called the H1B Visa. But there aren't enough of them and they aren't temporary. And, if I'm not mistaken, the latest version of the Senate bill actually reduces the number of visas available. [Actually, this may have referred to a reduction from the prior proposal to treble them.]
Look, if "the reality is there are many people (...) who will do anything to come to America and work" and if you want to "reduce the numbers of people trying to sneak across" then just give legal work visas to all of them. And for NED's sake, don't make seeking a job a felony, criminalize the failure to seek a job! (Not really, but you get my point.)
But this is the one that really pisses me off:
"Fourth, we must face the reality that millions of illegal immigrants are here already. They should not be given an automatic path to citizenship. This is amnesty, and I oppose it. Amnesty would be unfair to those who are here lawfully, and it would invite further waves of illegal immigration."
No, Mr. President, this is not amnesty. Amnesty is giving people a pass for breaking a law without repealing said law at the same time. What you've described is lunacy.
You say, "There is a rational middle ground between granting an automatic path to citizenship for every illegal immigrant, and a program of mass deportation." That is true, but this is also a false dichotomy. Since when has citizenship been required for permanent resident status? Just let legal immigrants live here and work here, and be subject to each and every one of our laws, but without the voter franchise.
1) Secure the goram border, using armed guardsmen if necessary;
2) Revise H1B visas to include assignment of Social Security numbers, allow unlimited renewals, and make far more available each year;
3) Issue these new visas (with all your biometric whiz-bangery) to every illegal alien in the country. (And make damn sure no visa holders remain on the voter rolls.)
4) Eliminate citizenship as a birthright unless one or more parent is a citizen but other than this, make little if any change to the citizenship process.
5) Start drafting wholesale entitlement reforms now, in secret, to be put forth after the GOP holds congress in '06.
I've been holding on to this since the weekend. It seems I cannot convince my blog brethren that the President's plan is right and true, that it provides both for enhanced security and to allow the free flow of labor required to make us all richer That it is decent to human beings who just wish to work. That it gives us far better visibility of who is here and what they're doing.
I guess I have failed, although two friends of mine are showing a glimmer of interest. I will tack into the wind, put my blog pragmatist hat on and link to Fred Barnes. In this week's Weekly Standard (and free on the website) he makes the political case for comprehensive immigration reform.
PRESIDENT BUSH AND REPUBLICANS are staring political disaster in the face on immigration. The problem isn't that they might enact a bill allowing illegal immigrants living in America to earn their way to citizenship, inviting foreign workers to come here, and beefing up security on the 2,000-mile border with Mexico. No, it would be a disaster for Republicans if they didn't pass such a bill.
Like me, he sees this as a big win for the GOP. He sees the risk in the dark underbelly of failure. If the President fails on Social Security (a good plan which a GOP controlled Congress could not pass) and then fails on this cornerstone of his first and second terms, the rest of the term will not be pretty.
There really is an immigration crisis. In fact, the very Republicans who want an immigration bill limited to enforcement are largely responsible for having brought to the attention of all Americans the fact that a crisis exists and must be dealt with urgently. For them to prevent a bill now would be political suicide. It would all but guarantee Democratic capture of the House on November 7. "We're in control," says Republican senator Mel Martinez of Florida. "We're in charge. And if we don't produce, it would be a terrible failure. It would be handing the other side a win." A big win.
Imagine the effect it would have on Bush's presidency. Bush is struggling as it is. It was bad enough when his lonely effort to reform Social Security last year flopped. Failure to deliver on immigration reform, the single biggest domestic issue of the decade, would mark the end of the Bush presidency as an effective political force. Bush would become the lamest of lame ducks. His final two years in the White House would be painful.
How about it guys. Take one for the team here. Support the President who gave us tax cuts and the thoroughly impressive Roberts court. Get behind and win one more for the malopropper!
One day you notice that you've been going through multiple bags of cat food per day. Then you look outside and notice that there are entirely too many stray cats in the yard. You've successfully deduced that the stray cats coming in your yard from all over the neighborhood are eating all of the extra cat food you've been buying. Now how do you solve this problem? Do you:
a) Keep putting cat food in the yard. Round up as many stray cats as you can find and drop them off next door. Repeat as necessary.
b) Keep putting cat food in the yard. Build a large wall around your property to keep the stray cats out.
c) Keep putting cat food in the yard. Patrol the perimeter of your property with a gun to keep the stray cats out.
d) Keep putting cat food in the yard. Adopt the stray cats that are currently in your yard, but this is it! After this you aren't taking in any more, and that's final. Repeat as necessary.
e) Stop putting cat food in the yard. Feed your cats and only your cats in a place where the strays can't get access to the food.
Meanwhile, Sen. John McCain, Arizona Republican, in a quintessentially McCainiac contribution to the debate, angrily denied the Senate legislation was an "amnesty." "Call it a banana if you want to," he told his fellow world's greatest deliberators. "To call the process that we require under this legislation amnesty frankly distorts the debate and it's an unfair interpretation of it."
He has a point. Technically, an "amnesty" only involves pardoning a person for a crime rather than, as this moderate compromise legislation does, pardoning him for a crime and also giving him a cash bonus for committing it. In fact, having skimmed my Webster's, I can't seem to find a word that does cover what the Senate is proposing, it having never previously occurred to any other society in the course of human history. Whether or not, as Mr. McCain says, we should call it a singular banana, it's certainly plural bananas.
Sen. John Kerry joined most of his Democratic colleagues last week in voting to build a wall along 370 miles of the U.S.-Mexican border.
But he now says that after the wall is built it should be taken down as soon as possible.
"I voted for it," Kerry acknowledged Friday while speaking to the New England Council breakfast.
But in quotes picked up by the Boston Herald, the Massachusetts Democrat added: "If I were making the long-term decision, I’d announce, you know, hopefully it’s a temporary measure, and we can take it down as soon as we have enough people" to guard the border.
That doesn't even make any sense. ... and how positively wasteful it is. Build a wall, then tear it down. Do it, or don't do it. But don't waste our money with something that stupid.
Tip to Blonde Sagacity, who writes, "John Kerry Rules" for being "wonderful blog fodder."
The phone rang early today. It was my oft-mentioned relative who is pro-Bush but wants a far more enforcement oriented solution to immigration than the President. He pointed me toward Charles Krauthammer's column today. It speaks to his side, we both discussed our respect for the good Doctor.
I don't want to fisk Krauthammer -- he's not lying or wrong. There are just some issues I feel he does not pay sufficient attention to. He gets right to the point. Nobody accuses him of circumlocution:
I do not doubt the president's sincerity in wanting to humanize and regularize the lives of America's estimated 12 million illegal aliens. But good intentions are not enough. For decades, the well-traveled road from the Mexican border to the barrios of Los Angeles has been paved with such intentions. They begat the misguided immigration policy that created the crisis that necessitated the speech that purports to offer, finally, the "comprehensive" solution.
Hardly. The critical element -- border enforcement -- is farcical. President Bush promises to increase the number of border agents. That was promised in the Simpson-Mazzoli amnesty legislation in 1986. The result was more than 11 million new illegal immigrants.
Time out! The security elements of the President's plan are not "farcical." The President has proposed physical barriers where needed (300-700+ miles, depending on who eats their Wheaties on conference day) and the use of technology to replace barriers in other locations. I know Krauthammer wants a TJ - Neuvo Laredo wall, but I think he is wrong to call anything less farcical.
The President also calls for more border patrol agents and suggests the National Guard during transition. As the WSJ pointed out, and Krauthammer admits, more boots is not the magic solution.
The President also offers mitigation for the supply-demand pressure. Biometric worker IDs and increased legal workers would both reduce the demand (and concomitant price) of illegal labor. The normalization of present workers would increase the legal labor pool as well.
Krauthammer's main thesis is very strong (mirabile non dictu). He asks why it is Conservative to support enforcement in that illegal workers compete for work with the poorest Americans, whom liberals claim to champion. He does not mention another point of contention: that illegal workers pose more threat to the environment than a middle-class American driving his 1.25 children around in a hybrid. His best point is likely American exceptionalism:
And is it just conservatives who think the United States ought not be gratuitously squandering one of its greatest assets -- its magnetic attraction to would-be immigrants around the world? There are tens of millions of people who want to leave their homes and come to America. We essentially have an NFL draft in which the United States has the first, oh, million or so draft picks. Rather than exercising those picks, i.e., choosing by whatever criteria we want -- such as education, enterprise, technical skills and creativity -- we admit the tiniest fraction of the best and brightest and permit millions of the unskilled to pour in instead.
Krauthammer makes a good point, but ignores the little exigency of geography. We have this long border with a much poorer country. Sure we have every right to militarize, barbed-wire, whatever. But Mexican citizens have grown used to finding employment here and our economy has grown used to the advantages they provide. If I believed that a million gardeners would be replaced by 500,000 doctors and 500,000 programmers, I'd be in.
Krauthammer, and many of his ilk, seem unwilling to compromise. Three hundred more miles of fence are about 210 miles too much for me, but I will support the compromise. Yet Krauthammer wants every inch of the border walled (boats?) and calls 1/3 farcical.
The President is not a legislator. The House can toughen enforcement and the Senate can broaden the welcome mat. Yet the President has proposed a balanced approach that I can support. And as you've noticed, I do not tire of asking others to support it.
Though I am an ardent supporter of President Bush I feel that he could have taken a more brazen position and challenged Congress to secure the borders immediatly with troops and fences. His approval would surely be catapulted into more popular opinion rather than the 29th percentile where he's recently found refuge. His base would have renewed faith in a President re-elected to pass his agenda which he has been less than stellar in furthering.
This was truly a missed opportunity in some regards and an employment of appropriate measures in others. The President surely didn't compromise his already lack luster appeal. But he didn't capitalize on a tremendous opportunity either.
President Bush did exactly what he had to do tonight: Hit the middle, agreeing to the fence, to a large increase in Border Patrol personnel and funding, tamper-proof identification, National Guard back-up of ICE for at least a year, the end of catch-and-release, blunt talk on the impossibility of mass deportation, an insistence on English, and a commitment to a guest worker program that will take pressure off enforcement by funneling large numbers of immigrant workers into the legal line.
In related news, CNN ran Bush's rehearsal "mistakenly."
Notwithstanding the leftist groups who've organized tomorrow's "immigrant strike" day, the temperature has cooled on the immigration debate since the April recess. But it will heat up again soon. In November JK predicted "an immigration win for the GOP" that included a compromise between senate and house immigration reform bills. In general terms, the senate measure is the "guest worker" program and the house brings the "border security" element. I don't doubt JK's prediction, but I do fear the result of a compromise between these two bad plans.
The senate plan to spend lots of money and create a new "citizenship scavenger hunt" program has been knocked around here quite a bit already. But what about the house's "hard line" approach? JK is critical of it as isolationist. I'm not sure though that he knows just how right he is. Robert Tracinski, one of the guys I "truck with" calls it "Americans against the American dream."
So why are so many Republicans coming out against the American dream?
Look through the rationalization that these Republicans are only against illegal immigration. These same politicians have spent decades erecting barriers against legal immigration, and they are still doing so today. That is why they have refused to link their crackdown on illegal immigration with any provision to allow existing immigrants to legalize their status, or to allow new workers to come to the US under a "guest worker" program. They are not for legal immigration; they are against all immigration, period.
Also look through the rationalization that the anti-immigrationists are concerned that foreigners come here to mooch off of the American welfare state. Why, then, are restrictions on immigration aimed precisely at those who seek to work?
I agree with Tracinski that the house has got it wrong. I hope that much of it, like the provision to make illegal immigration a felony that Dennis Hastert promises is already DOA, will be excised from the compromise bill but that's a heapin' helpin' of wishful thinking. I still hold that Charles Krauthammer had the right approach and we'd all better hope that any compromise looks a lot like his "wall first, questions later" solution.
Mayor Gavin Newsom said Thursday that The City will not comply with any federal legislation that criminalizes efforts to help illegal immigrants.
The mayor also denounced a bipartisan congressional proposal that would beef up border security and allow as many as 12 million illegal immigrants to gain legal status.
Newsom, who has not been afraid to wade into controversial national issues such as gay marriage, appeared with a group of elected officials on the steps of City Hall to support immigrants, “documented as well as undocumented.”Newsom also signed a resolution sponsored by Supervisor Gerardo Sandoval, and passed unanimously by the Board of Supervisors, urging San Francisco law enforcement not to comply with criminal provisions of any new immigration bill.
“San Francisco stands foursquare in strong opposition to the rhetoric coming out of Washington, D.C.,” Newsom said. “If people think we were defiant on the gay marriage issue, they haven’t seen defiance.”
What are the state's rights / federalism issues involved in something like this? I have no idea where to even begin.
Yesterday's hastily called press conference to announce a "huge breakthrough" in the Senate immigration bill was supposed to presage a rubber-stamp vote last evening. But Republicans who thought the bill should be more than another "immigration bill to end all immigration bills" insisted upon amendments. Frivolous things like,
"One amendment would require the Department of Homeland Security to certify that the border was secure before creating a guest worker program or granting legal status to illegal immigrants. Another would have the legalization program bar illegal immigrants who had deportation orders or had been convicted of a felony or three misdemeanors."
This issue is way too important to rush into another band-aid compromise measure. The serious dialog in the comments to 'Immigration Politics' below have been illuminating, and promise more enlightenment if the conversation continues.
Forget employer sanctions. Build a barrier. It is simply ridiculous to say it cannot be done. If one fence won't do it, then build a second 100 yards behind it. And then build a road for patrols in between. Put cameras. Put sensors. Put out lots of patrols.
Can't be done? Israel's border fence has been extraordinarily successful in keeping out potential infiltrators who are far more determined than mere immigrants. Nor have very many North Koreans crossed into South Korea in the last 50 years.
Of course it will be ugly. So are the concrete barriers to keep truck bombs from driving into the White House. But sometimes necessity trumps aesthetics. And don't tell me that this is our Berlin Wall. When you build a wall to keep people in, that's a prison. When you build a wall to keep people out, that's an expression of sovereignty. The fence around your house is a perfectly legitimate expression of your desire to control who comes into your house to eat, sleep and use the facilities. It imprisons no one.
Of course, no barrier will be foolproof. But it doesn't have to be. It simply has to reduce the river of illegals to a manageable trickle. Once we can do that, everything becomes possible -- most especially, humanizing the situation of our 11 million existing illegals.
"The Republican Party is Split on Immigration" scream the headlines. We certainly have some disagreement around here. I don't see Democrats providing real leadership here, and I question that a united front is doing them much good.
I have had to face opposition to my views from Thomas Sowell and Victor Davis Hanson. A friend emailed this article with the Subject "Hanson." I thought it was the band. Of course, VDH has written a whole book about adverse effects of rampant illegal immigration and unassimilated Mexican people in has native California.
I have repeatedly made the case for a guest worker program, and said early that it could be packaged as a compromise with stricter security, resulting in a GOP win. I have faced the squeamish task of defending those who broke the law, those who refuse to assimilate, and even the ridiculous marchers who flaunted their ignorance and opposition to this country's ideals.
That's tough work for a law-and-order guy but I think that the economic advantages far outweigh the disadvantages, and that a guest worker program is a step toward a legal, controlled process that recognizes the exigencies of 11 million folks who are, well, here.
A very good point made by the other side was poll numbers showing overwhelming support for enforcement. As blog pragmatist, I have to look toward victory but feel that the support is "a mile wide and an inch thick," and that leadership could show people the benefits and overcome the demagoguery that has plagued this issue.
Bill Kristol seems to back me up in this week's Weekly Standard." In Y is for Yahoo, Kristol indulges in some name calling to a Representative from my state. But he also repeats the truth that the electorate has not been that kind to those who espouse policies that can be thought anti-immigrant.
The leaders of what he calls "THE HOUSE CAUCUS TO RETURN THE REPUBLICAN PARTY TO MINORITY STATUS--also known as the House Immigration Reform Caucus" all happen to be from safe seats. Statewide office holders have to be more moderate.
Dana Rohrabacher has represented a safe GOP seat in Orange County for almost two decades. He's chosen never to run statewide. In California, Republican governor Pete Wilson exploited the immigration issue to help get reelected in 1994, and the voters passed a Republican-backed anti-immigration measure, proposition 187. No Republican candidate except the idiosyncratic Arnold Schwarzenegger has won statewide since.
Virgil Goode has a safe GOP seat in Southside Virginia. He's never run statewide. Last fall, the Republican gubernatorial candidate, Jerry Kilgore, tried to exploit illegal immigration by denouncing a local community that wanted to build a shelter that might accommodate some illegals. He lost, in a red state, a race he had been favored to win.
Anti-immigration yahoo Tom Tancredo carried the sixth district of Colorado comfortably in 2004 (though running slightly behind pro-immigration George W. Bush). But in Tancredo's state, the GOP did miserably in 2004, with Democrat Ken Salazar winning the Senate seat and Democrats gaining control of both houses of the legislature. Meanwhile, in the safe fifth district of Iowa, Steve King did run two points ahead of George W. Bush in 2004. King was able to outspend his challenger 10-1, while Bush faced a huge Kerry effort in that swing state.
Four GOP senators voted in the Senate Judiciary Committee for the comprehensive immigration bill these blustering House members believe is electoral suicide: Arlen Specter, elected and reelected in blue state Pennsylvania; Mike DeWine, elected and reelected in swing state Ohio; and Lindsey Graham from South Carolina, and Sam Brownback from Kansas--both very popular in their red states. John McCain, lead sponsor of a bill that resembles the Senate Judiciary Committee bill, has a pretty impressive electoral record in Arizona, a competitive state. George W. Bush, a pro-immigration Republican, has won two presidential elections--as did another pro-immigration Republican, Ronald Reagan.
Adding these examples to Pete Wilson's temporary gains but long term GOP minority in California, I do not see this as an election winner.
The American people are worried about immigration. In a Pew Survey released last week, 52 percent of Americans saw immigration as a burden, while 41 percent said it strengthened the country; 53 percent support sending illegals home, while 40 percent endorsed a path to citizenship. Given the hoopla about illegal immigration, this division is in fact surprisingly close. In any case, it means GOP senators and congressmen--and presidents--have plenty of room to show leadership and to resist demagoguery. Most Republican officeholders know that the political--and moral--cost of turning the GOP into an anti-immigration, Know Nothing party would be very great. It could easily dash Republican hopes of becoming a long-term governing party. How many Republicans will have the courage to stand up and prevent the yahoos from driving the party off a cliff?
UPDATE: An AP/Ipsos poll shows support for guest worker programs.
The survey found 62 percent of Democrats and 52 percent of Republicans favored temporary worker status.
"If I were in the White House, I would be pretty pleased about this," said Charles Franklin, a University of Wisconsin political science professor who studies public opinion. "It does suggest pretty strongly that the president has the opportunity to drive public opinion on this."
Our signs helped to counter the American flags. Our people expressed their agreement with our message.
Racist Congressman Dana Rohrabacher (R of California 4th district) of red-neck Orange County said that he didn't care how long people had been in "this country" illegally, if they were here illegally for 5 or 50 years that they should be deported. Fine! Europeans have been here illegally since 1492, START THE DEPORTATIONS NOW! First one to go should be this Nazi Rohrabacher!
Sensenbrenner, Schwarzenegger, Rohrabacher, funny how they all have Germanic names! .....No, it's not funny at all!
If many thousands of illegal aliens marched in their zeal, many more millions of Americans of all different races and backgrounds watched--and seethed. They were struck by the Orwellian incongruities--Mexican flags, chants of "Mexico, Mexico," and the spectacle of illegal alien residents lecturing citizen hosts on what was permissible in their own country.
If the demonstrators thought that they were bringing attention to their legitimate grievances--the sheer impossibility of deporting 11 million residents across the border or the hypocrisy of Americans de facto profiting from "illegals" who cook their food, make their beds, and cut their lawns--they seemed oblivious to the embarrassing contradictions of their own symbolism and rhetoric. Most Americans I talked to in California summed up their reactions to the marches as something like, 'Why would anyone wave the flag of the country that they would never return to--and yet scream in anger at those with whom they wish to stay?' Depending on the particular questions asked, polls reveal that somewhere around 60-80% of the public is vehemently opposed to illegal immigration.
With 11 million undocumented people in this country how many are anti-American? Would it be possible that perhaps as few as say, 19 are the really dangerous trouble makers?
... and it fully 3% of people on American soil are here without the consent of the nation, how long before a group hostile to our interests gets a few of their compatriots in?
The immigrants who come to work in this country for the opportunities, I really don't worry too much about. They understand and appreciate America for what it is. The land of boundless opportunity for those with sufficent motivation.
It's the ones that come for the opportunity to do damage that you can lose sleep over.
Mickey Kaus did great reporting on the pro-immigration rallies in L.A. He predicted an anti-immigrant backlash and caught the LA Times papering over the large numbers of Mexican flags in the parade. In the spirit of fairness, I provide a link to this coverage.
In Kaus's spirit of fairness, he provides a link to a Marc Cooper posting that disagrees. Much as I dig the Mickster, I have to go with Cooper on this one.
I'm struck by several aspects of this story. Primarily by the way neither party can properly get a hold of this issue. Demographics and global economics are simply racing ahead of any practical political response. The Republicans are deeply divided over the issue. Even as the half-million or so were marching in the streets Saturday, President Bush was on the radio more or less endorsing the protestors' two key demands: that a legal channel be created for the immigration already happening and that some legal acknowledgement be given to the 12 million "illegals" already living here. Viva Bush!
The Democrats are less divided and generally more inclined toward reform. But can you name even two prominent national Democrats who have taken up this cause in a serious way? (One is Ted Kennedy who along with John McCain has co-authored the most sensible reform proposal currently under consideration).
The other point is that I refuse to back away from my contention that compromise is possible. I think you can increase enforcement and provide a legal channel and make most of the people happy.
In the Kausian spirit of fairness, I will include another link. Arnold Kling, whom I respect greatly, seems to minimize the economic benefits of immigration (which I claim). Kling is not against me by any stretch, but he is not quite so sure about the economic benefits:
I believe that illegal immigrants bring relatively little economic benefit and cause relatively little economic harm. I believe that there are substitutes readily available for the work done by illegal immigrants. Legal residents could do some of the work. Other labor could be replaced by capital or by alternative production techniques. By the same token, because there are many substitutes available for unskilled labor, the salvation of American workers does not lie in immigration restrictions.
Kling says "The Battle of the Borders is a distraction. While he is on my side on immigration, outsourcing, and foreign ownership of US Assets, (for all three), he thinks other issues are more worthy of effort -- on both sides.
Actually, and this is not being racist in the least, there are jobs Americans shouldn't do. As I wrote in my entry on price-setting and illegal immigration, Americans have incredibly high opportunity costs. Even without taxpayer-funded social safety nets, it's not worth our time to pick strawberries for $2 per hour, or do a lot of dangerous construction at low wages. Americans should be thankful that there are so many immigrants, legal and illegal, who can only do the most menial of jobs because they lack education and/or English proficiency.
If it's such a good thing to restrict jobs to "legal labor," because citizens and legal residents can get paid better wages, then why don't we just command higher wages in the first place? Why not push the minimum wage to $20 per hour, or $100, or $1 million? I'm sure Lowry is familiar with the fallacy of minimum wages, but the same principle applies when government prevents illegal immigrants from working. A section of the population is perfectly willing to work for less, but they can't because that's been made illegal. Meanwhile, the rest of us pay in the form of higher prices for those same goods and services.
Lowry might have had a point had some of his assertions been factual and from the real world. As McQ at QandO observed last December, after the crackdowns on illegal immigration, farmers in California and Arizona can't get enough legal labor, even offering $8.50 per hour! It's not necessarily that Americans are lazy; it's just that we place a much higher value on our non-work time. Our opportunity cost was not as high during the Great Depression, when it was so low that people would accept a dime an hour to pick cherries. American society has grown much wealthier since.
Great stuff (and his blog carries a picture of Monsieur Bastiat in the heading)! I would only add that this specialization and Comparative Advantage is simultaneously providing Americans with safer, less-exhaustive, higher-paid work.
I have relatives who, like Lowry and NR's John Derbyshire, say "why can't everybody mow their own lawn?" I reply that I don't want the person who's gonna cure Cancer, or build the next nanotech material out mowing the lawn.
Lowry says it's okay to be poorer, and pay more for things (Eidelbus wonders if Lowry will personally reimburse him). But it's not up to Lowry, or my family, or even -- morally -- the government. Folks want to work, folks want to hire, folks want to make things to sell, folks want to buy. Get the hell out of the way, gub'mint.
I respect Derbyshire and Lowry immensely. But they would eloquently inveigh against government intercession into so many areas, it is a shock when they think Nancy Pelosi and Duncan Hunter should be empowered with out wealth creation.
I've been in San Antonio Texas since last friday celebrating Christmas, and came across this story in today's San Antonio Express-News.
San Antonio's leading Spanish-language radio station could be forced off the air or face fines over a quirky controversy juxtaposing immigrants and green limes.
A recurring segment started five years ago by KROM-Radio "Estéreo Latino" involves people calling in to report sightings of immigration agents in the city. The station's disc jockeys then alert listeners, particularly undocumented immigrants, to steer clear of the named locations.
No actual mention of federal agents is made — DJs speak of limones verdes, or "green limes," a euphemistic reference to Border Patrol agents, who traditionally don olive-green uniforms and drive green-lined SUVs.
That's actually a pretty clever bit.
As luck would have it, KROM is operating with an expired license because a Houston-based attorney is gumming up the process.
Stopping in San Antonio in 2000, Joe Ray Blalack read an article in the San Antonio Express-News about KROM's agent-spotting segment. Fuming over what he interpreted as the station's obstruction of the work of federal agents, Blalack wrote the FCC, demanding it deny the license renewal.
Since then, the FCC has received 38 additional citizen complaints against the station, all from outside Texas.
The FCC, which regulates the broadcast industry, declined to comment on the case. The station's renewal application is under review, and there is no timetable for a decision, spokeswoman Rebecca Fisher said.
It's nothing personal of course.
"It should serve as a stern warning. People can't engage in any activity against our national interest," said Blalack, 69, who also would like a law forcing Spanish-language TV stations to use English subtitles.
I would normally file this kind of activity under "sticking it to the man," but I'm agreeing with Mr. Blalack.
You wouldn't want to find yourself alerting criminals to pending busts by the boys in blue. Just because they're wearing government issue olive green doesn't make it any better... or legal.
The Lead Editorial in the WSJ Ed Page today (free link) is a call for GOP politicians to reject the restrictionist elements in its party. Despite Lou Dobbs, Bill O'Reilly and Rep. Tom Tancredo, the special election in California proved traditional GOP issues to fare better than immigration restrictionism by a wide margin.
Mr. Campbell, who ran on traditional conservative themes of lower federal spending, tax reform and national security, won the five-man contest in a walk with 45%. Mr. Gilchrist is a co-founder of the Minutemen citizens' border patrol promoted relentlessly by CNN's Lou Dobbs and his Fox running mate, Bill O'Reilly. Mr. Gilchrist made militarizing the Mexican border the centerpiece of his campaign, raising some $600,000 and getting extraordinary media attention. Yet he still came in third with 25%, trailing a Democrat who won 28% despite spending only one-fourth as much money.
This in a very conservative locale very near the border. The better political ploy would be the better economic ploy, a jk supported plan to combine enforcement improvement with a guest worker program.
A recent story in the Sacramento Bee led with this: "A growing labor shortage in California's agricultural industry has local farmers bracing for a tough--and expensive--winter harvest." Among the causes: "increased border enforcement that is reducing the number of illegal immigrants entering the country," competition for workers from other industries, and "the lack of a guest-worker program to allow undocumented immigrants to work legally."
We get the same message from nearly every business executive who comes through our offices: Without immigrants, they couldn't possibly find enough willing workers to do the available work, no matter what the available wages. Yet Republicans seem intent not merely on increasing border patrols but also on further harassing law-abiding businesses that happen to hire illegals, as if anyone can tell the difference between real and fake immigration documents. Only Republicans would think it's smart politics to punish their supporters for hiring willing workers.
You read that right, I'm the only one calling it and I'll be collecting I-told-you-sos next November.
The Conventional Wisdom states that immigration is a portentous train wreck for the GOP. Tommy Tancredo will split off the populists, Bill O'Reilly will stir up the pot, and the WSJ Ed Page crowd will splinter and the Grand Ol' Party is to be rend in twain. Until last night, I believed it. We cover the whole spectrum here at ThreeSources and it seems unlikely to pull us all together.
Sure, there is hand-wringing today after the president’s speech yesterday. Pat Buchanan was unhappy last night (there goes the Palm-Beach-County Vote!), Michelle Malkin is displeased this morning, Glenn Reynolds has a list of P-oh'd bloggers.
The immigration debate will close successfully because the two sides' desires are not mutually exclusive. You can't raise and lower taxes, can't pull the troops home and send more -- but you can strengthen border security and institute a guest worker program. In fact the two are complimentary and I cannot see either working without the other.
The President sends the House troops in to craft a Tancredo-esque enforcement bill. The Senate opens debate on McCain-Kennedy (Love the bill, hate the name), and (I am borrowing from Fred Barnes here) the final compromise is crafted in committee.
The President, to my dismay, has shown that he will sign anything, so an immigration bill with security and legality will be passed. The Wall Street Journal folk and I will wish it went further to provide labor, and the isolationists will wish there were more emphasis on mines for the Rio Grande. But both sides will shrug their shoulders, be glad they got a Republican bill, and move on to the next election.
Dick Morris, former political advisor to the Clintons, lists what the President needs to do to get serious on immigration.
Back the fence.
Establish a legal guest-worker program.
Prosecute visa overstays.
Regularize cash shipments home
Mr Morris ends...
Combating illegal immigration need not smack of racism. It is important to all American citizens — Latinos and Anglos — and is in the national interest. But it is also in our interest to allow immigrants to come and settle here legally.
Immigration is keeping America young and vital. If not for the annual flow of 3 million people — about half legal and half illegal — we would be much like the nations of Europe, losing population and watching their populations age. But we cannot afford the current chaotic flow of immigrants over a theoretical border. We need to enforce the law and make it fair.
A new study by a liberal Washington think tank puts the cost of forcibly removing most of the nation's estimated 10 million illegal immigrants at $41 billion a year, a sum that exceeds the annual budget of the Department of Homeland Security.
The study, "Deporting the Undocumented: A Cost Assessment," scheduled for release today by the Center for American Progress, is billed by its authors as the first-ever estimate of costs associated with arresting, detaining, prosecuting and removing immigrants who have entered the United States illegally or overstayed their visas. The total cost would be $206 billion to $230 billion over five years, depending on how many of the immigrants leave voluntarily, according to the study.
Whoa whoa whoa... liberal think tank?
I don't think I've ever seen a think tank labelled liberal. Conservative, right leaning, yes. Liberal? No.
Repent! The end is nigh!
Obviously the mass deportation option is not on the table, and I'm not sure it was ever seriously on the table.
[Rajeev K. Goyle, senior domestic policy analyst for the center] said that he conducted the study, in part, to respond to conservative officials who have advocated mass deportations, in some cases immediately. Earlier this year, former House speaker Newt Gingrich advocated sealing U.S. borders and deporting all illegal immigrants within 72 hours of arrest.
Will Adams, a spokesman for Rep. Tom Tancredo (R-Colo.), an outspoken advocate of stronger immigration laws, called the study an "an interesting intellectual exercise" by liberals that is "useless . . . because no one's talking about" employing mass deportation as a tactic.
"No one's talking about buying planes, trains and automobiles to get them out of the country," Adams said. "The vast number of illegal immigrants are coming for jobs. Congressman Tancredo wants to go after the employers."
I like Tancredo's idea, but he shot his credibility right in the ass with the nuking Mecca remark. If only there was someone else in Congress willing to carry the flag on this idea.
Gingrich's idea is also very practical, if we could get local law enforcement to check on immigration status.
Wait, did I really write that headline? Call the paramedics!
First, two of my favorite Senators have introduced a bill that is heavy on Enforcement.
After nearly 20 years and numerous enforcement escalations, the undocumented immigrant population continues to grow -- and restrictionist lawmakers continue to insist that throwing ever more money, men and material into border enforcement is the key to fixing the problem.
Yesterday, Senators John Cornyn (R., Texas) and Jon Kyl (R., Ariz.) introduced legislation that would authorize $5 billion over five years "to acquire and deploy unmanned aerial vehicles, camera poles, vehicles barriers, sensors" and other technologies. They'd also create a new 10,000-man army to raid businesses across America and make sure there are no illegal chambermaids working at Marriott. For this, we need Republicans?
The WSJ Ed Page and me -- mirabile freakin' dictu -- prefer a bill introduced by --ahem-- John McCain and Ted Kennedy.
A more promising reform was introduced in May by Senators John McCain (R., Ariz.) and Ted Kennedy (D., Mass.). Their approach is a welcome acknowledgment of certain realities -- namely, that enforcement-only policies have failed repeatedly and that wiser uses of limited government manpower and tax dollars are in order.
Based on the fact that the vast majority of migrants come here in search of work, Senators McCain and Kennedy aim to lower the level of illegal immigration by expanding our relatively few channels for legal entry to meet the demand. Giving economic immigrants legal ways to enter the U.S. will reduce business for human smugglers and counterfeiters. Moreover, it will allow our border authorities to concentrate their resources on chasing down real security threats instead of nannies and gardeners.
In short, the McCain-Kennedy bill would enhance homeland security without harming the immigrant labor market so essential to the country's economic well-being. But the measure's guest-worker initiative, which would allow undocumented migrants already here to work legally if they first pay sizable fines and undergo criminal background checks, has brought charges of "amnesty" from Republicans who call any "work and stay" provision a poison pill.
This "amnesty" charge may be potent as a political slogan, but it becomes far less persuasive when you examine its real-world implications. If paying a fine isn't good enough for illegals already here, what are the restrictionists proposing? Mass arrests, raids on job-creating businesses, or deportations? No illegal settled in a job or U.S. community is going to admit his status if he will then immediately be jailed or sent home to wait in line for years before he can get his old U.S. job back. Those who wave the "no amnesty" flag are actually encouraging a larger underground illegal population.