FRONT PAGE CONTRIBUTOR
The Fundamental Flaws with Comprehensive Immigration Deform
There’s one overarching problem with all of the proposals for comprehensive immigration reform. They are being drafted by the same La Raza/big labor/big corporate welfare coalition that blew up our immigration system and engendered this problem in the first place. Having a couple of Republicans lend their names to the pack of wolves guarding the henhouse of “reform” will not change the fact that these people want open borders, endless supplies of low-skilled immigrants, welfare recipients, and Democrat voters. Their promises about enforcement and welfare after legalization are about as valuable as the Palestinian promise to stop the terror after getting a state.
The Senate’s Gang proposal will immediately legalize every single illegal before even their tepid conditions for enforcement are implemented. The other so-called hoops they have to jump through are only preconditions for a path to citizenship. Moreover, the same logic that is pushing them to legalize them now will persist for those who don’t jump through the hoops later. They are all predicated on the fact that we can’t enforce the laws and we can’t deport illegals when we find them. So what are they going to do with the ones who don’t jump through the hoops or pay the fines and taxes? What are they going to do with those who came here more recently? Deport them? What are they going to do with all those friends and relatives who come here and overstay their visas to take advantage of the amnesty? Deport them? These guys already stated that they have no desire to do that.
Our current immigration system and lack of border and internal enforcement is not the result of some natural disaster. On the enforcement side, it’s not a legislative problem either. It’s an executive problem. We already passed the Secure Fence Act in 2007, yet only 35 miles of the double fencing has been built. We already passed a visa tracking system in 1996, yet it was never implemented. Congress already passed laws deputizing states to enforce the laws and punish those localities which thwart our laws. Yet the executive branch has punished those states that enforce the laws, has tied the hands of the border agents, has shut down the 287(g) program, and has rewarded sanctuary cities. Now, the Obama administration is letting criminal aliens out of jail.
And we are supposed to believe that enforcement will take place after we grant legal status to illegal aliens? We are supposed to agree to a massive temporary guest worker program that will never be temporary as long as we refuse to track exit and entry and actually deport those who overstay their visas? Until the forces on the left change their behavior and actually begin enforcing our existing laws and support construction of a real fence and immediate implementation of interior enforcement, any talk of avoiding another amnesty is credulous to say the least. It is no better than having the arsonist put out a fire.
Welfare and a Public Charge
Milton Friedman presciently warned that you cannot have open borders and a welfare state at the same time. Yet that is exactly what we have had since the ’60s. The forces behind comprehensive immigration deform want to keep it that way. That is why they are proposing legal status and a pathway to citizenship for all illegals plus up to 200,000 more low skilled immigrants every year.
Let’s confront an inconvenient but obvious fact about immigration and welfare. Under our current system, immigrants, and especially illegal immigrants, are on average less educated and earn less than the native-born population. According to the CBO, “In 2009, 29 percent of the foreign-born population between the ages of 25 and 64 had not completed high school, compared with 8 percent of the native-born population.”… “More than half of the people from Mexico and Central America, 56 percent, had not finished high school, but only about 10 percent of people from Asia and 6 percent of people from Europe and Canada had less than a high school education.” With regards to wages, CBO noted that in 2009 “the median annual earnings of male workers from Mexico and Central America was $22,000.”
There’s nothing wrong with this dynamic per se. It worked fine during the great immigration wave around the turn of the 20th century. But that’s because we didn’t have an aggressive welfare state. There is no doubt that many of the current illegal and legal immigrants are hard workers as well. But that’s not the point. They will still be eligible for every welfare program once they obtain green cards. And the officious federal agencies are already making sure they know where to access those programs.
The irony is that the same forces who support amnesty under the guise of economic growth are also denying that they will become a public charge. They are even saying the amnestied aliens will be a net gain to the treasury. Presumably, they believe it will lead to economic growth because businesses will have an endless supply of cheap labor. So if they want to import low-skilled immigrants for the purpose of paying them nothing, how in the world will they be net-tax payers?
As we all know from the native population, you have to be making above a certain level just to break even. If we import more people to do manual labor, they might pay $2000 in payroll taxes, but they will receive $8000 in refundable tax credits. In fact, even before any amnesty, roughly 3 million illegals receive $4.6 billion in refundable tax credits. Now add to that Obamacare, Medicaid, food stamps, housing, education subsidies, and the earned income credit they will be eligible for once they get social security numbers. You tell me how that is fiscally conservative.
Yet, we are supposed to believe them when they tell us only those who won’t become a public charge can get green card. Yup, the same people who have engendered the current dynamic in which only .0084 percent of applicants are denied visas under the assumption that they would constitute a public charge.
If some industries need more migrant workers, that is something we should work out in a rational piecemeal bill. But the Ag industry is pushing for citizenship, and even an expedited path to citizenship, for people who will inevitably grow the welfare state. Once again, it’s all about the special interests behind the impending legislation.
Immigration policy encompasses more than negotiations between big business and big labor over the labor market. When we are discussing immigration, we are planning the future composition of the country. There might be a need for migrant workers and a guest worker program. That can be implemented after we have a visa tracking system in place. But our broader immigration policy should not be dictated by those who want an endless supply of slave labor or new union members. Flooding our country with millions more low-skilled legals and amnestied illegals, who will invariably balloon the welfare state, turn the country into a mosaic instead of a melting pot, and make the rest of the country like California, is not an example of free market labor policy; it is corporate welfare. If they want to go overseas and build things with cheap labor, that is their purgative. But they have no right to demand that we all shoulder the welfare burden and social balkanization of unsound immigration policy.
Immigration is good for the country if it is orchestrated in a gradual and orderly way. Coming off of two decades of record immigration, we have the largest percentage of foreign-born people in America since the end of the great wave of immigration in the 1920s. Remember that in those days we didn’t have a robust welfare state and a multicultural lobby pushing bilingual education. Those who are crafting the immigration bills believe that we don’t have enough across-the-board legal immigration, even low-skilled and undereducated immigrants. Before we sign onto their plan, we need to think long and hard about the consequences of such a precipitous increase in immigration at a time when our culture of assimilation is already failing.
Ironically, many Republicans want to sign onto this plan because they think it is politically advantageous. Some libertarians and business interests believe it is good for the economy and the labor markets. However, if they would open their eyes and observe the current dynamic in California, they would see a very different picture. As of 4 years ago, 26.6% of California was foreign born, according to the CBO. Do these people really think that the reason we can’t elect a free market, liberty loving conservative in the state is because the party is not supportive enough of open borders? Or is because our immigration policy has led to such a sharp increase in new immigrants in such a short period of time, especially from the third world, that we can no longer compete against the politics of ethnic pandering?
Remember, the Democrats thrive in an environment of social balkanization like mosquitos in a swamp. Under current proposals, the rest of the country will become what California is now. We can be as pro-open borders as the Democrats, but we can never survive as a party with an immigration policy that doesn’t help encourage assimilation.
Immigration is too important to the future of the country for it to be dictated by any one industry, interest, or ethnic lobby. All policy related to immigration must benefit the country as a whole.
As conservatives, we need to promote comprehensive border enforcement and we need comprehensive welfare reform. Then we can talk about comprehensive amnesty. But as long as we outsource immigration policy to those who broke our immigration system in the first place, we will get nothing but amnesty.