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FRONT PAGE CONTRIBUTOR

Restraining the ambitions of the State

“Nobody is talking about preventing the legalization,” Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) assured his audience during an interview with the Spanish-language network Univision a couple of weeks ago.  ”The legalization is going to happen. That means the following will happen: First comes the legalization. Then come the measures to secure the border. And then comes the process of permanent residence.”

Here we are, on the verge of passing a distorted mess of a bill that not one Senator has yet read in its entirety, and Rubio assures us that yes, we’ll get legalization right away, but we’re also getting “the Republican Border Surge Plan” to put another 20,000 agents on Border Patrol duty, so you can take security to the bank.  And if that check happens to bounce when you take it to the bank, well, the powerful “triggers” will kick out like fuses blowing in Dr. Frankenstein’s lab during an electrical storm, and then something or other will happen to the amnesty plan.  Nobody in Washington wants something or other to happen to that amnesty plan, so they’ll never dare the wrath of the triggers.

Rubio discussed the triggers in an op-ed at Human Events today:

These triggers include the completion of at least 700 miles of secure pedestrian fencing along the U.S.-Mexico border, doubling the number of border patrol agents with 20,000 new border patrol agents, and providing all nine sectors of the southern border with the state of the art technology and resources our border patrol agents need to secure the border, including unarmed drones, camera systems, ground sensors and radars, among other resources. To eliminate the job magnet that attracts most illegal immigrants to the U.S., E-Verify must be completely implemented and mandatory for all U.S. businesses. And to crack down on foreigners who overstay their visas – which accounts for 40 percent of today’s illegal immigrant population – an entry-exit system must be completely implemented.

These ideas are based on what border patrol agents and others know to be effective. They’re based on ideas that conservatives have been pursuing for many years. And they’re ideas based on many state of the art technologies available to us today that weren’t around in 1986, 1996 or even 2006. Together, these technologies will help us see who is coming across our border; the fence will make it harder for drugs and people to illegally cross; the increased manpower will make sure we apprehend those who cross; and the E-Verify system will make sure that there is no future for those who live in our country illegally. This is what’s needed to prevent a repeat of the disaster we have today.

What this bill says is you must do all of those things, and it is linked to legal permanent residence. In essence, someone who violated our immigration laws cannot apply to become a legal permanent resident of the United States until all five of those things happen. That’s the guarantee that this will happen.

I happily voted for Senator Rubio, and strongly urged Mitt Romney to choose him as a running mate in 2012.  (No offense to Paul Ryan.)  I still like Rubio a lot – check out the first few paragraphs of his piece at Human Events for a taste of what he can do at the top of his game.  But this is where he loses me.  Washington simply does not work the way he seems to think it does, and after a few months of backseat driving from the likes of Senator Chuck Schumer, you’d think he would know it better than anyone.

His first trigger is the “completion of at least 700 miles” of border fence.  Completion, you say?  How long has this particular project been awaiting completion?  Let me give you a hint: the enabling legislation is called the Secure Border Fence Act of 2006.  The “new and improved” 2012 promise to do something Congress already promised to do in 2006 is less impressive than the originally planned fence.  And anyway, like most of the rest of these border security enhancements, the whole affair is placed at the discretion of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, who has already made it very clear she intends to build no more border fencing.  She’s also made it clear the border is as secure as she thinks it needs to be.  Her department says it’s not even trying to measure border security by objective standards any more.  All she has to do is exercise the vast discretion granted her in the Gang of Eight bill to decide that fence construction is not an “appropriate use of resources,” and that’s it, no fence, no trigger, no nothing.

How about that Republican Border Surge?  Well, they won’t be showing up until 2021, and the Gang of Eight bill doesn’t actually appropriate any money to hire them.  It only authorizes the appropriation.  2021 comes well into the second term of Barack Obama’s successor.  It’s not going to happen, folks.  There will be a budget crisis between now and then – you can count on it.  And Democrats will gleefully throw the Republican Border Surge into the pile of “unnecessary” spending that should be sequestered right out of the budget, because the government will have once again given itself top marks for border security, even though the Congressional Budget Office doubted the Gang of Eight bill would reduce the flow of illegals by more than 25% or so.

The idea that fancy new technology is necessary to crack down on visa overstays is ludicrous; that’s 18th-century basic record keeping.  The government that’s monitoring the rest of us in a thousand ways – the government that will hammer every individual and small business in America with penalties for failure to comply with ObamaCare – can’t figure out when people stay longer than their government-issued visa paperwork says they have to leave?

The E-verify system will “make sure that there is no future for those who live in our country illegally?”  Senator Rubio, I’ll see your E-verify and raise you the Democrat Party, plus the open-borders wing of the Republican Party, plus Republicans terrified by special-forces teams of consultants into believing that they must pander to the growing illegal vote at all costs.  Those who live in our country illegally have a fine future.  There is absolutely zero chance they’ll get hauled across the border en masse because of E-verify, or because they don’t pay their amnesty fines, or because they don’t speak English.

This whole debate has the concept of “triggers” exactly backward.  Instead of fanciful notions of triggers stopping an amnesty program once it’s under way, we should have triggers that activate the legalization process.  If illegal immigration is reduced by this amount, and the population of illegal aliens has been attenuated by that percentage, then in 2014 or 2016 we can talk about legalization.  Requiring ironclad results in the near term is the only way to restrain the ambitions of the State.  As with the perennial promises of spending cuts someday in exchange for tax increases right now, no promise extending beyond the end of the current Congress is meaningful.  And the idea of trusting this particular Administration to honor any commitment it finds inconvenient is absolutely ludicrous.

Ten- and twenty-year immigration projections are as silly as ten-year deficit reduction plans.  The State is a special interest, and it has no interest in making big sacrifices to placate uneasy citizens, especially when it’s confident that the electoral strength of its allies will overwhelm them.  Every step of the way, border security has been portrayed as the castor oil Big Government has to swallow, before it gets the delicious meal of amnesty that it really wants.  That attitude is just about the only honest element of the comprehensive immigration reform debate.  The only way to make Big Government do something it doesn’t want to do is to insist upon immediate and total compliance… because once the ruling class gets what they want, We the People have no further leverage over them.

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