February 09, 2007

Arnold's Immigration F-Bomb

Latinos are up in arms over the most recent round of audio tapes leaked out of Arnold Schwarzenegger's office that show the Governator engaging in a very frank and thorough discussion of the immigration issue. Condemnations are ranging from offensive and outrageous" to "abhorrent." But after you read the LA Times piece, go spend a few minutes reading the full 24 page transcript of Arnold's conversation (also provided by the Times, to their credit) , which paints a vastly different and more interesting picture of his views.

Here is some of what Governor Schwarzenegger said that caused such a huff, starting with questions about what to do if Mexicans in the United States on some kind of work visa program stay in the country and refuse to return home to Mexico and leading into a comment about the Simpson-Mazzoli bill:

GOVERNOR: Do you go back then and chase them down? Do you then make them criminals for staying here? Do you put them in prison for staying here? Do we have the prison beds, and do we have the supervision? Do we have enough of the personnel in the prisons, in the county jails for this stuff, to feed them and to guard them and all of those things? Do you round them up? Do you send them back?

Q: Well, those are the nitty-gritty detail questions that need to be answered in Washington. But I think --

GOVERNOR: But the most important thing here is -- you see, that's the interesting thing about it. That, for instance you call the 'nitty-gritty detail', but that actually is the biggest issue. Because why? Because our government in 1986 --

Q: The amnesty.

GOVERNOR: Has f***** the American people.

Q: Yeah, we've got twice as many illegals --

GOVERNOR: You see, because what happened, they said, "Look, we came up with a solution."

Q: Right. M-hmm.

GOVERNOR: And now 20 years later the government comes up again and says, "We are going to work on a solution."

Q: It's worse now.

GOVERNOR: And what happened was with the solution is that they said that if we give them amnesty and if we solve this, and we are going to go and track them down if anyone comes in here illegally, and we'll send them back, and the people that are providing jobs will be punished and all. No one enforced the law.

And later Arnold says this about assimilation:

GOVERNOR: It is changing, but in reality, I tell you. We can talk about what do we say when we get asked in an interview, and there are certain things you can't say. And one of the things that is, I think, tough for the American people to digest is that Mexicans, because it's next door, are holding onto their tradition and to their language much longer than the Polish did when they came over here, and the Germans and the Austrians when they came here, the French when they came here, because that was like you wanted to go and become part of America so quickly that you tried to learn the language. The older generation had always much more difficulty, as much as I have more difficulty getting up to speed with the computer. The older generation that is kind of like still with this new technology kind of stay away from it. But my son is on the computer and everything, and he's much better in English than I am, and he's 12 years old. So that's just the way it is. But I made an effort. But the Mexicans don't make that effort. See, they are building, as you saw down there -- you were down there, right, with the Mexican shopping mall?

Q: You bet.

GOVERNOR: Which is like a --

Q: Plaza de Mexico.

GOVERNOR: Which is like the -- yeah, the Plaza de Mexico, which is like a growth.

Q: On our side?


Q: (SS) Linwood.

GOVERNOR: In Linwood. I mean, it's spectacular, when you see that shopping mall. Literally I felt I was in Mexico City, because I was in Mexico City for months and months and months doing my movies there. And it felt like I was down there. Everyone only spoke Spanish, every shop was in Spanish, every sign was in Spanish. They create a Mexico within California.

Q: You bet. And it's not just in that area. It's in (SS)

Q: Oh, I know.

GOVERNOR: And so you have to now bring all your brochures and everything in Spanish, all your government forms in Spanish, and all of this and all of that. So we have to make an effort, and I think that annoys people in California. It annoys people in America. They say, "Look, you want to come in here as a guest, but then behave as if you are a guest. That if you come --" I always compare the country to a house, your home. If you have someone coming to your home, he's going to say, "This family wakes up at 6:00 in the morning, and then they leave the house, or they go out running and all this. If I stay here I think I should get with the program here, you know? That's the way it is. And it's really funny what I've seen here in the Dehlson's house. Everyone does chores here. It's wild.

Q: They do?

GOVERNOR: Kids go and take out the trash, and the wife is doing the cooking, and Gary is there, he's going out shopping to get the food while she's doing the vegetables ready, he's getting the steaks. And so and so and doing this, and the grandmother is over there putting the flowers -- everyone is doing something. I'd better get with the program. So if I'm smart now, if I'm the guest, I go to his wife and I say, "Hey, what can I do?"

Q: That's true.


Q: That's a big part of it, absolutely.

GOVERNOR: Because I'm not going to say, "Well, in my house, I sit there and I read all day, no matter what happens around me, I read." Well, when you are a guest you don't want to go and sit in a chair while everyone is working and you keep reading your book because you love your novels. You go and get up in this one hour, at least you will then go and make an effort here, because I'm a guest here. Or, let me go out and get the flowers, to the wife, to the lady of the house. "I'm going to get some flowers for doing all of this," with a little message on it. So you do certain things. But what do we see in return? We see protestors carrying the Mexican flag.

Q: Carrying the Mexican flag.

GOVERNOR: And stepping on the American flag, and speaking in Spanish and talking about, "We are here and we're going to stay." So now imagine, someone coming to your house and he has no place because his house burned down next door. Now, he comes to your house because of the misery he went through, or she went through, comes to your house now and you say, "Come on in here for a week or two weeks until you get going." And that person comes out and says, "I'm not going to move anymore. You know, something, Gary? I'm here to f****** stay."

Again, I urge you to read the whole transcript, not just the parts that are generating the most heat in the press. Arnold remains very pro-immigration but, like most everyone else, is grappling with the complexities of solving this very contentious issue.

January 29, 2007

Demography is Destiny

In America Alone, Mark Steyn writes, "demography doesn't explain everything, but it accounts for a good 90 percent." Those who share Steyn's keen interest in demographics will appreciate this story about Steve Murdock, the Texas state demographer. Here is how Murdock sees demography changing the future of the Lone Star state:

Texas is changing. It is growing older and browner, with the elderly and Hispanic populations growing at an unprecedented rate. And as the populations increase, so will the challenges.

If current trends continue, Texas' work force will be less educated and less skilled. State services, already burdened, may be strained to a point never experienced before. The numbers provided by Murdock support the dire warnings:

Hispanics may represent 53 percent of the population by 2030, compared to 30.3 percent for Anglos and 9.2 percent for blacks.

More than half of Hispanics 25 and older had failed to finish high school in 2000; fewer than 20 percent had completed some college, and only about 10 percent had a college degree.

Hispanics could occupy 38 percent to 52 percent of the Texas work force by 2030.

By 2030, 16 percent to 20 percent of the population will be 65 or older, an increase of about 10 percent over 2000. Most will be Anglos. Of Texans older than 65 in 2000, 72.6 percent were Anglo, 16.7 percent Hispanic.

The aging population -- coupled with a segment that is less educated and, thus, earning less money -- will strain social services, including those for the elderly.

"An educated work force raises income levels, which generates businesses activity and increases the market for goods and services," Murdock said. "It also increases investments for new businesses, which in turn increases tax revenues. Higher education equals higher incomes."

Sen. Pete Gallego, D-Alpine, said education is perhaps the most important issue facing the state.

"This is really a wake-up call," he said. "The conclusion is that by the year 2025, if we keep doing what we're doing now, Texas will have the economy of a Third Word country. I have a son who will be 21 in 2025, and that's just not the kind of Texas I want to turn over to him."

If these demographic trends pose challenges, however, they also present opportunities.

"Growth is a double-edged sword," Murdock said. "With challenges come opportunities. The key is to have the opportunities be greater than the challenges."

Governor Rick Perry has taken some serious heat for defending a law giving tuition breaks to the children of undocumented immigrants attending state universities. But you can understand the difficult spot he's in as chief executive of the state: Unless you're going to round up all the illegal immigrants and deport them - which is not only impractical but would devastate the state's economy - you'd better try and find ways of educating them, or face the undesirable consequences of an aging, undereducated population.

January 23, 2007

The Other Surge

This one is in Texas:

Gov. Rick Perry said Monday he will send a dozen armed security platoons from the Texas Army National Guard to help law enforcement officers secure the border.

The 604 newly activated troops are to be part of Operation Wrangler -- an interagency law enforcement effort aimed at reducing crime and increasing security across the state.

The troops will stay active for an undisclosed period of time in areas across Texas. A spokeswoman for the governor said she could not elaborate "on the timing or places, but the surge operation will be on a statewide level."

January 22, 2007

Bush's Immigration Reform Push

Billy House of the Arizona Republic says the push for comprehensive immigration reform will be a "main theme" in President Bush's SOTU on Tuesday, but passing a bill is still far from a slam dunk:

"Everybody, no matter who they are, is sick of the illegality and porous borders," said Tamar Jacoby, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, a conservative think tank, who has written extensively as an advocate for immigration reform. [snip]

"Latinos want to see their friends and family able to work with dignity. And soccer moms and dads want to see Congress solve something," Jacoby said.

But both she and others, including Rep. John Shadegg, R-Ariz., said that just because Congress is now controlled by Democrats, there are no assurances that immigration reform will be easy

"This is still going to have to be a bipartisan, practical, centrist, up-the-middle, in fact, tough immigration bill," Jacoby said.

"We're still going to need 20 Republicans in the Senate and probably 40 Republicans in the House."

Shadegg said that predictions that Democrats will help to see such a plan move through smoothly may underestimate the pressure they will receive from their organized labor constituencies who may oppose such things as a guest-worker plan.

"It's not a lay-down that Bush can get what he wants just because Democrats are now in charge," Shadegg said of immigration reform.

January 17, 2007

Tancredo's Pull

David Yepsen writes in yesterday's Des Moines Register that a White House run by Rep. Tom Tancredo could pull the GOP field to the right in Iowa:

Tancredo also said he has signed up conservative Iowa GOP activist Bill Salier to chair his campaign in Iowa.

Salier energized Iowa Republican conservatives in his unsuccessful 2002 primary bid for the U.S. Senate against Greg Ganske. Salier got an impressive 41 percent of the vote.

While Tancredo has to be ranked as the longest of presidential long shots, he has the potential to pull the Republican field of candidates to the right, particularly on his signature issue of curbing illegal immigration.

He had said earlier he wouldn't run for president if the other leading GOP contenders took a hard-line stance against illegal immigration.

They aren't, so he's in. "Unfortunately, no one in the top tier conveys a concern about this issue," he said. He was especially critical of U.S. Sen. John McCain for co-sponsoring guest-worker legislation with Sen. Ted Kennedy. "It's the McKennedy bill," Tancredo said.

Again, McCain gets singled out for his position, but Giuliani is every bit as pro-immigration. Mitt Romney has his own particular problems with the issue. Even second-tier candidates like Mike Huckabee and Sam Brownback favor comprehensive reform.

The only other declared candidate is Duncan Hunter who shares many similarities with Tancredo: he's a hardliner on illegal immigration, he's from the House of Representatives, and he has no chance of winning. But together Tancredo and Hunter will hold the other candidates' feet to the fire on the issue of immigration as Yepsen suggests.

January 11, 2007

Flake Out

Republican Rep. Jeff Flake says he was booted from his seat on the House Judiciary committee because of his stand on comprehensive immigration reform:

"The Judiciary Committee hasn't exactly been the friendliest place for those who favor comprehensive reform. And leadership was not happy that I was not happy with their strategy -- which was to do nothing," Flake told the San Antonio Express-News.

Flake also said Minority Leader Boehner told him that "the party did not want to reward bad behavior - and 'bad behavior' is having a different opinion on immigration, for one." Flake told the Arizona Republic: "They know a comprehensive immigration package is coming with my name on it."

Flake has been reassigned to seats on the Foreign Affairs and Resources committees.

January 10, 2007

Off the Fence

Mayors from eleven Texas border towns to give Homeland Security Secretary Chertoff an earful on the fence in a meeting scheduled for next week.

January 05, 2007

Mexico's Bright Idea

This is something. The Mexican government is studying the feasability of manufacturing and handing out free GPS tracking devices to citizens wanting to sneak into the United States illegally. The idea is that the illegal immigrants could activate the devices if they get in trouble crossing the desert, and their locations could be forwarded to U.S. Border Patrol agents who could then easily track down and rescue them. A spokesman for the Mexican government denied that such a program would encourage illegal immigration.

December 18, 2006

Pelosi's Priority?

Nancy Pelosi's spokesperson told the San Antonio Express-News that immigration is "absolutely a top priority" for the new Speaker of the House - even though it's not on her list of things to do when Democrats take control next month.

The conundrum for Pelosi, of course, is that while immigration reform legislation is an opportunity to divide Republicans, it also presents a risk to some members of the new majority. More from the article:

Though rarely ever nodding in unison, immigrant advocates and restrictionists concurred that the election proved Democrats had to move to the right in order to win.

But advocates remain optimistic that last year's gridlock won't be repeated and chances have improved for reform.

"Most disagreements are on the edges now, such as on working out acceptable numbers of visas and guest workers allowed," said Michelle Waslin, spokeswoman for the National Council of La Raza.

Opponents of illegal immigration lamented losing some big-name supporters of their cause in the election but remained hopeful that newly elected Democrats will keep their campaign promises to focus first or solely on enforcement.

A bit further down there's this:

Rep. Charlie González, D-San Antonio, said the incoming group of tough-sounding first-termers soon will learn the art of having to break campaign promises to keep their political careers alive.

December 04, 2006

The Economic Benefit of High-Skill Immigrants

As I've argued in these pages, it is a disaster for the United States that we have so few H-1B visas available for high-skill foreign workers who want to become part of the American economy. We spend years educating foreigners, especially in technical fields, and then refuse their requests to work here. Instead we say "No, go back to Bangalore or Taipei and compete against us with what you've learned here."

It is truly insane from an economic point of view. America was made great by immigrants. The current nativist trends within both political parties, but especially the GOP, represents the worst of American narrow-mindedness and a complete lack of an understanding of history.

Most Americans understand the benefits of immigration as common sense and part of the American dream. Still, it is good to see some actual data on the economic benefit to our country of immigrants, in particular immigrant entrepreneurs.

In Sunday's Denver Post, there is a must-read article by Al Lewis called "Capitalism thrives with Immigration".

Lewis refers to a November (2006) study by the National Venture Capital Association called "Impact of Immigrant Entrepreneurs". Click for the FULL STUDY or the PRESS RELEASE.

Here is the first paragraph of the press is worth reading more than once:

Immigrant entrepreneurs have had a profound impact on company creation, innovation and market value in the United States, according to a first-of-its-kind study, "American Made: The Impact of Immigrant Entrepreneurs and Professionals on U.S. Competitiveness." The study found that over the past 15 years, immigrants have started 1 in 4 (25 percent) U.S. public companies that were venture-backed, representing a market capitalization of more than $500 billion. Moreover, a survey of today's private, venture-backed start-up companies in the U.S. estimated that 47 percent have immigrant founders. However, the study also found that two-thirds of the immigrant founders surveyed believe that current U.S. immigration policy hinders the ability of future foreign-born entrepreneurs to start American companies today.

The press release also has some pointed commentary about the visa issue that I've discussed:

Two-thirds of the private companies surveyed who use H-1B visas (temporary visa to hire skilled foreign nationals) say that current immigration laws harm U.S. competitiveness. Forty percent stated that current immigration policies have negatively impacted their companies when competing against other firms globally. One-third of the private companies said that the lack of visas had influenced their company's decision to place more personnel in facilities abroad. "The current quota on H-1B visas of 65,000 has not been sufficient to meet the demand for highly skilled professionals," said Chad Waite, general partner at OVP Venture Partners in Seattle and NVCA Board member. "In nine of the past 11 years, employers have exhausted the entire quota of H-1B's prior to the end of the fiscal year. In the past three years, the quota was used up prior to the start of the fiscal year.

Perhaps equally troubling, the wait in skilled green card (permanent residence) categories is five years or more, sending a signal to current and future outstanding professionals and researchers that America may not be the place to make a career and raise your family."

Though I'm no fan of President Bush in the area of immigration I believe he has been closer to the right answer than any other politician whose position I have heard. Yes, we need to enforce our borders and clamp down on illegal immigration, but it must be simultaneous with massively increasing the quantity of work visas available (at all skill levels) as well as reducing the time it takes to get these visas...especially for high-skill workers whom we would rather see working for the benefit of our nation than competing against us.

These immigrants love the United States. In the full study, the NVCA notes that "Immigrant-founded venture-backed public companies today employ an estimated 220,000 people in the United States" and that "Nearly all the immigrant founders in private companies (95 percent) would still start their companies in the United States if given the choice today."

Only the most isolationist, nativist, know-nothings would want to change these immigrant sentiments and risk the great benefit they provide to our country. Luckily, as demonstrated in the last election, many of the "just close the borders" politicians (including notably the long-time incumbent J.D. Hayworth of Arizona) were defeated at the polls. Americans dislike crime and free-rider costs imposed by certain groups of illegal immigrants. But we are smart enough to distinguish between those issues and the overall benefits of immigration which have been proven repeatedly for over 200 years despite there always being some politicians afraid of the newest group of immigration. It is good to see some of what we all know in our guts to be quantified in such dramatic terms by the NVCA study.

October 18, 2006

Kaus's Question

Still on fence patrol, Mickey Kaus asks: is George Bush ashamed to sign this bill?

October 09, 2006

The Magic Fence

Now it's here, now it isn't. Mickey wonders whether President Bush is subtly trying to make the fence disappear with a pocket veto. It seems to me he's gathered enough evidence to justify his paranoia. Duncan Hunter certainly shares the concern, given how hopping mad he was during a Friday press conference.

Sure to add to the debate is this piece from Sunday edition of the San Antonio Express-News calling the construction of a fence along the border "far from a sure thing."

September 25, 2006

A Tell on Immigration?

Is the fence headed for a big showdown in the Senate, or merely a quiet death? Mickey watched Senator Frist on Stephanolpolous yesterday and has suspicions it's the latter.

September 21, 2006

Immigration: Gold Rush or Fool's Gold?

Very interesting stuff. After everyone - including the media and, apparently, pro-immigration groups - ingested the conventional wisdom that immigration was dead until at least after the November election, pro-comprehensive reform forces are suddenly being routed on the Hill by the security-firsters.

The House started the ball rolling last week with the Secure Fence Act of 2006. Yesterday, the Senate voted 94-0 to take the measure up and President Bush said on national television he'd sign it. House Republicans then followed up the fence bill by passing a voter ID requirement yesterday along near party lines. Today, they're putting the pedal even further to the metal with seven more immigration related votes scheduled, including the Border Tunnel Prevention Act of 2006, the Community Protection Act of 2006, and the Immigration Law Enforcement Act of 2006.

Obviously, Republicans have come to the conclusion that security-first immigration measures are critical to their reelection prospects this year. But this piece by John Kamman analyzing the impact of immigration on races in Arizona this year quotes Tamar Jacoby, the notoriously pro-immigration Senior Fellow at the Manhattan Institute, saying that while Republicans think they've struck an electoral gold mine by getting tough on illegal immigration, it's really just fool's gold:

If immigration does give a victory to the GOP hard-liners, it would be the first time a get-tough approach has been such a powerful force in a federal election, a Washington, D.C.-based policy analyst says.

"In the past 10 years, a lot of politicians have looked at polling and said, 'Here's this big pocket of voters who don't like immigration,' " said Tamar Jacoby, a senior fellow of the Manhattan Institute.

"It has turned out in every instance to be fool's gold (as a campaign issue)," she said.

Kamman goes on to write the following:

Statewide, public opinion so far indicates only modest support for the super-enforcement policy advocated by Hayworth in the district stretching north from Ahwatukee through Scottsdale and by GOP nominee Randy Graf in the district running from Tucson to the Mexican border.

I find that a bit strange, given that just a couple clicks away on the AZ Republic web site you can find this story by Dan Nowicki reporting how Jon Kyl is currently pulverizing Jim Pederson over a remark he made on a local radio show caling the Simpson-Mazzoli bill (a.k.a. amnesty) "the last effective (immigration) measure that passed Congress." Senate races are statewide contests, aren't they?

The fact is, amnesty is a dirty word, and House Republicans have done a good job of framing "comprehensive reform" as amnesty, and also of linking illegal immigration to concerns about national security. My feeling is that this makes the House-led approach more like a gold mine - at least in the short term and the coming election. The fear of some, however, is that tough measures by the GOP now will turn out to be fool's gold in the end, if they alienate a big chunk of the fast-growing bloc of Hispanic voters in the future.

September 18, 2006

Frist Moves on Immigration

Majority Leader Bill Frist just announced he's going to bring the Secure Fence Act of 2006, which passed the House late last week, to the floor of the Senate this week for a vote. Frist writes on his blog:

Americans deserve secure borders ... and Americans deserve to know where their Senators stand on border security. This week, when the Senate votes on the Secure Fence Act of 2006, Americans will know which of their representatives are committed to real action on border security and which aren't.

The swift moves on enforcement-only legislation in the House and the Senate come as a bit of a surprise, given that the MSM churned out a round of stories not too long ago reporting that Republicans were going to put immigration legislation on the shelf until after the election.

September 14, 2006

Sin of Omission

In stories today covering the trial of cop killer Raul Gomez-Garcia, neither the Denver Post nor the Rocky Mountain News point out that Gomez-Garcia was living in the United States illegally at the time of the killings.

August 22, 2006

Pat's PR

Either Pat Buchanan has an unbelievable PR operation or these stories are just a really fortuitous coincidence for the launch of his new book on immigration.

By the way, if you're looking for a thoughtful, less apocalyptic take on the subject, I recommend Michael Barone's recently re-released book "The New Americans: How the Melting Pot Can Work Again."

UPDATE: Speaking of coincidences, you can catch Barone discussing immigration, his new book, Pat Buchanan, and more on Pundit Review Radio.

UPDATE II: Britain faces some uncomfortable immigration realities as well.

August 01, 2006

A Brave New World in Colorado

Yesterday Governor Bill Owens signed a package of new immigration laws which he called the toughest in America. Among the new set of laws is one unbelievably draconian measure that "requires applicants for public benefits such as welfare to provide proof that they are legally in the United States."

UPDATE: Judge in Chicago grants one year stay of deporatation for 11 illegal immigrants arrested in a sweep last month. Here's the kicker:

The delay gives the immigrants a chance to stay in the country if Congress approves a bill granting legal status to many of the nation's 11 million to 12 million illegal immigrants. That measure has stalled, for now, but many analysts think the prospects will improve after the November elections.

July 18, 2006

McCain Speaks - Part II

Yesterday I posted Part I of John McCain's remarks at the press conference with David McSweeney on Saturday. Here's the rest of what McCain had to say:

On what Republicans can do to improve their prospects for November: "I think this is going to be a very tough election, and what I think we Republicans need to do, maybe, is have the President veto a couple of these pork-barrel appropriations bills. I think we Republicans need to sit down together and resolve the immigration issue. We control the Presidency and both Houses of Congress we ought to be able to work out a reasonable program to enforce our borders, and to fix our broken immigration system. I think that progress in the war on Iraq is vital. We all know that the number one issue in every poll is the war in Iraq. By the way, I think the leadership the President will be showing in this present crisis [in the Middle East] will help him.

And I think we just need to overall show our base, our Republican base, that are very concerned about fiscal discipline, that we can get spending under control. I'm not worried about our base, which is concerned about fiscal discipline, to vote Democrat. But I am concerned that they might stay home because they're unhappy with our dramatically increased spending practices over the last six years."

On energy policy: "What I think we obviously need to do is expedite as much as possible progress on ethanol. I just came from Iowa, there are seven new ethanol refineries being built - they're already at 24 and they're building 7 more. Ethanol, when oil is $10 dollars a barrel, isn't that exciting. When oil is $70 or $80 a barrel it's very, very vital, and we're seeing a dramatic expansion of that.

I also believe that nuclear power is clean, is available, the technology is there, and we need to increase dramatically our nuclear power plants. I know that's controversial in some places. I would remind you that 80% of the electricity generated by the French is from nuclear power. The Japanese - everyone in the world is using nuclear power heavily, except for the United States of America.

We did close a bit of a loophole on CAFÉ standards - we may have to look at that some more. But I really believe that the two existing technologies right now are ethanol and nuclear power. Hydrogen is great. Many of these other new technologies are great, but when I get into the details of them they say, 'well, that's two, five, ten years away.'"

On whether Congress will pass an immigration bill before November: I really hope that we do. One major reason is, why shouldn't we be able to sit down together and work this out? We all are in agreement the system is broken. It's the product of 40 or 50 years of failed government policy - nobody understands that better than people from Arizona where we have terrible devastation associated with that issue.

But we should be able to sit down and discuss this. We've had several discussions with some of the House members. Congressman Pence from Indiana has had an idea that we've been discussing, Congressman LaHood has been in the meetings I have...

The President believes we need a comprehensive approach. I totally agree with the President. But once you accept that premise, it seems to me that everything is on the table as to how we could best enforce our borders, establish a temporary worker program of some sort, and dispense somehow with the problem of 11 million people who have been living in our country illegally. Some came yesterday; some have been here 60 or 70 years. So, if we can just have a dialog amongst us, it seems to me that we should be able to come to an agreement. I'm hopeful that we will.

From a pure political standpoint, shouldn't we be able to govern? Shouldn't we be able to sit down and address a major issue that is of major concern to the American people? I think the American people expect us to.

And again, I want to emphasize, we who support a comprehensive solution, as the President does, we're willing to discuss and compromise on almost every aspect of it. We're not locked in concrete on any specific aspect of it. So I hope we can, and I believe we can, and I'm guardedly optimistic."

On an immigration compromise that starts with a year of border enforcement before triggering other provisions of a comprehensive plan: "If tomorrow we said we're going to seal the border, and we're going to do whatever is necessary - and we are spending billions more now, we're hiring thousands and thousands of new border patrol, we've got the National Guard on the border, we're doing lots and lots of things - even if tomorrow we said we're going to set up a guest worker would still take a couple of years. So you could be sealing the border and at the same time moving forward with all of the apparatus and bureaucracy associated with a program like that.

On the other hand, if you say you have to seal the borders, my friend, the Israelis just found out you can't "seal" a border. The only thing that's going to keep the Israelis safe from having people cross their border is to stop the threat. The only thing that going to keep people from coming across our border is to dry up the magnet, which is what attracts people, which is jobs.

And that's why if the only way you could work in America would be with be with a temporary worker visa - a tamper-proof visa - those people who are south of the border wouldn't want to come across illegally because there would be no job for them while they're here, because any employer who employed them without that document would be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law."

On campaign finance reform: "We think that the McCain-Feingold bill has been largely successful. What hasn't been closed is the loophole concerning the 527's, which are a violation of the 1974 law. I don't mean to get too technical here, but right now we have the ability, because of this loophole the Federal Elections Commission will not close and should - and we're in court trying to get them to close it - people like George Soros, and wealthy billionaires are able to pour literally tens if not hundreds of millions of dollars into political campaigns. It's wrong. It needs to be fixed. The Federal Election Commission has to act.

The other provisions of the law have worked pretty well. But we really have a bad Federal Elections Commission. They are the ones who created the loopholes to start with, for soft money and others, and it's very regrettable."

July 12, 2006

It Depends on the Definition of "Illegal"

A reader emails to point out a contradiction in Carville & Greenberg's immigration talking points:

In your blog piece The Dem Playbook For 2006: No Amnesty you quote Greenberg and Carville, including this sentence:

We are for expelling the criminals and allowing a path to citizenship for the law abiding immigrants who pay taxes.

I'm married to an expensively-documented immigrant, and I know full well that there already is a path to citizenship for law abiding immigrants who pay taxes, so there is no need to allow a path for them. If they are talking about a citizenship path for illegal immigrants, well, by definition they are not law abiding, so they are talking nonsense.

It looks to me like they are trying to put all immigrants together, both legal and illegal, which I find offensive. I am for legal immigration, but totally against illegal immigration. And I think most legal immigrants, and spouses of legal immigrants, feel the same way.

Of course, the contradiction applies to some Republicans as well. Supporters of comprehensive immigration reform that includes a path to citizenship would argue that their plan contains an admission of guilt on the part of illegal immigrants which carries a penalty: removal from the United States if you've been here less than two years or a fine and the payment of (at least some) back taxes for those who've been here longer than two years.

I can see how this compromise grates on most people's inherent desire for fairness - and is downright offensive to those who stood in the long lines and paid the high fees required to immigrate legally to the United States - but unfortunately fairness isn't a practical standard to apply when we already have 12 million people here illegally. If it were, the logical answer would be to round up every illegal immigrant in America and send them home to wait their turn in line.

Incidentally, this is where I have a beef with some House-led restrictionists who want to have it both ways. On the one hand, they call the Senate compromise amnesty. But on the other they also say they're not in favor of mass deportation. When asked what they'd do to address the roughly five percent of the American population currently living in the country illegally, they fall back and cite the thoroughly unconvincing argument that "attrition" will naturally take care of the problem. As if the millions of illegal immigrants who've made lives here in the United States over the last two decades, complete with homes and families, are going to just give it all up to move back to Mexico.

I think that's why we've seen the public coalescing around the one part of the plan that most everyone seems to agree upon, which is to focus on getting control of our borders. I also think that once that task has been accomplished to a substantial degree and the government has proven itself serious about addressing the issue of halting illegal immigration, you'd find much broader and deeper support for allowing those here illegally to access some sort of pathway to citizenship.

July 10, 2006

WSJ: Conservatives and Immigration

The Wall Street Journal has a humdinger of an editorial up making the conservative case for liberal immigration policies.

This is, of course, a contentious issue on the Right -- one guaranteed to generate angry mail no matter which side one is on. But for a clear, coherent statement of the Bush-McCain-Reagan approach to immigration reform, it doesn't get much better than this.

Here's a bit:

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.

We realize that critics are not inventing the manifold problems that can arise from illegal immigration: Trespassing, violent crime, overcrowded hospital emergency rooms, document counterfeiting, human smuggling, corpses in the Arizona desert, and a sense that the government has lost control of the border. But all of these result, ultimately, from too many immigrants chasing too few U.S. visas.

Those migrating here to make a better life for themselves and their families would much prefer to come legally. Give them more legal ways to enter the country, and we are likely to reduce illegal immigration far more effectively than any physical barrier along the Rio Grande ever could. This is not about rewarding bad behavior. It's about bringing immigration policy in line with economic and human reality. And the reality is that the U.S. has a growing demand for workers, while Mexico has both a large supply of such workers and too few jobs at home.

Some conservatives concede this point in theory but then insist that liberal immigration is no longer possible in a modern welfare state, which breeds dependency in a way that the America of a century ago did not. But the immigrants who arrive here come to work, not sit on the dole. And thanks to welfare reform, the welfare rolls have declined despite a surge in illegal immigration in the past decade.

The editorial also addresses the "cultural" issue. Then there's this: "Contrary to what you hear on talk radio and cable news, polls continue to show that the conservative silent majority is pro-immigration, and that it supports a guest-worker program as the only practical and humane way to moderate the foreign labor flow."

But really, as they say, read the whole thing.

The Dem Playbook For 2006: No Amnesty

Stan Greenberg and James Carville are out with a new strategy memo for Democrats which is very interesting reading, as always. First, they outline the GOP playbook:

The Republicans have a strategy, which is familiar to us from 2002 and 2004, but in a very new context. Rove is working methodically, issue after issue, to energize Republican loyalists and above all, to consolidate the Bush 2004 voters - one-in-five of whom are now voting Democratic for Congress. Half of the undecided voters backed Bush in 2004. So, the Republicans will work "no amnesty," "cut and run," "gay marriage," and "tax and spend" because they have no choice. But it is important to understand how far they have to go. First, just 50 percent of Republicans "strongly approve" of Bush, down from 76 percent at the beginning of 2005 and 61 percent at the beginning of 2006. Recent efforts have left the number unmoved. Second, the number of voters identifying themselves as Republican has dropped from 37 percent to 34 percent since the last election (comparing the last five Democracy Corps polls), which may make the Republicans even more desperate. Expect that Rove and the Republicans will only become even more intense in the use of these issues.

Next Greenberg and Carville describe how to neutralize and/or undermine the GOP's most potent issues. The section on immigration was especially interesting:

No Amnesty; Enforce the Laws. The San Diego experience teaches us that Republicans can turn nuance into "amnesty". Indeed, in this survey, one of the Republicans' strongest definitions for the election centers on immigration and enforcing laws. However, the Democratic message (tested in earlier surveys), done right, can contest this effectively. It emphasizes no amnesty and a respect for the law, even as we allow a path to citizenship for the law-abiding. Democrats should attack Bush and the Republicans for losing control of the borders and no longer penalizing employers for employing illegal immigrants. We are for expelling the criminals and allowing a path to citizenship for the law abiding immigrants who pay taxes. Our approach is no amnesty and respect for the laws. [emphasis added]

Isn't the italicized phrase another indication of support for an "enforcement first" immigration policy? Remember, it was the Democracy Corps' own poll from last month that showed 48% of respondents "strongly supporting" Bush's decision to put National Guard troops on the border to "increase border security and limit illegal immigration into the country." Another 17% "somewhat" supported the policy, bringing overall support to 65% with only 31% opposed (11% somewhat against and 20% strongly against).

June 28, 2006

"racism and xenophobia are not Republican virtues"

Don't blame me. Rep. Chris Cannon apparently said it quite a bit during his hotly contested primary against Buchananite and Tancredoite John Jacob.

With 100 percent of precincts reporting, Cannon won that primary by a commanding 12 points, 56-44.

What does this mean for the anti-immigration folks? Well, over at The Corner, immigration liberal John Podhoretz notes that some of his more restrictionist colleagues are sounding like Daily Kossacks.

A loss is a loss is a loss. It turns out that anti-immigration sentiment is weaker in the GOP than some thought -- especially in the West.

And some of us think that's a very good thing.

June 27, 2006

Utah 3rd

Utah's 3rd congressional district today is home to a Republican primary that will be watched by both sides of the immigration debate.

Rep. Chris Cannon, who supports the president's plan, faces possible defeat by John Jacob, a restrictionist supported by Rep. Tom Tancredo's Team America PAC.

Polls open at 9 a.m. Eastern, close at 10 p.m. Eastern. Results will be posted online here.

June 23, 2006

The Immigration Cudgel

The House GOP has actually managed to do the right thing on immigration this year: nothing. That's because it is, and always has been, an utter non-problem.

With unemployment below 5 percent, it can't credibly be claimed that immigrants "took 'er jibs." And if too many Mexicans are undocumented in America and living off the grid, it's because we haven't provided them with a reasonable, legal way to be in our country.

There are definitely reforms that are needed to our immigration system, but they're along the lines of President Bush's guest-worker program, not building a wall. There's never been a crisis, save the political crisis created by Tom Tancredo and Lou Dobbs.

And as the Wall Street Journal editorial page writes this morning, the only people who are likely to get bitten by this "crisis" are the House Republicans who ginned it up and then decided to punt:

Looking at House Republicans who are vulnerable this year, we can't find a single one who will lose because of support for President Bush's comprehensive immigration reform. That isn't Heather Wilson's problem in New Mexico; she always has a tough race and favors both border security and a guest worker program. Chris Shays also won't save his seat by rallying the bluebloods in Greenwich, Connecticut, against their Mexican maids and construction workers. On the other hand, J.D. Hayworth could lose his seat in Arizona despite taking his anti-immigration riff to any radio or TV show that will have him.

What might well cost all of them their seats is the growing perception that this Congress hasn't achieved much of anything. If Republicans want a precedent, they might recall what happened to Democrats who failed to pass a crime bill in the summer of 1994. Already in trouble on taxes at the time, Democrats looked feckless on crime and health care and went down to crashing defeat. Immigration could do the same for Republicans, who have been flogging the issue for months as a grave national problem. Doing nothing about it now risks alienating even those conservatives who merely want more border police.

In fairness to the House Republicans, the immigration road show they are planning to put on might just work. And maybe they can blame the Democrats (somehow leaving out Bush and McCain) for the stalemate.

But if using the issue as a political cudgel without actually doing anything is their plan -- well, that just highlights what a nasty little bit of racial pandering and scapegoating this is and has always been.

June 21, 2006

Better Off Dead

I've been thinking for a while that killing an immigration compromise was close to a no-brainer for House Republicans. Why? To start with, eighty-five percent of Congressional Republicans voted in favor of some version of an "enforcement-first" type approach. The base of the party clearly supports enforcement-first, so just as a purely political matter, negotiating a compromise with the White House, a small minority of Republicans, and a whole lot of eager Democrats that included some sort of amnesty would be like shooting the GOP base in the stomach - or worse.

Furthermore, the polling on immigration has been mixed and, I think, generally confusing. Despite numbers cited by the White House and others pointing to support for a guest worker program and a "pathway to citizenship," the public seems very much of the enforcement-first mindset as well.

For example, in the most recent Wall Street Journal poll, voters were asked whether they'd be "more likely" or "less likely" to vote for a candidate who favored "increasing border security by building a fence along the border with Mexico." Fifty percent said it made them "more likely" to vote for the candidate, 26% said it made them "less likely," and 22% said it made no difference. However, when voters were asked the same question about a candidate who favored "a guest worker program for illegal immigrants who have been in the United States at least two years," 40% said "more likely," 34% said "less likely" and 21% said "no difference." That's a net positive of 24 points for those who support border security versus a net positive of only 6 points for those who support a guest worker program.

Another data point worth mentioning is from the most recent Democracy Corps poll which asked whether voters supported President Bush's recent proposal of putting 6,000 National Guard troops on the border to "increase border security and limit illegal immigration." Overall, 65% supported the idea and only 31% opposed it. More tellingly, nearly half of those surveyed (48%) said they strongly supported putting troops on the border, while only 20% strongly opposed the idea.

Which leads me to the next reason it was a no-brainer for House Republicans to kill the immigration bill: why on earth would they negotiate away something they've already won? President Bush has already given away the enforcement side of the equation. All border-state Governors have signed off on his plan and the first National Guard Troops have already started arriving at the border. The U.S. Immigration & Customs Enforcement just completed a 19-day long series of raids netting close to 2,100 illegal immigrants. Bush has already committed to doubling the number of Border Patrol Agents over the next two years, building some physical barriers and massively upgrading hi-tech survelliance equipment along the border.

I realize this may seem like "half a loaf" to conservatives, but the fact is the Bush administration is finally showing signs of taking the issue of illegal immigration more seriously, which is what Republicans have wanted all along. Besides, the principal ingredient for a tougher policy on illegal immigration is political will and leadership. We've already got laws on the books that aren't being followed. The House can stiffen penalties as much as they want, but it won't make a single bit of difference if the agencies involved look the other way on illegal immigration or don't enforce the law.

The bottom line is that the Bush administration has taken steps on enforcement - steps which the Republican caucus and the public very much support. There's simply no need for Republicans to turn around and give away an amnesty-type compromise that will endanger their majorities in Congress. Nor does the latest polling indicate they are going to suffer any more than Democrats - and, in fact, less than the President - for not getting an immigration bill. As far as Republicans should be concerned, this thing is better off dead.

Kill Bill: Reaction To the Death of Immigration Reform

Immigration reform is dead - at least for now. Speaker Hastert's decision to call for a series of "field hearings" (whatever those are) on immigration before sitting down to work out the details of a compromise with the Senate means the jig is up. ""Right now," Hastert said, "I haven't heard a lot of pressure to have a path to citizenship."

Here's a roundup of reactions gleaned from various news reports:

Senator John McCain: "I respect their [House Republicans'] views, and I hope that we can still continue discussions, and hopefully we can reach an agreement."

Senator Ted Kennedy: "This is clearly a delay tactic by the House Republicans, who have been dead set against comprehensive reform from the beginning. One has to wonder why there are going to be continued hearings ... other than just to delay and kill the bill."

Senator Hillary Clinton: "It looks like another effort to score political points by refusing to do what needs to be done. This Congress sure won't do anything that's in the best interest of Americans so far as I can tell."

Senator Arlen Specter: "There's a general recognition that we need a bill. We're going to get together. We're going to sit down and try to work it all out."

Senator Harry Reid: "The Republican House wants to defeat the immigration bill. This is a stall."

Dan Perino, White House Spokesman
: "The president is undeterred in his efforts to pass a comprehensive immigration reform bill. [He is] committed to working with members to see if we can reach a consensus on a bill that will help solve our nation's immigration problems."

Congressman Tom Tancredo
: "Odds were long that any so-called compromise bill would get to the president's desk this year. The nail was already put in the coffin of the Senate's amnesty plan. These hearings probably lowered it into the grave. This is an issue that we can run on and win in November. By training Americans' focus on the Senate's amnesty pact, we'll create momentum for an enforcement-first bill after November. As more light is shed on the Senate's bill, more and more Americans find reasons to oppose it."

Majority Leader John Boehner: "We want to have a very clear idea of what is in the Senate bill and what people think of some of the provisions in the Senate bill. The American people want us to secure our borders. They want us to enforce our laws."

Senator Lindsey Graham: "The question is, Is it better to solve the issue before the election, or is it better to make people mad and do nothing? I think it is hard to go to the electorate when you have the White House, the Senate and the House and say that you cannot at least go through the effort of trying to get a bill. That would to me be a sign of inability to govern."

Senator Jeff Sessions: "The problem with the Senate bill is that it is a tremendously important issue that had very little serious thought given to it. The House can provide the nation an opportunity to find out what's in the bill."

Minority Whip Steny Hoyer: "This is a device to put off the issue, so they don't have to highlight their divisions."

Senator John Cornyn: "I think it's clear the Senate will have to move closer to the House position to get it resolved."

Senator Dianne Feinstein: "My own view is that Republicans want to use it as a campaign issue. I think it is a good idea to let this thing settle for a while."

Senator Mel Martinez: "I realize that the House has not addressed two of the three major aspects of the Senate bill."

I'll be back a bit later with more comment on the subject.

June 20, 2006

Tancredo: South Park Republican?

Tom Tancredo apparently named his political action committee Team America PAC. (I learned this via The Note.)

I could be very late to this news. But what a name.

Being from Colorado, maybe he thinks he can lock up the South Park Republican vote.

He might, however, want to check out South Park's answer to illegal immigration before committing to the association.

June 19, 2006

Down on the Border

If this strikes you as news, you haven't been paying very close attention:

Demos find border a top issue for rural voters

By Daniel Scarpinato

Arizona Daily Star

Tucson, Arizona | Published: 06.18.2006

SIERRA VISTA -- When Victor Walker knocks on the doors of fellow Cochise County Democrats to talk about his candidate of choice for Congress, the topic quickly turns to immigration.

"The common theme is, 'People broke the law, they should be treated like lawbreakers,' " says Walker, former Cochise County Democratic Party chairman, who is campaigning for Gabrielle Giffords.

"They want to vent. The issue comes home particularly when your property is being trashed. They don't like that," he says.

The tough talk by Democrats in border areas of the state is in striking contrast to the way liberals tackle the issue in nearby Tucson, or for that matter, in Washington. Elsewhere, they use words like compromise and comprehensive. In this neck of the woods, Democrats talk enforcement.

June 05, 2006

Notice to Disappear

Yesterday the Chicago Tribune ran a jaw-dropping report on the catch-and-release program of non-Mexican illegals entering the country that included this:

Non-Mexican immigrants aren't pervasive, accounting for about 10 percent of the apprehensions, the remainder being Mexicans, said Josiah Heyman, an anthropology professor at the University of Texas at El Paso. Last year, 165,175 non-Mexican immigrants were arrested, and 114,912 of them were released, Border Patrol figures show.

If I'm doing the math correctly that's a release rate of 69.5%. It's very difficult to disagree with T.J. Bonner, the president of the union of Border Patrol employees, who decried this as a "failed policy" and a "national embarrassment."

Meanwhile, the Boston Herald has an equally disturbing report this morning that begins:

Police officials statewide are decrying revolving-door treatment of illegal immigrants they are forced to release when overwhelmed federal authorities fail to take action, a Herald review found.

Even in cases when cops verify a person is illegal, police chiefs say their officers often can do nothing because federal immigration agents with the power to detain them are seldom available to respond.

"It's out of control," Wakefield Police Chief Rick Smith said. "A lot of them (illegal immigrants) are running around gainfully employed and it's tough to get a handle on it. We have to operate within the rules."

We really have gotten to a point where the issue of illegal immigration needs to be addressed, and Republicans in Congress deserve credit for grappling with the issue despite the fact it is causing a very tumultuous debate and exacerbating a split within their party during an election year.

May 31, 2006

The Decline of Liberal Thought

Joel McNally proves Dennis Prager's point from last week about the "decline of liberal thought" with this line about Wisconsin Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner and immigration:

"If Sensenbrenner really wanted to be honest about what he's up to, he would simply add an amendment declaring white to be our national color."

May 30, 2006

Immigration Wisdom

For today's immigration quiz, see if you can name the person who wrote the following:

Illegal immigration should be a simple slam-dunk for any serious citizen. The principles that leap out are obvious and historically irrefutable:

First, anything illegal is by definition wrong. We are opposed to illegal drugs, to illegal violence, to illegal immigration. It is against the law, and it should be stopped.

Second, any nation has an absolute obligation to protect its sovereign border. If you can't block people from coming across your border, you really can't protect your citizens.

Third, everyone knows where our border is. As dozens of nations have done before us, we must learn to guard it effectively. The sad reality is that an open border separating a wealthy welfare state from a poor developing country will attract millions of illegal immigrants. It is our duty to have an effectively protected national boundary. It is the federal government's job to see that we do.

Fourth, when people have succeeded in illegally entering the United States, there should be a quick and efficient method of deporting them. Hours or days - not months or years - is the correct length of time. Whatever laws need to be changed to make speed and efficiency possible must be changed. The current legal circus encourages illegal immigrants and makes it surprisingly easy for them to stay in the United States for a lengthy period of time.

Fifth, any costs incurred by state and local governments in taking care of illegal immigrants should be reimbursed by the federal government. This is a federal problem. If it costs the federal government money, that will simply provide an incentive for Washington to get its act together and solve the problem.

Sixth, stopping illegal immigration may ultimately require everyone to carry employee identification cards that have holograms or other hard-to-counterfeit devices. The current black market in identity cards makes a mockery of our laws. When the deliberately crooked illegal immigrant can get a green card faster than the deliberately law-abiding legal resident, there is something wrong.

Seventh, we should develop a guest-worker program to allow foreigners to work temporarily in the United States. This may be the safety valve that allows Mexico and its neighbors to accept a tough, decisive United States policy against illegal aliens. The right kind of guest-worker program, modeled on those in effect in Europe, will allow economically aggressive immigrants to come to the United States on a temporary basis, creating a win-win relationship: they contribute to the American economy while taking earnings back to their native country.

Eighth, this much clearer and more aggressively enforced system will also allow us to be more practical and helpful in issuing visitors' visas for people to come to the United States. The long lines at our consulates - the result of our suspicious attitudes - are hurting American tourism. Ironically, we are stopping people who would like to spend their money but not stopping their cousins who want to sneak in and work illegally. We have the worst of both worlds.

Ninth, within this framework we should be as open and enthusiastic as ever about people who want to come to enter America as legal immigrants. Preference should go to immigrants who possess knowledge, skills, and investment capital. We should also favor those who are reuniting immediate (but not extended) families. The open door should remain open.

Finally, we should not knowingly give welfare or government aid to illegal immigrants except for emergency health care. The whole notion of knowingly allowing illegal residents to collect welfare is a sign of just how out of touch the welfare bureaucracy has become.

There is no magic to solving the problem of illegal immigrants. It is not intellectually challenging. Throughout history, countries that have survived have learned to maintain their borders. There are plenty of practical examples of how to get the job done. If we work at it we can dry up 95 percent of illegal immigration within two or three years. Our challenge is getting to a clear decision, developing a workable plan, and implementing it relentlessly.

That was Newt Gingrich eleven years ago in his book To Renew America.

More on Immigration Reform......

More immigration emails on "The Republican Crossroads on Immigration":

Sir - I am part of the middle-class rage that you so sensibly address. I believe that the reason this immigration issue resonates so deeply with folks like me is because it is both a real and metaphorical example of the lack of respect to fundamental conservative principals that the Republican party and The President have displayed in the last few years. If these two entities haven't and won't protect our border, why should I grant them anything? Your solution is a good one, but I don't think they really care enough to implement it. Thank you.


I generally agree with everything posted on your blog, except for immigration.

1) Immigration was not on my radar screen, I don't even know where this issue came from all of a sudden.
2) I don't know anyone (not to sound like Pauline Kael here) who felt this issue was important. I have friends, family members, and co-workers all across the political spectrum, and this issue never came up.
3) I basically feel immigration strengthens our country - these are hard working people who come here to work and support their families.
4) The fact that these are illegal immigrants doesn't mean that much to me as part of the public policy question. After all marijuana is illegal (the 'nation' decided pot should be illegal presumably the same way in which it determined what constituted an illegal immigrant)
5) This could be a chance for the Republican's to capture the Hispanic vote in the same way the democrats have captured the black vote.
6) I am not worried about assimilation - I have several 2nd and 3rd generation Hispanics who work with and for me, and they seem as American as any other ethnic group.
7) As for the solution to the issue - I am sure we need some process to convert 'undocumented' workers into 'documented' workers, but I just can't see us expelling millions of hard working people.


The S.2611 is a joke & the House members know it. We all seem to be treading with a PC attitude. These people are here ILLEGALLY and the real people probably at one time came from immigrant families or with ties to immigrant families know the difficulties of obtaining citizenship(my wife for one).

There should be NO free passes. NO AMNESTY. Close the borders like a drum, go after the employees( their only concern is cheap labor = bigger profits) & after the jobs dry up & the people decide what they will do (3 to 7 years) then the Congress can visit this issue again with the "NO AMNESTY APPROACH"

This is I think what "We the people" WANT.

The Republican Crossroads on Immigration

A flood of emails this morning on my column examining the Crossroads the Republican party faces on Immigration reform and how to deal with illegal immigration.

I am puzzled too. This is ineptness beyond comprehension.

The debate has become one of immigration rather than one of illegal immigration. I am for legal immigration - I am a legal immigrant and a naturalized citizen. I am not for illegal immigration. But the Senate obviously can't recognize the difference.

The second issue is one of a secure border. It belies credulity that we are fighting a war thousands of miles away to enhance global security while having our own southern border leaking like a sieve.

I don't think much of Congress. I have been a strong Bush supporter mainly because I thought he would do the right thing even if he could not explain it very well. Now i'm starting to wonder whether it is fatigue that is overtaking him or just presidential hubris.


So absolutely True! But I fear Bush and the GOP are so totally corrupted that your outstanding, common sense advise will be completely ignored. I know it all started much earlier than Katrina, but using that tragedy as the historical marker, this President and his Administration, and the Republican controlled Congress, have been so disconnected from the "The People" that there is no doubt in my mind that they are going down to defeat and taking us all with them.

Bush and the GOP have gone crazy with power and greed, and they've lost all contact with reality. Middle of the road Republicans and Independents who put these guys into power have been "turning off" by the thousands since Katrina. Donations and campaign workers are slowing and will be tougher to come by. And, come Election Day, they'll stay away from the polls by the millions.


Enjoyed your RCP article on the building rage on illegal immigration. I certainly feel that way, but then again, I also felt that about Kelo, and I haven't seen a backlash there either.

So when you assert that there's a growing backlash building in the grassroots, I'm hopeful that you're right, but I didn't see any grounding for the assertion within the text.


Concerning your May 30, 2006 article "The Republican Crossroads on Immigration", I think you have the politics of this right in every detail. I hope the Republicans follow your "roadmap".

Continue reading "The Republican Crossroads on Immigration" »

USA Today's Immigration Math

This morning USA Today serves up a seemingly authoritative analysis concluding that the nation is divided into "four clusters that are roughly equal in size but vary dramatically in point of view" on the issue of illegal immigration. USA Today dubs the groups "hard-liners" (25%), "the unconcerned" (23%), "the ambivalent" (27%), and "the welcoming" (27%).

Buried in the description of this last group, however, is this nugget of information:

The most sympathetic of any group toward illegal immigrants and the most likely to believe their removal would hurt the economy. The only group that thinks dealing with illegal immigrants already here should take priority over border security. [emphasis added]

Uh, doesn't that mean roughly 73% of Americans believe border security is a priority? And doesn't that put the lie to the claim that there is some dramatic variance among the public's point of view on the issue? USA Today didn't just bury the lede on this story, it looks like they missed it altogether.

May 26, 2006

Mexico's Curriculum

Buried deep in this long article in Wednesday's Seattle Post-Intelligencer examining the effect of the debate over immigration reform in Eastern Washington's heavily Hispanic agricultural counties, I came across this surprising factoid:

"Often, students enroll in schools within days of arriving in Washington after long, winding journeys through California. Sixteen-year-old Yaret Ortíz was one of them.

Ortíz is enrolled in an online Spanish curriculum created by the Mexican government and tailored to state requirements." [emphasis added]

I wasn't aware the Mexican government was in the business of writing online Spanish curricula for U.S. school districts, but it turns out it currently does this with six districts in 5 states through a web portal set up here.

It gets even more surprising. Upon further investigation I stumbled across a link to the "Oregon-Mexico Education Partnership," established in 2004 to help migrant workers living in Oregon for the purpose of:

*Having more education for their life and work

*Improving their home language

*Learning English "the easier way"

*Supporting their children with their own example

*Improving their self-esteem, and pride for the Mexican culture

*Obtaining official educational certificates from Mexico"

The program also declares that it can help "Mexican citizens in the US federal prison system who can get their education while incarcerated, and leave the prison system with a greater knowledge than before, ready to serve their country with positive contributions."

I'm hard pressed to understand why the state of Oregon needs to be funding and facilitating programs to improve literacy in Spanish or "pride for the Mexican culture" - especially among those who are living here illegally.

Clearly, the Mexican government has its own agenda, part of which is to help its citizens living in the United States. On one hand, that is a completely legitimate rationale and a function that many governments perform on behalf of constituents. But on the other hand, because the government of Mexico has done virtually nothing to halt the flow of its citizens entering and living in the United States illegally, and because the Mexican treasury relies so heavily on remittances from its citizens living here illegally, these programs are an outrage in that they seem designed to promote an infrastructure that supports illegal immigration.

The problem illegal immigration presents to the United States' public education system is substantial. Certain communities have struggled to find a way of dealing with the enormous strain placed on the public education system by the huge influx of Spanish-only speaking migrant families. Title IC of the No Child Left Behind Act mandates federal assistance for the education of migratory children and has resulted in the creation of specialized "Migrant Ed." programs like this one in Southern Oregon. The goal, which is admirable enough, is to help keep the children of migrant workers in school and learning, rather than on the streets getting into trouble.

The question is whether these programs are performing the essential function of helping kids and parents assimilate into communities or whether they're having the opposite effect, allowing certain communities to become more and more balkanized. It's a question worth asking, especially in the context of an immigration reform bill that may provide a path to citizenship for many currently living here illegally and may also dramatically increase the number of temporary workers allowed into the country.

May 24, 2006

Are We Going to Treat Illegals Better Than U.S. Citizens?

Here is what President Bush said in his speech on Monday, May 15:

I believe that illegal immigrants who have roots in our country and want to stay should have to pay a meaningful penalty for breaking the law, to pay their taxes, to learn English, and to work in a job for a number of years. [emphasis added]

Now look at this from item #2 on Senator Charles Grassley's list of the "Top 10 Flaws" in the Senate immigration bill:

Under the bill, illegal aliens get an option to only have to pay three of their last five years in back taxes. Law-abiding American citizens do not have the option to pay some of their taxes. The bill would treat lawbreakers better than the American people.

Even for those who favor comprehensive immigration reform, the idea that illegal immigrants will be granted an "option" to pay back taxes is going to be a tough pill to swallow.

How Not To Handle Immigration Disagreements

Note to elected officials pursuing immigration reform in Washington D.C.: constituents generally don't react well to condescension.

Don't bother calling Sen. Richard Lugar's office to express your opinion about the immigration issue unless you agree with his opinion of not enforcing the southern border and amnesty in the form of a guest worker program. I made that mistake. His staff was rude and belittling. I was scolded as if he were talking to a teenager.

I was told I could not understand the problem. I would like to tell Lugar something. The people of Indiana do not want amnesty in the guise of a guest worker program. We did that in the 1980s. It did not work. We do not want an open border. We want you to go after the employers and verify Social Security numbers. Give the police the power and funds to deport illegals. I am tired of pressing #1 for English.

I would like to say to Sen. Lugar the problem is with entrenched politicians in the pocket of big business with the attitude of your staff, go away "little people," we know what is best for you.

Hey Indiana, the problem with Dick Lugar is that he has not had to look for a job recently like the rest of us.

May 18, 2006

Senator Martinez Changes His Tune

martinez_small2.gifReader G.W. from Florida thought he remembered Mel Martinez taking a much tougher line on immigration during his 2004 Senate race and decided to do a bit of digging. Sure enough, candidate Mel Martinez's position on immigration that appeared on his 2004 campaign web site is noticeably at odds with the piece of immigration legislation Senator Mel Martinez put his name on recently. Here is what Martinez said in 2004 regarding the issue of immigration:

We are nation of immigrants. The hard work and contributions of millions of legal immigrants are an important part of our America's history. Our immigration policy, however, must first and foremost ensure the security of our great nation and its citizens. Especially during these treacherous times, our focus must be on preventing those who would harm us from entering our country and in providing the resources our border agents need in order to accomplish this. I oppose amnesty for illegal aliens. I support a plan that matches workers with needy employers without providing a path to citizenship. Immigration to this country must always be done through legal means. [emphasis added]

May 17, 2006

More Immigration Op-Eds

End Border Lawlessness - Senator Jeff Sessions, Washington Times
A 'D' For the National Guard Solution - Ruben Navarrette, Seattle Times
Bad Politics in 2 Countries - Robert Robb, Arizona Republic
A Bush-league Record - Michael Goodwin, NY Daily News
American Interests Merit Top Priority - Jonathan Gurwitz, SA Express-News
Desperate Bush Turns To the National Guard - Joe Conason, NY Observer
The ABCs of Immigration - William F. Buckley, Universal Press
Bush's Charade: Problem is at Firms, Not Borders - Froma Harrop, Providence Journal
President Falls Way Short - Al Knight, Denver Post
The Latest Crazy Bush Move - Molly Ivins, Salt Lake Tribune
Senate Bill Disguises Vast Increase in Illegal Immigration - Maggie Gallagher, Yahoo
A Glimmer of Hope on Immigration - Derrick Z. Jackson, Boston Globe
Bush's Immigrant Policy Sounds Like Kerry's - Richard Brookhiser, NY Observer

May 16, 2006

Bush Hits It Up the Middle?

Results from a snap Zogby Interactive poll on Bush's speech last night: "Overall, 47% said they liked the Monday speech, while 47% said they were disappointed."

Zogby also reports that "about seven in 10 Republicans said they generally liked the speech, while 29% said they were disappointed." Those numbers strike me as wildly off the mark, almost the inverse of what I would have expected. We'll have to wait and see what other data follows from Bush's speech.

Will Bush's Plan Hurt The National Guard?

An informed member of the United States military writes to point out some serious flaws with the way the Bush administration has constructed its plan to use the National Guard to assist with border control efforts:

During the Presidents address on immigration, we learned of the Administrations plan to use the National Guard with "up to 6,000 Guard members deployed to our southern border."

It was not until the release of the earlier White House Press Briefing where we would learn significant details of this plan. This is not simply 6,000 soldiers going to the border and doing a mission for a year. Rather it is 156,000 total soldiers rotating through the border at two week intervals over a twelve month time period.

Q: On the National Guard, did I hear right, they're going to -- each Guardsman is going to be there for three or four weeks, by training?

MS. TOWNSEND: Their annual training requirement is two to three weeks. And so what you will do is you will, at any one time -- 6,000 represents about 2 percent of the overall strength of the National Guard. It won't be the same 6,000 people there for 12 months, it -- as I said, it will depend on mission assignments. But what you will do is, during -- that 6,000, at any one time, will be comprised of individual Guardsmen doing their annual training requirement.

This plan has two significant problems that lead me to believe that while it was very likely first mentioned by a uniformed member of the military, it was in reality a "shot from the hip" that did not have a thorough military staffing performed. Last week while I was attempting to envision what the Administration would ultimately do, this same idea came into my mind however, it was quickly discarded.

The first significant problem is by the very nature of National Guard/Reserve Annual Training. There are 15 days to get to the duty station, unpack your equipment, learn what you need to do, gain proficiency at what you need to do, repack your equipment, then travel home. By the time that each soldier is able to make a contribution to border security they will be ready to leave. Instead of these soldiers being an asset to the Department of Homeland Security they will become an unwelcome burden consuming more than they are returning.

The second significant problem strikes close to home for those of us involved in training the Guard/Reserve. Civilians are familiar with the concept of serving "one weekend a month" (Inactive Duty Training (IDT)) and "two weeks of summer camp" (Annual Training (AT)). Weekend training focuses on performing administrative tasks along with individual soldier skills (Individual Training). The primary purpose of Annual Training is to provide unit readiness training (Collective Training) and evaluation of the unit performing its combat mission according to its "Mission Essential Task List." (METL).. While there may be some METL tasks that can be performed at the border, the major combat tasks will be neglected.

The National Guard Bureau, the Department of the Army and the United States Army Reserve Command have always ensured that Annual Training was devoted to performing wartime collective training. The 156,000 soldiers performing their Annual Training at the border will be deprived this badly needed unit training that they need to succeed in the Global War on Terror.

I sincerely believe that in twelve months when Congress evaluates this plan they will determine the combat readiness of a significant portion of the Army National Guard has deteriorated while border security has gained very little from that sacrifice. Ultimately, they will determine that funding for annual training has been spent inappropriately.

May 15, 2006

Excerpts From Bush's Speech

Here are some excerpts from Bush's speech tonight, straight from the White House's communications shop:

On the President's vision for comprehensive immigration reform:

"We are a Nation of laws, and we must enforce our laws. We are also a Nation of immigrants, and we must uphold that tradition, which has strengthened our country in so many ways. These are not contradictory goals - America can be a lawful society and a welcoming society at the same time. We will fix the problems created by illegal immigration, and we will deliver a system that is secure, orderly, and fair."

On Border Security:

"Since I became President, we have increased funding for border security by 66 percent, and expanded the Border Patrol from about 9,000 to 12,000 agents. . . .we have apprehended and sent home about six million people entering America illegally.

"Despite this progress, we do not yet have full control of the border, and I am determined to change that. Tonight I am calling on Congress to provide funding for dramatic improvements in manpower and technology at the border."

On the Importance of a Temporary Worker Program to relieve pressure on the border:

"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."

On enforcing our laws:

". . . we need to hold employers to account for the workers they hire. It is against the law to hire someone who is in this country illegally. Yet businesses often cannot verify the legal status of their employees, because of the widespread problem of document fraud. Therefore, comprehensive immigration reform must include a better system for verifying documents and work eligibility . . .

"A tamper-proof card would help us enforce the law - and leave employers with no excuse for violating it. And by making it harder for illegal immigrants to find work in our country, we would discourage people from crossing the border illegally in the first place."

On the President's opposition to amnesty:

". . . we must face the reality that millions of illegal immigrants are already here. 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."

On assimilation:

". . . we must honor the great American tradition of the melting pot, which has made us one Nation out of many peoples. The success of our country depends upon helping newcomers assimilate into our society, and embrace our common identity as Americans. Americans are bound together by our shared ideals, an appreciation of our history, respect for the flag we fly, and an ability to speak and write the English language."

On the tone of the debate:

"We must always remember that real lives will be affected by our debates and decisions, and that every human being has dignity and value no matter what their citizenship papers say."

Bush's Immigration Gambit

The President's speech tonight on immigration is, in a word, huge. Conservatives are looking at it as one last chance for Bush to step up to the plate and put enforcement at the forefront of the debate, but from what's been leaked to the press so far it doesn't look like that's going to happen. A few thousand National Guard troops on temporary duty assisting Border Patrol officers falls so far short of the mark it's arguably worse than proposing nothing at all.

We'll have to wait and see what's in the actual speech, but if Bush doesn't offer a serious, credible pitch for securing the border, by the end of the week he'll be thinking back wistfully to the days when his approval rating was up in the mid-thirties.

It's ironic that Bush grabbed ahold of the traditional "3rd rail" of American politics and didn't get zapped (though he didn't succeed in getting Social Security reform, either) but he's quite possibly going to find himself getting scorched by the new third rail.

May 09, 2006

Immigration Fight in Arizona

It's a microcosm of the national debate and the difficulties facing the GOP:

State GOP is divided on border dilemma

Matthew Benson
The Arizona Republic
May. 9, 2006 12:00 AM

Republican lawmakers appeared deeply divided Monday over what to do about illegal immigration in Arizona, raising questions about whether a comprehensive crackdown on undocumented immigrants can be achieved this session.

A bill that would have combined several strategies to reduce border problems failed to materialize as scheduled Monday. Some lawmakers expressed concern that advances made earlier in the session might be in jeopardy, such as a bill that would penalize employers who hire such immigrants.

Rep. Russell Pearce, R-Mesa, an outspoken advocate of immigration reform, said he saw no resolution to the immigration problems during a discussion Monday among House Republicans.

"I'm tired of the pandering and posturing and failure to act on this issue," he said.

Leaders in the Republican-controlled Legislature said they still hope to unveil a comprehensive immigration plan within the next few days. The impending plan has been described as potentially the nation's most comprehensive crackdown on illegal immigration.

At stake is how to resolve the legislative session's biggest issue and arguably the biggest prize of the upcoming statehouse and gubernatorial campaigns.

"Illegal immigration is the Number 1 issue. Period," said House Speaker Jim Weiers, R-Phoenix. "We have got to do something."

Rep. Mark Anderson, R-Mesa, was more blunt: "The citizens of Arizona expect us to secure the border. That's the top issue. If we finish the session without meaningfully addressing the border, frankly, I don't think any of us deserve to be re-elected."

Related: Immigration South & West - Ryan Sager, RealClearPolitics

May 07, 2006

Immigration: Lots and Lots of Letters

My column on immigration generated a lot of responses from the readership at RCP. It's an engaged bunch over here, and I look forward to lots more feedback.

I've posted a sampling of the responses over at my own blog, Miscellaneous Objections. I'd estimate they run about 4-to-1 against me.

For clarity's sake, I wasn't taking a side in my column, in saying that the immigration debate is driven more politically by the South than by the West (and one reader made a good point: the Midwest should in no way be ignored in this equation, with anti-immigrant sentiment on the rise there). I was simply offering a piece of political analysis.

But, since we're on the topic, my immigration position is roughly this: stronger border enforcement (but no wall) combined with a radical increase in legal immigration (guest-worker program or otherwise).

Also, some readers pointed out that the West is more pro-immigrant (or less anti-immigrant) because more people there are immigrants (first or second generation) themselves. While it would be interesting to see the numbers out West broken down by race or immigrant status, it's also beside the point. Those are the voters in the West, whatever the reasons behind the views that they hold. And the GOP wants their votes.

What's more, Hispanics are not sure-thing voters for the Democratic Party, as some readers claimed (making the case that letting more immigrants into the country is dangerous for the GOP demographically). The GOP doesn't have the lock on them that some Bush boosters would like to claim -- they still identify 2-to1 with the Democrats over the Republicans. But Bush's 40 percent is nothing to sneeze at. Hispanic voters are entirely up for grabs.

May 02, 2006

The Democrats' Illegal Immigration Opportunity

Brad Carson has a great article today on illegal immigration and the Democratic party. Carson represented Oklahoma's 2nd district for two terms and gave up his safe seat for a shot at the Senate in 2004 but wasn't able to overcome John Kerry's 32-point drubbing in the state and lost to Tom Coburn by 12 points.

Carson recounts a dinner party he attended in Washington with prominent journalists, think tank heads and politicians where the largely liberal group expressed a "grave concern over the growing gap between rich and poor in the nation. But few offered any real solutions."

He refers to this group as the "overclass":

Nearly everyone at the party was part of what the writer Michael Lind calls the overclass, educated at the best universities and earning hundreds of thousands of dollars each year. Their children attended private schools. Everyone had a fine retirement package and subsidized health care, and each was immune to the vicissitudes of middle-class economic life. From their cloistered positions, the solution to nearly all perceived problems - from globalization to crime -- is education, which was their own personal visa into the merit-obsessed overclass. For this group of people, immigration is not about inequality in America, but instead all about a cheap nanny, inexpensive lawn care, or proof of multicultural bona fides. Even to bring up the subject of immigration is to seem impolite, if not crass.

Carson's goes on to ask:

America tolerates an immigration policy that adds millions of very low-skilled workers every decade, who come to this country at the expense of low-skilled native workers. Why? There is no good explanation, especially for Democrats, who like to believe that their core constituencies are the middle and lower classes of America.

The illegal immigration debate is presenting Democrats with an enormous opportunity to drive a wedge in the Republican majority. Carson writes:

Democrats' major political obstacle is the increasingly intractable opposition of the non-union working and middle class, exactly the groups who most fervently oppose illegal immigration. While the opponents of immigration no doubt include nativists and xenophobes, the vast majority of those who oppose illegal immigration do so on sound public policy grounds. Illegal immigration is seen rightly as a threat to their economic livelihood. So when the Republican Party offers a platform that not only comports with their social and religious beliefs, but also addresses the one economic threat that is open to government solution, is there any wonder that the working and middle classes find solace in the GOP? Democrats should find a way to bust up this alliance between economic populists and social conservatives, and make many current Republican voters choose which of these movements matters most.

Ross Perot's 19% in 1992 represents the economic populists, a number that I suspect has grown in the last 14 years. It was this group that threw its lot in with the GOP in 1994 which provided Republicans with the troops for their takeover of Congress. George W. Bush has strengthened the social conservative element of this coalition, but these two groups (along with libertarian/small government conservatives) form an important part of the Republican majority. Economic populists like Ross Perot and Pat Buchanan are extremely patriotic and abhor the anti-American strains of the political left, which is what prevents them from voting for most national Democrats.

A Democrat who is strong on national defense, unapologetic about American power and willing to get tough and stop illegal immigration could win a lot of these voters.

April 27, 2006

Immigration Issue Could Lead to 3rd Party Candidate - by Scott Rasmussen

Over the past generation, Republicans and Democrats have battled to a draw on issues ranging from taxes to abortion. Both sides have poll-tested, focus-grouped, nuanced answers for these issues and supporters have lined up with the party of their choice.

Even the War on Iraq takes place against a political backdrop that all participants in the process understand--Democrats need to oppose the War while fighting a perception that they are weak on national security. Republicans want to focus on the global threat of terrorism rather than specifics in Iraq.

Immigration is entirely different.

It's not the most important issue to voters (except in a few Southwestern States) but it could shake up the nation's political equilibrium more than the economy, Iraq, or any other contemporary issue. Our latest polling shows that a pro-enforcement third party candidate could attract more support than a generic Republican presidential candidate in 2008 (and also be tied with the Democrats). Conservatives divide equally between Republicans and the third party candidate. Moderates divide equally between Democrats and the third party candidate. (This should be taken as an indication of the issue's power rather than a literal projection of election outcomes).

The issue has power because politicians from both parties have ignored it for a long time and haven't begun to figure out the nuances or context of the debate.

Most current discussion by elected officials starts with a focus on illegal aliens. For most voters, that's letting the tail wag the dog.

The best place to start is with the bigger picture where most Americans agree. We've been polling state-by-state on this issue all month and consistently find agreement on a few key points.

1. Most Americans in all states want a welcoming national immigration policy that lets our nation assimilate new people into the national melting pot. Our polls have consistently found strong support for a policy goal that welcomes everybody except criminals, national security, threats, and those who want to live off our welfare system.

2. Just as important, most Americans also want a policy that emphasizes enforcement first. They want the nation to gain control of its borders and enforce existing laws before other reforms are considered.

3. As a pragmatic step to support the first two points, most Americans want to build a barrier along the Mexican border.

These goals are not at all contradictory. In fact, they flow naturally from the fact that we are a nation of immigrants, a nation of laws, and a nation of pragmatic problem solvers.

Where does this leave the 11 million or so illegal immigrants living and working in the USA? Unfortunately, they are the pawns in the current debate, but not the central issue.

Let's hope there's a leader out there ready to focus on the bigger picture of the immigration debate... a picture that is welcoming, enforceable, and enforced.

If that person doesn't step forward, it's easy to envision an outcome that only a political junkie could love. Imagine that the nation remains bitterly divided between Republicans and Democrats. Then, a 3rd party candidate campaigns on immigration, picks up a few Southwestern states, and prevents either party's Presidential nominee from winning a majority of the Electoral College. Not a pretty picture.

April 11, 2006

Going Dutch on Immigration

From the foreign desk in yesterday's Chicago Tribune comes this report on the packet of material now being distributed by the Dutch government as part of a new citizenship test aimed at warning certain ethnic and religious groups about, how shall we say, the liberalness of Dutch society:

It features a DVD that illustrates various aspects of Dutch life, including, most notably, a topless woman frolicking in the surf and two men kissing warmly. The message couldn't be more explicit: This is who we are; if you don't accept it, don't come. [snip]

"It's like the warning label on the cigarette packs," said Marco Pastors, a Rotterdam city councilman whose Leefbaar Rotterdam Party has been labeled anti-Muslim for its support of strict immigration controls.

"It's not very subtle, but it prepares people for what they will find in this country," he said. "If you want to live here, you have to accept that girls are allowed to wear miniskirts and can stay out until 3 in the morning. You don't have to behave this way yourself, but you have to tolerate it." [snip]

In addition to the brief scenes of nudity and homosexuality, the 104-minute DVD warns prospective immigrants that the weather in the Netherlands is cold, housing is expensive and the country is flood-prone. It also informs them that honor killing, wife-beating and female circumcision are crimes.

How's that for a subtle hint? It's interesting to watch both Europe and the United States convulse over immigration. Everyone thought that globalization was going to be the dominant issue of the first decade of the 21st century - and it has indeed been near the top of the list along with terrorism. But immigration has proven to be much more of a global sticky wicket than many had imagined because of its deep impact on a country's culture and security as well as its economy.

April 07, 2006

Quote of the Day

"This bill is a dead horse, in my view," - Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL) on the collapse of the immigration bill in the Senate today.

The Senate's Immigration "Compromise"

Now that the immigration bill has snagged, it is time to assess whether it deserves to pass. When I heard the word "compromise," I knew I would be uneasy about it. In no particular order, some thoughts about where this discussion will go next:

• In any compromise, it means somebody blinked. I didn't want my side to blink. My side wanted far tougher borders and serious consequences for those who have broken our laws to get here. Any bill that Ted Kennedy and Harry Reid can support simply does not do that. Sadly, the same might be said of the support expected from President Bush.

• Bill Frist energized the conservative base for a few days with a bill that focused first on tougher borders. This bill probably ends that, for now.

• Sometimes people don't want compromise. Sometimes they want the cleansing struggle of an honest fight. One side is right, the other wrong. One side wins, the other loses. We have hard questions to face about what fate should await the millions who have violated U.S. law to send wages back across the border. These Senators can blow congratulatory smoke at each other all day, but at the end of the day, this bill does not provide a satisfying solution. Our leaders remain paralyzed by the fear of alienating Hispanic voters, who in a sane world would be the harshest voices of all against illegal immigration.

• This bill perpetuates the myths of "jobs Americans won't do," and "labor we cannot do without."

• Ultimately, I smell elected officials who far preferred the happy air of a back-slapping news conference to the hard job of standing up for the unpleasant truth.

- Mark Davis
Host of The Mark Davis Radio Show

April 06, 2006

Two Republican Takes on the Senate's Immigration Compromise

Senator Frist's post from his political action committee's blog:

We are one step closer to passing a landmark immigration bill in the Senate - one that includes all of the crucial border security, interior security and employer enforcement provisions that I called for at the outset of this debate last week.

Specifically, the latest bill proposes to:

Border Enforcement Specifics:

• Add nearly 15,000 additional border protection agents to augment the 20,000 Customs and Border Protection agents already on the job
• Specifically authorize 1,250 border agents and 1,250 port-of entry inspection agents
• Require Defense Department cooperation on the border, e.g. unmanned drones
• Begin the process of securing every inch of our 1,951 mile border with Mexico by building walls and fences in high traffic areas and using sensors to let our Customs and Border Patrol Agents see and hear those who try and cross through low traffic areas
• Require fingerprint database connectivity between FBI and Border Patrol

Interior Enforcement specifics:

• Increase alien smuggling penalties with a mandatory minimum of 5 years
• Add criminal penalties for various immigration-related document fraud
• Mandate the use of expedited removal for aliens apprehended within 100 miles of the border and 14 days of entry

Employer Enforcement specifics:

• Establish nationwide, mandatory verification program for hiring workers
• Limit the number of acceptable hiring documents with REAL ID standards
• Authorize 2,000 new worksite enforcement agents and 1,000 anti-fraud agents

Congressman J.D Hayworth from Arizona has a different take on the Senate's "compromise":

The Senate compromise is so convoluted, so complicated, and so unworkable that is surely must have been the work of Senators Rube and Goldberg.

This is déjà vu all over again. The 1986 amnesty law had a similar approach, and that was a catastrophe. It said if you could prove you did agricultural work for just 90 days a year for the previous three years, you would qualify for a green card. The number of those applying for this benefit was three times higher than expected, largely because of fraud, which was rampant. The Senate bill would likewise be vulnerable to fraud on a grand scale and be a nightmare to administer. It is amnesty wrapped in bureaucracy surrounded by fraud .

April 04, 2006

The Simmering Debate Over Illegals

Rossputin encapsulates the anger many are beginning to feel in regards to the debate over illegals.

Herbert Meyer touches on similar sentiments in "Why Americans Hate This 'Immigration' Debate":

The Two Hispanic Groups

But the millions of Hispanics who have come to our country in the last several decades - and it's the Hispanics we're talking about in this debate, not those from other cultures--are, in fact, two distinct groups. The first group is comprised of "immigrants" just like all the others, who have put the old country behind them and want only to be Americans. They aren't the problem. Indeed, most Americans welcome them among us, as we have welcomed so many other cultures.

The problem is the second group of Hispanics. They aren't immigrants - which is what neither the Democratic or Republican leadership seems to understand, or wants to acknowledge. They have come here solely for jobs, which isn't the same thing at all. (And many of them have come here illegally.) Whether they remain in the U.S. for one year, or ten years - or for the rest of their lives - they don't conduct themselves like immigrants.....

Today we have millions of foreigners among us who have come here to work, but not to immigrate. Our politicians tell us that we must accept this because - for the first time in our history--we've reached that point when we need "guest workers" who aren't immigrants to keep our economy growing. If this is true--and isn't it odd that no one has troubled to explain why it's true - then we must find some way to distinguish between "immigrants" and "guest workers" so that they aren't treated the same just because they both are here. And if it isn't true that our continued economic growth requires "guest workers" who aren't immigrants--then the entire concept of "guest workers" that lies at the core of virtually every proposal now before Congress, including amnesty for those who are here illegally, must be abandoned in favor of something that makes sense.

Until our elected officials come to grips with the real issue that's troubling ordinary Americans - not a growing population of foreigners among us, but rather a growing population of foreigners among us who aren't behaving like immigrants - public frustration will grow no matter what bill Congress passes in the coming weeks. It could lead to the kind of political explosion that none of us really wants.

I consider myself pro-immigration to the core. However, I have no sympathy for illegals who break the law to enter this country and then profess an allegiance to Mexico above the United States. Our doors should be open to people who want to come here to be Americans, not anyone just looking for a job.

March 24, 2006

Doing The Lord's Work On Immigration

Watching this issue take the spotlight is like watching someone take the lid off a pot of water that's been boiling for hours: steam is rising everywhere. Jonathan Weisman and Jim VandeHei take the 2008 angle in the Washington Post this morning, and Elisabeth Bumiller looks at the issue from the view of President Bush in the New York Times.

The best immigration story of the day, however, is by Peter Clark in Newsday who reports on Rep. Peter King's (one of the co-sponsors of the immigration bill passed by the House) response to critics - including Hillary Clinton - who suggest that some of the enforcement measures in the immigration bill are too draconian and don't comport with Scripture:

Peter King, the recreational boxer with a combative record during nearly 14 years in the House, is now taking on the Roman Catholic Church.

King is co-sponsor of a bill that would strengthen the nation's borders and make it a felony to knowingly aid illegal immigrants, a measure that has outraged Catholic activists who work with them.

King (R-Seaford) has no patience for the mounting criticism of him and his bill, even from his own church's leaders.

"Stopping alien smuggling gangs is doing God's work," King said in an interview Thursday. "These people who are supposed to be speaking for God, saying this [the bill] is a sin, and they should go to confession, he added.

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) added to the religious nature of the debate Wednesday at a news conference when she claimed that a Republican-supported immigration proposal would judge "Jesus himself" as a criminal.

King was as outspokenly critical of Catholic leaders Wednesday as he was Thursday.

He said Catholic leaders opposed to the bill are politically correct liberals who "should spend more time protecting little boys from pedophile priests."

Needless to say, that last remark didn't go over well with some members of the clergy. What's interesting about this aspect of the immigration debate is that once again Democrats are trying to recast their policies in a religious context - something they've been trying to do for some time with issues like poverty and education - to help try and bridge the cultural gap that has made it exceedingly difficult for them in red states. Up until now, this effort has been a failure characterized by embarrassing displays of false piety and by folks like Howard Dean and John Kerry. My impression is this latest effort on immigration won't yield much better results.

March 23, 2006

The Hillary & Harry Show

Egad. We knew the immigration debate in Congress would be heated, but who would have thought Jesus would get dragged into it right off the bat. Here's Hillary Clinton in today's New York Times:

"It is hard to believe that a Republican leadership that is constantly talking about values and about faith would put forth such a mean-spirited piece of legislation," she said of the measure, which was passed by the House of Representatives in December and mirrored a companion Senate bill introduced last week by Senator Bill Frist, a Tennessee Republican and the majority leader.

"It is certainly not in keeping with my understanding of the Scripture because this bill would literally criminalize the Good Samaritan and probably even Jesus himself..."

Meanwhile, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid toured the border in San Diego yesterday and then announced he would "use every procedural means at my disposal" to block Senator Frist's immigration bill.

Reid also made a bit of news on The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer yesterday:

BLITZER: Senator Feingold, former Vice President Gore, other Democrats, they say the president broke the law; this wiretapping without warrants was illegal.

Do you believe it was illegal?

REID: With the information I have, which is very spotty, you know, I -- you know, it's really hard to come by -- I think what he's doing is illegal.

That's why we have reached out to him and said: Mr. President, we think what you are doing is wrong. Come with us and work with us. For example, FISA has worked well since 1978. Twenty thousand requests, we have only -- the courts have only turned down five.

And FISA would work -- we have been told by all the experts, all the academics, it would work with what he's trying to do. Let's do it the legal way. Let's do it the way that appears to be constitutional.

BLITZER: If he broke the law, as you suspect he might have, why not simply go for impeachment, as opposed to censure?


REID: Well, I have been through one impeachment proceeding already during my tenure in the Senate. It wasn't real pleasant. And I think it has to be a last resort. And I'm not at that last resort yet.

BLITZER: But you're not ruling that out? Is that what you're saying?

REID: I'm not ruling anything out. But I think it is just way too early to talk about that now.

Senator Frist responded to the Minority Leader's antics yesterday with a post on his blog this morning thanking Reid "for finally being so candid with the American people."

This is surely only the beginning of what we'll see over the next seven months and then on into 2008.

MORE: Visit the RCP Topic page on immigration for more news & commentary.

March 21, 2006

Immigration Debate Heats Up

Gary Martin of the San Antonio Express News reports that the Judiciary Committee is putting the finishing touches on an immigration bill for the Senate to debate. For those following this issue closely, the Committee is working up the McCain-Kennedy proposal which is considered the more lenient of the two competing immigration bills in the Senate (John Cornyn and Jon Kyl co-sponsor the tougher version) which some characterize as granting "amnesty" to immigrants living in the U.S. illegally.

Majority Leader Frist set a deadline for the Senate to debate immigration reform by the end of the month - with or without a bill on the floor. As you can see from Martin's report, this is going to be a very, very contentious debate:

Despite the wrangling, the committee reached a compromise under which the 11 million undocumented immigrants in this country would be eligible for permanent status, but only after 3 million people seeking visas through legal channels are processed.

Specter said the compromise "laid the groundwork for some productive staff work."

Senate staff will iron out the details next week, when lawmakers are in recess.

The agreement was praised by groups seeking an increase in legal immigration.

"This is a real turning point today, and a real blow to Senator Frist," said Cecilia Munoz with the National Council of La Raza, the nation's largest Hispanic rights organization.

Frank Sharry with the National Immigration Forum applauded the panel for standing up to Frist, who is "trying to hijack this process and playing politics with it."

But 70 House members, led by Rep. Tom Tancredo, R-Colo., sent a letter to Specter voicing "grave concern" about some of the Senate proposals.

Tancredo, chairman of the House Immigration Reform Caucus, warned against guest worker provisions and any form of "amnesty" that would reward those who have broken immigration law.

Some of the Senate provisions are incompatible with the House bill, Tancredo said, and could "doom any chance of a real reform bill reaching the president's desk this year." [snip]

"Under any scenario, there can be no amnesty for those who have broken our laws and I will not support any such proposal," Cornyn said.

Martin reports that Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter said he would be willing to put Cornyn's bill to a vote, but both Cornyn and Kyl concede it doesn't have enough support to pass. Immigration reform is one of the fault lines in the GOP and it's going to be very interesting to see this heated debate play out publicly over the next few weeks.

"Lawmakers at odds on immigration" - Rick Klein, Boston Globe
"A fence and legalization may break the stalemate" - Colin Hanna, San Francisco Chronicle
"Mexico Weighs In On Immigration" - Michelle Mittlestadt, Dallas Morning News

February 03, 2006

Mexico Crossing The Line

From today's Arizona Republic:

Border incursions rattling Arizonans
Incident near Arivaca involved copter
Susan Carroll
Republic Tucson Bureau
Feb. 3, 2006 12:00 AM

ARIVACA  - R.D. Ayers remembers hearing the heavy whirl and chop of helicopter blades cutting through the sky above the Tres Bellotas Ranch, a sprawling swath of oak trees and barberry brush right on the U.S.-Mexican border.

Even from inside the ranch house, Ayers could tell it must be a big helicopter. He headed outside, thinking it might be U.S. customs, maybe a drug bust.

Instead, Ayers walked right into a group of armed, masked men speaking Spanish and dressed like agents from the Federal Investigative Agency, Mexico's FBI. The encounter on U.S. soil would be investigated by the FBI, U.S. Border Patrol and Mexican authorities, one of the latest in a long list of suspected incursions from Mexico into U.S. border states.

After long downplaying the number of incursions along the Southwestern border, top Border Patrol officials now acknowledge such incidents are all too common. Over the past decade, the Department of Homeland Security has reported 231 incursions along the border, including 63 in Arizona. Homeland Security defines an incursion as an unauthorized crossing by Mexican military or police, or suspected drug or people smugglers dressed in uniforms.

Jerry Seper of the Washington Times broke the story of Mexican incursions on January 17 and Tony Blankley wrote a pointed column about it the following day. Earlier this week the House began an investigation into the matter and today members of the House Committee on Homeland Security are scheduled to be in El Paso, Texas on a fact-finding mission. This story is far from over.

December 12, 2005

NORAD Commander Speaks on Terrorism & Immigration

As the Commander of NORAD and Northcom, Admiral Timothy Keating is charged with monitoring and defending the airspace of the U.S. & Canada and for protecting the continental United States against any external or internal threat - including terrorism. Not a small job. That is what makes this interview with Keating in yesterday's San Diego Union-Tribune really fascinating. Keating covers a variety of subjects including combat air patrols, Katrina relief and Posse Comitatus. Most relevant to something I've written about recently, however, was this exchange:

The border with Mexico is part of your area of operations. Is there a terrorist component to your menu of issues on the border?

The nexus of terrorism and illegal immigration is a concern. That said, we are unaware, totally, zero, as to knowledge of terrorists using that avenue to infiltrate the United States of America. We're just as concerned about the Canadian border. So it's a two-front issue for us. We work as closely as we can imagine with all manner of domestic, local, state, national law enforcement agencies to maintain full situational awareness. We couple that with overseas intelligence apparatus and agencies so as to formulate as comprehensive a picture as we can of the movement of terrorists throughout the world.

Is terrorist movement across the Mexican border a potential threat?

It's a potential threat but we see no manifestation of the threat into reality. That is to say, we're unaware of any terrorists who are using that method of getting into the United States. We have no indication, zero indication, that the terrorists have used that as a method of entry into the United States.

Despite recent reports and rumors to the contrary, we still have no official indication or documentation that terrorists have crossed into the United States via our Southern border. So says the man directly in charge.  Keep that in mind as you listen to the ongoing debate on immigration reform.

November 22, 2005

al-Qaeda & The U.S.-Mexico Border - Part II

Earlier today I left you with a two-part question: Is the U.S.-Mexico border a threat to national security and is al-Qaeda exploiting it to gain entry to America?

Let's take the last part first. One of the myths debunked in Richard Miniter's new book Disinformation: 22 Media Myths That Undermine The War on Terror is "the U.S. border with Mexico is the most likely place for al-Qaeda terrorists to sneak into the homeland." After thoroughly researching the issue Miniter concluded, "At this time, the balance of evidence shows that no known al-Qaeda terrorist has entered the United States from Mexico."

As Miniter points out, this doesn't mean that al-Qaeda can't or won't try to exploit vulnerabilities on our southern border at some point in the future, only that as things currently stand "the threat from Mexico is purely speculation."

Miniter then goes on to explain in great detail why the evidence proves the Canadian border is a much more real and significant threat for al-Qaeda to penetrate the United States. "If history is any guide," Miniter writes, "al-Qaeda will come from the north."

So, yes, the U.S.-Mexico border is a potential threat to national security and needs to be taken seriously, but we need to separate speculation from fact in assessing just how much of a threat the southern border is relative to other threats we face.

Which leads me back to the claims of al-Qaeda related activity on the border that have popped up recently. One claim was retracted and two others are based on speculative information that either hasn't been or can't be confirmed by official sources.  Coincidentally, all three claims have been made by Republicans pushing tougher immigration measures in Congress.

Miniter demonstrated how these types of claims, once made, have a way of becoming part of a myth.  Until we get more solid evidence , I suggest viewing reports of al-Qaeda activity on the U.S.-Mexico border with a good dose of caution and skepticism.

al-Qaeda & The U.S.-Mexico Border - Part I

On November 16 I wrote about Rep. Sue Myrick's explosive claim - now retracted - that it was "a fact" that we were holding three al-Qaida members who came across from Mexico into the United States.

That same day a reader sent through this article from WorldNetDaily reporting that Rep. John Culberson (R-TX) said it had been confirmed to him we did in fact have a suspected al-Qaeda member in custody who was captured by Mexican authorites living just across the border and handed over to U.S. authorities. The following Monday, Culberson repeated the claim to the nation on Hannity and Colmes:

CULBERSON: The Hudspeth County sheriff, Arvin West, and the Brewster County, Ronnie Dodson, confirmed for me that they had an Al Qaeda terrorist, an Iraqi national who was on the FBI's terrorist list as an Al Qaeda member in the Brewster County jail...

HANNITY: Congressman, are you going just based on what he's telling you or are you going based on the evidence that you've seen? And do you have any other evidence to corroborate this?

CULBERSON: Both Sheriff West and Sheriff Dodson, the two sheriffs from Hudspeth and Brewster County, had this information confirmed for them by the FBI and the Department of Justice, who came down, and this guy was on the FBI's Al Qaeda list of terrorists. He was picked up and questioned. First, questioned carefully by the FBI and then picked up and taken out of the Brewster County jail.

And I just discovered tonight, Sean, the border patrol confirmed that this is not the first time that an Arab from a special interest country, a country with known Al Qaeda connections, has been handed over by the Mexicans to a local sheriff and then picked up by the FBI.

The reason you can't confirm it is the FBI won't talk about it.

Today Human Events is touting an exclusive interview with Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) under the title, "Senator Says There's No Stopping Al Qaeda From Crossing Mexico Border." In the in interview Cornyn says he's been shown anecdotal evidence of Muslim activity on the border including pictures of discarded juice boxes with Arabic writing on them. Senator Cornyn continued:

To some extent, people are in denial. Every time I talk about the vulnerability of our Southern border, people say the 9/11 people came her legally and that’s a problem, and then they overstayed. Or they say, our Northern border is longer and easier to penetrate. But it just seems so obvious to me that a coyote, a human smuggler, who charges $1,500 to bring in a bartender or construction worker, would also, for the appropriate price, bring in somebody from a country of special interest. And, in fact, that is well known to the federal government.

What to make of these reports? Is the U.S.-Mexico border being exploited by al-Qaeda and is it a serious threat to national security? Back in a bit with some more thoughts.

November 03, 2005

Chertoff Says Catch & Release Will End

Immigration reform is finally coming to the front burner.  In Houston yesterday, DHS Secretary Chertoff outlined what his department is calling the Secure Border Initiative.  In addition to technology enhancements such as unmanned surveillance planes and electronic sensing equipment, USA Today reports the SBI will include:

• Adding 1,500 Border Patrol agents to the current force of 11,000.

• Building more fences. Chertoff has authorized completion of a 14-mile wall near San Diego — a project that had been stalled for a decade by lawsuits from environmentalists. A law passed by Congress allowed him to waive environmental-protection laws. "We are not talking about building a giant wall across our borders," he said. "But in areas where it makes sense to do so, we will look at ... improvements."

• Ending the "catch and release" policy that allows tens of thousands of illegal immigrants from countries other than Mexico to stay in the USA.

In fiscal 2005, Chertoff said, the Border Patrol caught 160,000 non-Mexican illegal immigrants. Because there wasn't enough detention space to hold them until their cases could be heard in immigration courts, 120,000 were released. Most of those didn't show up for court. Chertoff plans to add 2,000 detention beds in 2006 — bringing the total to 21,000 — and he has ordered faster removal of illegal immigrants.

Meanwhile, The Houston Chronicle reports Attorney General Gonzalez was back in D.C. yesterday trying to drum up support for Bush's immigration policy among the Latino community - and getting mixed results:

Drawing on his own family's migrant worker history, Gonzales, who grew up in the Houston area, outlined Bush's immigration plan, but also acknowledged the "great deal of passion" the issue has created.

"I am a product, like virtually all of you, of the immigrant dream. So I understand how important it can be for people looking to provide for their families. The president understands that, too," Gonzales said.

"But the president and I also know, being from Texas, that the security of our citizens depends upon our ability to control the border. We need to know who's coming into this country," he added.

Gonzales helped draft the Bush immigration policy and would not comment on competing proposals in Congress.

A Texas lawmaker who attended the speech complained that the administration has not done enough to punish employers who create a market for illegal immigrant labor.

"There's no way you are going to deport a minimum of 11 million people," said Rep. Charles Gonzalez, D-San Antonio. It has to go beyond border enforcement, he said.

Among the competing propoals in Congress that Gonzales would not discuss are the McCain-Kennedy and the Kyl-Cornyn bills in the Senate. Today Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA) is introducing a bill in the House (co-sponsored by Rep. Virgil Goode of Virginia) calling for a two-layered fence to be built along the 2,000 mile U.S.-Mexico border.

October 24, 2005

New Poll On Immigration

CBS News is out with a new poll on immigration (pdf). Some highlights:

  • 75% say we aren't doing enough to keep illegal immigrants from crossing into the U.S.
  • 51% say immigration should be decreased
  • 65% say volunteers like the Minutemen should not be allowed to patrol U.S. borders. 
  • 53% disapprove of the way President Bush is handling the immigration issue. Among Republicans, only 30% approve of Bush's handling of the issue while 44% disapprove.