Saturday, May 26, 2007

This Immigration Bill is Built to Fail

The current immigration bill being considered by the Senate is so large, complex, and full of legalistic 'gotchas', that there is no telling what unintended consequences will flow from its passage. There is however one thing we can count on: It will not in way solve our immigration woes.

To critics of the immigration bill, this bill will irredeemably change America for the worse through the instant create of a new underclass. Whether it is called amnesty or another name, giving blanket legalization and citizenship to the 12 to 20 million illegal immigrants here in this country is the most significant part of this bill. This plus the further migration of these legalized immigrants' families may lead to 100 million more Americans in about a generation. This massive legalization will cost taxpayers $2.5 trillion, according to Robert Rector of the Heritage Foundation; it will hasten Social Security and Medicare's demise by creating more future demands than will be commensurately paid in via taxes, and will constitute the largest unfunded mandate ever on state and local Governments. Today's largely impoverished illegal immigrant class will become tomorrow's citizen-clients of our expanded welfare state.

Proponents for this bill retort by waxing poetic about immigration and blurring the difference between legal and illegal immigration. It is said that today's immigration is like the waves of immigration from 1880 to 1920, when masses "yearning to breathe free" came to our shores, mostly from Europe. It's no wonder they want to confuse the legal versus illegal distinction. Legal immigration, especially high-skill immigration (e.g. under H1-B), has been a net plus for our economy. Illegal immigration, mostly low-wage and low-education, is decidedly not, when one accounts for the full social costs of supporting low wage families and compares it to their much smaller tax contributions such low-wage workers make. No doubt illlegal immigrants would like to be here, and that cheap-labor employers would like them so as well. However, neither low-wage employers nor low-wage migrant workers pay the full cost of health insurance, education, welfare and income subsidies that will be the entitlement of these future citizens. Even today, illegal immigrants are a fiscal drain; it will only be greater should they be given a legalization path.

The cost of this shift will be borne by taxpayers and by today's low-wage Americans, who will be under further wage pressure by the competition of so many low-skill immigrants. Median incomes have been stagnant for working men in this country, a wake-up call that the clear supply-and-demand consequence of large-scale illegal immigration has been to curb wage scales. Curiously, we harken back to the 'good old days' for 1945 to 1965, when family incomes rose as fast the economy; it was an era of much lower levels of immigration. Which trend should we prefer?

The losers in this bill are also today's legal immigrants, who played by the rules and who have had to jump through many hoops to stay legal, and pay much more in immigration fees than the $1,000 the illegal alien has to pay to get the Z-visa. They will face more delays as our bureaucracy will be swamped with millions of amnesty applications.

Illegal immigration has other social costs, Drug smuggling and human trafficking are rampant on our out-of-control southern border. Illegal immigrants make up more than a quarter of the prison population in California, commit a disproportionate number of crimes. As Heather MacDonald has shown, 'sanctuary cities' have, as a consequence of failing to enforce immigration laws, become incapable of enforcing other laws as well: "Sanctuary mandates create vast law-free zones where illegal immigrants know that they face virtually no risk of apprehension; the zones have notoriously protected criminals as well as itinerant roofers." Time and again, deportable criminal aliens have been let go due to lax immigration law enforcement, only to commit crime again.

What makes this bill truly horrific is that this bill is built to fail; it is deliberately constructed to fail to solve even the basic immigration issue at hand: Can we as Americans determine who comes here and who does not?

We have a border with Mexico where every day Federal law is violated thousands of times; yet despite a Federal budget of $2,800 billion, we cannot find the $1 billion it would take to build a secure barrier. We have tens of thousands of criminal aliens in America, yet we do not actively deport most of them, nor, thanks to our insecure border, can we assure that once deported they won't succeed in returning (many do). We have millions of fraudulent social security IDs in Government databases, many known to the IRS already, and yet nobody is bothering to cross-check and investigate these apparent law violations. Pitifully few employers are checked for immigration law violations.

In the recent Fort Dix terrorism case (the plot to attack an Army base that was foiled), three of the six terrorist plotters were illegal aliens. We've seen that script before: Several of the 9/11 plotters broke immigration law by over-staying visas; even after 9/11, the INS sent Mohammed Atta valid US visa six months to the day after he died. John Lee Malvo, co-conspirator in 2002 DC area sniper killing, was an illegal alien, a Jamaican stowaway, who was caught then released. The holes in our current system continue to be exploited by criminals.

The real crisis in immigration is this: Our country has lost control of immigration, and without control of immigration, we as Americans can't ensure that immigration is in our best interests. We can't be sure the people who are here are the ones we want to be here.

Solving the crisis is stymied by special interests who are more afraid of effective immigration law enforcement than they are afraid of the economic, social and national security costs of out-of-control system. To these special interests, the 'crisis' in effect is the scary possibility that someday we might end up with an immigration system that actually enforces the intent of our law. Then where would the agri-businesses and meatpackers be, without a ready source of illegal and therefore pliant fruit pickers and factory workers?

The proponents are saying there is a crisis, but do not identify the crisis nor the root cause. They believe that no amount of crisis would be sufficient to actually deport any significant number of illegal immigrants.

Can there be a system that is both 'in control' of immigration and at the same meets the needs of would-be immigrants, employers, and the rest of us? If there is a solution, it is probably the following: First, secure our borders. Second, enforce immigration law in the workplace far beyond the current pitiful levels. Third, replace our current immigration system, tilted too far in favor family-based migration (known as "chain migration" to some), with a system that leans more towards employment-based immigration. With 1-2 million jobs created each year, if our current legal level of immigration were mostly employment-based, it would be more than sufficient to meet any supposed labor needs.

The current Senate bill makes a few moves in the above direction, but they are only a garnish around the main entree of amnesty. The author of our current immigration misery is Senator Ted Kennedy, who pushed through the 1965 immigration bill that initiated waves of chain migration and incited illegal immigration. In 1986, Senator Kennedy helped author that year's amnesty program, while knocking the legs from under employer enforcement, actually making it a crime for employer's to question legalization status of employees except under restricted conditions. The one-two combo of amnesty plus a system designed to be unenforceable led to massive fraud in amnesty applications and fraud in employment documentation, and encouraged massive further illegal immigration. We went from two million illegal immigrants then to over twelve million today. The amnesty didn't curb illegal immigration, it multiplied it.

Having Senator Ted Kennedy author this bill is like asking an incompetent doctor who botched an operation to conduct the surgery to fix his own mistakes. In 1986, Senator Kennedy said "We will never again bring forward another Amnesty Bill like this." Today, he brings forward the 1986-redo bill, only bigger. Kennedy has joined with La Raza and cheap labor lobbies to ensure that American immigration stays as out-of-control as possible, and the result is predictably bad.

The bill continues to gut enforcement, not even funding border guards that were authorized years ago; it fails to properly put in play employer sanctions and make sure they are working before the 'amnesty' happens; they play shell games with border security, asking for only a portion of the much-needed fence to keep out human-trafficking and drug smuggling, a fence put into law last year but which has not been fully funded, with only a few miles of 700 miles built so far; it guts "English only" assimilation while claiming to support it; so-called triggers are undermined by language which allows them to be easily waived; a better way to handle legal immigration, a point system, is deferred for 8 years, sure to be abolished and undermined again before it becomes real. Even worse are provisions that allow even criminal aliens who have multiple convictions to become legal citizens. This list of abuses and errors in this bill goes on.

Perhaps this is why the bill was rushed to the Senate floor without getting vetted first by a committee hearing.

Those same forces who are against solving our real immigration problems have written this Senate bill. This bill ensures that more waves of illegal immigrants will continue to arrive, assured that deportation will never happen and another amnesty some day likely will. Cheap labor employers are happy to have cheap non-union labor; the Kennedy Democrats are happy to have new welfare-state clients and potential voters; and the 'immigrant rights' groups are happy to flex political muscle and grow their ranks and power. The rest of us - American-born citizens, legal immigrants, taxpayers - are the suckers who will pick up the tab and shoulder the burden.

But rest assured. This bill is built to fail; it will fail to control the border, it will fail to enforce immigration law, and it will fail to eliminate the massive numbers of illegal immigrants in our midst. More will come to await the next amnesty. The crises this bill creates will be far greater than anything it solves, and the immigration crisis will surely continue to be with us if we make the mistake of making this law.

As such, we can be sure that another grand compromise will be hammered out to 'fix' the problems this bill creates. I just hope Senator Kennedy won't be around to write the next bill when that happens. Three strikes and you're out, Senator.

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