As you may have heard, after more than a year of giving little more than lip service to illegal immigration, the Democrats have suddenly become extremely interested in pushing comprehensive immigration reform. This is quite curious in that the bill almost assuredly cannot pass.
Just look at the Senate. It looks like there's going to be a good chance that the Senate is going to have 59 Democrats. ...There were about 15 Democrats who voted against the amnesty in 2007. I think we ought to get about half of those and maybe more. If you got 8 Democrats to vote against it, that means you'd need 9 Republicans. I don't see it. At most, I see 6 and they might not get but 2 or 3 -- especially if they offend McCain.
...I don't think Pelosi thinks she has the votes. ...She goes out and makes statements that get all of us all upset and gets her applause from the Hispanic caucus. But ...there were right around 50 Democrats who co-sponsored the SAVE ACT last year, which was a very, very strong enforcement bill. This amnesty will not have nearly the strength of that. I think one of the reasons that those Democrats signed that bill is that they're from districts whose constituents are pushing them hard on this. So, I think we'd have a good chance to get 60-70 Democrats in the House to vote against that and I don't think we ought to lose more than a half dozen Republicans. If we did that well, then we'd beat it in the House.
Keep in mind that since then, in large part because of health care and deficit spending, the political environment has become absolutely poisonous for Democrats. There are plenty of predictions that the Democrats will lose the House, only Democrats in bluest districts can feel completely safe, and make no mistake about it: comprehensive immigration reform would be about as popular as Barack Obama at a Tea Party.
So, why would the Democrats consider pushing the bill at all if it won't pass? There are probably two reasons for it.
One, they're hoping that it'll fire up the Democrats' Hispanic base, which is an iffy proposition to begin with. Although Hispanic Americans do tend to be pro-illegal immigration, polls show that for the most part, it's not one of their biggest issues. Still, the Democrats have made a lot of promises and some Hispanic liberals are starting to get antsy. For example, Rep. Luis Gutierrez (Ill.) has been threatening to encourage Hispanic Americans to "stay home" on election day to punish Democrats for not pushing amnesty.
Plus, as an extra added bonus, Republicans fought each other like rabid wolverines over the issue last time and the Democrats will be hoping for a repeat while they scream "racist," "nativist," and "bigot" from the sidelines. In other words, this probably has a lot more to do with politics than policy.
So, since that's the case, how do we fight this bill? We fight it by playing it smart, not tearing each other to shreds, and by sticking with the arguments that will have the most resonance in the 2010 election.
#1) We need "security first." Even John McCain, the man who led the fight for comprehensive immigration reform last time around, has since admitted that the American people don't believe we'll secure the border.
Incidentally, there's good reason for that. For example, the Obama Administration has announced that the border fence which was begun by the Bush Administration won't be "finished until at least 2016." So, if we're lucky, in 2016, 15 years after 9/11, we may for the first time have a secure border that terrorists can't just walk over with a nuclear bomb. That'll be great, won't it?
Tell you what: let's stop putting the cart before the horse. Let's finish the fence, adequately staff the border patrol, get a proven system in place to prevent illegal aliens from being able to get jobs with fake Social Security numbers and then and only then, we can come back and discuss the whole "path to citizenship" issue. If that's too long to wait for the illegal immigrants, then they can always just go home.
#2) Jobs, jobs, jobs. Amnesty for illegals: It's for those times when you have a 9.7% unemployment rate & want to take even more jobs from Americans. When so many people are out of work and having trouble taking care of their families, why in the world would anyone want to give away American jobs and drive down American wages? How out of touch with what's going on in this country do you have to be to want to hand American jobs to foreigners via amnesty when so many people are hurting?
#3) We're too broke for an amnesty. As is, 47 percent of Americans are paying no income taxes. Do we really need to add to their ranks -- and let's not kid ourselves because that's what we're talking about.
Point being, if 47 percent of Americans aren't paying income taxes, how many illegals, most of whom have low paying jobs, would be paying income taxes if they became citizens? 10%? 20%? In other words, when the country is broke, why do we want to bring in millions more people to collect food stamps, welfare, and earned income tax credits even though they don't pay income tax? Are we so short of Americans who do that sort of thing that we actually need to bring in poor people from other parts of the globe to take advantage of our social safety net?
#4) Amnesty is unfair to immigrants. Nobody has been treated worse in the whole amnesty debate than legal immigrants. They love and respect this country enough to obey the rules -- and what do they get in return? Oftentimes, they have to wait in their home country. They fill out reams of paperwork. They pay thousands of dollars in legal fees.
Then what happens? They're spoken of in the same breath as some guy who snuck into our country in the middle of the night and stole somebody's Social Security number. Furthermore, despite all the rhetoric to the contrary, illegals are going to be rewarded for breaking American laws while legal immigrants have to put up with the same old hassles. What's the message to legal immigrants? The message is, "You're stupid for loving and respecting this country enough to obey our laws." Legal immigrants to this country deserve to be treated better than that.
#5) We've already tried this once before. It didn't work then and it won't work now. As former Reagan Attorney General Ed Meese has noted, we've already tried this once during the Reagan Administration.
They allowed roughly 2.7 million illegal aliens to become citizens and in exchange, we were supposed to implement security measures to fix the system. Guess what? We never fixed the security problem and today, we're talking about giving citizenship to roughly 4 times as many illegals.
So, why would anyone who actually wants to solve the problem suggest implementing a government policy that's already a proven failure? Of course, that's just it: What politicians want is more illegal workers to pad the bottom lines of businesses that give them campaign contributions and more potential voters for the Democratic Party. What they don't want is to fix the problem because they're worried about what's good for them personally, not what's good for the country.