Congressman Steve King from my home state isn't bashful about saying the “gang of 8” immigration plan unveiled in the U.S. Senate this week amounts to "rewarding lawbreakers." Perhaps that's only fitting, because lawbreaking has traditionally been associated with gangs.
I spent about 30 minutes this week doing an interview with NPR's "All Things Considered” wanting to know why so many conservatives like King are skeptical of Marco Rubio and his cohorts’ plan. I told NPR this isn't about amnesty as much as it’s about trust.
I am convinced after writing numerous columns on the subject for various national publications, and after all the shows and interviews we've done on illegal immigration as well, that there isn't a consensus definition for "amnesty" on the Right. Some believe any eventual path to citizenship regardless of whatever penalties must come first is amnesty, and therefore believe anything other than mass deportations won't suffice.
However, a few weeks ago we did a show outlining some of the known aspects of the "gang of 8" plan and asked callers around the country if they would describe that as "amnesty." All but one of them said no, and the only one that said yes said so because he was in favor of amnesty. Everyone else didn’t like the plan, but they also didn’t think it was amnesty. Given that confusion, I have come to the conclusion that the reason almost the entire conservative movement opposes Rubio on this issue has more to do with an overall distrust of the system than it does amnesty.
In fact, I think there are plenty of conservatives who would be willing to listen to reasonable and humane proposals for what to do with those here illegally who really want to be citizens and contribute to society, provided real reform for those waiting in line legally in an antiquated system and enforcement measures at the border were proven to be implemented first.
But given how they're trying to ram this down our throats, promoting what's good about it for the lawbreakers and not for those already obeying the law and paying the freight for the welfare state, have no specific answers about how much of an additional burden their plan will put on those taxpayers, and with the exception of Rubio it's all the same people that have lied to us before, our collective skepticism is really because we don’t trust these people nor the system.
And not just on this specific policy debate. We don't trust them on anything, and why should we? The last two times they rushed massive and precedent-setting legislation like this because "something must be done" we got the criminal enterprise known as TARP, and the anti-Constitutional ultimate big government power grab known as Obamacare.
That's not exactly a great track record.
NPR then asked me where else is there skepticism of the "governing class" (their term) of the Republican Party within the conservative grassroots. I told them it was everywhere and on every conceivable issue, because they have lied to us so often and flip-flopped so many times there is absolutely no trust, and you can't have a functional relationship without trust. We don't trust them to be honest. We don't trust them to advance our principles. We don't trust them not to choose the liberal media over the party platform. We don't trust they have the same sense of urgency that our very way of life is at stake as we do.
NPR then asked me what this was doing to Rubio's presidential aspirations. As someone that lives in the first in the nation caucus state and knows a lot of conservative activists around the country, I told her I thought this was a potentially mortal blow. Nearly the entire conservative movement is vehemently against this.
Finally, NPR wanted to know what I thought Rubio should do instead. I gave them a simple answer – don’t be part of a “gang” but be a leader instead.
Leaders don't bury those they're leading in 800-page bills the way attorneys bury their opponent during discovery to mask the paper trail. Leaders lead by showing transparency. Leaders don't clumsily attempt a one-size-fits-all solution to such a massive, complex problem, but handle these things methodically and piece-meal through a well thought out plan. Then leaders give each facet of that plan time to prove that it works before moving on to the next. And if it doesn't work, they change the plan to what does before taking the next step.
Why do we have to do this all at once? Why not first work on modernizing our legal immigration plan and implementing real border enforcement? Give that some time to see what it does, and then if those steps need further revisions we do them before answering the question of what to do with all those here illegally who earnestly want to become Americans? Why attempt to fix a 25-year problem in one news cycle? Even if Mitt Romney had gotten the same percentage of the Hispanic vote George W. Bush received in 2004 he still would’ve lost the election, so what’s the hurry here?
I don't want to deny anyone the American dream. The American dream is not my birth-right. The American dream is a blessing from God.
But the American dream is not you're entitled to something because you desire it. The American dream is you have an opportunity to reach your God-given potential if you're willing to put in the work and play by the rules. This plan, and more importantly the way it's being carried out, isn't advancing that American dream.
It's undermining it, and that’s why we don’t trust it.