Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Bush's Amnesty Opposed

Republicans who want to slow immigration to the United States and crack down on illegal immigrants believe they are gaining political strength and public backing, which may pose a problem next year for President Bush.

Bush has already signaled his intention to push a major proposal to allow some of the estimated 8 million to 10 million illegal immigrants in the country to gain legal work visas for up to six years as part of a "guest worker" program.

"Guest worker" is Washington-speak for an illegal immigrant whose presence within the U.S. has been granted legal recognition by an American administration that places no value on American culture or national security, save that which it can rhetorically use to increase its own power. The Bush administration's willingness to permit millions of illegal immigrants to swarm across the nation's southern border during a time of war is nothing short of malfeasance, and runs directly counter to the expressed wishes of the American people.

"Public opinion is unquestionably on our side," said Paul Egan of the Federation for American Immigration Reform, a Washington group that seeks to limit legal migration and strengthen U.S. borders.

"Americans are saying 'no' to Bush's guest worker program and 'no' to amnesty for illegal immigrants. Legislators are beginning to get the message that people are fed up of illegal immigration," Egan added.

But the administration has already shown that it has no respect for the opinions of the American people when it comes to immigration - or to deficit spending, or Wilsonian nation-building crusades abroad.

Led by powerful Wisconsin Rep. James Sensenbrenner, the chairman of the U.S. House of Representatives Judiciary Committee, anti-immigration conservatives recently defied the White House by insisting that a bill to reform the nation's intelligence services include anti-illegal alien provisions.

They want to prevent illegal immigrants from obtaining drivers licenses and withdraw recognition of ID cards issued by Latin American embassies.

These legislators also intend to try to block implementation of a recent U.S. agreement with Mexico to allow workers who have divided their working lives between the two countries to gain retirement benefits based on the combined credits earned from both countries.

Drivers' licenses are the primary photo-identification documents used in the U.S. To permit illegal immigrants - whose provenance, background, criminal histories, religious and political affiliations are unknown by the government - to obtain drivers' licenses is sheer madness after September 11th. That the administration could support - or acquiese - to such a policy gives the lie to every pronouncement by Bush administration officials regarding their attempts to protect the nation for attack. Security begins by preventing the enemy from getting into the country - recall that the September 11th attackers had been living in the U.S. for months prior to the attack.

Bush's amnesty scheme has proven too much for many Republicans in Congress, who have given his proposals the cold shoulder.

"Sentiment has shifted dramatically in our favor over the past several years and even more in the past few months," [Rep. Tom] Tancredo told Reuters. "We have a significant majority in our (Republican) conference and upward of 175 to 180 members of the House pretty much committed."

Angela Kelley of the National Immigration Forum, a pro-immigrant group, said Tancredo was exaggerating his support but conceded probably one third of the House was behind him.

Tancredo predicted "very rough sledding" for Bush's guest worker proposal, but said it was possible to get it enacted if the president expended a lot of political capital.

The growing public opposition to illegal immigration has caught the attention of immigration scholars and advocates.

Immigration law expert Victor Romero of Penn State University believed the United States may be entering one of its periodic anti-immigration phases.

"History tells us this is cyclical and we may be seeing the front end of a cycle that suggests a more anti-immigration mood," he said.

Gee, one wonders why?

Monday, November 29, 2004

The Wave Hits Long Island

Today's New York Times [registration required] carries an interesting article examining the upswing of anger among residents of Long Island who find themselves increasingly innundated by illegal, mostly Hispanic, immigrants.

"Public opinion has changed," said Sue Grant, one of several Farmingville residents who rise each morning to stand on street corners and demonstrate against the day laborers in their community. "More and more people are coming forward and saying, 'I'm sick of this.' They don't want this anymore."

It is the latest knot in Long Island's wrenching struggle to digest the thousands of Hispanic immigrants - many of them day laborers - who have arrived in the past decade and at a record pace in the last three years, drawn by jobs in construction and landscaping and other blue-collar work. One result is a commensurate strain on public services like schools, garbage collection and sewer systems in an area where residents pay some of the highest taxes in the country.

Local, municipal and state governments are paying a stiff price for Washington's refusal to defend the U.S.-Mexico border and American law. Taxpayers, who must bear the brunt of the increased public costs caused by the presence of so many illegals, are increasingly enraged as they see their streets soiled, the public services collapsing under the strain, and the landscape of their communities changed. The Times, naturally, subtly casts this dissonance as the product of white racism, noting that Long Island has been composed of traditionally white towns and hamlets. But there is no issues that the Times will not attempt to frame thusly.

But laborers and advocacy groups say the new policies and aggressive rhetoric are coded attempts to drive Latino immigrants underground or off Long Island. They see parallels between policies denying black families homes in Levittown after World War II and a proposed law in Suffolk County asking federal officials to enforce immigration laws.

The difference between the horrible manner in which black families were discriminated against in Levittown and current efforts to reduce the number of illegal immigrants besieging Long Island towns is that the black families who were denied housing were law-abiding U.S. citizens. The illegal immigrants who have raised the ire of Long Islanders have broken U.S. law. They have no right to be in the U.S. They have shown contempt for American law and sovereignty. The examples are not comparable. Of course, the "advocates" know this, but they rely on stoking liberal white guilt with that magic wand of an argument - racism.

Fortunately, the extent of the illegal immigrant problem has grown so great, and so blatant, that even the usual leftist tried-and-true rhetorical means of shutting down dissent is failing:

The Town of Brookhaven has set up an informal task force to investigate code violations and complaints about homes crowded with day laborers. A town councilwoman, Geraldine Esposito, said she was searching for ways to tighten the town's Neighborhood Preservation Act, further limiting the number of people in a home. "We're trying to solve a problem that's almost unsolvable for the town," she said. "Where are these men going to go? They should go back home to where their home is. There is no pot of gold here unless they can do it legally."
Contrary to the racist patina with which the Times would like to paint the issue, the underlying tension is economic:
Long Island's Hispanic population grew by about 70 percent in a decade, according to the 2000 census. Between 2000 and 2003, it grew even faster, with the number of Hispanic residents of Suffolk jumping by 20 percent. That translates into an average of 10,387 people per year, compared with about 6,500 people per year during the 1990's.Many newcomers are here illegally or on temporary visas, but there is no definitive data on their numbers.

Immigrants arrived in droves in relatively small communities, making it impossible for residents to ignore their new neighbors. Some 80 percent of Long Islanders own their homes, and there are few rental apartments, so laborers are often crammed into single-family homes.And thanks to the island's relatively weak labor unions, they can find work by standing on street corners, [Paul] Tonna said.
Most of the problems bubbled up in heavily white, blue-collar communities - places where new immigrants, many of them upwardly mobile, could barely get a foothold. In wealthy East Hampton, the quarrels over immigration and code violations are not centered in the wealthy beachfront enclaves but in Springs, a middle-class neighborhood.
An influx of non-skilled workers to traditionally blue collar working class areas can have only one effect: to drive down wages. The sudden increase in the pool of potential workers means that employers no longer have to compete to attract new workers (by raising wages, or increasing benefits), but undercuts the standing of workers, who must now compete with each other for work. The number of jobs does not significantly increase, only the number of people seeking employement. Thus, wages fall. Living standards tumble. The reaction from the working class population already in residence cannot be anything other than hostile, since the influx of illegal immigrants directly threatens their livelihoods. The failure of the liberal elite at the Times (and within the Democrat Party) to realize this fundamental fact demonstrates the fact that protecting the interests of the working class no longer ranks among their priorities. It also goes a long way to explain why the Democrats can no longer win national elections. The working class knows that the party of FDR no longer has its interests at heart.