Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Fool Us Once...

In today's New York Times, Reagan administration Attorney General Edwin Meese pillories the current immigration proposals emanating from President Bush and his supporters in the Senate. Taking particular aim at the fraudulent "temporary guest worker program" and "path to citizenship" that President Bush advocates, and which is spelled out in the Hagel-Martinez bill, now apparently close to passing the Senate, Meese calls the proposals for what they are, AMNESTY. Meese knows a thing or two about amnesty for illegal aliens:

Perhaps I can shed some light. Two decades ago, while serving as attorney general under President Ronald Reagan, I was in the thick of things as Congress debated the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986. The situation today bears uncanny similarities to what we went through then.

In the mid-80's, many members of Congress — pushed by the Democratic majority in the House and the Select Commission on Immigration and Refugee Policy — advocated amnesty for long-settled illegal immigrants. President Reagan considered it reasonable to adjust the status of what was then a relatively small population, and I supported his decision.

In exchange for allowing aliens to stay, he decided, border security and enforcement of immigration laws would be greatly strengthened — in particular, through sanctions against employers who hired illegal immigrants. If jobs were the attraction for illegal immigrants, then cutting off that option was crucial.

Beyond this, most illegal immigrants who could establish that they had resided in America continuously for five years would be granted temporary resident status, which could be upgraded to permanent residency after 18 months and, after another five years, to citizenship.

Note that this path to citizenship was not automatic. Indeed, the legislation stipulated several conditions: immigrants had to pay application fees, learn to speak English, understand American civics, pass a medical exam and register for military selective service. Those with convictions for a felony or three misdemeanors were ineligible. Sound familiar? These are pretty much the same provisions included in the new Senate proposal and cited by its supporters as proof that they have eschewed amnesty in favor of earned citizenship.

If this sounds familiar it's because it's almost exactly what the current Hagel-Martinez Senate bill calls for on its face. Of course, as the Heritage Foundation has exposed (see posts below), the Hagel-Martinez monster calls for a great deal more (including the admission of more than 60 million new legal immigrants over the next twenty years) than what its advocates initially advertised. The devil is in the details, or in this case, the sub paragraphs.

Meese warns that the experience provided by the 1986 amnesty offers a stark warning for those flirting with the Hagel-Martinez version.

After a six-month slowdown that followed passage of the legislation, illegal immigration returned to normal levels and continued unabated. Ultimately, some 2.7 million people were granted amnesty, and many who were not stayed anyway, forming the nucleus of today's unauthorized population.

So here we are, 20 years later, having much the same debate and being offered much the same deal in exchange for promises largely dependent on the will of future Congresses and presidents.

Congress is once again offering America the same empty rhetoric it uttered in 1986. We have absolutely no reason to expect a better outcome. If the US grants illegal aliens another amnesty, experience shows that it will only encourage millions more to flood across our borders, confident that Americans will cave in once again before their growing numbers.

The experience of the past 20 years also suggests that promises of tougher immigration enforcement are as worthless as Enron stock. Three successive administrations have failed to properly defend the US-Mexico border since the 1986 amnesty was adopted and millions of aliens run across the border every year. The current administration has deliberately refused to defend the US border, and bitterly denounced ordinary Americans who are trying to do what their government should be doing.

The Hagel-Martinez bill should be resoundingly rejected by the House of Representatives, whose conservative GOP core has so far refused to adopt any amnesty, insisting, properly, on an enforcement first policy. No compromise is acceptable when it comes to defending the borders.


At 11:02 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am impressed by Pytheas' commentary on the immigration issue, but he or she misses the most important and damaging aspect of immigration. In fact, everyone in the Controlled Media also misses it. Illegal immigration, though significant, is really a "red hearing." The most important aspect of immigration is the LEGAL immigration. It is ironic that the "conservatives" demanding that our laws be followed are actually supporting a law sponsored by one of the infamous Leftist scoundrels, Ted Kennedy. The 1965 Immigration Reform Act itself has resulted in catastrophic deterioration of our Western society. The "family reunification" provision in particular has literally contributed to one of the most dramatic, non-military ethnic alterations of a country of all times. Our country has been transformed from almost 90% European to less than 70% European in my lifetime. Legal immigration is the 800 pound gorilla sitting in the corner that no one is talking about. I would like to see Pytheas address it.


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