Wednesday, May 17, 2006

103 Million New Immigrants Not So Bad Says WH Aide

The Heritage Foundation’s analysis of the Hagel-Martinez immigration bill – which predicted it could admit up to 103 million immigrants over the next twenty years – apparently caught the White House unprepared (as so much else has). Vice President Cheney, sounding distinctly distracted, hastily dodged questions about it on yesterday’s Rush Limbaugh radio show. But the most telling response apparently came from a White House aide, quoted in the Denver Post.

And White House aide Joel Kaplan noted that, even if Rector's analysis is accurate, there would be an upside to such a wave of immigration.

"These are people who will be paying taxes and contributing as workers in our society, and we'll also be mitigating some of the drains on Social Security and Medicare because they will be paying in as workers," Kaplan said.

Savor that for a moment. When confronted with the possibility that the bill the administration is backing would admit 103 million immigrants over the next 20 years, a White House official basically says, "so what?"

Mr. Kaplan seems to have drunk from the same pitcher of stupid as the president. Does he really think that all 103 million new immigrants would be contributing to Social Security and Medicare? According to the Heritage analysis, a hefty portion of those 103 million new immigrants will be the elderly relations brought into the US by younger immigrants. Presumably, they will not be contributing to Social Security and Medicare, but rather drawing from them. Moreover, as economist Robert Samuelson has argued (see post below), most of the immigrants likely to enter the US will be uneducated and unskilled, capable of taking mostly low wage jobs. Such workers will not contribute significantly to Social Security, Medicare or the federal treasury, especially when the social programs for which they and their families will qualify will almost certain cost more than the taxes they do pay.

Besides the economic disaster wrought by a combination of social welfare and high immigration, does Kaplan not consider that 103 million new immigrants in just 20 years might be somewhat beyond the ability of the country to assimilate? Does he care? Apparently, not. If we can’t get 10-15 million Latino immigrants to learn Spanish, how are we going to persuade 103 million of the need to do so? The Hagel-Martinez bill spells death to the melting pot idea (which hasn’t worked in at least a quarter century) and dooms the US to a future that looks less like former waves of immigration to the US than to the fate of Yugoslavia after the communists died on stage.

Unfortunately, Kaplan’s remark reveals the stunning disinterest in reality that envelopes the thinking of the Bush administration. They just don’t care about the consequences. Congressional conservatives – however many remain – need to kill the Hagel-Martinez bill fast. While there are still enough of them to do so. Conservative voters, on the other hand, might want to take notice of what sort of thinking is going on in this allegedly-conservative White House, and act appropriately in November.

Unmentionable Realities in the Immigration Debate

As the US Senate continues to steer the US on a course toward demographic disaster – at the constant urging of President Bush – Robert Samuelson, one of the nation’s most respected economists, tries vainly to inject some reason into the public debate. Samuelson dares to point out the simple – but politically unmentionable – truth that not all immigrants are of equal value to the US. And that admitting massive numbers of uneducated, unskilled, non-English speaking aliens, from populations that show no inclination toward assimilating, or producing highly productive offspring, can only be a recipe for long-term disaster and economic ruin.

Hardly anyone is discussing these issues candidly. It is politically inexpedient to do so. We can be a lawful society and a welcoming society simultaneously, to use the president's phrase, but we cannot be a welcoming society for limitless numbers of Latin America's poor without seriously compromising our own future -- and, indeed, the future of many of the Latinos already here. Yet, that is precisely what the president and many senators (Democratic and Republican) support by endorsing large "guest worker" programs and an expansion of today's system of legal visas. In practice these proposals would result in substantial increases of low-skilled immigrants.

How fast can they assimilate? We cannot know, but we can consult history. It is sobering. In 1972 Hispanics were 5 percent of the U.S. population and their median household income was 74 percent of that of non-Hispanic white households. In 2004 Hispanics were 14 percent of the population, and their median household income was 70 percent of the level of non-Hispanic whites. These numbers suggest that rapid immigration of low-skilled workers and rapid assimilation are at odds. Some immigrant families make huge advances, but many don't and newcomers represent a constant drag.:

Samuelson notes that the tens of millions of low and unskilled Latinos that President Bush and the GOP leadership in Congress seem hell bent on admitting permanently to the US will pay less in taxes that what the cost in government-funded social services, from housing to public schools to healthcare. Samuelson’s analysis doesn’t even touch on the pressing issue of affirmative action programs, which these immigrants would instantly qualify for as Latinos, and the ethnic strife that will cause with native-born blacks and other minorities. Nor does Samuelson point out that the supposed work ethic of these Latino immigrants – now so ardently praised by President Bush and his open borders cadre – will almost certainly collapse once they find themselves on the receiving end of so much government largesse.

Samuelson also sees an escalating clash between the tens of millions of low-skilled, unassimilated aliens and America’s aging baby-boomers as the both groups try to draw benefits out of an overdrawn government treasury.

There are striking parallels between how we've treated immigration and aging. In both cases, the facts are hiding in plain view. But we've chosen to ignore them because candor seems insensitive and politically awkward. Who wants to offend the elderly or Latinos? The result is to make our choices worse by postponing them. A sensible society would long ago have begun adapting to longer life expectancies, better health and greater wealth by making careful cuts in Social Security and Medicare. We've done little.

Unfortunately, the two problems intersect. Just coincidentally, the Census Bureau projects both the 65-and-over population and the Hispanic population to be about a fifth of the total by 2030 (the elderly population is now about 12 percent). The tax increases that will be required to pay for existing federal commitments to the elderly are on the order of 30 to 40 percent. People who don't think there will be conflicts between older beneficiaries and younger taxpayers -- Hispanic or not -- are deluding themselves. People who imagine there won't be more conflicts between growing numbers of poor Latinos and poor African Americans for jobs and political power are also deluding themselves.

Unfortunately, its politically incorrect to think in ethnic terms, or to imagine (perish the thought!) that minority groups don’t get along. The multiculturalist nonsense, cold hunger for power and brazen corruption that holds the minds of Washington politicians in thrall refuses to be tainted by any whiff of reality.

Islamists Strike Again in Turkey

Those eager to admit Turkey into the European Union (and this includes the geo-politically obtuse President Bush) might want to take note of this morning’s incident in a Turkish courtroom. Prominent Judge Mustafa Yucel Ozbilgin was assassinated, apparently by a radical Islamist, inside his own courtroom.

The attacker was apparently carrying papers that identified him as a lawyer - although it is not known if these were genuine - and made it past security guards undetected.

He reportedly burst into a committee meeting of the Council of State, the top administrative court, at 1000 local time (0700 GMT) shouting "Allahu akbar" (God is great) as he fired his weapon.

Tansel Colasan, deputy head of the Council of State, said the attacker yelled "I am the soldier of God", and said he was carrying out the attack to protest against the court's decision on headscarves.

He was arrested immediately.

What did Judge Ozbilgin do to incur the wrath of Islamists?

Judge Mustafa Birden made headlines earlier this year when he ruled that schoolteachers, who are banned from wearing the Islamic headscarf at work, could not cover their heads even on their way to school.

An Islamist newspaper printed photographs of him and fellow judges from the court's second chamber, which deals with education issues.

The judge’s assassination has sent shockwaves throughout Turkey’s ruling class.

The court's decision on headscarves has been condemned as illegal by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, whose ruling party has Islamist roots.

Mr Erdogan, though, was quick to condemn Wednesday's attack, and said the culprit would be severely punished.

Nevertheless Deniz Baykal, chairman of the secularist main opposition Republican People's Party, said the government's policies were responsible.

"I hope those who still can't see where Turkey is being dragged, who refuse to see it, will take this as a warning," he said.

"Unfortunately, blood has spilled into politics in Turkey. Turkey is being dragged into a very dangerous situation. Everybody should come to their senses."

President Ahmet Necdet Sezer said the attack would not undermine Turkey's secular constitution.

"These attacks will never reach their goal," he said, adding that the justice system would not be intimidated and would be loyal "to the secular and democratic republic".

Today’s assassination comes as a surprise only to those who are unwilling to deal with the reality of Islam. Turkey’s eighty year flirtation with Western-style secular democracy has been made possible only by frequent interventions of the Turkish military, which rolls out periodically – and quite unconstitutionally – to squash the Islamists (1960, 1971, 1980, 1997). But they always come back. Recent Turkish elections gave the Islamists considerable presence in the Turkish national legislature, and their power is only expected to grow (barring another military crackdown). Islamists will never, for religious reasons, accept Western secular government. Never. It runs counter to Islamic culture and tradition, which are far to deeply rooted in Islamic soil to be extirpated by Western idealists. And the Islamists will always win, because they are willing to resort to violence first, carrying out the worst forms of violence, and continue the violence indefinitely. The forces of secularism and "moderation" simply don’t have that sort of resolve. So much for President Bush’s notion that democracy will be a panaceia for the Islamic world’s problems. The rising popularity of Islamists in Turkey should also bring an immediate end to any discussion of Turkey’s entry into the EU. Once an EU member, Turks would have freedom to move across Europe. Worse, the EU’s second most populous nation would be a Muslim country whose government is increasingly dominated by Islamists. What sort of policies would the EU come to favor in such a situation? Policies friendly to the US? Not likely. Policies friendly to preserving Europe’s Western Heritage? Not a chance. Policies friendly to advancing Muslim interests inside Europe? Bingo. Will President Bush grasp this? Probably not.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006


President Bush’s Monday night was deliberately crafted to sound balanced and reasonable – to promote the image that the President is a strong advocate of border enforcement. But his record as president clearly suggests otherwise, as does his response to today's disastrous Senate vote defeating a proposal calling for enhanced border enforcement first.

The Senate rejected a call Tuesday to secure the nation's borders before tackling other immigration-related concerns such as citizenship for millions of men and women in the country illegally, a victory for President Bush and supporters of a comprehensive approach to a volatile election-year issue.

The vote was 55-40 against a proposal by Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga, who said that anything less than a border security-first approach amounted to "a wink and a nod one more time to those who would come here" unlawfully.

Republican and Democratic supporters of the sweeping Senate bill said Isakson's approach would be self-defeating and derail the approach that Bush backed in Monday night's prime time speech from the Oval Office. "We have to have a comprehensive approach if we're going to gain control of the borders," said Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, D-Mass.

Eager to blunt any political fallout from opposing Isakson's proposal, the bill's sponsors countered with an alternative of their own. Backed by Sen. Ken Salazar, D-Colo., it said immigration changes envisioned in the legislation could proceed if the president declared they were in the national security interests of the United States.

The Senate cast its first votes on the immigration bill as Bush renewed his call for Congress to act. "The objective is, on the one hand, protect our borders; and, on the other hand, never lose sight of the thing that makes America unique which is, we're a land of immigrants and that we're not going to discriminate against people," he said at a news conference with Australian Prime Minister John Howard.

Make no mistake, the phrase "comprehensive" means a guest worker program together with legalization for illegals already here and a few token enforcement measures thrown in to appease conservatives (which will be half-heartedly enforced only as long as politically necessary).

Anyone doubting this need only consider the ramifications of the Senate bill, sponsored by Republicans Charlie Hagel and Mel Martinez, that the president openly supports. The conservative Heritage Foundation – usually an ardent supporter of the President – has ran the numbers and extrapolated the staggering impact of the immigration policy Bush actually favors.

If enacted, the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act (CIRA, S.2611) would be the most dramatic change in immigration law in 80 years, allowing an estimated 103 million persons to legally immigrate to the U.S. over the next 20 years—fully one-third of the current population of the United States.

Much attention has been given to the fact that the bill grants amnesty to some 10 million illegal immigrants. Little or no attention has been given to the fact that the bill would quintuple the rate of legal immigration into the United States, raising, over time, the inflow of legal immigrants from around one million per year to over five million per year. The impact of this increase in legal immigration dwarfs the magnitude of the amnesty provisions.

In contrast to the 103 million immigrants permitted under CIRA, current law allows 19 million legal immigrants over the next twenty years. Relative to current law, then, CIRA would add an extra 84 million legal immigrants to the nation’s population.

The figure of 103 million legal immigrants is a reasonable estimate of the actual immigration inflow under the bill and not the maximum number that would be legally permitted to enter. The maximum number that could legally enter would be almost 200 million over twenty years—over 180 million more legal immigrants than current law permits.

The Hagel-Martinez bill (CIRA) grants a broad amnesty to the millions of illegal aliens already.

CIRA offers amnesty and citizenship to 85 percent of the nation’s current 11.9 million illegal immigrants. Under the plan, illegal immigrants who have been in the U.S. for five years or more (60 percent of illegals) would be granted immediate amnesty. Illegal immigrants who have been in the country between two and five years (25 percent of illegals) could travel to one of 16 "ports of entry," where they would receive amnesty and lawful work permits.[1] In total, the bill would grant amnesty to 85 percent of the current illegal immigrant population, or some 10 million individuals.

After receiving amnesty, illegal immigrants would spend six years in a provisional status before attaining LPR status. After five years in LPR status, they would have the opportunity to become naturalized citizens and vote in U.S. elections. As well, the spouses and dependent children of current illegal immigrants would have the right to enter the U.S. and become citizens.[2] There would be no numeric limit on the number of illegal immigrants, spouses, and dependents receiving LPR status; under the amnesty provision, such individuals would not be counted against any other cap or limit in immigration law.[3]

CIRA also creates a massive "guest worker" program whose twin goals are to increase the number of foreigners living and working in the US (most of whom could be eligible for a "path to citizenship" later on) and (thus) to drive down drastically the wages paid to unskilled and semi-skilled workers. Oh, and guess what? Those workers would be able to bring their family members into the US with them. Surprise. Surprise.

CIRA creates an entirely new "temporary guest worker" (H-2C) program. There is nothing temporary about this program; nearly all "guest workers" would have the right to become permanent residents and then citizens.

Foreign workers could enter the U.S. as guest workers if they have a job offer from a U.S. employer. In practical terms, U.S. companies would recruit foreign workers to enter the guest worker program and immigrate to the U.S. Most likely, intermediate employment firms would specialize in recruiting foreign labor for U.S. employers.

Guest workers would be allowed to remain in the U.S. for six years.[4] However, in the fourth year, the guest worker could ask for LPR status and would receive it if he has learned English or is enrolled in an English class.[5] There are no numeric limits on the number of guest workers who could receive LPR status. Upon receiving LPR status, the guest worker could remain in the country permanently. He could become a U.S. citizen and vote in U.S. elections after just five more years.

The spouses and minor children of guest workers would also be permitted to immigrate to the U.S.[6] When guest workers petition for LPR status, their spouses and children would receive it as well. Five years after obtaining LPR status, these spouses could become naturalized citizens. The bill sets no limit on the number of spouses and children who could immigrate under the guest worker program. After workers and their spouses have obtained citizenship, they would be able to bring in their parents as legal permanent residents.

If millions of guest workers bring their aging parents into the US as legal residents, then those aging relatives will be immediately eligible for all sorts of government funded aid programs, like social security, Medicare, Medicaid and so on. So much for the tax benefits of a guest worker program – the social program cost added on by guest workers and their families will quickly eclipse any added tax receipts. Heritage concludes:

The "guest worker" program, then, is an open door program, based on the demands of U.S. business, that would allow an almost unlimited number of workers and dependents to enter the U.S. from anywhere in world and become citizens. It is essentially an "open border" provision.

This is what President Bush actually means by "comprehensive immigration reform." He means open borders.

In his speech last night, the President also said he opposed amnesty, and assured Americans that illegal aliens on their "path toward citizenship" would have to pay all sorts of financial penalties (back taxes and the like) to gain legal status. But given the low earning power of most illegal aliens, how likely is that? If such a proposal were enacted into law, within months the media would be awash in tearjerker accounts of sympathetic illegals who desperately wanted to legalize their status, but just can’t afford the several thousand dollars owed in taxes and penalties. We’d hear of Maria, the sweatshop seamstress with three kids, and Manuel the day laborer with five kids, both barely able to keep clothes on their backs and food on the table. How could they be expected to pay the fines on their meager salaries? A few months of such heart-rending tales and Democrat politicians would be jumping in front of the cameras to plead the sorrows of illegal aliens who want to be legalized, but can’t afford it. Those insisting that the law be obeyed would be cast as hard-hearted and mean-spirited. President Bush would, after some gentle prodding from his good friend Senator Kennedy, either agree to forgive the fines, or create a new program permitting the illegals to borrow money to pay the fines (money which they would never pay back, putting the debt straight onto the taxpayers).

Every word out of the President’s mouth last night was an attempt to divert the voters’ attention away from his actual - but deliberately left unstated - immigration policy and its horrendous consequences for the US.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Primetime Farce

President Bush’s desperate attempt to boost his nose-diving poll numbers with a national address on illegal immigration is likely to produce exactly the opposite result, if early previews of his speech are accurate.

The White House formally insisted that no decision has been made and that Bush was still considering options yesterday. But aides left little doubt that the president intends to call for an expanded Guard deployment at the border involving several thousand troops, a significant increase from the 200 or so now there.

Officials suggested their mission would be to play a supporting role by providing intelligence, training, transportation, construction and other functions, while leaving the actual guarding of the 2,000-mile line separating the United States and Mexico to the Border Patrol. The National Guard would be a stopgap force until the federal government could hire civilian contractors to take over administrative and support functions from the Border Patrol, freeing more agents to actually hunt for immigrants slipping into the country.

"This is not about militarizing the border," national security adviser Stephen J. Hadley said on CBS's "Face the Nation." "The president is looking to do everything he can to secure the border. It's what the American people want, it's what he wants to do."

If this is the extent of President Bush’s plan, then expect to see his remaining conservative base desert him in disgust. Several thousand National Guardsmen are entirely insufficient to defend the 2,000-mile border. The numbers of National Guardsmen needed to adequate seal the border would be much, much higher.

Some in the president's conservative base called on him to be even more aggressive. Rep. Charles Whitlow Norwood Jr. (R-Ga.) said Bush should send 36,000 National Guard troops and eventually up to 48,000, drawn from around the nation. "If President Bush signed that order Monday night, our border would be secure for the first time in decades by Memorial Day at the latest," Norwood said in a statement. "Mr. Fox and [the National Council of] La Raza wouldn't like it -- but the American people sure would."

Unfortunately, the president’s ill-fated exercise in nation-building and "democratization" in Iraq has severely strained the National Guard, leaving it unlikely that such large numbers could be sustained (if actually mobilized in the first place) for any length of time.

Worse, the president has already assured his good friend, Mexican President Vincente Fox, that the dispatch of National Guardsmen to the border would only be a temporary action.

Mexican President Vicente Fox called to express concern over the prospect of militarization of the border, and Bush reassured him that it would be only a temporary measure to bolster overwhelmed Border Patrol agents, the White House said.

"The president made clear that the United States considers Mexico a friend and that what is being considered is not militarization of the border but support of Border Patrol capabilities on a temporary basis by National Guard personnel," said White House spokeswoman Maria Tamburri.

What Ms. Tamburri meant to say was that President Bush had told President Fox not to pay any attention to tonight’s address, that the National Guard deployment was nothing less than a ruse meant to deceive American voters into thinking that their government was doing something to protect the borders when in fact, their government had absolutely no intention of doing anything of the sort. In short, President Bush told President Fox, "don’t worry, it’s still business as usual."