Thursday, May 25, 2006

Sailing Full Steam Towards the Iceberg

As the Senate edges closer and closer to passing the Hagel-Martinez immigration reform monster, Robert Rector, the Heritage Foundation analyst who first warned the public that the bill's language would admit up to 103 million legal immigrants over the next twenty years, chimes in again to explain the horrendous cost of the Senate's looming act of malfeasance:

In the case of the leading reform proposal, a measure sponsored by Sens. Mel Martinez (R., Fla.) and Chuck Hagel (R., Neb.), we have an answer: It would raise them substantially. The bill would grant amnesty to about 10 million illegal immigrants and put them on a path to citizenship. Once they become citizens, the net addi tional cost to the federal government of benefits for these individuals will be around $16 billion per year. The bill would also spur a rapid new flow of low skill immigrants through its program for “guest workers” (for life, that is) and other provisions.

To make matters worse, once an illegal immigrant becomes a citizen, he has the right to bring his parents to live in the U.S. The parents, in turn, may become citi zens. The long-term cost of government benefits for the parents of 10 million recipients of amnesty could be $50 billion per year or more. In the long run, the Hagel-Martinez bill, if enacted, would be the largest expansion of the welfare state in 35 years.

The White House is strongly behind the Hagel-Martinez bill and is currently strong-arming Republican members of the House of Representatives, hoping to persuade, bribe or threaten them into supporting some sort of compromise bill that would preserve the very worse aspects of Hagel-Martinez.

The impact of legalizing millions of illegal immigrants from Latin America (and eventually from the rest of the Third World) will have a dramatically negative impact on American society. Rector examines the differences between immigrants and native-born Americans and finds that the current wave of immigrants constitute a significant financial burdern for the US - a burden that will only explode under the terms of Hagel-Martinez:

By the late 1990s, immigrant households were 50 percent more likely to receive means-tested aid than native-born households. Moreover, immigrants appear to assimilate to welfare use. The longer immi grants live in the U.S., the more likely they are to use welfare.

The picture for illegal immigrants, who would receive amnesty under the bill, is even more alarming. Roughly half of current illegal immigrants are high-school dropouts. Use of welfare among legal immigrants who are high-school dropouts is three times the rate for the U.S. native born population as a whole; the rate for low-skill immigrants granted amnesty would be similar. Overall, welfare costs added by this group would be quite high.

Illegal immigration is now a major cause of child poverty. According to the Pew Hispanic Center, 4.7 mil lion children of illegal immigrant parents currently live in the U.S. Some 37 percent of these children are poor. While children of illegal immigrant par ents make up around 6 percent of all children in the U.S., they are 11.8 percent of all poor children.

This high level of child poverty among illegal immigrants in the U.S. is in part due to low edu­cation levels and low wages. It is also linked to the decline in marriage among Hispanics in the U.S. Within this group, 45 percent of children are born out of wedlock. Among foreign-born Hispanics the rate is 42.3 percent. By con trast, the out-of-wedlock birth rate for non-Hispanic whites is 23.4 percent. The birth rate for Hispanic teens is higher than for black teens. While the out-of-wedlock birth rate for blacks has remained flat for the last decade, it has risen steadily for Hispanics. These figures are important because, as noted, some 80 percent of illegal aliens come from Mexico and Latin America.

In general, children born and raised outside of marriage are seven times more likely to live in poverty than chil dren born and raised by married cou ples. Children born out of wedlock are also more likely to be on welfare, to have lower educational achievement, to have emotional problems, to abuse drugs and alcohol, and to become involved in crime.

The quality of new immigrants has been declining for decades for reasons that have to do with both US immigration law, and the advance of the world economy. However, Mexico's physical proximity means that migration to the US is fairly easy, making it an attractive option for the unskilled, uneducated and less intelligent of Mexico's people. The result is that most illegal immigrants now in America, or planning to come here, lack the skills and intellectual firepower to ever advance far above the most menial station. Since intellectual ability is hereditary, subsequent generations of these immigrants will remain intellectually behind the rest of the population, creating an massive IQ ghetto inside the US, fueling future racial and class strife.

The federal government currently operates a massive system of income redistribution: The upper-middle class is taxed, and money and services are transferred to the lower-income half of the population. In 2004, some $583 billion was transferred in this way. Current immigration in the U.S. disproportionately brings poorly educated individuals with a high probability of unwed births into the U.S. Over the last 20 years, around 10 million indi viduals without a high-school diploma have entered the United States. These individuals inevitably end up on the recipient end of the income-redistribution equation, providing an extra tax burden on the already hard-pressed middle-class taxpayers.

The supporters of Hagel-Martinez say that the US needs this onslaught of young workers to offset the financial burden of an aging native population - young Latinos will provide much needed financial CPR to social security. Nonsense, Rector says. The exact opposite is the case:

There is a remarkably foolish idea now running through the Senate, that the key to solving the Social Security crisis is to import into the U.S. tens of millions of low-skill immigrants, earning perhaps $20,000 per year, along with their families. The folly of this should be apparent. For most of these individuals, receipt of the earned income tax credit alone will outweigh Social Security taxes paid. The overall costs such individuals will add to government programs throughout their lifetime (including welfare, social security, Medicare, education for children, transportation, and law enforcement) will greatly exceed taxes paid.

The Hagel-Martinez bill would be an even worse disaster than the 1986 amnesty that produced this situation in the first place. It may even come to rival the unmitigated catastrophe of the 1965 immigration bill that has so radically changed the demography of the US.

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.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Mexican Hypocrisy

Mexico doesn’t like the idea of the US controlling its borders and enforcing its immigration laws, which are labeled racist and xenophobic. Yet, while Mexico is happy to recommend national suicide for the US, it maintains exactly the opposite policy within its own borders.

Foreign-born Mexicans can't hold seats in either house of the congress. They're also banned from state legislatures, the Supreme Court and all governorships. Many states ban foreign-born Mexicans from spots on town councils. And Mexico's Constitution reserves almost all federal posts, and any position in the military and merchant marine, for "native-born Mexicans."

Recently the Mexican government has gone even further. Since at least 2003, it has encouraged cities to ban non-natives from such local jobs as firefighters, police and judges.

Mexico's Interior Department - which recommended the bans as part of "model" city statutes it distributed to local officials - could cite no basis for extending the bans to local posts.

After being contacted by The Associated Press about the issue, officials changed the wording in two statutes to delete the "native-born" requirements, although they said the modifications had nothing to do with AP's inquiries.

"These statutes have been under review for some time, and they have, or are about to be, changed," said an Interior Department official, who was not authorized to be quoted by name.

Sure. And if you believe that, there’s a pyramid in Mexico City for sale, real cheap.

But because the "model" statues are fill-in-the-blanks guides for framing local legislation, many cities across Mexico have already enacted such bans. They have done so even though foreigners constitute a tiny percentage of the population and pose little threat to Mexico's job market.

The foreign-born make up just 0.5 percent of Mexico's 105 million people, compared with about 13 percent in the United States, which has a total population of 299 million. Mexico grants citizenship to about 3,000 people a year, compared to the U.S. average of almost a half million.

So, let’s get this right. Mexico exports millions of its people to the US every year, all the while excoriating Americans for daring to complain about the invasion, but only grants Mexican citizenship to 3,000 people every year and won’t let non-natives hold key jobs. Gee, which country is racist, xenophobic and hypocritical again? Or rather, which country is pursuing an agenda to advance its own interests at the expense of its neighbor? And which country is the greater fool?

Monday, May 22, 2006

Deceit on the Hill

If Congress polls lower in popularity than even the drain-circling President Bush, perhaps it has something to do with the crap legislators like to bury deep in the fine print of bills, hoping no one will see it until it has been passed into law. A perfect example comes from a bill passed by the Senate, which would, among other things, exempt employers who have employed illegal aliens in the past from paying any penalty for breaking the law.

Among those who will be cleared of past crimes under the Senate's proposed immigration-reform bill would be the businesses that have employed the estimated 10 million illegal aliens eligible for citizenship and that provided the very "magnet" that drew them here in the first place.

Buried in the more than 600 pages of legislation is a section titled "Employer Protections," which states: "Employers of aliens applying for adjustment of status under this section shall not be subject to civil and criminal tax liability relating directly to the employment of such alien."

Supporters of the legislation insist that such provisions do not amount to "amnesty."

"The legislation we are considering today is not amnesty," Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter said last week. "That is a pejorative term, really a smear term used to denigrate the efforts at comprehensive immigration reform. This is not amnesty because amnesty means a pardon of those who have broken the law."

Mr. Specter, Pennsylvania Republican, and others argue that the bill is not amnesty for illegal aliens because they will have to pay $2,000 in fines before they gain citizenship.

The law does not, however, provide for such fines against employers who have broken the law by hiring the illegals.

So let’s see, illegal aliens get off with a small fine (instead of being deported) and employers who broke the law (thus encouraging more illegal aliens to run across the border) get no fine at all. But that’s not amnesty. No. And the sun isn’t hot.

Anyone who thinks that any of those millions of illegal aliens will ever pay a dollar in fines should also line up to buy timeshares in Tierra del Fuego. Not a chance. In the event tha such ruinous legislation is ever passed, the ink will not be dry on the president’s signature before Latino groups are holding press conferences complaining." The fines will be denounced as … you can see it coming … a racist measure meant to stop poor brown people from becoming legal. The Democrats will froth at the mouth and hold up shining examples of "good" illegals who want to be citizens but can’t afford to pay the fines on their meager wages. Then Congress, which showed no backbone defending the border, will quickly come up with a "program" to help the illegals who cannot afford to pay the fines (just about all of them, I imagine). In short, the fines will disappear and the amnesty will be complete.

Not every Senator is willing to cave into the immigration lobby. Traditional Democrats, the sort that remember (in one case, personally) the Democrat Party of Jack Kennedy, voiced opposition on moral grounds.

Sen. Robert C. Byrd, West Virginia Democrat, vehemently opposes "this effort to waive the rules for lawbreakers and to legalize the unlawful actions of undocumented workers and the businesses that illegally employ them."

Amnesties, he said, "are the dark underbelly of our immigration process."

"They tarnish the magnanimous promise enshrined on the base of the Statue of Liberty," Mr. Byrd said last week on the Senate floor. "Amnesties undermine that great egalitarian and American principle that the law should apply equally and should apply fairly to everyone."

Try telling that to the likes of Senator Edward Kennedy, who never been an amnesty for illegal aliens that he didn’t like, and whose 1965 immigration bill will be eventually recalled as the greatest disaster in US history.

But the fun is only beginning…

While most of the focus thus far has been on the "amnesty" granted to illegal aliens, opponents only now are discovering the broad range of crimes that will be forgiven under the legislation.

Lawyers for the Senate Judiciary Committee have scoured the bill and come up with a list of 31 crimes relating to illegal immigration that would be wiped clean.

One wonders how many other hidden gems the lobbyists, Latino activists and open border crowd have buried in the Senate bills. Such is the legislation conservatives can expect from a GOP-controlled Senate.