Thursday, June 21, 2007

It Can Be Stopped!

Conspiring with leading democrats and pro-open borders republicans, the White House has managed to ressurrect the Bush-Kennedy amnesty-for-illegals bill and get it back before the Senate for a vote. The somewhat revised bill is being rushed through in the hope that no one will actually be able to read and analyze its contents before senators vote on it. Once again, the president's henchmen, working with the democrat leadership, have scheduled a cloture vote to cut off debate on the bill and its ammendments in hope of ramming it through without adequate debate (which provides a clue of just how bad the bill actually is). The cloture vote failed the last time because public outrage scared senators from voting to kill debate - thus temporarily killing the bill. Apparently, public outrage is still growing and it may yet kill Bush's attempt at national suicide.

The Congressional Quarterly reports that two Georgia republican senators that originally supported the bill have now changed their minds and will vote against cloture:

Georgia Republicans Johnny Isakson and Saxby Chambliss will vote against moving the Senate’s immigration overhaul measure forward, the senators said today.

“I think everybody did a noble effort to try to deal with the problem in a comprehensive way,” Isakson said. “But it became apparent that the confidence level was not there.”

Isakson said he and Chambliss had heard from voters back home that they didn’t have faith in another measure that promises border action because past promises have yet to be fulfilled.

Neither senator was viewed as a must-have vote by bill supporters, but losing them makes the task of getting the 60 votes needed to end debate that much harder.

The Georgians were part of negotiations that led to a fragile bipartisan deal that was unveiled on May 17. At a news conference that day, both expressed optimism that the negotiations between Republicans, Democrats and Bush administration officials produced a positive step toward solving the problem.

The "confidence is not there," Senator Isakson, because the American people know that Washington is not to be trusted on almost anything, but especially not on immigration. The American people have seen through the "comprehensive reform" charade and grasped that the only part of that reform intended to be carried out is the amnesty. The border enforcement provisions will never been carried out. That is the president's goal. He knows he can't pass amnesty on its own, but can see to it that the enforcement provisions of a "comprehensive" bill are simply ignored - in exactly the way he has ignored enforcing existing laws over the last six years.

Senators Chambliss and Isakson changed their minds only after the voters of Georgia made absolutely clear their furious disagreement with the bill, and the likliehood that they would take that anger into the voting booth when the senators were up for re-election. Chambliss and Isakson were intimately involved in creating this monstrosity. If they can be convinced to vote against cloture - thus killing the bill - then other senators can be convinced to do the same. But that will only happen if enough people call or write their senators and representatives and make their opposition strongly known. The country you save will be your own.

U.S. Senate switchboard: (202) 224-3121

U.S. House switchboard: (202) 225-3121

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

The Road to Reality

How does an open borders enthusiast turn into an immigration restrictionist? By looking squarely at the reality of mass immigration's impact on society. David Frum explains that it was his tenure at the notoriously pro-open borders Wall Street Journal that led to his intellectual sea-change on immigation. Looking through report after report on the immigration situation in the early 1990's, Frum realized that the facts unearthed by an army of social scientists were exactly contrary to everything he'd ever believed about the salutary effects of untrammelled immigration:

And yet, in their way, those studies and reports contained information as unexpected, startling, and radical as anything coming out of Eastern Europe. I had never appreciated the sheer scale of the immigration surge: almost 2 million legal entries in 1991--close to half the number of births that year--plus who knew how many illegals. And, in stark contradiction to all my preconceptions about immigration, the immigrants who had arrived in the United States since 1970 were not doing very well. They were arriving poor, and they were staying poor for decades. Ominous warning signs were gathering that their children would stay poor too.

It was customary to draw a sharp line dividing (bad) illegal immigration from (good) legal immigration. But the more closely you studied the issue, the more problematic that line became. "Illegal" immigration was not "illegal" in the same way that, say, illegal drugs were. Since the 1970s, the U.S. government had tacitly allowed illegal immigrants a quasi-protected status. In 1979, the Immigration Service ended its long policy of raiding residences in search of illegals. In 1982, the Supreme Court ruled that children present in the country illegally nonetheless possessed a constitutional right to a free public education. The promises of effective enforcement that accompanied the 1986 amnesty were never honored. I began to think that it made more sense to think of immigration policy as a whole, with a tacitly accepted "illegality" just as much a part of the structure as the genius visas for aliens of extraordinary ability. Immigrants could start legal (by entering on, say, a temporary visa), become illegal (by overstaying their visa), and then legalize themselves again (by marriage or sponsorship or amnesty).

I also began to learn that you could hardly name a social problem without discovering that immigration was aggravating it to the point of unsolvability.

Health insurance? Immigrants accounted for about one-quarter of the uninsured in the early 1990s, and about one-third of the increase in the uninsured population at that time.

Social spending? The Urban Institute estimated in 1994 that educating the children of illegal aliens cost the State of California almost $1.5 billion per year.

Wage pressure on the less-skilled? The wages of less-skilled Americans had come under ferocious pressure since 1970. How could you even begin to think about this issue without recognizing the huge immigration-driven increase in the supply of unskilled labor over the same period?

Competitiveness? How could the U.S. remain the world's most productive nation while simultaneously remixing its population to increase dramatically the proportion of poorly educated people within it?

A 1997 study by the National Academy of Sciences found virtually zero net benefit to the U.S. economy from immigration. Immigration yielded benefits, true--but also costs in the form of lower wages and higher social-welfare burdens. Balance costs and benefits against each other, as a rational policymaker should, and you arrived at a favorable balance of $10 billion, less than a tenth of a percentage point in a $12 trillion economy.

And this favorable balance was composed in a way that would normally disturb a rational policymaker: The largest share of the benefits went to the immigrants themselves, and almost all of the rest to people at the top of society. Almost all of the costs were borne by people at the bottom.

When Frum tried to confront his conservative colleagues and acquaintances with the reality of mass immigration's impact on America's working class, he ran into a solid wall of intellectual contraditions and class interests.

As a conservative, I had spent much of my life gleefully pointing out how liberalism repackaged selfish special interests as "compassion": schools run for the benefit of unionized teachers, not students; welfare that served administrators rather than the poor; trade protections that enriched favored industries at the expense of the general public. But now, when I discussed immigration with my friends and fellow conservatives, I heard reasoning that might have embarrassed the crudest Tammany Hall pork-barreler.

At an elegant book party on a Connecticut lawn, one acquaintance smilingly explained her point of view: "How else will I get my flower beds done?"

Lord knows, I heard a lot of self-interest dressed up as public policy during my years as an editorial-page editor. But the flacks and lobbyists who pressed their clients' cases at least accepted some obligation to frame a convincing argument that what was good (for example) for the plastic-pail industry was good for America. With immigration, somehow the rules were different.

Frum put aside his discomfort to work for President Bush when he was elected in 2000, even though he was well aware of the president's pro-immigration sentiments. But in the aftermath of September 11, 2001, Frum assumed that even President Bush would be able to discern the folly of an unprotected border in an age of Islamic terror. He was wrong.

And so it seemed to be happening in September 2001, when Vicente Fox paid his state visit to his great friend Jorge. The Mexican position on immigration was so aggressive, intransigent, and one-sided as to wreck negotiations before they could even begin. Days later, foreign terrorists attacked the World Trade Center. Now, I thought, change would have to come. The attacks revealed immigration not just as a crucial economic and social issue, but also as vital to national security. The 9/11 hijackers would have been caught a dozen times over by a society that enforced its immigration rules. Soon afterward, Americans were reading about bombings in Spain, murders in Amsterdam, and car burnings in Paris.

You might think that a trauma like 9/11 would have prompted a major rethink of its immigration policies by the Bush administration. You would think wrong. While enforcement was tightened in certain concentrated areas, elsewhere it actually relaxed. Immigration from the Middle East reached an all-time peak in 2005. Altogether, an estimated 8 million people settled in the U.S. in the first six years of the Bush administration, at least half of them illegally. In 2004, 2006, and now again in 2007, the president has attempted to push through legalization and guest-worker programs.

Neither the president nor his inner circle has ever cared to hear from dissenters on this issue. A hasty and careless economic calculus, a poorly considered political gamble, and self-righteous moral grandstanding have together pushed the president to the worst domestic political and policy error of his presidency.

Careless is an excellent word to describe the Bush administration policies and actions - on everything. The failure to deal with the border will have far worse consquences for America than the disaster in Iraq. The president's recalcitrant and hamfisted attempt to defy the will of the American people may have backfired, however, by so angering the voters that they reject the open borders credo wholesale and return to examining the reality of the nightmare their government has made for them.

Out of this disaster, however, comes some hope. The national debate triggered by the Senate's catastrophic reform has accelerated the great rethinking of immigration on the part of many millions of Americans. The backroom deal that produced this latest law epitomized decades of collusion between the two parties to suppress open discussion of this vital issue. This time, at last, the collusion failed. Democracy has erupted. I'm ready to make my voice heard. How about you?

One can only hope. As the president and his few remaining allies in the Senate (including Ted Kennedy) try again to ram this poison of a bill through the Senate, it is critical that the American people make their voice clearly and unambiguously heard. Call your senators and representatives at their local and Washington offices; call the state and local Democrat and Republican party offices; call the national GOP offices and demand that this bill be defeated - and by extension, that your country be rescued.

U.S. Senate switchboard: (202) 224-3121

U.S. House switchboard: (202) 225-3121

White House switchboard: (202) 456-1111