The Senate Immigration Bill: Another Legislative Disaster

by Bruce S. Thornton

FrontPage Magazine

The “comprehensive immigration reform” bill cooked up by the Senate has a decided Obamacare stink to it. Like that disaster, the immigration bill is rushing to solve a whole host of complex problems with a massive, muddled bill few Senators will have the time or inclination to read in its entirety, with the same plethora of unforeseen expensive consequences, all perfumed with the same dubious CBO estimates of money saved and revenue increased. No more encouraging is the similar political bum’s rush being given to anybody––i.e. House Republicans––who dares to suggest some due diligence and prudence might be in order.

This unseemly haste should raise our suspicions. So too should be the deceiving rhetoric and incoherence lacing the arguments from supporters. Most egregious is the outrageous failure to discriminate between legal and illegal immigration. These are separate issues, but the Gang of Eight amnestistas collapse them together for tactical reasons. They can evoke all the sentimental, Emma Lazarus “nation of immigrants” rhetoric to sell their legislation, hiding the social dysfunctions and massive expenses caused by illegal immigration behind feel-good stories of plucky legal immigrants creating new industries and enriching American identity. Anyone who brings up those costs of illegal immigration will then be demonized as “anti-immigrant,” “xenophobes,” “nativists,” or “racists,” all question-begging epithets designed to avoid the current legislation’s failure to address any of those costs.

Then there is the bathetic rhetoric about illegal aliens that also deflects our attention from those costs. John McCain waxed hysterical in the Senate not long ago as he decried the fact that illegals had to “live in the shadows.” What can he possibly mean by that? That they can’t work, attend school, run businesses, obtain EBT cards, shop at malls, visit hospital emergency rooms, be protected by the police, or buy cars and flat-screen televisions? They do all these things and more, so how dark can those “shadows” be? Indeed, in states like California––home to the largest number of illegal aliens, 2.5 million––state law has invited them to live as openly as anybody else. A few years ago, the student body president of Fresno State was an illegal alien who flaunted his status at various “Dream Act” rallies. Not even wrecking a car while driving under the influence cast him into the “shadows.”

McCain went on to decry how illegal aliens are “exploited.” Let’s see, they risk their lives crossing scorching deserts, at the tender mercies of the criminals transporting them, so they can be “exploited”? That’s some exploitation that allows you freedom, access to government services, free emergency-room health care, and enough economic opportunity to allow illegal Mexican immigrants to send about $10 billion back to Mexico every year. They left Mexico in the first place to avoid the real exploitation caused by a corrupt government, endemic violence, and a culture of stratified social hierarchies that make economic and social advancement difficult.

Worst of all is the demand that there be a “path to citizenship.” Why? Why can’t illegal aliens be given a legal status that removes the threat of deportation but does not grant them the privileges of U.S. citizenship they did not earn the way legal immigrants do? My wife’s grandfather, a Volga German who emigrated from Russia, never became a citizen. He did all right. I know why the Democrats are demanding citizenship. They will reap millions of voters and millions of new clients for their welfare-dependency industry. But what do Republicans think they’ll get?

I remember––they think that these “hard-working, family values, religious” illegal aliens are “natural” Republicans and will vote conservative once the GOP shows how much they love them. This is delusional. These new voters will vote Democratic, because the Democrats cater to their interests. And simply repeating the “hard-working, family values, religious” mantra isn’t going to make it true. Not because there aren’t illegal aliens who have those qualities. I’ve personally known more that do have them than all the Gang of Eight put together. The point is, the amnestistas and their legislation do not codify a workable mechanism for sorting out which do and which do not. Citizenship will be granted indiscriminately, with only the most egregious felons sifted out. And even then, only felons stupid enough to apply for amnesty will get caught. The rest will just keep on living as they already are. All the rest, including those who have 2 DUI’s or have illegally received welfare benefits, will get to become citizens, and then start bringing their extended families along for the ride.

That’s because the enforcement provisions of this bill are moonshine. If the feds were interested in sorting the illegal wheat from the chaff, they would have been doing it already, and every illegal alien in an American penitentiary would have long ago been shipped back to their home countries. E-verify would already be universal, and businesses that hire undocumented workers would be prosecuted. If they really wanted to secure the border, they would have done it already. The fact is, this legislation is about specific present benefits bought with vague future promises to make illegal aliens “go to the back of the line” in order to become citizens. Living in the U.S. is not the “back of the line.” Going back to Mexico is. Ask those aspiring to become Americans who have been waiting decades for legal entry where they think the “back of the line” is.

This bill if passed will guarantee that 30 years from now we’ll still have an illegal alien problem. When the last amnesty passed in 1986, there were 3 million illegal aliens. Now we have 11 million. Just what in the current bill protects against that moral hazard? Once again a bunch of elites insulated from the consequences of their legislative malfeasance are passing the costs of their political and economic self-interests onto others.

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