Category ►►► Immigration Immolations

July 10, 2013

The Marching Morons

Immigration Immolations
Hatched by Dafydd

...In which the Lizard continues to blow discordant notes into the cacophanous conclave of conservative correctness and communalism.

The principle argument against the Senate immigration bill wrought by the Gang of Ate -- a bill I utterly reject -- is apparently that allowing so many low-wage Mexicans and other Latin Americans into the United States would depress wages among unskilled, uneducated, native-born Americans. Can't have that.

In other words, a great chunk of the Right argues that the proper purpose of immigration reformation is protectionism for dropouts, teenagers, and pensionless retirees, so long as they are native-born Americans: Let's boost those minimum wages high enough to "incentivize" slackerdom and stasis! ("Jefty is five; he's always five.")

But since when did the conservative movement (or moment) stand for artificially inflating wages to encourage more ignorance and incompetence? Remember: What you subsidize (uneducated American workers with no useful job skills), you get more of.

Conservative "pundants" to the contrary notwithstanding, it would be an egregious contradiction of conservative principles to interdict immigration only to shield American losers and boozers from market forces; just as it would be to lay hefty tariffs on imported cars to shield American auto manufacturers from having to improve their product and reduce the price.

Conservatism should include reducing the size, reach, scope, and intrusiveness of government; not clinging to Leviathan so as to reorient it to privilege "our guys," instead of "their guys." So I am not on board with those conservatives who want to use our vast and barely controllable federal government to "help" unskilled Americans to remain unskilled in perpetuity. I don't buy that argument, not in the least.

But on the other hand, America is no longer an "industrial" nation -- and it never will be again. Current and future jobs will depend upon trained personnel with college degrees or even postgraduate studies. The U.S. has been evolving from the "factory worker" model to the "technology, health-care, and service" model; just as some time ago it evolved from "rural agriculture" to "factory worker."

Of course we still have some industry; but even in the contemporary factory, computer-assisted design and manufacture has become the norm; and such workers need education and training. Most of our jobs (whether filled by natives or immigrants) are service related, from doctors and health professionals to financial services to legal services to real-estate agents to help desks to sales clerks to food servers.

We don't need more migrants hand-picking grapes; we need more people to design better automatic grape harvesters.

With this perspective, it's irrelevant whether a low-skilled, uneducated worker comes from Oxnard, California or Baja California: Either way, by using government power to push higher the wages of work that is of less value every year, we create a bonanza of sub-minimal wage slaves. This may be great for those corporations that thrive on keeping workers ignorant, incompetent, and hungry; but it's terrible for a superpower that needs to move beyond nineteenth-century models of employment; and it's dreadful for those lured into becoming the modern equivalent of nomadic dust-bowl refugees.

The Schumer-Rubio-Schumer immigration immolation is vile, but not because it subsidizes the wrong set of throwbacks to the "dark, satanic mills." Its villainy consists rather in susidizing reactionary forces that would drive us back to FDR's New Deal. "If they only could, they surely would; um-hm."

What we really need is to let the free market work to shift us away from being a nation of "laborers," with all the baggage that term totes, and towards old and new Americans becoming educated and trained individuals. These individuals, cardinals instead of ordinals, will see themselves not as drones in a hive collective (ready to be infected with unionism), but as partners who have a real stake in the success or failure of the company that employs them. Or better yet, they will increasingly see themselves as independent contractors, or as entrepreneurs who own their own businesses and make their own contracts.

If there is inherent "dignity" in work, it resides not in brute force -- setting a man to do a mule's job -- but in the educated, trained mind that solves problems... for a price. Which kind of job should America encourage: standing in the Home Depot parking lot, hoping to be picked for day labor; or becoming a dental technician, a hydraulic fracking engineer, a teacher, a physicist, or an interior designer?

Any immigration reform should preferentially admit the intelligent, the educated, the trained, the successful, and above all those best able to assimilate into our Capitalist system, with its secular government and Judeo-Christian religious culture. But instead, this stupid and insulting Senate bill intentionally discriminates against such winners and in favor of life's foreign losers.

This is insane; why subsidize failure, whether foreign or domestic? We should make it harder, not easier, for the lowest and least workers to remain that way.

We must get our incentives in line with our ideology and with the capitalist ideal; that is the direction we must take to stay competitive and to fulfill the American Dream.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, July 10, 2013, at the time of 12:29 AM | Comments (0)

May 7, 2013

Rubio's Tube

Immigration Immolations
Hatched by Dafydd

(The title is a feeble and obscure play on Rubik's Cube. Best I could do -- sorry!)

Theme: Why I think the "comprehensive" immigration "reform" package -- S. 744 (the "Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act of 2013"), currently waist deep in the big Senate muddy -- should not be passed, but should instead be flushed... and this despite the fact that I generally support an extensive reform of our immigration laws, one that would likely admit more and better immigrants than today.

Alas, the "Gang of 8" bill just isn't that reform. Here are several reasons why...

Most of the bill's elements are premature at best

I have belabored you all for many years with my own blueprint for reforming immigration properly and permanently. A proper reform needs the following components in the following order:

  1. Finishing the physical wall/fence all the way along the southern and northern borders. This is not so much for actual immigration security; as Johh Hinderaker notes, most illegal immigrants are legally admitted but overstay their visas, which could not be prevented by a wall. Nevertheless, the wall is vital in order to get Republicans and blue-dog Dems to support the bill, and also as a show of our resolve, thus to get the American populace on our side. And it certainly wouldn't hurt!
  2. Transforming our legal immigration agency from its current function -- a welfare program for transnationals and a Mecca for terrorists -- into a systematic gathering into the United States all and only those who are truly American at heart, but had the bad luck to be born in some other country.
  3. Eliminating in its entirety the so-called "guest worker" visa (H-2a and b): As Mark Steyn points out, the last thing in the world we need is an army of nearly 100,000 foreigners who by definition have no loyalty to the U.S., who are necessarily transient, and who cross the border frequently with impunity: It's an invitation to resentment, America-hatred, criminal activity, and terrorism.
  4. And only after doing all of the above, finally deciding what to do about the estimated 10 million to 20 million illegal immigrants already here. But as everyone knows, All the wrangling and hair pulling is about the component of immigration reform that should come last of all, not first of all!

But by the very nature of being a "comprehensive" bill, it tries to do everything all at once and out of order: For example, legalization will surely precede real reform of the legal immigration system. On this count alone, the bill should fail; it's more important to do things in the right order than do them right now.

The most important element, reforming the legal immigration system, is a farce in the current bill

The current USCIS immigration laws and procedures are arbitrary, unpredictable, corrupt, and perverse (as were those of its predecessor, the INS):

  1. Arbitrary -- There is no real standard for admission, it depends upon the mood of the interviewer that day; identically qualified individuals get different outcomes.
  2. Unpredictable -- An applicant for citizenship or permanent residency has no idea at all, at any stage of the process, whether he is on the right track or about to be rejected; and if rejected, he is never told why or what he can do to improve his chances for next time.
  3. Corrupt -- Administration officials and legislators at the highest level make immigration decisions in order to import voters for their side or to create an army of guest serfs for companies in favored districts.
  4. Perverse -- Those same "deciders" also let their ideology drive immigration policy into absurd and dangerous extremes, such as encouraging indigent immigrants to come here and suck up our welfare payments, and welcoming foreign enemies into the U.S. to help the Left promote its America-hatred.

But nothing in the false "reform" of S. 744 fixes any of these problems. We need real reform that is rational (immigration decisions that make sense); predictable (applicants know what they need to do and avoid doing); honest (decisions should not be made on the basis of monetary or political bonanzas for the politicians); and pro-America (supporting and upholding the assets and virtues that made America great, including individual liberty, Capitalism, e pluribus unum-style assimilation, justice, and American exceptionalism).

We may not be able to perfectly distinguish Americans at heart from clever con men, but we ought to devise a system that at least takes a whack at it. At the moment, it seems, if a wannabe immigrant is pro-America, it's the kiss of death for his application!

We need a system that privileges those already halfway assimilated; but this bill does none of that. Scrap it.

S. 744 breaks every rule and promise of representative democracy; it's not a bill, it's a beat down

The bill's history is convoluted, tortuous, and therefore contains many unexploded landmines; worse, it was concocted in secret, which is itself unAmerican. It's the vital essence of a nasty, back-room deal. I'm guessing that Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL, not yet rated) finally understands he has an asp by the tail, but he can't figure how to let go without being snakebit.

He may have thought his Democratic partners would negotiate in good faith; but the Devil is in the pudding: He (Rubio, not the Devil) should loudly and publicly withdraw his support, take his lumps, and stop imagining himself as the next President of the United States. Too soon, Marco, too soon!

Further, proponent sayeth not. Just wanted to get this on the record.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, May 7, 2013, at the time of 11:19 PM | Comments (2)

March 24, 2013

How Is an Illegal Alien? (Part 2)

Future of Civilization , Future of Politics , Immigration Immolations
Hatched by Dafydd

For obvious reasons, lawyers tend to be overly legalistic -- that is, substituting "legal" and "illegal" for "right" and "wrong." If a law has been adjudicated and upheld, lawyers either tend to take that as the final answer, or else they argue that it was wrongly decided; rarely do attorneys argue, even in the political arena, that law is by nature an imperfect guide, and that morality precedes and supercedes it. That's why it's so dangerous to have a Congress and presidency largely controlled by members of the bar: Too many legalistic policies.

Contrariwise, ordinary civilians (non-lawyers) look first and foremost to the issues actually at stake, and little to none at the history of litigation on some arcane point of law. Civilians understand that the right of "jury nullification" is fundamental and vital under the rule of law; most lawyers literally cannot even comprehend the concept: The law is the law!

In the real world, policy schisms must ultimately be fought and decided in the arena of culture, not in the courts (though they are of course important); the culture-war has always been, and will always be more decisive than mere legal rulings.

When I look at the mass influx of refugees from socialism, religious fanaticism, and political chaos, I see a continuity of desperation, comprising both legal and illegal immigrants. I see the great majority of them not as "alien" to us, but reflecting universal revulsion against kleptocracy and theocracy plus universal parental hope of a better life for their children.

The lawyerly mind tends to see the same mass influx as criminals who broke the law and must be severely punished, as if they were nothing but bank robbers, con men, and cutpurses. And certainly not humanized so far as to allow them ever to become citizens!

Cultural forces will decide the issue, not Congress nor the courts. That is why the "anti-legalizers" who oppose any form of a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants -- even one that includes paying a fine, paying back taxes, waiting many years, and so forth -- consistently use the emotionally charged word "amnesty": The activists are trying to crush the cultural meme that says "moving your kids from cosmic horror to something approaching normalcy is a good and decent thing to do, even if it breaks somebody's law."

The anti-legalizers strive to introduce a new meme: "Illegal immigrants are a virus whose only purpose is to destroy America, steal your car, burn down your house, and rape your daughters."

It's a futile attempt; it simply won't work for one very powerful reason: There are so many illegal immigrants in America today that nearly everybody "knows" one (or a former one) within only two or three degrees of separation. And the ones they "know" don't fit the mold of parasite or vampire. Often employer or friend isn't even aware that the immigrant is actually illegal until he or she is outed. The outing rarely induces friends to turn on the illegal; far more likely that friends become allies -- and enemies of those they perceive as trying to throw their pal out of the country for no good reason.

And another conservative conversion bites the dust.

Contrariwise, nearly everybody is familiar with government intrusion, government overreach, government perversity, government theft, and government tyranny. Very few Americans like Congress or the courts, and only about half like any given president (and even that half are mostly tribalists).

Therefore, there is much more sympathy towards illegal immigrants than there is towards the Republican conference that is trying to interdict and deport them.

It's a losing battle; the only question is whether we find a functional compromise of immigration reform that makes future illegal immigration less likely... or whether we make this the last stand of republicanism, and watch ourselves go the way of the Federalists, the Democratic-Republicans, and the Whigs.

I do not want conservatives to usher in another six-decade era like Woodrow Wilson through Jimmy Carter, in which we established the permanent, floating, socialist Leviathan. But if we fight to the death for a losing cause on the wrong side of culture -- immigration is in our national blood -- we may very well live to see President Hillary, President Godfather Rahm, and ultimately President Gavin Newsom. Or we might see the repeal (or ignoring) of the 22nd Amendment, and Barack "Skeets" Obama might be elected to a third and fourth term.

We have already found a workable compromise for gays who want to have the protections of marriage: allowing for domestic partnership but not same-sex marriage, coupled with allowing some form of covenant marriage for those who wish it. It isn't perfect, and it doesn't stop either side from pushing, but that center will probably hold.

We cannot achieve total victory -- but the Left can, if we make it a steel-cage deathmatch. So now is the time for the GOP to offer a real and working compromise... because the alternative to a negotiated compromise is certain defeat.

Defeat is never glorious. Defeat is always ignominious. And defeat has very real and very harsh consequences that can long outlive both losers and victors.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, March 24, 2013, at the time of 3:08 PM | Comments (2)

March 21, 2013

How Is an Illegal Alien?

Immigration Immolations
Hatched by Dafydd

Get yer huge, irritating, enraging defense of illegal aliens right here!

I use words with clarity and precision. To avoid lexical misunderstandings, here are four definitions of what I, personally mean by certain hot-button words:

  • Immigrant: A person who moves from one country to another intending to live there permanently.
  • Alien: A person (human or otherwise) who is so different from the local population that assimilation or even interaction is virtually impossible.
  • Criminal: A person who habitually engages in unlawful, immoral, or extremely anti-social behavior for disreputable purposes.
  • Lawbreaker, illegal: A person who violates any law, ordinance, regulation, or rule, regardless of motive or reason, and without consideration of the morality or even sanity of the regulation being violated.

Note that under these definitions, an alien need not be an immigrant or criminal, nor is an immigrant required to be criminal or alien.

Not only that, but by my definitions, necessary or moral lawbreaking is not criminal; and a person living under perverse law can obey that law to the letter, yet still be a criminal nevertheless. Think of those who operated the "underground railroad," helping black slaves escape to free states in the North -- illegal but not criminal; and contrariwise, the law-enforcement officials who hunted down escaped slaves and abolitionists and threw them in prison -- morally criminal but perfectly legal.

The four definitions are independent of each other.

All right, admin stuff out of the way; let's jump in...

For a great many conservatives, when they look at illegal aliens they see nothing but criminals.

They certainly are lawbreakers: Having "broken the law," they are subject to arrest and trial. But by the same reasoning, so were the abolitionists.

But the vast majority of illegal aliens are not "criminals" in the sense in which anybody but a lawyer would mean that word: The vast majority are not thieves, nor assassins, nor rapists; they are not arsonists, kidnappers, robbers, nor intruders; they are not traitors, nor terrorists, nor even check kiters.

Yes, they broke American law; but motive matters: And in most cases, their motive was to save their families from being murdered, raped, or robbed... or worse, to prevent their children from being recruited -- oft by force -- into drug cartels or radical-Islamist terrorist cells, thus turning these brainwashed or frightened kids into monsters themselves.

At least, that is likely the perception of the illegal-alien parent or young adult: They wanted to flee a land whose only patrimony was poverty, disease, and hopelessness, in favor of the land of liberty, upward mobility, and rational hope. Maybe their perception is wrong, maybe exaggerated; but even if their fear is overblown and unreasonable, that still doesn't make them criminals -- overwrought, perhaps, or hypersensitive, or just plain mistaken.

If we had a properly functioning legal-immigration policy, one that gave everyone a fair shake and didn't play favorites based upon race or country of origin, then those who incessantly decry "amnesty!" might have a legitimate point. Suppose applicants for residency and citizenship had a real path to follow:

  • Where decisions are made on the basis of assimilability and Americanism;
  • Where all applicants are processed equally under the law;
  • Where every immigration requirement is rational and achievable;
  • Where no decision is arbitrary or capricious, corrupt, random, or perverse;
  • Where no applicant is "timed out" by delays no fault of his own, forcing him to start over from scratch on an administrative whim;
  • Where applicants know at any point in the process what they need to do (and refrain from doing) to keep moving towards their goal;
  • And which is predictable, so that the same inputs yielded the same outputs.

Under such circumstances, those who would be a net asset to the United States would be admitted; while those who would be disruptive, criminal, parasitical, or useless would be rejected. If that was the case, then it's reasonable to say illegals who sneak in are bums who should all be rounded up and deported.

Alas, we don't such a system or even a close approximation. We never have had. Instead, we have a system that is irrational, unpredictable, arbitrary, and perverse. So what are would-be immigrants supposed to do, facing such a broken systme? What would you do, if you and your family lived in day-to-day dread in Venezuela, Angola, Iran, or Juarez, Mexico?

This is not a rhetorical question: What would you, personally, do if you applied several times to immigrate into the United States, and they repeatedly rejected you without explanation? But at the same time, you see USCIS admitting thieves, terrorists, and welfare-sucking layabouts. Would you simply resign yourself to seeing your kids raped or murdered, see them become beasts you don't even recognize anymore -- because to spirit your family across the border is breaking the law?

Or would you say, "I'll get my wife and kids into America no matter what it takes, because I want them to live in freedom, security, and the rule of law!"

Most of those people you call "criminals" are really just -- parents.

Are these illegals really so "alien" to us? Are they so different, so bizarre, that we cannot interact with them, and they can never assimilate into our culture? Are they really any different than the millions who entered this country before any of us was even born?

Some of my immigrant relatives came from shtetls across Russia, Germany, and Poland; others came from Welsh coal miners and English nobility. None had much if anything in common with the Americans already in the country -- nothing but a love of liberty (to the extent they even understood it), the willingness to work hard and support themselves and their families, and a sense that America was different, unique, exceptional. And that was enough.

Now we have different groups trying to immigrate here. And if we were to focus on assimilability and degree of Americanism, they would give the same benefit to our country as did those immigrating from Europe, China, and Japan.

I maintain that an illegal immigrant who --

  • Has lived many years in the United States --
  • Speaks English --
  • Is not a criminal --
  • Has consistently supported himself and his family by honest employment --
  • And has invested in America by buying a house, starting a business, and sending his kids to school, and participating in his community --
  • -- is a better prospect for assimilation than a young, single adult without work experience, without much English, and evincing no burning desire to become an American... even if the latter entered the country completely legally.

    Some illegal immigrants are "alien" to the United States, but I am quite certain most are no more alien than the legal immigrants who get lucky with the one-armed bandit of Citizenship and Immigration Services.

    Hatched by Dafydd on this day, March 21, 2013, at the time of 7:17 PM | Comments (17)

    February 26, 2013

    Quick Point on the Big-Lizards Immigration Position (Prior to Consequential Post That Will Be Sure to Annoy Most of You If You Don't Read This Post First!)

    Immigration Immolations
    Hatched by Dafydd

    And maybe it will still vex you; but at least with this set-up, I'll have a fighting chance!

    I want to make clear from the outset, before I post an abrasive immigration thingie in the next few days, that I do not under any circumstances support "comprehensive" immigration reform.

    Rather, I prefer a piecemeal packet of distinct bills, one for each element of immigration reform -- but starting with reform of the legal immigration system, before anything else is done, including anything to give a path to residency for illegals already here. And yes, even before securing the border, since even border security itself requires first that we get our legal immigration system in shape.

    What do I mean by "reform?" It's a very astute question; I'm glad you asked. We start with this basic premise: No person should ever be admitted to permanent residency in the United States unless he is willing and able to assimilate to our shared American heritage of Capitalism, individual liberty, fundamental rights and civil liberties, being responsible for earning one's own living, and American exceptionalism.

    Then we create, as from scratch, a legal immigration system, operating within the context of the above imperative, that is rational, predictable, just, and open to everyone willing and able to assimilate, without regard to race, sex, religion, country of origin, previous condition of servitude, and without regard to family members already in residence in the United States.

    That is, the only criterion should be assimilability -- not where you came from or how many cousins you have living here already.

    All else is dicta; and I will not presume to dicta-tate exactly how we define those terms and how we should enforce them.

    There are many possible ways to enforce, to the extent possible, such an imperative with those characteristics; some kind of point system for example. But clearly no such thing will happen while Barack "Skeets" Obama or any other Democrat of his mold is president, or while the Democratic Party controls either house of Congress.

    Still and all, nothing that we do anent immigration will have the slightest positive effect unless we first bias legal immigration in the direction of assimilability. A melting pot, not a dad blamed salad bowl!

    All right, got it? So when you read the controversial later post, please do so with this position in mind. Maybe folks won't get so het up that way!

    Hatched by Dafydd on this day, February 26, 2013, at the time of 1:38 AM | Comments (6)

    January 30, 2013

    On Amnesty

    Immigration Immolations
    Hatched by Dafydd

    I've seen an interesting Snorgtees ad on Power Line; a busty young blonde chick with really cute glasses wears a t-shirt that reads, "the misuse of 'literally' makes me figuratively insane."


    Well, the misuse of "amnesty" makes me want to punish someone.

    I have an old, very old copy of Black's Law Dictionary; it's the fourth edition, copyrighted 1951. It's entirely possible that more current editions have a completely different definition of amnesty... but, well, I doubt it.

    The old definition is: "A sovereign act of oblivion for past acts, granted by a government to all persons (or to certain persons) who have been guilty of crime or delict, generally political offenses -- treason, sedition, rebellion -- and often conditioned upon their return to obedience and duty within a prescribed time."

    In typically circular fashion, here is the legal definition of oblivion: "Act of forgetting, or fact of having forgotten; forgetfulness. Official ignoring of offenses; amnesty, or general pardon; as, a act of oblivion. State or fact of being forgotten."

    I am not a lawyer, nor do I even play one in the blogosphere; but it's clear to me that oblivion, forgetting, ignoring of offenses, pardon, and amnesty all imply that no punishment of any kind is to be levied against those granted "amnesty."

    Is that what we're talking about, a full and complete pardon for all illegal aliens, with no punishment of any kind -- no fines, no back taxes, not even an admission of guilt? We haven't seen a bill yet this time; but in that sure wasn't the case back in 2007... yet conservatives screamed "Amnesty!" back then, too.

    The McCain-Kennedy legislation in the Senate, called alternately the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2007 or the Secure Borders, Economic Opportunity and Immigration Reform Act of 2007, unambiguously contained punitive and restitution elements:

    S.1639 would have created a new class of visa, the "Z visa", that would be given to everyone who was living without a valid visa in the United States on Jan. 1, 2008; this visa would give its holder the legal right to remain in the United States for the rest of their lives, and access to a Social Security number. After eight years, the holder of a Z visa would be eligible for a United States Permanent Resident Card (a "green card") if they wanted to have one; they would first have to pay a $2000 fine, and back taxes for some of the period in which they worked. By the normal rules of green cards, five years after that the illegal immigrant could begin the process of becoming a U.S. citizen.

    Yet despite that, conservatives consistently derided it as "amnesty" (including those on Power Line -- who misuse the same word even now). Again, I'm not a lawyer; but it seems to me that the proper term for partial forgiveness of a sentence, accompanied by admission of guilt and some measure of punishment and restitution, is a plea bargain.

    Now maybe it was a bad plea bargain; much of the devil would be in the details. But in any case, a plea bargain is not an amnesty. They are completely different concepts.

    So why do otherwise sane and rational conservative commentators on illegal immigration so consistently misuse the word amnesty to describe what is clearly an offer of a plea bargain? Alas, I can think of no other reasons than propaganda, argument by tendentious redefinition, begging the question, and an attempt to extort dissenters by threatening to label them criminals and criminal-lovers.

    It's akin to referring to all abortions as "murders," and accusing every doctor who has ever performed one, for any reason whatsoever, of being a "baby murderer." The purpose is not to stimulate debate but to stifle debate, not to find common ground but to silence the opposition. That is, just the sort of thing that liberals and progressives use all the time to silence the Right. How wonderful that we now stoop to doing the same!

    If we're going to talk about the new immigration-reform suggestion from today's Gang of 8, then let's at least do so honestly, rather than using elminationist rhetoric to smear anybody who disagrees as a lawless bandito and traitor to the United States... a description that better fits our new Secretary of State, JFK *, than folks who want to find a solution to the illegal population somewhere in between mass deportations and true amnesty.


    * Kerry was confirmed by a Senate vote of 94 to 3; 42 of the 45 Republicans -- necessarily including many "tea party" Republicans -- voted to confirm and support the man who accused his compatriots in Vietnam of committing "atrocities," "war crimes," and "crimes against humanity;" the man who tried to negotiate, on his own initiative, a separate and ruinous surrender of American forces to the Communist government of North Vietnam.

    Evidently, conservatives and tea partiers were too enraged by the possibility of immigration reform to notice that they were voting to confirm a Secretary of State who was even more damaging to the U.S. war effort than was Jane Fonda vamping on an enemy anti-aircraft gun.

    Hatched by Dafydd on this day, January 30, 2013, at the time of 2:43 AM | Comments (6)

    October 4, 2011

    The Big Lizards Immigration Reform

    Immigration Immolations
    Hatched by Dafydd

    In the previous post, I mentioned reforming our legal immigration system to change it from its current state of being capricious, arbitrary, vindictive, unpredictable, and unjust to being rational, reasonable, predictable, and just.

    As you can probably guess, I've been thinking about this for a very long time -- years, in fact. Here is a fairly specific outline of what I would like to see.



    The primary goal of reform is henceforth to select immigrants solely on the basis of two criteria: assimilability (A) and benefit to the United States (B), not by any other criteria (such as race, country of origin, class within the country of origin, having relatives already living legally in the United States, or any other criteria currently used.

    Of course, some of these other criteria will indirectly help the applicant or immigrant; for example, if he comes from an English-speaking country or a civilized country that has a reasonably good education system. But such criteria are not directly relevant: Two people who pass a Level-5 English language test get the same benefit, even if one grew up speaking English while the other just learned it from ESL software; two people who achieve the same score on an SAT-type exam receive an equal number of points, even if one graduated from a hoity-toity, private high school in Paris, while the other stayed up late in his log cabin, studying books by candlelight.


    Applicants seeking to immigrate to the U.S. accumulate points in these two categories, Assimilability (A) and Benefit (B), by various means (see below). When A + B exceeds a certain threshhold (with each of A and B exceeding a certain minimum), the applicant receives a renewable immigration visa.

    Immigrants must earn a base level of points throughout the year to renew their visas. At a particular A + B level (with minimums), immigrants are granted permanent residency. At an even higher level, they are allowed to take the oath of citizenship. (You can toss in some time-in-country requirements, too.)

    How to earn positive points

    Applicants and immigrants earn positive points by improving themselves in ways that increase their assimilability or their benefit to the nation. For example, by passing periodic and increasingly stringent background checks; becoming more proficient at oral and written English; passing courses on American civics and history; serving honorably in the United States military; serving honorably in the federal, state, or local government; running a successful business; working (legally); academic study; participating in civic affairs, joining service organizations, becoming Boy or Girl Scout leaders; participating in religious activity, so long as the religious institution is not a front for terrorism, criminality, or anti-American activity; actively participating in neighborhood watch programs, neighborhood cleanup programs, and suchlike; accumulating wealth, buying a house, and so forth; getting legally married; having children, especially American citizens (but see below about not being able to care for one's own children); and by having family members living in the same household who accumulate positive points.

    Negative points

    Applicants and immigrants can also be hit by negative points for doing bad things, from committing petty crimes, to having to go on government assistance (including being unable to properly care for minor children), joining criminal or subversive organizations, dropping out of school, defaulting on debts or accumulating debts without a serious possibility of repayment, being discharged dishonorably or OTH by the military, and so on. (Of course, some negative behavior is serious enough to get them deported right away, with or without the privilege of return.)

    Family friendly

    Positive points earned by any member of a family residing together accrue to all members of that family; negative points for all adults in the family apply only to that member. Negative points given to minor children apply somewhat but not completely to the adult family members.

    If the parents appear to be doing everything they can to resolve the problem, but nothing is working, there probably should be some mechanism for getting help. If the child is deemed truly incorrigible, the family should be allowed to "divorce" the child from the family for purposes of immigration: That is, his negative points will no longer drag the entire family down. (This should be rare and difficult to justify; can't divorce your kid for trivial, understandable, solvable, or temporary problems. But it should not be impossible to justify, given a child who is sufficiently vicious and parents who really have tried everything.)

    Transparency and predictability

    The law should also set up a public website that fully describes all of these positive and negative point-accumulating activities and accomplishments, as well as the tiers of residency and citizenship. Additionally, if an applicant or immigrant logs in with a password, he can see the current A and B point levels for all members of his family who reside in the same household.

    Most important, these reforms make the system completely predictable and transparent: Every wannabe immigrant knows exactly what he must do to gain residency, permanent residency, and citizenship. Once he (or his family) achieves the required number of points, he (it) is promoted to the next tier by hard and fast rule with no subjectivity, except perhaps in the more stringent background checks. But even there, the law should specify that the purpose is not to exclude people on arbitrary or irrelevant criteria but to ensure the person is not a criminal, a terrorist, a subversive, a bum, or other obvious undesirable.

    Minimum-wage laws and indentured servitude

    All immigrants who have not yet obtained permanent residency, and all persons in the United States on a student visa, should be exempted from all federal and state minimum-wage laws; they can accept a job for as low a salary as they choose.

    The purpose of this reform is to end the dangerous and abhorrent practice of allowing putative "guest workers" -- who have no loyalty to the United States, no intention of staying, and who do not even feel connected to the American community -- into the U.S. to do menial work; and to replace them with immigrants who have at least shown assimilability, benefit to America, and the willingness to go through the rigamarole of becoming Americans. As Mark Steyn, et al, have demonstrated, "guest workers" are an invitation to riot, violence, and creeping conquest by aggressive, anti-American ideologies, such as radical Islamism.

    Applicants and immigrants who have not yet obtained permanent residency should legally be allowed to undertake temporary indentured servitude, if necessary, to immigrate to the United States or live here while accumulating points; the terms must be transparent, and the system should probably be regulated and subject to oversight at the federal and state levels. Permanent residents should not be allowed to undertake indentured servitude for immigration purposes, but can still complete their indenture if necessary.


    A bit off-topic: I'm a great believer in temporary indentured servitude and would like to see it make a comeback. I think it would work well for both immigrants and American citizens, and for several purposes: for punishment and restitution for committing a crime, for people who default on their debts -- including people who need medical care but have no insurance and no other means to pay, and maybe even for purchasing a first house or condo.

    That one is iffy; it depends on how important it is to promote home ownership. But I think it would be a darn sight better way to get more Americans owning homes than forcing lenders to offer people mortgages that they have no reasonable means of ever paying back.

    In any event, I tried to phrase it carefully in the last section of the reform so as not to preclude temporary indentured servitude for reasons other than immigration.

    And that's my immigration reform, on a nutshell.

    Hatched by Dafydd on this day, October 4, 2011, at the time of 2:43 PM | Comments (5)

    October 2, 2011

    What the Immigration Debate Needs Is -- More Discrimination

    Immigration Immolations
    Hatched by Dafydd

    No, I am not being sarcastic; I mean that quite literally: We need to discriminate between different classes of illegal alien.

    Patterico has for some time pushed -- desultorily, to be sure -- a welcome policy suggestion; he calls on the feds to "deport the criminals first."

    No, he's not saying that, since all illegal aliens are by definition "criminal," we should deport them all immediately; by contrast, Patterico says that there already is a subgroup, within the larger group of illegal aliens, comprising those illegals who commit crimes apart from the crime of being here illegally (and its associated crimes of document fraud and such)... and that we should focus first on deporting those who come to this country in order to live a criminal livestyle.

    We should target for deportation (after they serve their sentences here) all those illegals convicted of committing burglaries, arsons, rapes, assaults, and homicides; who are found guilty of joining criminal gangs, trafficking in narcotics, and defrauding people; who are proven check kiters or pick pockets; or who commit other high crimes and misdemeanors demonstrating criminality beyond simply wanting to live and work peacefully in America.

    It makes a lot of sense, and it's a perfect example of discrimination: Patterico discriminates between illegals who want to try to fit into and contribute to American society, and illegals who see America as a vast piggy bank to be looted, abused, and despoiled.

    But now, after reading a pair of posts that set me fuming, I believe such discrimination must go much further. In those posts, the first by an unnamed "long-time reader" of my favorite blog and the second by my favorite blogger at that same site, I came away with the very strong impression that the two posters, who stand representative of a very influential strain of conservatism, see very little difference at all between those who come here illegally out of desperation and want only to work and raise a family -- and those who come here illegally to vandalize, thieve, and murder.

    That lack of discrimination begins to shock my conscience.

    Thus I hereby initiate my own program that I believe complements Patterico's pontification noted above. He says, "deport the criminals first;" I say, legalize the most innocent first.

    Who are the most innocent of all illegal aliens? Those who were brought here as little children, too young even to understand what a national border is or what it means to cross without permission, let alone mature enough to consent in an informed way to illegal entry. Such innocents need a name, so let us call them "unwitting aliens," UA -- they illegally entered the U.S. without their own consent or even knowledge.

    (Do you want to call it amnesty? I don't mind; I don't even care. Does anybody deserve amnesty more than a person who never even committed the crime of which he stands convicted, since he was a little kid when it happened?)

    There are a great many such UAs, in raw numbers; and for nearly all of them, the United States is literally the only country they have ever known. They grew up here, went to school here, made friends and enemies here; they are completely assimilated into American society; they think of themselves as Americans; they have no recollection of having lived in Mexico or Argentina or El Salvador; and likely in quite a lot of cases, they don't even speak Spanish or Portuguese. Their parents may have falsely told them all their lives that they were born in the United States; they may even have shown the UAs a false American birth certificate.

    Should we really tell these kids that they don't deserve in-state tuition, even if they have lived in one American state all their conscious life, because they're criminals? Do we want these young men and women to be forever barred from living legally in the only home they remember, the only country to which they feel loyalty, unable to establish residency anywhere in that country because of something their parents did when the UAs were still infants? Do we for God's sake want to deport these very American "illegals?" Deport them to where -- a country they cannot even remember, whose citizens speak a language the unwitting aliens might not even know?

    Most American family courts, in the case of divorce, will take the ages of the children into consideration when determining custody; when a child is deemed old enough to make an informed decision, he can decide whether to live with the father, the mother, or under some joint custody plan. Certainly any adult child (over the age of eighteen) can freely decide whether to live with one of his parents or move into his own place.

    I call for the same sort of program for unwitting aliens as we have for the children of divorce: If a UA's parents are discovered and ordered deported, and if the UA is deemed old enough to give informed consent, he should be allowed to freely choose which country he will live in; and we should grant him permanent residency in the United States, if that's what he chooses.

    That doesn't mean his parents get to stay as well; if they're subject to deportation, they're still subject to deportation. The UA can be raised by a legally resident relative, or in the extreme case, can be made a ward of the court and sent either to a foster home or adopted out. But any good parent should want the best for his child, correct?

    If a UA comes to the authorities' attention by some other means -- say by applying for university and claiming, in all innocence, the in-state tuition of the local state university -- then the same applies: He is told that he is an unwitting alien and that he must choose.

    In either case, once obtaining permanent residency, he is eligible to work towards citizenship, just as would be any other legal permanent resident.

    (If such a law is passed, and a reasonable period of time elapses -- time for people to understand the system -- then UAs who don't apply for residency but instead take criminal steps to conceal their alien nationality should lose their UA status; they are no longer "unwitting;" they have become co-conspirators with their parents.)

    This policy suggestion is not a solution to the problem of illegal immigration; as I have argued many times (just click the category link "Immigration Immolitions" at the top of this post), the only solution is complete reform of the legal immigration system to make it predictable, rational, and just; coupled with building a physical fence or wall entirely across both our southern and northern borders, and other vigorous security procedures -- directed against those who persist in trying to climb through the window when we have already made it realistically doable for any decent, assimilable immigrant to enter openly through the door.

    But legalizing the most innocent first would certainly resolve a great potential injustice in a fair and equitable way, and one that will do no harm to United States border security. We have no more to fear from an unwitting alien than we have from a legal immigrant, or even a natural-born American citizen.

    Hatched by Dafydd on this day, October 2, 2011, at the time of 6:22 PM | Comments (7)

    August 21, 2011

    Obamnesty: the Lizard's View

    Immigration Immolations
    Hatched by Dafydd

    This will be one of the shortest Big Lizards immigration posts ever. Blink and it's gone!

    I actually support Barack H. Obama's idea of first deporting those illegal immigrants who have been convicted of other crimes, especially heavy felonies -- as well as those illegales who pose a real threat to American national security -- before even considering those who are here illegally just to work. And I also believe that those who were brought here as children and have grown up in the United States as normal Americans should be the last to be considered for deportation (and probably shouldn't be deported at all).

    But that ought not be his unilateral decision to make. He's "Mr. President," the one who presides; not "His Royal Highness" who issues decrees.

    Technically, the president does have the authority to determine how to enforce the laws of the land; but it's unAmerican to use that authority to circumvent the very spirit of that law and substitute his own whims for the will of the people expressed through legislation. If that's the policy President B.O. desires, let him first go to the people and then to the dadburned Congress; let him persuade the latter to enact such a policy, then in 2012, persuade the former that it was a good idea.

    I used to think Obamunism meant transmogrifying the United States into a Eurosocialist parliamentary democracy à la France, Sweden, or even Greece. Now I think it goes much, much deeper: I believe Obama wants to run a one-man dictatorship as another Vlad "the Impeller" Putin.

    Hatched by Dafydd on this day, August 21, 2011, at the time of 1:42 PM | Comments (3)

    May 12, 2011

    Obamigration: Walls, Windows, and Empty Words

    Immigration Immolations
    Hatched by Dafydd

    We start Sgt. Friday style, with just the facts, ma'am. President Barack H. Obama has suddenly discovered that the United States shares a longish border with Mexico on the south. Or at least this is the first time he has visited there; so if he knew about it before yesterday, it didn't make much of an impression.

    The president, during his 2008 campaign, assured activists for the illegales that he would find a way to extend amnesty to the estimated twelve to twenty million illegal aliens. But of much greater weight than merely keeping his word, he evidently is sniffing wavering support among American Hispanics for the perpetuation of his atrocity administration: Perhaps the formerly steadfast Obamic Hispanic cadre has grown perturbed by the lousy economy, unconscionable unemployment, staggering spending, metastasizing debt -- and the daily assaults by his administration on the small businesses that might raise Mexican and other Hispanic immigrants from hardship to ownership.

    American Hispanics could even decide, God forbid, that the very socialism and "Progressivism" they fled from in Latin America might still be just as wicked and unacceptable here in the land of the fee and home of the rave. Therefore, the AHs might conclude that Barack Obama has had his innings; and now it's time to return to fiscal sanity by voting for Tea-Party Republicans.

    Or at least, so President B.O. appears to fear; for he has marched to the border to proclaim border-security utopia:

    [Obama] made the case that with more Border Patrol agents, a border fence and falling crime rates, he has checked border security off the to-do list, and it’s time for Congress to write a legalization bill -- an issue that has stalled since 2007, when it failed in a dramatic bipartisan filibuster on the Senate floor.

    “We have gone above and beyond what was requested by the very Republicans who said they supported broader reform as long as we got serious about enforcement. All the stuff they asked for, we’ve done,” he said.

    “But even though we’ve answered these concerns, I’ve got to say I suspect there are still going to be some who are trying to move the goal posts on us.”

    Yes... move them back where they were a couple of years ago. (This source shall hereafter be known as "the story.")

    Out of 1,969 miles of border between the United States and Mexico, some 873 miles -- 44.3% -- are under "operational control," according to the Border Patrol. Operational control means "the Border Patrol has the capacity to deter illegal crossers and pursue them when they’re spotted;" of course, under that definition, violent crime in Juarez is likewise under operational control, because the cops are free to chase suspects through the streets. (Whether they catch them is another question.)

    (This source shall hereafter be known as "the editorial".)

    But it seems that even such a loose standard is too tight for the Obamanistas, as Homeland Security Secretary Janet "Bonaparte" Napolitano was dispatched to Congress to enunciate a new measuring stick for border security; from the story:

    Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano last week told Congress that she is scrapping the “operational control” yardstick and will come up with a new definition to measure border security that does not require the border to be entirely sealed - something she said is not achievable.

    The editorial goes into somewhat more detail:

    The Obama administration has cooked up a novel way to calculate what a great job his Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano has been doing in stemming the flow of aliens flooding over the border from Mexico. In March, Ms. Napolitano stood on a bridge connecting El Paso to Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, and proclaimed border security to be “better than ever.” In testimony before the Senate Homeland Security Committee last week, Ms. Napolitano claimed that the meaning of “operational control” of the border is “archaic” and that she intends to devise a “more quantitative and qualitative way to reflect what actually is occurring at the border.” She said she wants an index that would include a measure of how many persons have been deterred from even attempting to jump the border.

    By counting these theoretical illegals - as opposed to real ones - Ms. Napolitano’s border-security mission becomes much easier. While hundreds of thousands actually cross over annually, compared to, say, Mexico’s entire population of 112 million, they represent a tiny fraction. Preventing border crossing in a computer model or a spreadsheet allows Ms. Napolitano to proclaim “mission accomplished” without having to actually crack down in a way that would offend left-wing open-border advocacy groups.

    Describing the projected deterence of millions of phantom Mexicans who might (or might not) have contemplated entering the U.S. illegally, but who chose in any event not to do so, as a great "success" of Obamic border control -- and then using that suspicion of success to argue for immediate legalization of illegals -- takes a proud place among the miraculous verbal confabulations of this administration:

    • "Leading from behind." (Not to be confused with bleeding from the behind.)
    • "Spending reductions in the tax code." (Not to be confused with reductions in spending.)
    • And of course, who could forget the most obvious parallel: all those jobs that were "created or saved" during the period that crass Republicans refer to as a recession: Sure unemployment skyrocketed when Obama took the oath of office; but imagine how many millions, billions, of fictional jobs would have been lost had Canal-Zone immigrant John McCain won!

    Take Obama at his word: He has achieved a stellar but imaginary victory over invisible lawbreakers who didn't jump the border when they very well could have, had they actually existed. Perhaps those phantom illegals just stood in bed because, with our current 9% unemployment, not enough jobs have been created or saved for them.

    So those are the facts: Mohammed came to the mountain, lest the mountain vote Republican. But what's the real issue here beyond mere fact-mongering? Only this; here are the elements of Barack Obama's dream immigration bill -- or so he claims:

    While the president was speaking, the White House released a blueprint for a four-part plan to address immigration: maintain border security enhancements; phase in mandatory electronic checks for all employees; revamp the legal immigration system; and grant a pathway to citizenship to illegal immigrants who go through a background check, haven’t committed crimes, pay fines and back taxes and wait at least eight years before getting a green card.

    Sound familiar? It should: The "blueprint" appears to have been essentially Xeroxed from McCain's Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2006, which George W. Bush pushed heavily (as the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2007).

    Of the blueprint items above, the most important was the least discussed: "Revamp the legal immigration system." I have written extensively about this issue; alert readers will discover that I fall into precisely none of the usual categories.

    I am guided by two aphorisms that I have eructated over the years:

    1. First, there is no wall so strong that a million people cannot knock it down.
    2. But equally true, invited guests don't sneak through the window; they knock on the front door.

    The corollary to (2) above is that anyone who is trying to sneak through the window is crashing the party, and he deserves everything he's got coming to him. He's a no-goodnik.

    Link them together and you get this: Enforcement alone cannot solve our problem with illegal immigration; there simply are too many illegals entering daily for the beleagured Border Patrol to find and process. The only real and lasting solution includes both enforcement and also drastic reform of the legal immigration system, so to accomplish two main goals:

    • Giving would-be legal immigrants a path to citizenship that is predictable, just, and biased in favor of those immigrants who already have American values.
    • Thus relieving the pressure on the enforcement policies.

    We have no great interest in keeping out immigrants who want to come to America because they believe in the American creed of liberty, Capitalism, "In God we trust," and "E pluribus unum;" in fact, those are precisely the immigrants we want, because they add to the melting pot of assimilation, rather than the salad bowl of "diversity."

    Right now, the vast, vast majority of those crossing over illegally are thoroughly Americanized, and would pose no threat and violate no laws, but for the arbitrary, arcane, and insane rules of the USCIS and the INS before them. But because we treat those illegals the same way we treat mules for Chihuahuan drug cartels, slave traders, and radical Islamist terrorists, we have no resources left to catch the real bad guys sneaking in among the sea of desperate good guys just trying to do what's best for their families.

    And because the legal immigration system is unjust, unpredictable, and arbitrary, we drive into the desert those who would ordinarily be invited guests -- whence they do their best to sneak through the window, after the front door is slammed in their faces without a word of explanation, a morsel of consistency, an inch of a safe pathway, or a shred of hope.

    So far, no politician for or against an immigration reform bill has told me exactly what reforms would make us safer and what would make us more vulnerable; and until that communications task is complete, none of us can have any idea whether the bill du jour is worth buying or not.

    Alas, I do not believe the Obamunist really gives a rat's hoot about immigrants, legal or il-; he cares only about the people who choose to vote for Obama come 2012. Legally or il-.

    Cross-posted on Hot Air's rogues' gallery...

    Hatched by Dafydd on this day, May 12, 2011, at the time of 3:29 AM | Comments (6)

    October 4, 2010

    What Next in California's "FireGate?"

    Elections , Immigration Immolations , Liberal Lunacy
    Hatched by Dafydd

    Jerry Brown's catspaw, Gloria Allred, still refuses to say in what legal action she "represents" Nicandra "Nicky" Diaz Santillan, erstwhile housekeeper for Brown's opponent in the California gubernatorial race, Meg Whitman. One can only assume Allred intends to file a lawsuit against Whitman for -- what, rightful termination?

    Allred (and Santillan) appear to be charging our next governor with waiting until good evidence of Santillan's illegality appeared before Whitman fired her, rather than seizing the opportunity to fire her years earlier on the basis of flimsy inuendo.

    Then in the English-language debate held between Brown and Whitman, Jerry Brown -- the state Attorney General -- accused her of violating federal immigration and Social-Security laws, state disclosure law, and perjuring herself.

    Once the absurdity of the charge is manifest, any slight advantage it affords candidate Brown dissipates. Then what to do, what to do?

    There is only one course open, when the present alarums and excursions go pfft, like a snuffed candle: Jerry Brown, acting in his capacity as the chief law-enforcement official of the Sovereign State of California, will have to indict his electoral opponent for not having fired Santillan in 2003:

    • Brown can argue that any reasonable person would have inferred from the letter sent by the Social Security Agency -- the letter which included the admonition, "Moreover, this letter makes no statement about your employee's immigration status" -- that Santillan was an illegal alien.
    • Brown can cite legal cases, "points and authorities," to the effect that the phrase "Any employer that uses the information in this letter to justify taking adverse action against an employee may violate state or federal law and be subject to legal consequences" requires the employer to take adverse action against an employee using the information in that letter.
    • And he can conclude that by obeying the law, Whitman has proven herself a menace to society who should be locked up.

    Besides, think how much an October-surprise indictment will damage Meg Whitman's campaign -- and by an amazing coincidence, propel AG Brown into the governor's mansion!

    Snidery and sarcasm aside, in reality, I believe indicting Whitman would be the most politically foolhardy move of all of 2010... and that's saying quite a lot, since it competes with Rep. Loretta Sanchez's (D-CA, 90%) heartfelt cri de coeur:

    The Vietnamese and the Republicans are, with an intensity, trying to take this seat from which we have done so much for our community -- to take this seat and give it to this Van Tran, who is very anti-immigrant and very anti-Hispanic.

    ...As well as Rep. Alan Grayson's (D-FL, 100%) attack on his Republican opponent, Daniel Webster, as a draft dodger, as blatantly unpatriotic, as a man who does not love America, and as "Taliban Dan Webster."

    ...And who can forget the third nominee in the category of self-immolating campaign buffoonery below and beneath the call of duty: Rep. Bob Etheridge (D-NC, 95%), in a drunken stupor, physically assaulting a student journalist for daring to ask Etheridge, "do you fully support the Obama agenda?"

    ...Heck, it would even beat out every exaggeration, every puffery, every weirdity, and each and every nuttery utterance of Republican congressional nominee Christine O'Donnell!

    It's hard to think of anything that would backfire quicker than Jerry Brown indicting his own Republican opponent for governor. And the truly creepy element is that we're seriously discussing such a banana-republic gambit... from a former two-term governor of California.

    I am unalterably convinced that if Brown were to push for an indictment or arrest of Whitman on this bogus charge, Meg Whitman would win the race in a landslide -- even from a jail cell. But even if Brown can control himself for the next four weeks, the fact that he appears to have focused his entire final push on snapping Ms. Whitman with a wet towel named Nicky Santillan tells me that he is utterly desperate.

    My guess is that Brown's campaign mangler showed him the campaign's own internal polling... and ordered Brown to pull a rabbit from his hat immediately. Alas for the Democrats, the only rodent that Brown could find in his Sordid Hat was a gerbil.

    Hatched by Dafydd on this day, October 4, 2010, at the time of 2:44 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    October 1, 2010

    Migra, Migra!

    Elections , Immigration Immolations , Liberal Lunacy
    Hatched by Dafydd

    Anent the story which the California (and national!) media have siezed upon to try to derail Meg Whitman's campaign for governor in California...

    Four facts appear undisputed:

    1. In 2000, Whitman used an employment agency to hire a housekeeper, Nicandra "Nicky" Diaz Santillan, at $23 per hour.
    2. Santillan had earlier presented the agency with a California driver's license and Social Security card, copies of which the agency provided Whitman.
    3. Those documents were in fact fraudulent -- they belonged to one of Santilan's sisters who lived in San Francisco.
    4. In 2009, Santillan disclosed to Whitman that she was an illegal immigrant and that the papers she had shown to Whitman were fraudulent; at that point, Whitman let her go, as the law requires.

    A couple of days ago, grandstanding liberal activist attorney Gloria Allred -- who has donated money to Jerry Brown, Whitman's opponent in the gubernatorial race and an ancient relic of an earlier, loonier time in California history -- called a press conference to announce that she was representing Santillan (in what action?), whom she calls her "client." She triumphantly announced all of the above points, including that Santillan was in the country illegally and had used fraudulent documentation to get herself hired by Whitman. (I'm not sure how this helps her client, unless her real client is Jerry Brown.)

    Allred also produced a 2003 letter to Whitman and her husband, Griffith Rutherford Harsh IV, from the Social Security Administration... not from the Immigration and Naturalization Service, as it was called then. The letter "raised discrepancies" about Santillan's documents, which even AP says was only "a possible tip-off that she could be in the U.S. illegally."

    In fact, as Whizbang reports, the Social Security letter was about retirement and disability insurance... and the only reference it made to immigration was to forcefully note that nothing in the letter should be used to infer Santillan's immigration status!

    The letter is posted in its entirety at TZM Documents, and it includes this paragraph:

    This letter does not imply that you or your employee intentionally provided incorrect information about the employee's name or SSN. It is not a basis, in and of itself, for you to take any adverse action against the employee, such as laying off, suspending, firing, or discriminating against the individual. Any employer that uses the information in this letter to justify taking adverse action against an employee may violate state or federal law and be subject to legal consequences. Moreover, this letter makes no statement about your employee's immigration status.


    Allred argues that the letter constituted absolute evidence that Santillan was in the country illegally... and that Whitman must somehow have known about it and realized she was employing an illegal all the way back in 2003.

    My problem with this hit job is simple: Can somebody please tell me exactly what charge Gloria Allred is leveling at Whitman? I know this can't be right, but it seems for all the world as if Allred -- liberal activist, immigration activist, and feminist activist -- accuses Whitman of failing to harm Allred's client in a timely manner.

    Whitman didn't fire Santillan in 2003 on the basis of a simple inquiry letter from the SSA -- a letter which threatens "legal consequences" against anyone using that letter as the basis of "laying off, suspending, firing, or discriminating against the individual." Instead, she waited until Santillan actually informed her she was illegal. Only then did Whitman reluctantly fire her longtime friend and housekeeper, as the law requires.

    Am I misunderstanding this? Is Allred's attack on Whitman really that the gubernatorial candidate failed to jump to conclusions, failed to violate state and federal law, and failed to fire the woman at the first conceivable opportunity, only doing so when she had actual proof that Nicky Diaz Santillan had defrauded her and was breaking the law?

    (And suppose Whitman had fired Santillan back in 2003; would that, then, form the basis of Allred's attack... that Whitman broke the law by discriminating against her friend and employee without any solid evidence of illegality?)

    More bizarreness:

    One of the state's largest public employee unions immediately released a Spanish-language attack ad accusing Whitman of a double standard on illegal immigration.

    You mean... one standard for businesses, which requires them actually to investigate the residency status of their employees -- and another standard for individuals, which requires only that they not knowingly hire illegals? That's the "double standard" that outrages the Hispanic community in California?

    What would they prefer? A mandate that even private individuals hiring maids, nannies, and housekeepers launch full-scale investigations and background checks to determine who is here legally? I suspect the natural response to such a draconian requirement would be not to hire anyone at all, but simply to make do without.

    Somehow I'm not getting the point of this entire hit piece. It appears that an ultra-liberal Jerry Brown surrogate, Gloria Allred, is charging Meg Whitman with failing to racially discriminate against Santillan.

    Cross-posted on Hot Air's rogues' gallery...

    Hatched by Dafydd on this day, October 1, 2010, at the time of 12:10 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

    September 3, 2010

    Why Do Folks Think Obama Is Racist?

    Immigration Immolations , Presidential Peculiarities and Pomposities
    Hatched by Dafydd

    Perhaps because, using the Left's own definition, he is.

    If the liberal definition of racism includes pursuing policies that have a disparate racial impact, especially against members of a federally protected minority group (such as Hispanics), then Barack H. Obama and his administration are busted; because the policy of non-enforcement and non-feasance they pursue anent illegal immigration in, e.g., Arizona clearly has its worst impact on the law-abiding immigrants from south of the border and on Americans of Hispanic origin.

    The connection isn't that obscure: Criminologists have known for more than a century that criminals tend to commit the great majority of their crimes intra-racially -- within their own race. White criminals primarly target white victims, blacks target blacks, and Hispanics target Hispanics. (There is some crossover, but intra-racially is the way to bet it.)

    And the Obamunists pursue such anti-law-enforcement policies with a vengeance that borders on the vicious:

    Thursday's lawsuit is the latest action in a slew against Arizona by the federal government.

    In 2009, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security stripped Arpaio's office of its special powers to enforce federal immigration laws, and in May, the Obama administration urged the U.S. Supreme Court to prevent Arizona from enforcing its employer sanctions law.

    In July, the Justice Department filed a lawsuit to overturn portions of Arizona's strict new immigration law that would require police officers to question people about their immigration status if there is reason to suspect they are in the country illegally. A federal judge put that provision and most of the law on hold.

    And via a column by the Washington Examiner's Byron York, we discover another U.S. Justice Department attack on Arizona's policy of prosecuting and deporting illegal aliens:

    In addition to the drive to kill the new law, Attorney General Eric Holder is also suing the Maricopa Community College system in Phoenix, alleging it broke the law by requiring a job seeker to provide a green card before being hired.

    Policies that inhibit the arrest and prosecution of illegal immigrants in a state that borders Mexico (especially those who are already being arrested for some other crime) have the effect of empowering Mexican drug gangs and other Latin-American criminals coming up from Mexico to spread their corruption and terror in this country... with Hispanics as their principal victims.

    What have Obama and Holder done?

    • The U.S. Justice Department sued to prevent Arizona from checking the immigration status of suspects already being arrested for other crimes, even when probable cause existed to suspect they were here illegally.
    • It sued to prevent Arizona from enforcing a policy of holding employers accountable for hiring illegals.
    • The Justice Department is criminally investigating Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Maricopa County, the self-proclaimed (but generally acknowledged) "toughest sheriff in America," via a federal grand jury in Phoenix.
    • And now, the Justice Department has filed a lawsuit to force Arpaio and the Maricopa County Sheriffs Office (MCSO) to "cooperate" in a separate investigation by handing over a staggering number of documents -- in a vaguely defined fishing expedition, hoping to find some evidence of racial discrimination.

    Everybody in Phosphoria has been talking about the lawsuit against Arpaio and the MCSO, excoriating the Justice Department for the message it sends and the policy of "non-enforcement" it tries to enforce. I have yet to see a substantive defense of the lawsuit.

    But what I find more appalling is the real-world death and destruction it wreaks among the very people Justice purports to "protect" by interdicting the law. When a policy causes so much more damage to Hispanics than whites or blacks, any sincere liberal civil-rights advocate would denounce it as racist.

    So why the shock when ordinary Americans, steeped in the strange brew of American racial preferences and governmental prejudices, correctly apply the disparate-impact racism test to the One -- and conclude Obama and his administration are, in fact, racist? The Left especially should denounce him by its own definition... that is, if it were honest.

    'Nuff said.

    Hatched by Dafydd on this day, September 3, 2010, at the time of 10:16 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

    August 14, 2010

    Don't Say I Didn't Warn You

    Immigration Immolations
    Hatched by Dafydd

    Secretary of Homeland Security <giggle> Janet Napolitano issued a pronunciamento that may startle longtime immigration disputants:

    Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano on Friday said the administration has "enough" resources to secure the border now that President Obama signed into law a $600 million border security spending bill, and she said Congress must now act on a larger overhaul of the nation's immigration laws.

    "This is what we asked for. And of course, what we asked for was what we thought would be enough," Ms. Napolitano told reporters at the White House, hours after she joined Mr. Obama as he signed the bipartisan bill.

    Yep... with that additional $0.6 billion (1.2%) added to the Department of Homeland Security's previous budget of about $52 billion, the Administration of Barack H. Obama can add 1,000 extra Border Patrol agents, a 4.95% increase. And that means -- the border is now secure!

    With that minor task accomplished, Napolitano and Obama can turn to more vital immigration issues: How to "overhaul... the nation's immigration laws" to give instant amnesty and voting rights to all 12+ million illegals without requiring them to:

    • Pay a punitive fine
    • Pay all back taxes
    • Be prosecuted for any other crimes committed while here illegally (including identity theft)
    • Pass a background check
    • Carry a tamper-proof alien identification card that includes biometric information
    • Go to the end of the line, behind everyone already in the legal immigration system

    ...And without requiring employers to actually verify whether employees are legally resident in the United States upon penalty of very large and compounding fines. Oh yes, almost forgot; without building even one more foot of border fence:

    As for critics who accuse the Obama administration of not doing enough to erect security fencing along the border, Ms. Napolitano said the fence has been built out as far as it has been funded, save for six miles, and noted that the $600 million supplemental does not include new money for fences.

    "The fence is only part of this [effort]," she said. "You show me a 15-foot fence and I'll show you a 16-foot ladder."

    Translation: They haven't finished building the length of fence already budgeted, but they're not even going to finish that much, let alone build any more.

    Napolitano does have one good point; any fence can be breached. I've made the same point for years: There is no wall so strong that a million people pushing can't knock it down. That's why we so desperately need real immigration reform; in particular, a legal immigration system that lets in immigrants who truly deserve to be here, who are already Americans in their hearts, a path to immigration which is rational, predictable, and just.

    What we have now is arbitrary, capricious, vindictive, petty, racist, and utterly un-predictable; even the most earnest and honest immigrant is put into the position of either giving up all hope of ever being an American -- or else entering illegally, hoping to fix his and his family's status later.

    The overwhelming majority of illegals commit no crimes other than illegal entry and ancillary charges (forging papers, &c); under a rational system, nearly all would be admitted legally in the first place. Thus we keep out the very people we should welcome, while welcoming those who have no intention of becoming Americans -- along with gangsters and terrorists -- who should be the very ones we keep out. What a system!

    When those who embody the American dream have a real path to immigration, you don't have a million people battering at the wall; all the proto-Americans can work their way through legally. The only putative "immigrants" who would still need Napolitano's sixteen-foot ladder would be those entering with ill intent, the very ones we should exclude. Not families, not students, not people who want to start a new life in the land of liberty; but mules, gang-bangers, Mexican mafiosi, welfare leeches, migrant workers who have no interest in becoming Americans... and of course radical Islamists who are interested only in killing Americans.

    Knowing that, we can not only focus our law enforcement activity on a much smaller number of people, but we can also use much harsher and more aggressive methods. Simply put, we can be much rougher on someone slithering through the window when we know that any legitimate person can walk through the front door.

    If, that is, we had a legal immigration system that was rational, predictable, and just... which neither conservatives nor Obamunists appear to desire.

    But thank goodness the former prevented us from enacting real comprehensive immigration reform in 2006! See how much better things are now, and how wonderful they soon will be, if the latter get their way?

    Hatched by Dafydd on this day, August 14, 2010, at the time of 2:16 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

    July 30, 2010

    National Reconstitution by Decree

    Immigration Immolations
    Hatched by Dafydd

    Sen. Charles Grassley (R-IA, 96%) managed to intercept an internal memo sent in April to the Director of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), Alejandro Mayorkas. The memo details how the USCIS can bypass Congress, bypass the people, and simply implement a limited -- or for that matter, un-limited -- amnesty of illegal aliens... with no increase in border security and no Republican or conservative Democratic input whatsoever:

    "We continue to maintain that comprehensive bipartisan legislation, coupled with smart, effective enforcement, is the only solution to our nation's immigration challenges," he said in a statement.

    Still, the memo makes clear that even without such a bill, immigration officials have identified a variety of ways to relax U.S. policy to allow more undocumented immigrants who might otherwise face deportation to stay in the country. Among the options outlined is expanding the use of "deferred action" - in which the government can use its discretion to halt a deportation indefinitely, usually for an urgent humanitarian reason.

    "While it is theoretically possible to grant deferred action to an unrestricted number of unlawfully present individuals, doing so would likely be controversial [!], not to mention expensive," the memo says. Instead, officials suggest using the option for certain groups, such as tens of thousands of high school graduates who have been brought up in the U.S. and plan to attend college or serve in the armed forces.

    Democrats and Republicans have repeatedly tried to push through legislation - known as the "Dream Act" - to cover those students.

    This is a field-tested rhetorical tactic: Democrats concoct a cockamamie scheme to circumvent normal procedures, safeguards, checks and balances, and (of course) Republican opposition, in order to implement some item from the liberal wish list; but they assure us, hand on where their heart would be if they had one, that it will only be used in a few rare and uncontroversial cases. Once it's in play, however, the list of the anointed, like Topsy, just grows; as evidence, consider every liberal government program ever enacted, from welfare, to unemployment "insurance," to Medicare, to school lunch programs, to stimulus spending, to government seizure of private businesses, particularly under President Barack H. Obama.

    Note also that this would be actual amnesty, not the plea bargain that Republicans offered in 2006; so far as we can tell from news coverage, the recipients of federal forgiveness envisioned by this memo would not have to pay any fine; would not have to pay back taxes, interest, and penalties they dodged; would not even have to return to their countries of origin and get in the back of the line -- all of which were required by the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2006.

    And don't put much stock in the memo's fret that indefinitely delaying deportation of "an unrestricted number of unlawfully present individuals" would be "controversial;" it won't even be a speedbump on the highway to actual amnesty. The only element it might change will be the timing of the decree; since it's controversial, the USCIS, Mr. Mayorkas, and Obama will simply delay implementation until after November 2nd. Say until Wednesday, November 3rd, at 12:01 am.

    "To be clear," Bentley said, the government "will not grant deferred action or humanitarian parole to the nation's entire illegal immigrant population."

    Well that's reassuring!

    The article runs through a number of technically legal gymnastics by which deportation proceedings against any number of individual illegals, along with a littany of groups of illegals, can be delayed for a period of time, or delayed indefinitely, or just terminated and the subjects handed green cards immediately.

    Democrats, liberals, and immigration advocates all see this as immigration "reform":

    Some proponents of revamping the immigration system said the document simply points out ways the agency can fix old and outdated practices that separate families and hurt workers and employers.

    Writing on the Immigration Policy Center's blog, Director Mary Giovagnoli, a former immigration official, said, "Good for you, USCIS, for trying to do what it can within that broken system."

    So activists agree that the system is broken; but what they appear to mean by that is -- that we still have a border. The system will be fixed only when we dissolve our southern and northern borders and declare all of America a "sanctuary State."

    And if (Clinton appointed) U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton's preliminary injunction in the Arizona lawsuit were to become permanent law, actually barring state and local police from checking on the immigration status even of those arrested for other crimes, we would be well on our way to becoming a borderless geographic region.

    But what's most remarkable (and least surprising) about the memo -- again, assuming the news coverage is more or less accurate about what it says -- is that there is no suggestion that any of these back-alley tactics for allowing illegals to stay would be restricted to immigrants who have a good chance of assimilating, as opposed to those who simply want to be able to go back and forth across the border, or to live in self-created, ethnically pure "bantustans" to avoid being tainted by the gringos.

    In other words, the USCIS memo proposes no real reform of the legal immigration system at all, even though it's certainly within their power to pick and choose who receives a whack on the head from the magic legalization wand. The most vital reform is to restrict residency and citizenship to those who truly want to become Americans... not those who just want American jobs but intend to keep their foreign identities.

    I say unsurprising because it has become increasingly clear that the only value the Left sees in illegal immigrants is as a pool of fraudulent voters who can be bullied, bribed, or tricked into voting for liberal Democrats. That's why leftists tirelessly champion both illegal-alien amnesty and loose voter-fraud election laws: When implemented, by hook or by crook (usually the latter), the two policies work together, one hand washing the glove, to elect an infinite number of lefties.

    Real reform, restricting immigration to people who, though born foreign, are Americans in their hearts is the last thing in the world the Left wants in its mad march to reconstitute the country in their own "progressive" image.

    Hatched by Dafydd on this day, July 30, 2010, at the time of 2:53 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

    June 4, 2010

    Mexico Opens Faux ID Supermarket in California, Claims Sanctuary in Church

    Immigration Immolations , Southern Exposure
    Hatched by Dafydd

    No, this is not a rib.

    It appears that the Mexican government opened a storefront in the resort island of Catalina -- as in "twenty-six miles across the sea, Santa Catalina is a-waitin' for me" -- where they have been distributing "matricular consular identification cards" to Mexican nationals illegally in California:

    The Mexican consular office in Los Angeles issued a flier, a copy of which was obtained by The Examiner, listing the Catalina Island Country Club as the location of its satellite office. It invites Mexicans to visit the office to obtain the identification, called matricular cards, by appointment.

    What the heck is a matricular consular identification card? I'll let Sara A. Carter of the Washington Examiner explain:

    The matricular consular identification card, is issued by the Mexican government to Mexican nationals residing outside the country, regardless of immigration status. The purpose is to provide identification for opening bank accounts and obtaining other services. But the cards are usually used to skirt U.S. immigration laws, since Mexicans in the country legally have documents proving that status, Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials said.

    In 2004 testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee, FBI officials called the card an unreliable form of identification. The agency said that Mexico lacks a centralized database for them, which could lead to forgery, duplication, and other forms of abuse.

    Since Catalina Island is technically still part of California (we tried but failed to give it away to Aruba), there is ordinarily no border security or checkpoint or search or ID check when one travels there; if the passenger doesn't want to produce ID for a plane flight, he can fly there in his own plane or ask a friend to fly him. He can take a ferry, or a pleasant glass-bottomed boat ride. For that matter, he can sail his own sailboat, motor his own motorboat, or swim. It's a resort island, easy to travel to.

    I seem to have drifted from my point, which is that any Mexican illegal immigrant can motivate himself to Catalina, head to the Catalina Island Country Club, and get what looks like a legal, legitimate resident's ID... but is in fact worth exactly nothing, as Mexico has no serious controls over who gets them, or how many duplicates of each card exist in the hands of other people -- including drug smugglers and potential terrorists.

    For that matter, since there is no internal Border Patrol traveling from one American state to another, any illegal anywhere in the U.S. can drive to California (carefully skirting the Grand Canyon state), ferry to Catalina, and get his "ID card."

    Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) apparantly wanted to shut down this Mexican-government operation; however, Mexico has requested that it forbear:

    Officers with the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement said their agency was asked by Mexican officials not to enforce U.S. immigration laws on the island while the cards were being issued.

    "It amazes me every time that the Mexican government has the gall to tell us what to do," said an ICE official, who asked not to be named. "More surprisingly is how many times we stand by and let them. This is just an example of one of hundreds of requests we've had to deal with."

    But in a late-breaking addendum, Mexico appears to be nervous about its chances; so it has shifted the location of the fraudulent ID handout operation away from the Catalina Island Country Club... into St. Catherine’s Catholic Church, also on Catalina.

    It appears that Mexico lied to the country club, telling the club that it only wanted to set-up a "multi-cultural celebration;" when the country-club management discovered it was an ID shop instead, it rejected Mexico's request. But now, having shifted operations to a church, Mexico is trying to rely upon the same anti-border-enforcement "movement" that has led many cities in the United States to declare themselves "sanctuary cities" and order their police forces not to cooperate with ICE:

    Mexican government officials have moved their satellite consular office from the Catalina Island Country Club to a Catholic Church -- citing protection under the Vienna Convention [the what?] -- after it was discovered that they did not have the appropriate paperwork to issue the island’s illegal immigrants identification cards.

    I have no idea what "Vienna Convention" Ms. Carter means; I contacted her, but she did not respond by the time this post went to phosphor. So far as I know, there is no convention to which we are signatories that allows issuance of fraudulent IDs to illegal immigrants, so long as it's done on church property. (I have no way of knowing if Carter accurately reported what the government of Mexico argued; I wish she had responded.)

    But I find the entire situation illuminating, to say the least. Mexico President Felipe Calderón just returned from the United States, where he chastised America for allowing Arizona to pass a law enforcing existing immigration law. In fact, California's own very, very moderate Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who has grown in office (or perhaps in marriage), made it clear he likewise opposes Arizona's immigration law; and of course, several cities in California, including the enormity of Los Angeles, have voted to "boycott" Arizona, whatever that means.

    Mexico cheerfully displayed its gratitude for such support: It picked the Golden State for its newest fake-ID boiler-room operation. With friends like these, who needs enemas?

    As most of you know (and are infuriated by), I completely support comprehensive immigration reform... though I add the bizarre twist that it should include actual reform of the legal immigration system. I believe that a huge percent of illegals are only illegal because our system is arbitrary, unpredictable, and unjust.

    But that does not compel me to support illegal immigration -- or "migration," as Mexico chillingly calls it, bringing to mind the mass movements of entire populations. Nor does my support for reform of legal immigration lead to support for a foreign government deliberately and with malice aforethought aiding and abetting the use of fraudulent IDs (even "matricular consular identification cards") to facilitate illegals hiding in the United States -- and even making it easier to obtain government subsidies and handouts, whether from hick towns too dumb to realize matricular cards are not actually valid IDs, or from putative "sanctuary cities" who know exactly what they're doing: conspiring with a foreign power to commit a felony against the United States.

    ICE should round up some Israeli commandos and paintball guns and launch an immediate raid on the fake-ID supermarket, even if that means having to batter their way into a Catholic church. Or a mosque, if that's the next spot Mr. Calderón picks for his ongoing RICO operation.

    Hatched by Dafydd on this day, June 4, 2010, at the time of 11:35 AM | Comments (9) | TrackBack

    May 25, 2010

    Migration Migraine

    Crime and Punishment , Immigration Immolations , Obamunism
    Hatched by Dafydd

    Ever since I was about seventeen years old, I have believed that property ownership -- or monopoly control of land, for the purists who insist land, being non-anthropogenic, cannot be "owned" -- is the most fundamental civil right we have. (From here on, I ignore the purists and talk about land "ownership" without the wishy-washy quotation marks.) migraine

    Correspondingly, the vigorous defense of land ownership should be given the widest latitude in the courts: A man's home is his castle, and his land is his fiefdom; or that's the way it oughta be. There is nothing more terrifying to modern man than to be turned out of his own property, especially if he owns it (or so he believes, not understanding the true goal of the Left).

    So take a long, cold look at what passes for justice in the Epoch of Obamunism:

    An Arizona man who has waged a 10-year campaign to stop a flood of illegal immigrants from crossing his property is being sued by 16 Mexican nationals who accuse him of conspiring to violate their civil rights when he stopped them at gunpoint on his ranch on the U.S.-Mexico border....

    The lawsuit is based on a March 7, 2004, incident in a dry wash on the 22,000-acre ranch, when he approached a group of illegal immigrants while carrying a gun and accompanied by a large dog.

    Attorneys for the immigrants - five women and 11 men who were trying to cross illegally into the United States - have accused [Roger Barnett] of holding the group captive at gunpoint, threatening to turn his dog loose on them and saying he would shoot anyone who tried to escape.

    Let's rephrase that last sentence, using the actual legal term for what Barnett did: "Attorneys for the [illegal] immigrants... have accused Mr. Barnett of [effecting a citizen's arrest of the trespassing illegals]."

    If a person enters onto my property unlawfully (as has happened) and threatens me or my property, I believe with great passion that I have the right to make a citizen's arrest and hold him until the police arrive (which I have done). I believe I have the right to do so with a gun in my hand (as I had), since one likely response to trying to do so unarmed would be for the miscreant to attack me.

    But I guess that right doesn't exist in Arizona, or so the federal judge appears to believe:

    In the lawsuit, MALDEF [the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund, who brought the lawsuit on behalf of the illegals] said Mr. Barnett approached the group as the immigrants moved through his property, and that he was carrying a pistol and threatening them in English and Spanish. At one point, it said, Mr. Barnett's dog barked at several of the women and he yelled at them in Spanish, "My dog is hungry and he's hungry for buttocks."

    The lawsuit said he then called his wife and two Border Patrol agents arrived at the site. It also said Mr. Barnett acknowledged that he had turned over 12,000 illegal immigrants to the Border Patrol since 1998.

    In March, U.S. District Judge John Roll rejected a motion by Mr. Barnett to have the charges dropped, ruling there was sufficient evidence to allow the matter to be presented to a jury. Mr. Barnett's attorney, David Hardy, had argued that illegal immigrants did not have the same rights as U.S. citizens.

    Small wonder that Arizona enacted the law that so infuriated la Rive Gauche!

    This lawsuit, being taken so seriously by one and all, should shock the conscience of any real American. After all, we're not talking about some teenaged beach bum cutting across a corner of your lawn to get to the surf. Illegal aliens frequently trash the land, destroy buildings, steal property, slaughter livestock, wreck water tanks seeking a drink (Barnett actually installed a faucet on his 8,000 gallon tank so that they wouldn't keep damaging it), threaten family members, and even kill owners -- and that's when the illegals aren't drug dealers or terrorist infiltrators. How can any legislator in his right mind pass a law making it illegal to effect a citizen's arrest of such potentially deadly trespassers?

    Ah, but there's the rub: "in his right mind." As President Felipe Calderón Hinojosa of Mexico recently reminded us, many on the Left believe that people have the "civil right" to migrate.

    But if migrants have the right to migrate, the logical conclusion is that those across whose land they exercise that putative right have no corresponding right to stop them. This belief completely upends the great liberty and virtue of property ownership; it tells citizens they have no right to defend their property and vests property rights instead in those who don't own any. It's the clearest oracle yet that Obamunism equals socialism, Michael Medved notwithstanding.

    Illegal aliens cannot possibly have a "civil right" to cross a rancher's land to enter the country, just as raging thugs of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) can have no "civil right" to swarm like locusts onto the private property of a randomly selected Bank of America executive to "protest" that bank foreclosing against defaulted mortgages. In both cases, mobs of leftist looters use the pretense of "populism" to institutionalize theft -- theft of land via migration and squatting, or theft via involuntary debt "forgiveness" in the name of poverty. America is creeping noticibly towards being a kleptocracy, like Venezuela and Zimbabwe.

    (Tellingly, as reported by Big Government, the SEIU is itself deep in debt to Bank of America; no conflict of interest there!)

    Private property has been under seige for decades, perhaps centuries, if we include such messes as the French Revolution. But for the first time in my lifetime, we now have a president who appears to share the economic views of Venezuela President Oogo Chavez: That everything really belongs to the sovereign, who can reclaim his royal property (that is, the entire country and every jot and tittle of its GDP) whenever he chooses. We live in parlous times; I cannot predict which side will win.

    In a forthcoming post, we'll examine the rise of debt-theft since passage of the Community Reinvestment Act... and how that is now driving a government fiscal spending crisis -- which itself triggers a world-wide revolution against government overspending. Action, reaction. Where is the synthesis? Will property rights survive this century?

    Hatched by Dafydd on this day, May 25, 2010, at the time of 12:44 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

    May 19, 2010

    "Do As I say -- !"

    Immigration Immolations
    Hatched by Dafydd

    Ahem. Obamunism on a nutshell:

    He says...

    President Barack Obama stepped up his criticism of Arizona's controversial immigration law Wednesday, calling it "misdirected" and warning that it has the potential to be applied in a discriminatory fashion.

    Speaking at a joint news conference with Mexico's President Felipe Calderon, Obama called for overhauling the nation's immigration laws and said that can't be done unless Republicans support it.

    The controversy over the Arizona law, which would make it a state crime to be in the country illegally, hung over Calderon's visit. Both leaders oppose the law, with Obama directing the Justice Department to review it for possible civil rights violations, and Calderon's government issuing a travel warning for Arizona, out of concern that Mexicans face an adverse political environment there.

    And he says...

    The White House appears to be laying the groundwork for President Barack Obama to shake the hand of each senior at Kalamazoo Central High School’s commencement ceremony next month.

    Seniors are being asked to provide their birthdates, Social Security numbers and citizen status to the Secret Service so background checks could be performed. Such a check is required for anyone who gets within an arm’s length of the president, students were told at their senior breakfast Friday.

    Of the fact that the White House is requesting information on all the graduating seniors, K-Central Principal Von Washingon Jr. told the students, “I’ll let you figure out what that means,” said senior Simon Boehme, who was at the breakfast.

    And we'll let you figure out what this says about Obamunism, the Democratic Party of 2010, and President Barack H. "Post-Partisan" Obama.

    Hatched by Dafydd on this day, May 19, 2010, at the time of 12:29 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    May 3, 2010

    Why Do We Need Immigrants? Steyn Misses His Mark

    Immigration Immolations
    Hatched by Dafydd

    Mark Steyn has penned -- phosphored another jeremiad against illegal immigration. I do agree with many of his points; but he misses the most glaringly obvious reason why immigration, and yes, even illegal immigration, can benefit our country.

    The first and most counterintuitive point, crashing headlong into conservative orthodoxy like a noisy freight train into a musty museum, is this: When determining whether immigration is on the whole positive or negative for society, in the long run, it's completely irrelevant whether that immigration is legal or illegal. What matters is not the legal status of the immigrant but why he chose to immigrate to America.

    Why does some particular foreigner come to reside here? Is it (1) because he wants to assimilate into America and become a real American? Or has he some other reason? For example:

    1. To marry or move in with an American resident or citizen;
    2. To work in a field unavailable in the immigrant's homeland;
    3. To make some money and then go home again;
    4. To suck up American welfare;
    5. Or to engage in violence, terrorism, drug dealing, or some other terrible criminal behavior.

    The only noble reason to immigrate here is the first, the intense desire to Americanize.

    The next two reasons -- to live with a loved one, or to work in a career that requires a more capitalist environment -- are at least not ignoble; they're potentially valid reasons, depending on other circumstances. But if the immigrant is at least pro-American, immigration for these reasons will still benefit America.

    Apart from those three motivations, however, I can think of no valid reason to become a new resident of the United States. (I'm open to other suggestions, if I missed any other good reasons to immigrate.)

    Immigrants who come here for Americanization, cohabitation, and career employment can be very beneficial to the United States, and we should encourage them. But immigrants who come here for other reasons -- including as "guest workers" -- cause far more harm to the country than any benefit they bring, and we should bar them. This is the Big Lizards Fundamental Theorem of Immigration.

    Here is the crux of my argument: Unless the immigration laws line up with the Fundamental Theorem of Immigration, they're lousy guides to whether specific immigrants are good or bad for America.

    Sadly, that is precisely the situation we're in right now: We encourage immigration, both temporary and permanent, from poor people who have no interest in becoming Americans, no real family connections here, and no job prospects; and we discourage potential immigrants who would make the very best naturalized citizens, especially liberty-loving immigrants from former Eastern European countries, persecuted Christians from Africa and the Moslem countries, and capitalist entrepeneurs who want to start businesses here. Thus, an enormous number of legal immigrants are worse for the country than a great many illegal immigrants.

    Here's a thought experiment. Suppose that a future administration noodled with the immigration quotas so that we only admitted immigrants from Iran, Syria, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Venezuela, Brazil, Peru, Russia, Red China, North Korea, and Vietnam; and suppose we pointedly did not bar those with a history of anti-American activity... members of the Taliban, for example, or former members of Vladimir Putin's secret police. Everybody else was forbidden entry.

    My question is this: Who would you rather moved next door: a legal resident recently from Iran, who used to be a low-ranking officer in the Qods Force? Or would you prefer an Ukrainian software designer -- who snuck in illegally because the cockamamie laws wouldn't let him through the gate? Anyone who would rather have the "legal" Iranian storm-trooper than the "illegal" Ukrainian computer geek has let his ideology kidnap his brain, in my opinion.

    To me, it's clear that what matters most is the quality of the immigrant, and in particular, why he came here; not whether the immigration laws happen to match up with the Fundamental Theorem so that the good immigrant can also be the legal immigrant. That is why I have stressed from my earliest immigration posts that we should pay far more attention to the legal immigration system, bringing it into conformity with what I'm now calling the Fundamental Theorem, than with the "problem" of X number of illegal immigrants here now (12 million, 20 million, whatever arbitrary number one wants to posit).

    We may well have 20 million immigrants we should deport; but that group of deportables will never exactly match the group of all illegals. In fact, the intersection can be woefully small, as the thought experiment demonstrates.

    This is where Mark Steyn and many other conservatives go wrong on the immigration issue: They are so caught up in the mythology that every illegal is a "criminal" -- not in the purely technical sense, but as most people use the word -- that they miss the more important distinction between good immigrants and bad immigrants.

    All right, but why do we need immigrants at all? Since I oppose "guest workers," labor shortages cannot be a reason I would cite for immigration. What other benefit does the United States gain from accepting good immigrants?

    The greatest gift immigrants bring to America is not cheap labor or a larger tax base but cross-cultural fertilization; without a steady influx of immigration from exotic lands, our society will stagnate. Immigrants bring energy, enthusiasm, new perspectives, different ways of solving problems, and quite frequently greater religiosity and (to be blunt) greater fertility. This is true both of good and bad immigrants, by the way; the attributes are neutral.

    Good (assimilable) immigrants bring energy and enthusiasm to re-Americanizing America -- and boy, do we need it! They bring new ways of solving the problems we've brought on ourselves by the steady leftward tug of an ever-expanding government. Good immigrants bring a zeal for the kind of religion that Dennis Prager calls "ethical monotheism," which we surely will need to fight off the bloodthirsty death-cult of Islamist jihadism. And of course, we are chronically short of people, the one indispensible resource necessary for expanding wealth; good immigrants will increase our fertility rate without increasing the ranks of the enemy within.

    But won't the new immigrants radically change America?

    I certainly hope they will! If we're impervious to change, that means we're living in zombieland. Life is change; it has always been and always will be.

    But they might take over the country! What then?

    Worries that new immigrants will "take over" miss the point: American society is the concatenation of immigrants who "took over," or at least introduced a powerful enough "meme" that it worked its way into the mosaic of "Americanism." That's why I refer to our society as American Borg culture: Every distinct cultural idiosyncrasy in the melting pot will be assimilated; resistance is futile.

    America has changed repeatedly over the last 400 years, by and large because of immigration. Consider those illegal immigrants who arrived in Jamestown from England in 1607; I think they changed the North American continent for the better, anti-European Indian activists notwithstanding.

    The problem we see is not immigration, nor even illegal immigration; the real problem is the wrong kind of immigration, by people determined not to assimilate into America, not to add their own memetic culture to America... but instead to remake America in the image of the failed societies whence they arrived. And that restatement of the Fundamental Theorem is true whether the anti-American immigrants have green cards or swam the Rio Grande.

    Hatched by Dafydd on this day, May 3, 2010, at the time of 9:15 PM | Comments (13) | TrackBack

    January 20, 2010

    The Exception That Tests the Rule

    Europa Political Grand Opera , Immigration Immolations , War Against Radical Islamism
    Hatched by Dafydd

    For anyone who still denies either the rightness or existence of "American exceptionalism," consider this appalling story:

    Dutch lawmaker Geert Wilders sat in the defendant's dock Wednesday, nodding his head as prosecutors read aloud a hundred remarks he has made condemning Islam, Muslims and immigrants -- notably one comparing the Quran to Hitler's "Mein Kampf."

    Wilders' criminal trial for allegedly inciting hate against Muslims has resonance across Europe: He is one of a dozen right-wing politicians on the continent who are testing the limits of freedom of speech while voicing voters' concerns at the growth of Islam.

    For the tendentious phrasing, "the growth of Islam," read the more accurate "the growth of Islamism." If Moslems were coming to the Netherlands and assimilating, as they do for the most part in the United States, I honestly doubt Geert Wilders would have such a problem with them. But because of the liberal socialism of Western Europe, a member of the Dutch parliament is now on trial for properly representing his own constituents.

    Here is the philosophical sequence:

    • Liberal socialism ("Stalinism lite") has infected Western Europe for many decades. (One could make a good argument that Otto Eduard Leopold prince von Bismarck, the "Iron Chancellor" of Prussia, invented it in the latter half of the nineteenth century.) Note, this is not liberal fascism; it's the internationalist version. Hence the European Union, the first step on the liberal-socialist (lib-soc) road to global government.
    • A primary element of liberal socialism is atheism; lib-soc governments persecute Judeo-Christian religions and to a lesser extent frown upon all other religions: Their religion is "secular humanism" -- that is, the First Church of Fundamentalist Materialism, as Robert Anton Wilson used to put it.
    • A secondary effect of official and widespread Fundamentalist Materialism is a dramatic and frightening drop in the regional fertility rate. We can explore the "whys" in more depth another time if folks find the connection puzzling; suffice to say that Western Europe is not replacing its population, hence must import truly staggering levels of immigrant labor.
    • Since Europe must draw from those cultures that have a high fertility rate for their foreign labor pool, they tend to draw disproportionately from Moslem populations in Indonesia, the Philippines, Malaysia, Turkey, and Morocco. For example, in the Netherlands, six percent of the labor pool are Moslems from the latter two countries. (If the same ratio applied in the United States, we would have 9.25 million Moslem immigrants in the civilian labor pool, or about eight to ten times the level we actually have.)
    • Another primary element of lib-soc is authoritarianism; socialist states are authoritatian by definition.
    • One secondary effect of authoritarianism is that the government not only does not encourage immigrants to assimilate, it typically doesn't allow them to. Instead, immigrants are shunted into enclaves and ghettos and generally treated as "the help," rather than as full citizens... even those who were actually born in the "host" country. Generation after generation can be born in some European countries, but none is considered a full citizen.
    • Such "apartness" leads inevitably to a great many immigrants seeing themselves as transients and foreigners in the land of their birth; they often turn against the "host" with a vengeance, rioting and looting, sealing off areas and declaring them "liberated" from the host and instead under the laws -- or the imagined laws -- of the rioters' ancestral countries. For the most obvious example, Moslem "immigrants" may seal off the Moslem enclaves and declare them under sharia law, instead of French, Dutch, or Spanish law. (The same dynamic of separation from the rest of society leads to criminal behavior among native-born full citizens.)
    • Yet another aspect of authoritarianism is that, for all their high-minded hectoring of the rest of the world, socialist countries do not actually protect freedom of speech. (This claim should not even be controversial.)
    • Ergo, put everything together, and we have the situation in the Netherlands, which applies in a great many other European countries as well: The country has a real, serious, and growing problem with estranged and disaffected Moslem youths; but hate-speech codes make it a criminal offense to discus the disastrous failure of the government's social policy, even by members of parliament.

    It's a prescription for catastophe. It could never happen in Ronald Reagan's or George W. Bush's America because of individualism, assimilation, and community; I fear it may be all too plausible in Barack H. Obama's America.

    The solution to this terrible dilemma is quite beyond the capacity of any socialist country; but it's the essence, the very core, of American exceptionalism (or simple Americanism):

    • Allow immigrants to assimilate;
    • Encourage, urge, and demand that they assimilate;
    • Require that they be assimilable before letting them immigrate in the first place;
    • And treat them exactly like every other American citizen when they do assimilate and naturalize themselves.

    This is the ideal, however imperfectly it can be applied in the real world. Alas that we have an immigration system biased against assimilation; and we have two prevailing ideologies, neither of which is geared towards assimilation for different reasons: The Left doesn't want aliens to assimilate because lib-socs tend to dislike America and all it stands for; while the Right doesn't want aliens to come here at all, by and large, because they understand assimilation is a two-way street.

    Like the Borg, when we assimilate an immigrant, we add his cultural "memes" to American culture. That's one reason we're such a powerful and irresistable force for social change throughout the world... and it's a positive characteristic, not a necessary evil.

    But I think I fight a lonely war on this issue.

    Cross-posted on Hot Air's rogues' gallery...

    Hatched by Dafydd on this day, January 20, 2010, at the time of 9:00 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

    February 9, 2009

    Yet Another Obama "Sovereignty" Test

    Immigration Immolations , Liberal Lunacy
    Hatched by Dafydd

    A federal lawsuit filed by sixteen illegal immigrants, seeking damages from a rancher for the "tort" of keeping them off his land by making a citizen's arrest and handing them over to the Border Patrol, offers a determinative test for our new president: Will the Justice Department file a friend of the court brief? And if so, which side will President Barack H. Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder support?

    An Arizona man [rancher and former sheriff's deputy Roger Barnett] who has waged a 10-year campaign to stop a flood of illegal immigrants from crossing his property is being sued by 16 Mexican nationals who accuse him of conspiring to violate their civil rights when he stopped them at gunpoint on his ranch on the U.S.-Mexico border.

    (Violating their civil rights? They must have meant violating their civil liberties. Either that, or sixteen illegal aliens are suing Barnett for preventing them from voting in the next Arizona election.)

    His Cross Rail Ranch near Douglas, Ariz., is known by federal and county law enforcement authorities as "the avenue of choice" for immigrants seeking to enter the United States illegally.

    Trial continues Monday in the federal lawsuit, which seeks $32 million [!] in actual and punitive damages for civil rights violations, the infliction of emotional distress [oh please] and other crimes. Also named are Mr. Barnett's wife, Barbara, his brother, Donald, and Larry Dever, sheriff in Cochise County, Ariz., where the Barnetts live. The civil trial is expected to continue until Friday.

    I don't know for sure whether Arizona has citizen's arrest, but I believe it does. If so, then what exactly is Barnett accused of doing? Does the act of citizen's arrest violate the "right" of foreign nationals to cross into the United States illegally? What other rights could they mean?

    The lawsuit is based on a March 7, 2004, incident in a dry wash on the 22,000-acre ranch, when he approached a group of illegal immigrants while carrying a gun and accompanied by a large dog.

    Attorneys for the immigrants - five women and 11 men who were trying to cross illegally into the United States - have accused Mr. Barnett of holding the group captive at gunpoint, threatening to turn his dog loose on them and saying he would shoot anyone who tried to escape.

    Well, yeah; that's why it's called a citizen's "arrest," not a citizen's polite request to stay and wait for the peelers. This sounds pretty normal to me; if the Border Patrol, rather than a private citizen, had done exactly this, would any federal judge allow such a lawsuit to go forward?

    Plaintiffs do not accuse Barnett of shooting anyone or even firing a shot, of siccing his dog on anyone (though he warned them that the dog can bite). The illegals retained MALDEF to press their case -- or more likely, MALDEF recruited them to sue Barnett, hoping to get a federal court ruling that Mexican nationals have the "civil right" to:

    • Enter the United States without documentation;
    • Trespass on private property;
    • Rustle cattle;
    • Burglarize houses;
    • And threaten American citizens who resist any of the above.

    MALDEF does claim that Barnett kicked one woman, but I suspect that's an embelishment. In any event, I find it passing strange that a group called the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund is now representing sixteen Mexican Mexicans suing an American American; but I suppose they know which side of the bed is buttered. Evidently, even MALDEF is really all about "la raza."

    I have a big question in mind to ask; but before I get to that, I must answer the big question that I know is in the minds of many of you: Has the lizard flipped? Am I reversing myself and turning into a Tancredoite?

    Not guilty on both charges. First, my position today is exactly the same as it was a year, even two years ago. I never argued that anyone has the "right" to trespass, commit crimes, or evade arrest, even arrest for illegal entry. What I did argue is twofold: First, that the crime of illegal entry, all by itself, is a minor offense; even buying fraudulent documentation is, in and of itself, a minor crime.

    But there are other crimes often committed by illegals that are much more serious, and I have no quarrel with punishing those more severely. Such other crimes include identity theft of a living person (as opposed to getting a false birth certificate in the name of a person who died in infancy), burglary, car theft, and yes, trespassing. I have always agreed that illegals who are convicted of such crimes should be deported -- but only after serving their sentences.

    Second, I argued that a fine and payment of back taxes (plus interest and penalties), plus having to start the residency paperwork all over from the beginning, is an acceptable plea bargain (not "amnesty") for illegals who turn themselves in; they shouldn't need to return to their former country. You may disagree; I'm not arguing the point. But it doesn't contradict anything I said above. (And of course I argue we need to fundamentally reform our legal immigration system to make it more rational, predictable, and just; but that's a different topic.)

    So no, I haven't joined the ranks of those who savaged the comprehensive immigration bill; neither have I changed my position on what to do about immigration, "guest" workers, and those already here illegally.

    Now to the question that interests me: Barack Obama did not campaign on a promise to throw open the borders, nor on the supposition that illegals have any "right" to enter or trespass. In fact, he reassured us that he opposed illegal immigration. And of course he never said he favored eliminating the right of citizens to arrest criminals apprehended in the act and hold them until the police arrive and take the prisoners into custody. So if Obama comes out now in favor of MALDEF and their patsies, it would be a stunning betrayal of the American people -- and catastrophic to his presidency.

    But on the other hand, suppose the plaintiffs prevail at this stage on the theory enunciated by MALDEF; and supposed that, although Obama and Holder don't file an amicus curae brief supporting the MALDEF position, the administration also fails to file a brief in defense of an American citizen (and former cop) who has done nothing more than protect his own property and family by apprehending (so he claims) more than 12,000 (!!) illegal aliens and turning them over to the Border Patrol. Even if the administration doesn't throw in with the illegals, if Obama nevertheless abandons Barnett to his fate, I believe the president would have willfully failed to discharge his oath to "preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States."

    If the trial results in a defense verdict and MALDEF does not appeal (unlikely), then Obama is off the hook. But if this ends up in federal circuit court -- as I'm certain it will, no matter what the verdict in district court -- and if Obama (a) ducks the issue or (b) backs MALDEF and the illegals, then the GOP should ride this issue into the 2010 election.

    And I would then predict they would, in event (a) -- Obama administration ducks the issue -- recapture one or the other chamber of Congress. And in event (b) -- Obama administration sides with the illegal aliens against they American citizen they tried to victimize -- the GOP will win the whole ruddy thing.

    Even if Obama arrives at the same calculation, I just don't know whether he has the cojones to buck the open-borders statelessness of the New Left.

    Hatched by Dafydd on this day, February 9, 2009, at the time of 6:39 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

    December 29, 2008

    Ultimate Illegal-Immigration Stopping Power

    Immigration Immolations
    Hatched by Dafydd

    All right, I admit it: Sachi, not I, has come up with the perfect analogy to illegal immigration, the legal immigration system, and everything else... and I believe everyone here will finally understand what I mean -- even if he doesn't agree with it.

    Consider this:

    Jerome Parker is an honest and decent man; but he lives in a very bad neighborhood (due to economic necessity). There are robberies and gang-banging, car theft for profit and for joyriding, and homicides. He feels threatened every other day by thugs... so he wants to carry a gun for self-protection.

    Being an honest guy, he would much prefer to do so legally. Alas, Jerry lives in Los Angeles -- which steadfastly refuses to grant any CCW (carry concealed weapon) permit to anyone, anywhere, anytime, for any reason, no matter how good (except cronies of the mayor, Hollywood celebrities, bribe payers, and other city illuminati). It's useless to apply for one, since L.A. hasn't granted a CCW permit to any ordinary person in decades.

    He lives very close to, and could move into, a separately chartered city incorporated within L.A. County... call it Slobovia. Slobovia has granted CCW permits, but there is no rhyme nor reason as to who gets one. You never can tell. They grant some permits to ordinary, decent residents who just want to protect themselves; but often those people are rejected -- and a permit is instead granted to Natal "Bang Bang" Muhammed Schwartz, suspected lieutenant of the feared Picknose gang.

    Seeing no viable options, Jerome, with great misgivings but a strong desire to protect himself, his small business, and his family, simply starts carrying a gun even without a permit. This of course makes him a criminal, and he must constantly worry that he might be caught and prosecuted by zealous, anti-gun deputy DAs in Los Angeles.

    Now we move a few hundred miles east and reboot...

    Alberto T. Gonzales is an honest and decent man; but he lives in a very bad neighborhood (due to economic necessity). There are robberies and gang-banging, car theft for profit and for joyriding, and homicides. He feels threatened every other day by thugs... so he wants to carry a gun for self-protection.

    Being an honest guy, he would much prefer to do so legally. Fortunately, Al lives in Texas, which has a state-wide mandatory CCW permit law; the law requires Texas state authorities to grant a CCW permit to any citizen who applies for one, unless they can show (within a reasonable period of time) that the particular applicant in question has a specific disqualification -- a felony conviction or any conviction for illegal use or brandishing of a firearm; a history of mental illness, drunkenness, or drug use; a restraining order against him; and so forth.

    Al applies for the permit; since he has nothing untoward in his background, it's granted. He takes the mandatory gun safety, shooting, and firearm legal issues classes, and he begins carrying his Glock 9mm legally. He need not be furtive about it, he doesn't fear being arrested, and he is not considered a "criminal" under Texas law.

    Surely the vast majority, probably over 90%, of Big Lizards readers can see that the second scenario is infinitely to be preferred over the first. Surely you understand that Jerome was made into a criminal by a lousy L.A. law, a law that was arbitrary, capricious, vindictive, authoritarian, corrupt, and unjust. Under the more rational, predictable, and just law of the great and sovereign Republic of Texas, people like Jerome and Alberto need not skulk in the shadows.

    The law in Los Angeles prevents honest, decent people from carrying the means to protect themselves. A rational law would allow this; but the law in L.A. is irrational, and the law in Slobovia is unpredictable and inexplicable.

    The solution is to implement a rational, predictable, and just CCW permit law nationwide. While more people would be carrying guns legally, many, many fewer would be carrying them illegally. This is a trade-off that would tremendously benefit society, as Professor John Lott has shown many times over (i.e., in his seminal work More Guns, Less Crime.)

    And I cannot imagine it has escaped anyone's notice that under the L.A. anti-gun law, just because someone is caught illegally carrying a concealed pistol, you cannot assume he is a notorious character up to no good: He could just as easily be an ordinary bloke who wants to protect himself from the violent hoods in the 'hood.

    By contrast, since any honest, decent citizen of Texas can get a CCW permit, the only people carrying weapons illegally would be those unable to get such a permit... which in practice generally means felons, hypes, and transient bums. Therefore, it's perfectly reasonable to throw the book at anyone carrying concealed weapons without a permit, because nearly all of them are bad guys.

    I suspect most of you can see exacty where I'm heading with this analogy to illegal immigration, so I'll leave off here. But please think about your reaction to the scenarios above, then about your reaction to my call for the reformation of the legal immigration system -- and my argument that this alone would dramatically decrease the illegal immigration problem.

    Analogies prove nothing; that is not their purpose. Their purpose is clarity, not proof; they strip away the emotional detritus that blocks clear thinking about controversial issues.

    Please use this moment of clarity at least to understand my argument; then if you still want to dispute the validity of my contention, we can debate on the basis of shared understanding of what I'm actually arguing.

    Hatched by Dafydd on this day, December 29, 2008, at the time of 11:45 PM | Comments (37) | TrackBack

    December 16, 2008

    The Party of Pre-Americans

    Econ. 101 , Elections , Immigration Immolations , War Against Radical Islamism
    Hatched by Dafydd

    In today's topsy-turvy world, best described by Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland --

    "Let the jury consider their verdict," the King said, for about the twentieth time that day.

    "No, no!" said the Queen. "Sentence first -- verdict afterwards."

    -- I thought it best to present my conclusions first, then tuck all the boring explication and justification into the slither-on. This will make it easier for 95% of readers to skip the post entirely, and the remaining 8 to proceed to the argumentum already in a state fit to be tie-dyed.

    Accordingly, I conclude that the Republican Party cannot survive as "the native-born American party." We have no option but to reach out to all those immigrants and children of immigrants who come here because they love America and what she stands for. Instead of discouraging or even stopping immigration, we must encourage it -- but only by the right people, those who come here anxious to assimilate, who already believe in American values, no matter where they were born. We need more, not less, immigration by folks who were already American in their hearts long before they immigrated here.

    I call such folks "pre-Americans." If we don't want to repeat the same mistake with the rising population of Hispanics that we made with blacks, the Republican Party must become the party of pre-Americans. Here are the three main reasons I discover:

    • Without Hispanic votes, we are sunk as a viable party;
    • Without (pre-American) immigrants, we cannot survive economically;
    • Nor can we win the war against the Iran/al-Qaeda axis.

    All else is dicta. Please read the dicta before raining katzenjammers on us in the comments section.

    The more I think about it, the more convinced I am that my earlier prediction was correct: The anti-immigration hysteria of some putative "conservatives" during the 109th Congress, while the immigration-reform bill was under consideration, has so poisoned the well that we may never win another national election -- unless we act immediately to undo what a few prominent Republicans did.

    I'll call them the Tancredistas, not because Tom Tancredo was the leader of the opposition (he wasn't), but because his anti-immigrant rage -- not simply anti-illegal immigrant, but anti-immigrant, period -- exemplifies all that is wrong with the GOP's approach to the subject. Angry opponents of what they were pleased to call "amnesty" often demanded a moratorium on all immigration; this went far beyond mere opposition to fence-jumping and cut right at the heart of America, which has always been a nation of immigrants.

    Worse, whenever any pro-legal immigrationist wondered why the Tancredistas thought we needed to curtail all immigration, the stock answer was invariably that Hispanics "refused to assimilate," or even that it was impossible for Hispanics to assimilate. Sometimes Moslems were tossed into the mix as non-assimilationers, as well; but the Tancredistas never complained about non-assimilating Europeans or Canadians. Evidently, Italians and Albanians were quite willing and able -- just not Hispanics and Moslems. (I wondered aloud about immigrants from Spain, but no one rose to clarify.)

    I am quite convinced that the number of out and out racists among the Tancredistas was always very, very small. Most in the anti-"amnesty" camp believe, in their hearts, that they're only opposed to illegality, to lawbreaking, to flouting our national borders.

    Alas, even the non-racists adopted exclusionary language, phrases that could hardly be distinguished from those signs during Jim Crow that read "No dogs, Jews, or Coloreds allowed." This sort of cold, harsh language was frequently coupled with irrational arguments: A few La Raza activists parading through Los Angeles carrying Mexican flags and chanting "Aztlan!" were equated to the entire Hispanic population of the United States, for example; any method of regularizing illegals already living here was dubbed "amnesty," even if it involved punishment; and any call to reform the legal immigration system was rejected as "selling out to Ted Kennedy."

    Tancredistas offered increasingly pugnacious counterproposals:

    • Closing the borders (that permanent "moratorium" on immigration)
    • Mass round-ups and deportations
    • Kicking "illegal" children out of school
    • And denying citizenship to the children of illegals, even if they were born in the United States

    All of this energetic and frankly over-the-top anti-immigrant activism has convinced a great majority of American Hispanics, both immigrants and first- or second-generation native-born Americans, that the Republican Party hates them and wants to deport them all -- not just the illegals, but those here legally as well. I believe that most of those I'm labeling Tancredistas (let alone other Republicans) don't really want to deport legal Hispanic immigrants. But that's the way it comes across; and in politics, perception is just as important as reality.

    Democrats constantly try to hang a label of racism on us; they hoot that the GOP cannot survive as "the white party." That's certainly true, but it's a vile smear, well befitting their general approach to life: "It's not how you play the game, it's whether you win -- and utterly destroy your opponent." I've never heard anybody inside the Republican Party suggest we should be "the white party."

    But a more appropriate and accurate variation on that vile, racist, anti-GOP slander is also true: We cannot survive as "the native-born American party;" we must, must reach out to those who come here wanting to become Americans, those who come here anxious to assimilate, those who come here with American values, no matter where else they had the misfortune to be born. Let's call these folks, those who were already American in hearts and minds even before coming here, "pre-Americans": We must rebrand the Republican Party as "the party of pre-Americans." (Note, I'm not saying exclusively pre-Americans.)

    Once our immigration laws become more rational, predictable, and fair, then and only then we can equate pre-Americans with legal immigrants. But our laws are neither rational nor predictable nor fair; they are arbitrary, capricious, and unjust to a staggering degree. (Their only virtue is that they're nowhere near as irrational, unpredictable, and unfair as those of every other nation on the planet.)

    Thus, the first step in rebranding the GOP is for the GOP to unify behind a legal-immigration reform law -- which could be separate and distinct from a decision on what to do with illegal immigrants already here, about guest workers, and so forth. The sole purpose of the legal-immigration reform law should be to make the system:

    • Rational. Agents should decide who gets residency and citizenship on the basis of assimilability and American values, not irrational criteria such as country of origin or whether the applicant has a cousin with a green card.
    • Predictable. Applicants must know in advance how likely they are to gain residency or citizenship... and more important, what steps to take to increase their odds. Thus, those who really want to become Americans and are willing to work for it will have a clue what to do.
    • Fair. Agents must decide based upon the individual applicant, not some larger group over which he has no control and may disagree vehemently ("Sorry, we've already admitted our quota of PhDs; we're only admitting plumbers now"). They must also decide based upon known and published criteria that do not change from day to day, depending on which agent or office the immigrant happens to get.

    Reform is a good first step, but it's not sufficient to woo back Hispanic Americans who feel betrayed by the GOP. In politics, it's not just what you say but how you say it. Too many Republicans picked an incredibly toxic way to argue against a plan they thought too generous towards illegal aliens... and the words they used convinced tens of millions of immigrants and children of immigrants that they were unwanted nuisances polluting the precious bodily fluids of the United States.

    This reaction may be unfair; reality often is. However, given John S. McCain's dismal performance among Hispanics in November -- he was equated with the Tancredistas by a series of Spanish-language ads run by Obama, despite McCain being the leading Republican voice for immigration reform -- it's almost undeniable at this point that the GOP "brand" among Hispanics and other ethnically foreign populations within the country is more unpopular than New Coke.

    Therefore, we not only must support significant reform of the legal immigration system, we must start to rebuild our relationship with, in particular, Hispanics. Having given them the impression we were spitting in their faces, we must now show regret for the intemperate language used and begin using much more inclusive language in the future.

    There is no need to compromise on the fundamental requirement of controlling our borders; but we must finally recognize that most illegal immigrants are not "criminals," not in the commonly understood sense of a convenience-store robber or a carjacker. Most are simply responding irrationally to an irrational and unjust immigration system. Correct the system -- which we should do anyway for our own reasons -- and we'll see a huge drop in illegal entries, as those pre-Americans who rationally should be admitted are allowed in legally.

    But it is important to show sympathy and support for those "huddled masses yearning to breath free" who desperately desire to become real Americans -- those that already have the distinctive American values and virtues. Instead of talking about a moratorium on immigration (which comes across as "There are too many of your sort here already"), we must say, in essence, "While it's important to enforce our territorial integrity, we understand that many folks see America as a 'shining city on a hill,' and we'll do everything in our party's power to open the gates to all those who are truly American at heart... no matter where they were born."

    Then actually do it.

    When the legal immigration procedure is more rational, predictable, and fair, the honest will use it rather than trying to swim the Rio Grande. With a much smaller rate of illegal border crossings, we could focus much more attention on those who still feel the need to sneak into the United States; likely, there is a very good reason why they cannot immigrate legally. And we would be able to use harsher, more authoritarian means to crack down, since (again) when the honest can enter honestly, only the dishonest persist in entering dishonestly.

    Not only do Republicans (and the nation) need pre-American immigrants for economic reasons (they're far better for our country than "guest workers" who feel no affiliation or affinity with the United States), but they would also benefit and strengthen American borg culture, as has every other wave of immigration. American immigration has always been another example, besides Capitalism, of the "creative destruction" that signals a nation rising, rather than the cultural stagnation that betokens a nation in decline. And that's something we desperately need, as we're engaged in a true Kulturkampf (and I don't mean against American liberals).

    We're at war with a vicious culture that worships a murder-totem who demands endless human sacrifices; that militant Islamist culture wants to overwhelm the West and institute so-called "sharia" law, enslaving both Christendom and the rest of Islam to its bloodthirsty death cult. All Western, Judeo-Christian and anti-militant Moslem cultures must join forces to defeat the Moloch worshippers.

    We cannot retreat into ethnic enclaves and still win that war. Yes, admitting massive numbers of pre-American Hispanics will change American culture... just as did admitting massive numbers of Russians, Poles, Chinese, Irish, Catholics, Jews, and of course Africans. Allowing anyone other than British Anglicans or German Lutherans, the dominant groups when the country was founded, to become American necessarily changed American culture.

    But there's nothing inherently wrong with changing American culture; what matters is how it's changed. And there is nothing within traditional Latin-American culture that's incompatible with the deepest American values; it's not like admitting tens of millions of Ayatollah-Khomeini followers. If anything, Latin-American values of work, family, and entrepeneurship are a perfect compliment to the corresponding Republican (and American) values.

    The same could have been said of black values back before the civil-rights era... and had we taken the route of eliminating institutionalize state racism, empowering individuals through Capitalism and home-ownership, and raising victims of discrimination up to meet the universal standards (instead of lowering the standards to make it easier for the class of all blacks to exceed them), then I believe we would have a black voting population today that cast its individual votes on the basis of individual opinion, instead of a black voting population that is wholly captive to a single party -- one that does not have the best interests of individual black families at heart.

    Ergo, if we don't want to repeat the same mistake with the rising population of Hispanics, the Republican Party must become the party of pre-Americans. I reiterate the three reasons, in increasing order of importance:

    • Because without Hispanic votes, we cannot survive as a viable American political party;
    • Because without pre-American immigrants, we cannot survive economically;
    • Because without pre-American immigrants, we cannot win the war against the Iran/al-Qaeda axis.

    It's long past time to swallow our pride and accept the inevitable: There are going to be millions of Latin American immigrants into the United States annually for the forseeable future. The only question is whether they come in through the gate or over the fence... and whether we make it easy for the law-abiding and hard for the bad guys by reforming our broken system -- or do nothing, leaving it equally easy for everyone, righteous or rotten, to enter anywhere and everywhere.

    Hatched by Dafydd on this day, December 16, 2008, at the time of 8:25 PM | Comments (41) | TrackBack

    March 11, 2008

    Another Great Issue for McCain to Seize From the Left

    Immigration Immolations , Presidential Campaign Camp and Porkinstance
    Hatched by Dafydd

    If there is any issue that epitomizes John McCain's dispute with the conservative wing of the Republican Party, it would be immigration policy. While they differ over several other issues -- notably the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002, a.k.a. McCain-Feingold, and the putative "Gang of 14," which prevented the GOP from enacting the Byrd option in the Senate to rule it against Senate rules to filibuster judicial nominees -- it is immigation over which the Republican Party split the most widely and violently. And certainly it is immigration that many consider to be the "third rail" of the party... thus the one McCain should most steer clear of, right?

    Wrong. In fact, I believe that John McCain should grab the elephant by the tail and look the facts in the face: He should jump into the current immigration donnybrook in Congress with both feet and with fists swinging... because this time, he will be squarely on the side of conservatives; and parachuting in to help the conservatives enact a border-security bill is exactly what McCain needs to be doing right now.

    It all started when several moderate Democrats in both House and Senate and one Republican senator introduced a "get tough" bill on immigration and border enforcement. It included a big increase in the Border Patrol (8,000 new agents), more money for building the fence, and most especially, a major crackdown on employers who hire illegal aliens.

    The Secure America through Verification and Enforcement (SAVE) Act was introduced in November 2007 by Rep. Heath Shuler (D-NC, not yet rated) in the House, and by Sens. Mark Pryor (D-AK, 75%), Mary Landrieu (D-LA, 65%) and David Vitter (R-LA, 92%) in the Senate. Nearly all Republicans -- from Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-ME, 36%) on the left to Reps. Tom Tancredo (R-CO, 92%) and Brian Bilbray (R-CA, 94%) on the right -- signed aboard the act, along with 48 Democrats in the House and three in the Senate. Many anti-illegal immigation groups applauded the bill, led by NumbersUSA, who called it "enforcement by attrition" for its strict, new immigration-status reporting requirements for business.

    But a funny thing happened on the way to a floor vote...

    Despite clear majority support in both House and Senate, the Democratic leadership under Squeaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Haight-Ashbury, 95%) and Senate Majority Leader Harry "Pinky" Reid (D-Caesar's Palace, 90%) -- stop me if you've heard this before -- threw a fit and vowed to bury the bill, squashing the revolt of the moderates like stomping on a banana slug. And bury it they did, refusing to bring it up even for discussion, let alone a vote.

    For three months, it languished in committee hell. But now, Republicans are insisting that the Democratic leadership finally allow a vote on the Democratic-written border-enforcement bill... and supporters of SAVE say they have the votes to force it to the floor via a House discharge petition, a rarely used process whereby a majority of Congress (218 representatives) can vote to "discharge" a bill from consideration by a committee, whose chair is simply sitting on it, and bring it to the floor of the House for debate and vote:

    Leaders are expected as early as Tuesday to use a parliamentary tactic that would eventually force a vote on the measure if 218 lawmakers - a majority of the House - demand it. Republicans are pressuring Democratic backers of the measure - including several first-termers and dozens from swing districts, all facing tough re-election fights - to defy their leaders and sign the petition.

    "Lots of Republicans and lots of Democrats would like to see something done," Rep. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., the No. 2 whip, said Friday.

    The House Republican leadership filed the petition today, and all Republicans are expected to sign it; they need about twenty Democrats to sign as well. With 48 Democrats signed aboard as of November, it looks good for being discharged and floored.

    Republicans in the Senate are also trying to force Reid to bring it up there... though its fate there is less certain; liberal Democrats can filibuster it, even if moderate Democrats support it. Reid can lose up to ten Democrats and still prevent the SAVE Act from being considered.

    But as a political issue, there is nothing Democrats can do to stop it entering the campaign. And enter it John McCain should -- with hobnailed boots!

    Oddly even the liberals want McCain to join the fray... but on their side, not the Republican side. I think they're nuts and don't understand McCain at all; but they demand that he speak out against the Republican push to enact the border-security bills in the House and Senate:

    Democrats are trying to turn the tables, hoping that Republicans' efforts to push get-tough immigration measures will hurt McCain with Hispanic voters and independents, two groups that have supported him in the past.

    In a letter to McCain last week, Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., called on the Arizonan to reject the GOP leaders' plans, calling them "draconian and divisive."

    "Such a rejection will let this nation's 44 million Latinos know that demonizing them for political purposes will not be tolerated and that the more hateful rhetoric in the immigration debate has no place in our country's civic discourse," Menendez wrote.

    Note that suggesting that illegal immigrants shouldn't be allowed into the country and that employers shouldn't employ them is now dubbed demonic hate speech. (I think Sen. Menendez (D-NJ, 90%) is auditioning for a leadership position -- in La Raza.)

    What John McCain really ought to do is precisely the opposite of what Democrats demand, shockingly enough; he should jump into the fight but add his voice to those Senate colleagues and fellow congressmen in the House of Representatives, calling for a vote on the SAVE Act.

    And it wouldn't be a flip-flop, either. Despite the angry denunciations of McCain by conservatives, he has never favored "open borders" or "immigration for all."

    McCain supported comprehensive reform that included border-security measires, and it's fair to say he didn't think much of the border security fence. But when his bill died in 2006, he accepted the verdict of the people: He stated in no uncertain terms that henceforth, he would push for a more secure border first; and only after the stick was enacted would he return to the carrots of the bill.

    This was widely seen by Republicans as McCain admitting his comprehensive approach had failed, and that he was joining the "enforcement first" ranks as the only route to immigration reform and regularization. While I still support a comprehensive bill, I understand why McCain -- who must, at the end of the day, actually get something enacted after all -- would give up on comprehensive and go for a one-two approach, security then regularization.

    In any event, that was long before the presidential campaign really kicked off; through all of 2007 and into 2008, McCain has pushed to secure the border first, then address the other issues surrounding illegal immigration last. Thus, he already took his lumps on the issue and has come round... not in a stealthy way, but by openly admitting his mistake. I find that rather refreshing in a politician.

    Here is what John McCain needs to say on the floor of the Senate to turn this entire issue from being a net negative for him to being a huge positive... in my never very humble (but generally correct) opinion:

    My friends, I said before that I got the message sent by the American people; got it loud and clear. I said I wouldn't support bringing up the issue of regularization again until after we had first enacted real border enforcement and security. That's what I said, and that's exactly what I mean to do.

    So for that very reason, let's get a vote, a straight up or down vote, on the SAVE Act. Because I think it will pass, and pass with a bipartisan majority in both chambers; and it's time for this train to start moving. Once that is done, and we have a bill to toughen border enforcement, make sure a real, physical wall gets built, and hold employers to the highest standard of making sure their workers are legally allowed to work... then and only then will it be time to come back to the other side of the issue. And I don't just mean just regularization of those already here, but also real reform of the whole system of legal immigration.

    We must welcome with open arms those immigrants who come here because they love America, which is the great majority of them... but keep out those very few who try to come here not out of love of liberty, but out of greed, envy, hatred, or to commit sectarian violence and terrorism.

    Let's secure the border first; let's have this vote and pass this bill! Then we can turn to the other matters, and I know my fellow conservatives will live up to their word and allow a vote on a path to citizenship and a comprehensive reform of the legal immigration system in this great country.

    I think this would delight conservative Republicans and moderate Democrats alike; and most particularly, it would excite independents, who really want to see a bipartisan solution to intractable problems, such as sealing (to the extent possible in a free country) our porous borders.

    And most important, it would be one more opportunity for McCain to poke a finger in the eye of the Überleft; I'm certain that both Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama totally oppose the Pryor-Landrieu-Vitters bill in the Senate... though it's unclear whether Obama can find any voting button on his Senate console except "Present."

    If McCain jumps on this issue, it would be the second excellent domestic issue for him to capture this month. But on the other hand, I still haven't heard him chime in on the earmarks issue yet; so he'd better get his Asterix in gear. Time and presidential campaigns wait for no man.

    Hatched by Dafydd on this day, March 11, 2008, at the time of 6:44 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

    February 25, 2008

    Bombs and Bombast

    Afghan Astonishments , Future of Warfare , Immigration Immolations , Iran Matters , Iraq Matters , On the Border , Pakistan Perplexities
    Hatched by Dafydd

    In a post today, Tom Bevan of Real Clear Politics gleefully reports that the "virtual fence" program hasn't worked well so far:

    Keith Epstein of Businessweek reports that the "virtual fence" all the candidates kept referring to (especially the GOP ones) as the cornerstone of border security turned out to be a miserable failure....

    Doesn't this hurt McCain, given that the virtual fence was one of the tools he was counting on to help deliver his promise of "certifying" the security of the border? Will he have commit to building the real "g**damn fence" now?

    No, it shouldn't hurt McCain... any more than the early failures of the ballistic missile defense system seriously hurt the BMD program. It just means we have to keep building the physical fence -- while continuing to work on the virtual one.

    For some reason, the idea of a virtual fence became the focal point of the ire of immigration-absolutists during the debate last year over McCain-Kennedy. It became vital to anti-plea-bargain conservatives to "debunk" the virtual fence, presumably on the grounds that only a real fence -- three hundred feet high and sixty feet thick, dotted with machine-gun emplacements and sporting a minefield -- could keep out the illegal Mexicans.

    They saw the virtual fence as a heavily watered drink some cheapskate bartender was trying to foist on them.

    Do I sound a bit caustic? Sorry, I tend to get that way when Republicans act-out like Democrats. In particular, the reflexive bias against technology has always set my teeth on fire.

    Democrats in the 1980s became hysterical at the thought of a technological shield against incoming nuclear missiles; and now the conservative wing of the GOP is running around like a chicken with its legs cut off over the possibility of a technological shield against illegal immigration.

    I can only conclude that they believe even breathing the words "virtual fence" amounts to "surrender" and "amnesty," as if it were always just a ruse to avoid building a real fence. But the areas suggested for the virtual fence are precisely those that have such rugged terrain that (a) there are hardly any illegal crossings, and (b) it's extremely difficult (if not impossible) to build a "real" fence in the first place.

    So that those areas would not be left totally unguarded, various people proposed a network of radar installations, cameras, motion detectors, heat sensors, and a computer system tying it all together... modeled roughly on the Aegis combat system that protects many of our cruisers and destroyers.

    Regardless of whether or not this particular version of a virtual fence has worked, we absolutely need one. Believe it or not, keeping out Mexicans is not the only problem we have that requires some sort of barrier:

    • The border with Canada is vastly bigger than the southern border, and it would take a long, long time to toss a fence across it;
    • And then, of course, there's the Gulf of Mexico; terrorists can boat up the Gulf and hop out onto the beach;
    • And there are the Iraqi borders with Syria, Turkey, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and Iran;
    • And don't forget the borders between Afghanistan and Pakistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and (naturally) Iran;
    • Not to mention borders between our allies and their enemiess;
    • Finally, any physical fence that can be built -- can be breached; cf. the fence that used to separate Gaza from Egypt. Even if we could literally build fences separating us from all potential enemies, those fences can be tunneled under, flown over, or blown up.

    We need to keep working on the virtual fence because we are soon going to need it -- desperately, and in many, many places. Similarly, it's a darned good thing that we kept working on BMD, despite early failures of the components of the original Strategic Defense Initiative (particle-beam technology, railgun ground launchers, nuclear-powered pulse weapons)... because now we really, really need it for a completely unforseen adversary. Thank goodness we have it.

    It's quite reasonable to argue that the virtual fence technology is not yet good enough to rely upon, so we need to build a physical barrier. But it's wrong -- one of those few actions that are always wrong -- to heap scorn upon a technological program because the early alpha-tests weren't entirely successful. Worse than wrong, it's foolish, Luddite, and short-sighted.

    By all means, build the physical double-fencing along the southern border with Mexico; but don't delude yourselves that that's all we need. Or that we'll never need the virtual fence. Or even that we'll actually be able to build an effective physical fence everywhere that we need to stop people from coming... or even along the entire southern border itself.

    The physical fence is a stopgap; we urgently need to do two things. As Caiaphas says in Jesus Christ Super Star, "We need a more permanent solution to our problem":

    1. Perfect the virtual-fence, smart-card, and employer verification technologies;
    2. Reform our own legal immigration system so that it is rational, just, and above all, predictable, to take the pressure of millions off the wall.

    When law-abiding, eager-to-assimilate immigrants see a system that tells them what they need do to be granted residency or citizenship, they will follow the legal brick road. Contrariwise, if they see a system that arbitrarily excludes them, while welcoming much less assimilable immigrants with open arms, the pressure to just give up and sneak into the country, making a better life for their wives and chilren, becomes overwhelming.

    (Imagine that you go through four or five years of university, passing all classes and tests; but at the end, somebody hands you a pair of dice... and you only get your diploma if you roll ten or higher.)

    Until these two problems are solved, a physical fence is just a very wide target for bombs -- and bombast.

    Hatched by Dafydd on this day, February 25, 2008, at the time of 10:09 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

    December 10, 2007

    Republicans "Stand Firm" on "Toning Down" Immigration Rhetoric?

    Immigration Immolations , Media Madness
    Hatched by Dafydd

    Another case of dueling headlines that demonstrates how the elite media can slant a story merely by picking and choosing what aspect to highlight.

    The New York Times: Republican Candidates Firm on Immigration.

    The Associated Press: GOP Hopefuls Temper Anti-Immigrant Talk

    Both articles actually say more or less the same thing, that Republican presidential candidates at the Univision debate held last night in Miami (in both Spanish and English via simultaneous translation) avoided the use of harsh rhetoric and name-calling -- but stood firm on the policy of interdicting illegal immigration into the United States. Nevertheless, the foci of the two stories are worlds apart.

    The Times focused on making Republicans look like anti-Hispanic bullies and panderers:

    In front of what will probably be their most pro-immigration audience, Republican candidates toned down their rhetoric but told Spanish-language television viewers in a debate on Sunday that they would take strong measures to close off the country’s borders to illegal immigration.

    The candidates were forced into a difficult balancing act by the debate, broadcast on Univision, as they tried to offend neither the Hispanic audience nor the Republican base many of them have tried to appeal to by taking a hard line on illegal immigration. The topic has led to some of the fiercest rhetoric in past debates....

    They sandwiched their remarks between gauzy paeans to legal immigration and the values of immigrants.

    By contrast, AP takes a totally different tack. They emphasize the softened language and don't even mention the firmness against illegal immigration until the second graf:

    The Republican presidential candidates sought to embrace Hispanics in a Spanish language debate Sunday, striving to mark common ground with a growing voter bloc while softening the anti-illegal immigration rhetoric that has marked their past encounters.

    The candidates avoided the harsh exchanges and name-calling of their most recent debate, while still emphasizing the need for border security and an end to illegal immigration. The polite debate came less than four weeks before the first votes are cast in Iowa and amid a topsy-turvy race in which former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee has bolted to the lead in the state.

    AP goes on to quote a bushel of lauditory remarks the candidates made about Hispanics:

    "Hispanic-Americans have already reached great heights in America. I saw that in my city. They pushed us to be better," Giuliani said. "They're coming here to be Americans and they're making us better by being here in America."

    Added Romney: "This is the land of the brave and the home of the free, and Hispanics are brave and they are free, as are all the people of this great nation."

    ...And only then notes that all of the candidates (except Lonely Ron Paul) nevertheless stressed that they cannot support what they like to call "amnesty."

    But in the Times version, we discover mean, bitter Republicans who hate Hispanics:

    Mitt Romney, who was an outspoken critic of the proposed immigration law and who sent out a mailing on the subject last week with a chain-link fence on the cover, was forced to again defend himself for employing a lawn service that used illegal workers at his home in Massachusetts, where he was governor.

    At the debate, Mr. Romney, who once said on Fox News that he would tell illegal immigrants to “go home,” used a different tone to describe his policy....

    “When we have control of our borders, when we preserve the legality of immigration, we can then turn to the people who are here, we can have them get the tamperproof ID cards, and the people that come forward and sign up, they can pay taxes,” he said. The people who do not do that, he said, “should be expelled from the United States.”

    Mr. Huckabee, who has voiced compassion for illegal immigrants and who has had to defend a proposal he supported as governor of Arkansas to offer taxpayer-financed scholarships to the children of illegal immigrants, recently issued a proposal that focuses on strict penalties for illegal immigration. At the debate he said the illegal immigrants should go “to the back, not the front of the line,” and said they should start the process by going back to their native countries.

    Finally, both articles noted that Rudy Giuliani (and, per AP but not the Times, John McCain), in response to a question of what he would say to Oogo Chavez, quipped that he agreed with the suggestion by King Juan Carlos of Spain -- who told Chavez, "¿Porque no te callas?" ("why don't you shut up?").

    But while AP article continued a bit longer, discussing a few other topics that the debate had touched upon, the Times ended its article on that snippy (but wholly justified) note, implying that the entire debate was about nothing but immigration, legal and il-.

    So there you have it, a textbook case of how to write an article that changes the entire thrust of an event by selectively emphasizing one aspect or a different one. Bear this in mind the next time you crack open your local paper -- online or off-.

    Hatched by Dafydd on this day, December 10, 2007, at the time of 4:55 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

    October 10, 2007

    Don't Throw Illegals in That Breyer Patch

    Immigration Immolations , Injudicious Judiciary
    Hatched by Dafydd

    A San Francisco-based federal judge, who grew up in San Francisco, a graduate of UC Berkeley's Boalt Hall Law School, former Watergate prosecutor, who worked as a counsel at the Legal Aid Society in San Francisco for his first job as an actual lawyer, has put the kibosh on a crazy scheme to send letters to businesses warning them about employees whose Social Security numbers don't match their names.

    See if you can guess which recent president appointed Judge Charles Breyer, younger brother of you-know-who, to the bench.

    Breyer said the new work-site rule would likely impose hardships on businesses and their workers. Employers would incur new costs to comply with the regulation that the government hasn't evaluated, and innocent workers unable to correct mistakes in their records in the given time would lose their jobs, the judge wrote.

    "The plaintiffs have demonstrated they will be irreparably harmed if DHS is permitted to enforce the new rule," Breyer wrote.

    The so-called "no match" letters, including a Department of Homeland Security warning, were supposed to start going out in September but were held after labor groups and immigrant activists filed a federal lawsuit.

    Can someone please explain to me again why it will be good for the nation if social conservatives cast a "protest vote" for a third-party candidate in 2008, making it more likely that Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton Rodham (D-Carpetbag, 95%) will become President Hillary, thus getting to appoint the next three Supreme Court justices plus hundreds of other federal judges? Will her nominees be more like Justices Roberts and Alito -- or more closely resemble Judge Charles Breyer and his big brother Stephen?

    [P]laintiffs, which include the AFL-CIO, the American Civil Liberties Union and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, saw the decision as a significant victory against a program they believe would foster discrimination on the work site, lead to job losses by lawful employees and expose businesses to additional expenses and the fear of prosecution.

    Remember, we're only talking about DHS sending letters to businsses whose employee names don't match the Social Security number the businesses provided and warning those businesses that there are grim consequences for defying immigation law. I wonder how Judge Breyer would rule on a southern-border security fence?

    So the next time "anti-amnesty" conservatives demand to know why we're not enforcing the immigration regulations that are already on the books... rather than blaming Bush first, they should instead try asking Judge Breyer and the scores of other federal judges just like him, who see it as a terrible and unconstitutional burden that businesses be forced to make an effort to determine if their employees are legally allowed to work; that county precincts take at least a quick peek at some picture I.D. before allowing someone to vote; and that the Border Patrol attempt to, you know, guard the border.

    While beholdest conservatives the mote in Republicans' own eye, and beholdest not the Rock of Gibralter in the eye of the Democrats?

    Hatched by Dafydd on this day, October 10, 2007, at the time of 9:05 PM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

    September 23, 2007

    The Human Touch

    Immigration Immolations
    Hatched by Dafydd

    This post began life as a comment on Patterico's Pontifications; but as it grew and grew, it hatched into a full-blown post for Big Lizards instead. (Sorry, Patterico!) I was reading a post by PP guest poster DRJ about Colin Powell privileging "diversity" over national security in visa applications:

    The State Department under Secretary of State Colin Powell refused to implement a 2003 anti-terror recommendation that would have barred aliens from states that support terrorism from obtaining diversity visas....

    America must show compassion for people in need of asylum but, after 9/11, I hoped the American government would show compassion for the home folks, too.

    One commenter named Steve took issue with the tone of the post, which seemed to favor a blanket restriction on visa applications under the "diversity" category for immigrants from countries that sponsor terrorism. He wrote:

    I work next to one of those 3,100 Iranians, M-F.

    Should I tell her something for you?

    We also let in many thousands more during the Shah’s regime, and probably didn’t check their politics in any meaningful way.

    The argument boiled down to a procedural difference: Should immigrants from terrorist-sponsoring countries be barred from "diversity" visas, forcing them to tread the more heavily restricted route of "asylum" applications? (Cf., some months ago, during the great immigration-reform debate, Hughitt opined that illegal immigrants from terrorist-supporting countries be banned from obtaining the so-called "parole cards" that would prevent them being deported while they attempted to legalize. Reading over my response, I see that I made essentially the same suggestion in that case as in this... so it turns out I'm consistent. Go figure.)

    But the particular policy itself is not the issue, says I; it really doesn't matter which category we admit or reject them under, or even how many such immigrants we allow into the country. As with virtually everything else in the world, what matters is not so much the policy but how it's applied: We should admit all those applicants, no matter where from, who will benefit the United States... and keep out all those who will hurt us.

    The question, then, is how to discriminate between the two. Humanitarians make a good point that immigrants fleeing from terrorist-sponsoring states -- think of Jews escaping from Lebanon and Christians fleeing Sudan -- are often exactly the sort of assimilable immigrant to whom we should grant asylum, and that many -- those who fled Communism in the past -- have made some of the best Americans.

    In addition, I would note that they make excellent intelligence and linguistic sources, since few native-born Americans have native-level facility with Farsi, Urdu, Pashtun, Turkish, or even Arabic. (We have many more who can speak Korean, of course.) And not many of us know what it's like to live in countries like Indonesia, Yemen, or Somalia... what the mood of the people is, how they might respond to clandestine American operations, and how close to revolution they might be.

    But conservatives also have a strong argument: Immigrants from terrorist-sponsoring nations are a potential threat; I can easily imagine Ahmadinejad mocking up a refugee background for a Qods Force operative who then "flees" to America to escape "persecution," preparing to attack us instead.

    But perhaps the problem is that, as usual, we're looking for a one-size-fits-all policy for a multifaceted situation. We're trying to set up the perfect set of procedures, from airline security to visa applications, that will keep us safe.

    But it's a fool's errand; our strength is not in our procedures but our people... and today, I think it unquestionable that America has the most experienced military and civilian-defense workers in the world. Those who have actually worked on the ground in the hell-holes of the world are particularly asute at distinguishing between someone who is sincere about wanting to help and a terrorist trying to infiltrate the ranks. It's a tremendous national resource, and we're letting it lie fallow.

    For a long time now, Israel has urged us to follow their lead on interdicting terrorism. Rather than rely upon "foolproof" procedures, like x-raying everyone's shoes at the airport, Israel relies instead upon her own people. The government has trained a huge bunch of human agents to be extraordinarily good at two tasks:

    • Recognizing any one of some number of faces they have memorized, the faces of known or suspected terrorists;
    • Spotting suspicious behavior, demeanor, or conversation, even among people not on the watch list.

    These agents roam around anywhere that terrorists are likely to congregate: airports, bus stations, malls, theaters, government buildings, and so forth. They look like ordinary people... but like cops, they're very, very good at noticing either weird behavior or spotting someone on a watch or wanted list.

    The Israelis say that real, live, well-trained human beings do a better job of preventing terrorism than any number of passive procedures. Of course, they don't have to worry so much about, e.g., allegations of racial profiling; even so, American police officers rely heavily on their own and other officers' intuition... which is one-word shorthand for a cop's ability to notice aberrant situations and investigate more thoroughly, calling in backup as necessary.

    I think we should evaluate each visa application, whether under the "asylum" or "diversity" category, on an individual basis; and that the evaluation be performed not by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) alone, but by a group within the wider Department of Homeland Security, each of whose members has personal experience both recruiting agents within terrorist-sponsoring countries and spotting terrorists trying to weasel their way into local or American projects.

    By personal experience, I mean people who have confronted terrorists on the ground in Iraq, Afghanistan, or elsewhere. Both soldiers and civilians, government and private, operating in such terrorist killing fields either quickly develop the ability to accurately evaluate the intentions of those with whom they interact... or else they quickly die.

    I suggest that each of the thousands of members of this "visa evaluation group," male or female, be a "boots on the ground" military or civilian veteran of counterterrorism or counterinsurgency operations. I would include not only government employees but former private security employees, oil riggers, truck drivers, bankers, and even journalists -- if they actually moved out of the Green Zone and embedded with a military unit.

    Hire enough of them to do a thorough job with every applicant; it's expensive, but it's an urgent national-security issue. Pay them enough to lure them away from their previous employment, if necessary. Give them enough authority to make their decisions stick, at least until the president or a federal court overrules them. And give them enough oversight that they don't become petty tyrants: Make it a prestige, career-enhancing assignment from which you can get bounced for acts of neglect, partisanship, or stupidity... more like the "Special Forces" than the heavily politicized CIA.

    I agree with the Israeli approach, and I think this would resolve our conundrum: We should welcome immigrants from terror-sponsoring countries with open arms -- and stretched ears. We should rely for our security on investigatory interviews and background checks by men and women whose very lives, in the past, have depended upon their ability to make accurate judgments about people's real motivations.

    Hatched by Dafydd on this day, September 23, 2007, at the time of 3:41 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

    July 10, 2007

    Is "Treasonous" Really Milder Than "Nativist?"

    Congressional Calamities , Immigration Immolations , Opinions: Nasty, Brutish, and Shortsighted
    Hatched by Dafydd

    A quick drive-by...

    Hugh Hewitt never tires of telling us that it was the supporters of the immigration bill who tore the GOP apart by their inflammatory rhetoric. But how is one supposed to respond to anti-bill rhetoric like this? Here is Arizona State Representative Russell Pearce, speaking on last Saturday's Beltway Boys:

    KONDRACKE: OK, did you -- I saw you quoted somewhere as saying that Jon Kyl and John McCain, the former prisoner of war and war hero, were traitors. Did you mean that to the country or how did you mean that?

    PEARCE: Well, that was taken out of context. What I talked about and have no regrets for is the bill that was run through Congress was treasonous. Actually, it was the sellout of America. It was amnesty to law breakers. It ignored the damages of the crime. It allowed gang bangers to stay here. It allowed convicted felons to stay here. It allowed terrorists to stay here.

    In fact, the bill explicitly excluded all three of those categories from consideration for provisional Z-visas. Someone could argue that the prohibition wasn't strong enough; but to say the bill "allowed" them to stay is a flat, vicious lie.

    However, I'm more interested in the fact that, according to Rep. Pearce, I am a traitor to my country, because I supported treason against the United States of America. I see no other way to read that, and the distinction he purports to draw is nonsense on stilts: By definition, anyone who supports treason is a traitor.

    I agree that many of the bill's supporters had ham-fisted tongues. But it's time that the bill's opponents acknowledge that the rhetoric of many on their own side was at least as vile, as vicious, as truth-impaired, and as divisive within the party as anything said by supporters.

    For heaven's sake, crying "treason!" is at least as egregious as calling someone a "nativist;" and there were plenty others, including other public office-holders, who did exactly that.

    Neither side had a monopoly on speaking the inexcusable, and neither side was an innocent victim. Until bill opponents admit that, we cannot "move on" and try to heal the wounds.

    Hatched by Dafydd on this day, July 10, 2007, at the time of 2:56 PM | Comments (19) | TrackBack

    June 28, 2007

    Spin City, Here We Come

    Elections , Immigration Immolations
    Hatched by Dafydd

    So, hardly surprising, the immigration reform bill is now dead. But before conservatives begin doing their best impersonation of Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Caesar's Palace, 90%) -- pumping their fists in the air and screaming "we killed the Patriot Act immigration reform!" -- we might want to think this through a bit more intelligently.

    As you know, I have supported this bill all along; but given the reality that it's dead and buried and not going to rise again until (at the earliest) 2009 (under a new Congress and a new president), I now shift gears to try to mitigate any harm the bill's failure may have on future Republican election chances.

    I know that some conservatives insist that killing the bill will have only positive effects; the whole country, weeping tears of gratitude, will rally around the Republican nominees in 2008 and elect a GOP president, Senate, and House. Please pardon me if I'm a bit skeptical that such a big chunk of the electorate is now cheering for the Republican congressmen who heroically skewered immigration reform... I suppose anything's possible, but I doubt it; and that's certainly not how the media are spinning the defeat.

    I believe there is a potential for a serious downside effect among Hispanic voters, who have become an increasingly important and volatile share of voters: Ronald Reagan got about 50% of the Hispanic vote in 1984, and I believe Bush got over 40% twenty years later... but those days are behind us, and we'd be darned lucky to get 30% in 2008.

    But since I believe people mostly make their own luck, we need to position the defeat of this bill in such a way that we make it much more likely we'll get 30% -- which could still make it possible to win -- than, say, 15%, which would mean a stunning Democratic sweep of both houses of Congress and the presidency. (In which case, kiss goodbye to the war against global jihadism and start pining for the Bush tax rate, the 109th Congress's spending restraint, and even the border security fence.)

    The elite media have already started their own spin cycle. AP's version of "the story":

    President Bush's immigration plan to legalize as many as 12 million unlawful immigrants while fortifying the border collapsed in the Senate on Thursday, crushing both parties' hopes of addressing the volatile issue before the 2008 elections.

    The Senate vote that drove a stake through the delicate compromise was a stinging setback for Bush, who had made reshaping immigration laws a central element of his domestic agenda. It could carry heavy political consequences for Republicans and Democrats, many of whom were eager to show they could act on a complex issue of great interest to the public.

    The Washington Post version:

    The vote was a major defeat for President Bush, dealt largely by members of his own party. The president made a last-ditch round of phone calls this morning to senators in an attempt to rescue the bill, but with his poll numbers at record lows, his appeals proved fruitless. Bush has now lost what is likely to be the last, best chance at a major domestic accomplishment for his second term.

    Chicago Tribune (from "the Swamp," whatever that is):

    For President Bush, who invested much of what little political capital he had remaining in the effort to get the bill through the Senate, it was perhaps his last chance of his presidency for a significant domestic legislative accomplishment, further accentuating his lame duck status.

    Well, you get the idea; it's divide and conquer: The Democrats and their willing accomplices in the media desperately want Republicans to start attacking Bush on every occasion, setting elements of the party at each other's throat. The New York Times wasn't too bad; but many other media sources have already spun this as a terrible defeat of the impotent, lame-duck president and a victory by hard-core, right-wing conservatives. And sadly, some of the relentless attacks on the president from conservatives have been harsher than anything published in the MSM.

    To be fair, harsh attacks have come in the other direction as well, particularly from Sens. John McCain (R-AZ, 65%), Lindsay Graham (R-SC, 83%), and Trent Lott (R-MS, 88%). They need to knock off the bitterness, link arms, and hotly defend all those areas where they agree with other conservatives (which in McCain's case may well be just the war!) But for both sides of the GOP, the "first rule of holes" applies. And we cannot hope to win in 2008 by attacking our own president.

    Honestly, people, this is not how you win an election. Too many conservatives are pointing to the election in France of Nicholas Sarkozy, proclaiming that the way for Republicans to win in 2008 is to campaign against President Bush, to be even more stridently anti-Bush than the Democrats will be. As a campaign strategy, this is absolute nutter stuff.

    The Sarkozy analogy doesn't work at all; Sarkozy didn't win because he decided to attack Jacques Chirac; he decided he had to attack Chirac because Chirac, along with hand-picked successor and prime minister, Dominique de Villepin, had embraced policies much closer to the Socialists than the conservatives (the dominant party at this time, the UMP -- Union for a Popular Movement -- contains elements of both Left and Right); and Chirac's policies, especially economic, were in tatters. But Bush has never, as a general policy, embraced "the Democratic wing of the Democratic Party," as Sen. Paul Wellstone used to put it.

    In the last presidential election in France:

    • Sarkozy won because he was running against a proud Socialist, Ségolène Royal, who edged close to Communism in some of her insane proposals.
    • Sarkozy won because the French, especially Parisians, felt themselves under seige by Moslem "youths" in their own country, with daily riots and 20,000 cars torched every year.
    • Sarkozy won because the French economy is in a shambles due to the Socialist policies of (among others) Chirac in his second term (he was more conservative the first time around).
    • And Sarkozy had to run against Chirac, because the latter had completely tied himself to the Socialist Left... probably because he so feared Sarkozy himself.

    Jacques Chirac led the opposition to anything America did to combat radical Islamism, while Sarkozy rightly understood that the West had to unite against al-Qaeda. Chirac (former member of the Communist Party), in his second term, embraced the Socialists' economic plans, including the 35-hour week and virtual ban on firing anyone, even for incompetence. Finally, Chirac is well known to be utterly corrupt; were it not for the immunity granted to French presidents, he would have been indicted years ago.

    But President Bush has done none of the above. On a couple of issues (notably immigration reform and affirmative action), he has tried to bridge the gap between Left and Right. But on most issues, especially the most important -- federal judges (which is paying major dividends right now), taxes, the war against global jihadism, reforming entitlement programs, abortion, stem cell research, faith-based initiatives, and at least recently, congressional spending -- he is firmly on the side of conservatives.

    Sarkozy considered most of the government initiatives of the last five years a complete failure; since they were all intimiately tied with President Jacques Chirac, of necessity, Sarkozy had to run against him.

    But conservative Republicans, no matter how angry they are at Bush today, in fact agree with nearly all of his major initiatives:

    • Aggressively fighting the war, expanding and rebuilding the military, and trying to transform it into a 21st-century fighting force;
    • Lowering taxes and making the cuts permanent;
    • Security measures such as the Patriot Act, the NSA al-Qaeda intercept program, the SWIFT surveillance program, National Security Letters, and so forth;
    • Allowing faith-based organizations to fully participate in charitable governmental functions;
    • Reform of Social Security, MediCare, and other entitlement programs to introduce at least some element of privatization;
    • The various border-security and employer-enforcement provisions of the recently killed immigration bill, all of which Bush supports (and none of which the Democrats support);
    • Appointing federal judges who believe in judicial restraint;
    • Firm opposition to abortion and embryonic stem-cell research, particularly federal funding;
    • Unwavering support for traditional marriage and opposition to same-sex "marriage".

    The areas of disagreement, while often intense, are dwarfed by the areas of complete agreement; and in one of the areas of disagreement, federal spending, Republicans are just as complicit as the president and hardly in a position to throw stones.

    We now invoke the Big Lizards self-evident article of common electoral sense: You cannot run in favor of the president's policies -- and simultaneously run against the president as an incompetent booby. If he's a booby, then his policies would be boobish... which makes you a booby for supporting them!

    This poses no problem for Democrats: They call Bush an idiot, they call his policies idiotic, and they vehemently oppose both. But Republicans intend to run on most of the ideas above; they intend to point to the truly great economy as an example of Republican principles in operation; they intend to vigorously pursue the "Bush Doctrine" of holding sovereign nations accountable for what they allow terrorist groups to do on their soil, and suchlike.

    How do you manage all that while "running against the president?"

    The long and the tooth of it is that Republicans can only win by embracing President Bush... even while disagreeing on a few subjects important to them. In fact, even in areas where they disagree -- such as immigration -- it's political suicide to attack Bush's motives, his integrity, or to tie him too closely to Democrats... which I've seen a lot of in the past couple of months.

    Folks may differ about what path to take; but John Cornyn (R-TX, 96%), Jon Kyle (R-AZ, 92%), and certainly President Bush have the same goal in mind: To drastically reduce illegal border crossings and overstaying of visas, allow in sufficient people willing to work at jobs that most Americans shun, and fundamentally reform the legal immigration policy to entice immigrants who are more assimilable and less likely to pose security threats.

    Conservatives killed the bill because they believed it would not move us towards those goals; but the president pushed it because he thought it would -- not because he wants to flood the country with illegals and create an "open border" society. Republicans must not be seduced by a wish-fulfillment theory of the French election, lest we slay any chance of retaining the White House and recapturing one or both houses of Congress.

    We might survive conservatives killing comprehensive immigration reform; but we would not survive conservatives polishing off the entire legacy of Pesident George W. Bush.

    Hatched by Dafydd on this day, June 28, 2007, at the time of 5:34 PM | Comments (37) | TrackBack

    June 23, 2007

    The Borjas Objection: Immigrants Just Steal American Jobs and Depress Wages

    Immigration Immolations
    Hatched by Dafydd

    The George Borjas blogpost that John Hinderaker linked in his post on the economics of illegal immigration argues that immigration in general (not just illegal immigration) costs American workers much more in wages than it benefits America (all the benefits go to rich industrialists, he seems to believe). He claims to demonstrate this by comparing two formulas, both of which he crafted -- one for cost, the other for benefit -- and finding that the former is many times more than the latter.

    The problem with Borjas's argument is threefold:

    1. The ratio of wage losses to gains to the economy is artifactual... it derives entirely from the way he constructs his formulas.

    It turns out that no matter how many foreign-born workers there are, what the GDP is, what percent of earnings are paid to workers, or what level he attaches to "wage elasticity" (which is the ability of a business to respond to higher wages by firing workers and vice versa), his formulas will always yield a ratio of wage loss to economic gain equal to exactly twice the ratio between the percent of native-born workers and the percent of foreign-born workers.

    (See the "slither on" for the actual formulas. If you're really interested.)

    Thus, if 85% of the population is native born, while 15% is foreign born, the ratio between the two is 85 divided by 15, or 5.67; and Borjas's formulas will always claim that immigrants create wage losses 11.33 times as large as whatever economic gains they produce for the country (which, along with the wage losses, drop as profits into the pockets of CEOs).

    This sets up a perfect reductio ad absurdum: Suppose a bunch of Indian programmers immigrate here from Bangalore and create a number of new businesses; the new businesses hire lots and lots of progammers, testers, marketing people, salesmen, managers, and administrative personnel (both native-born Americans and immigrant Americans).

    By the Borjas Theorem, these new companies and all the new hires will massively depress wages for everyone.

    Yeah. That makes sense.

    1. Borjas's base assumptions are purely static: he assumes that immigrants will in no way increase the gross domestic product (GDP) of the United States, alter the percent of GDP that goes to paying wages, or in any way affect the ability of a business to hire or fire workers in response to wage changes.

    This too flies in the face of our experience: The GDP grows; as it expands, and as new products, services, and entire industries come on line, the percent that goes to paying wages fluctuates up and down; and some industries can have a high wage elasticity, whereas others (such as service industries) cannot afford to let employees go and must instead pass along wage increases in the form of price hikes to consumers. None of these variables is invariant (which is why I call them "variables").

    In particular, Borjas treats the GDP as if it were an invariant measurement that neither grows nor shrinks. That is, he assumes from the start that immigrants will never help "make a bigger pie," and every gain by an immigrant must produce a corresponding loss by a native.

    Naturally, with such assumptions, Borjas can easily prove that immigration in general -- not just illegal immigration -- is a terrible thing for America. (Amusingly enough, Borjas is himself an immigrant from Cuba.)

    The oddest thing about Borjas' estimates is not that he (invariably) estimates that immigration is a huge net loser for American workers, but the reason why... which he displays, perhaps inadvertently, in this passage. Here he attacks another economist's more positive calculation of gain and loss:

    This is all based on a particular economic model--and obviously the answers are sensitive to the underlying assumptions. The CEA, in fact, reports an alternative set of estimates (in the $30 to $80 billion range) based on calculations of the wage impact made by economists Gianmarco Ottaviano and Giovanni Peri (here). But that model also faces various difficulties:

    1. The higher benefits result entirely from accounting for the possibility that immigrants increase the productivity of natives who have the same education and work experience (although the importance of this point is often glossed over). In other words, the immigration of high school dropouts who are 30 years old makes natives who are high school dropouts and 30 years old more productive! Put bluntly, young low-skill immigrants made young low-skill African-American construction workers more productive. Maybe--but just think about it for a second. Wouldn't most people be skeptical about this?

    But this "difficulty" is, in fact, the fundamental thesis of Capitalism: that competition increases productivity. And no, I do not believe most Americans are "skeptical" about the efficacy of Capitalism; it has a pretty good track record here. (None of this applies to Buchananites, of course.)

    Borjas appears to believe that all the benefits of both immigration and also the huge "wage loss" went to fat-cat corporate owners, while the workers suffered massive losses every year; I of course have no idea what his political affiliation may be, but he is arguing classical Marxism -- that because workers are alienated from their produce, they will not respond to competition by stepping up their game. Is this really the expert upon whom John Hinderaker wants to rely?

    Certainly, empirical data indicates that the Ottaviano-Peri model of the economics of immigration is a better fit than Borjas's model: Over the past hundred years, we have experienced a staggering increase in immigration; by the Borjas model, native-born workers should have suffered a correspondingly staggering loss of wages.

    But instead, they have benefited from a huge rise in average wages per capita, even adjusted for inflation: Every category of worker makes more today than corresponding workers did in 1907, in constant dollars. And in fact, there are a lot more wage-earners today than ever before... so total wages are vastly greater than a century ago. How does that comport with the theorems?

    Clearly, there is something terribly wrong with the Borjas model; it's even less predictive than the "general circulation models" of the global-warming alarmists! At what point must a theorist be required to come out of his cave and see how his ideas mesh with the real world?

    But there is a third bizarre assumption that Borjas must have made:

    1. Borjas assumes that immigrants are basically unskilled, wage-earning workers when they arrive -- and remain unskilled wage-earners until they retire. Thus, the arrival of new unskilled workers hurts all existing immigrants.

    What else can one conclude by reading his next blogpost on the issue and stumbling across this passage?

    But they completely ignored the fact that the same complementarities that supposedly help natives also hurt immigrants, and by quite a bit. In other words, the CEA uses a strange definition of who “we” are: including only native-born workers and ignoring the millions of immigrants already here who are affected by yet more immigrants. This choice is not one that is typically made in the academic studies the CEA borrows from. In recent studies, the simulation usually examines the impact of a particular immigrant influx (say, the 1990-2000 arrivals) on the wage of workers present in the United States in 1990, regardless of where those workers were born.

    Had the CEA taken the immigrant losses into account, the Bush administration would have had to report that the net gains from immigration for the pre-existing population are equal to.......ZERO!

    But in reality, over time, immigrants do not simply remain at whatever job level they were when they arrived; a huge precent of them improve their job skills and move up to more demanding jobs for higher wages. They are not threatened by new unskilled laborers arriving every year.

    And even worse for his theorem, many immigrants open their own businesses and become capitalists! These businesses can be as small as a "gypsy" cab driver or a Mom & Pop carniceria -- or as big as a giant software company or an aerospace military contractor. They hire many, many people (my last job was as a technical writer for a software company owned by Indian immigrants), which increases the total amount of wages paid. How is the immigrant owner of a hotel damaged by the arrival of new immigrants eager to become hotel maids and busboys?

    Borjas does not just play games with statistics; he tortures them until they confess whatever he wants to believe. The idea that immigration, wages, and the GDP are all zero-sum -- that any gain must generate a corresponding loss, that an immigrant who gets a job picking strawberries therefore displaces a previous person picking strawberries (immigrant or native) and depresses the strawberry-picking wage to boot, is simply absurd... and is belied by the continuing rampage of GDP growth that we have enjoyed for the past many decades.

    We need more and more immigrants because jobs are being generated by our economy faster than Americans are breeding. If there are million new jobs created in a year (an underestimate, by the way), but only 600,000 new American-born workers to fill them (an overestimate -- we're breeding at exactly replacement rate, no more)... then why would importing 400,000 more immigrant workers depress wages?

    The jobs are there to be filled; that's why we have such low unemployment. There is no labor surplus; if anything, there is a growing labor shortage, which is why wages are rising.

    Borjas sums up his anti-immigration, anti-capitalist thesis:

    Imagine the headlines had the CEA reported that immigration during the 1990s led to a $3,333 drop in the average earnings of pre-existing immigrants! This is not the spin the White House was looking for, but it is a direct implication of the spin they did put out. What an inconvenient truth!

    I wonder if the compassionate conservatives will shed a tear about the huge wage losses suffered by pre-existing immigrants.

    Where are all the wage losses that Borjas predicts as a result of immigration? We have more immigration than any other country on Planet Earth; but our wages have steadily risen, in real dollars, over the years. Even for "pre-existing immigrants." What on earth is Borjas talking about?

    Is he using some bizarre economics jargon, where "huge wage losses" actually means "significant wage increases?" If so, then I certainly understand why economics is called the "dismal science."

    Addendum: The Borjas Theorems

    Here are his two formulas. We define the variables thus:

    L = labor's share of income; E = wage elasticity; F = % of foreign born workers; N = % of native-born workers.

    Economic gain from immigration = 0.5 x L x E x F²

    Economic loss from immigration = L x E x F x N

    The ratio of loss/gain must therefore = 2N/F, and both other terms (L and E) cancel out. Since Borjas estimates N = 0.85 and F = 0.15, this always produces a loss over gain ratio of 11.3, regardless of any values of L, E, or (static) GDP. The formula is deliberately crafted to always show a wage loss from immigration that completely swamps any economic gain.

    Hatched by Dafydd on this day, June 23, 2007, at the time of 3:22 AM | Comments (14) | TrackBack

    June 22, 2007

    Bride of Picking a Blog Feud - Power Line

    Blogomania , Immigration Immolations
    Hatched by Dafydd

    Constituting my second attempt to get myself drummed out of the blogle corps and to have my epaulets painfully ripped off...

    My favorite blogger (John Hinderaker) at my favorite blogsite (Power Line) just "penned" (all right, keyed, phosphored, whatever) a post taking the Bush administration to task for releasing a study by the Council of Economic Advisors of the economic effect of immigrants on the United States, which they found to be strongly positive; John's complaint is that it didn't specifically break out the effect of illegal immigrants from those of legal immigrants.

    His underlying (unstated) thesis appears to be that, since illegal immigrants are probably a net negative, we shouldn't pass the immigration bill:

    My biggest concern about allowing millions of illegal immigrants to remain in this country, while permitting many more to enter via a guest worker program--or further illegality, which, having been forgiven once again, will no doubt be encouraged--is its impact on the wages of relatively unskilled American labor.

    Please pardon my puzzlement, but isn't this a raging non-sequitur? Nothing facially in the immigration bill would increase illegal immigration, or even increase it relative to legal immigration. John makes an attempt to find a logical connection; but he relies upon a logical fallacy called "begging the question," or assuming that which was to be proved: "further illegality, which, having been forgiven once again, will no doubt be encouraged."

    No doubt? I find a great deal of doubt.

    I have never once seen any study that showed that the 1986 amnesty (which really was an amnesty, unlike this bill) actually caused illegal immigration to increase. Yes, we estimate many more illegal immigrants here today than in 1986; but "post hoc ergo propter hoc" is another logical fallacy. There are many explanations that have not yet been addressed or filtered out:

    • Attempted legal immigration has risen dramatically, perhaps due to increased instability following the collapse of the Soviet empire; that alone may explain a good portion of the increase in illegal immigration, as more people rejected may decide to come anyway.
    • The strength of the American economy relative to the rest of the world -- the "world income gap" -- soared during the the last 20 years, due mostly to the dawn of the computer age, which benefited us far more than Europe or the Third World. A greater economic gap between, say, Latin America and the United States, coupled with an overall immigration quota that did not keep up with demand, would of course lead to more illegal immigration.
    • Immigration laws (de jure or de facto) may have become more arbitrary and less predictable, leading to more immigrants choosing to jump the border.
    • We may well have massively underestimated the number of illegals here in 1986; the census did not specifically try to count illegals until 2000. Where did the 3-4 million estimate then come from? Where does the 12 million estimate now come from?

    No research has ever been done, so far as I know, to determine whether post-1986 illegals have ever even heard of the 1986 amnesty. If they don't know about it, how could it have impacted their decision to sneak into the country?

    Another point that John fails to address: The most important (in my opinion) element of the current immigration bill changes our legal immigration policy to favor the well-trained, highly educated, and more assimilable immigrants at the expense of the lower-tier immigrants and their extended families. For the very first time ever, the United States would pick and choose immigrants based upon the likelihood that they will contribute to America.

    John quotes the study he attacks to show a huge difference between the economic impact of such high-value immigrants (HVIs) and the unskilled laborers (ULs) who are favored under the current system:

    Conflating these two groups is completely pointless. No one has ever doubted that Ph.D.s in math, biology and physics contribute to our economy. The report acknowledges this obvious fact. For example, with respect to the impact of immigration on government finance:

    From this long-run point of view, the NRC [National Research Council] study estimated that immigrants (including their descendants) would have a positive fiscal impact--a present discounted value of $80,000 per immigrant on average in their baseline model (in 1996 dollars). The surplus is larger for high-skilled immigrants ($198,000) and slightly negative for those with less than a high school degree (-$13,000).

    This creates a strong prima facie case that the benefit to our economy from legally bringing in a greater percentage of HVIs than ULs would far outweigh the disadvantage of an increased population of illegals, who most likely would be primarily ULs. The argument depends critically upon the exact number of "extra" HVIs and ULs, which nobody claims to know at this time.

    But the system set in place by the immigration bill is also much more flexible than the current system: Because the new system would award points for various characteristics of potential immigrants, it would be easy enough to adjust the points to favor HVIs more, thus encouraging more of them to immigrate here.

    Much of John's negative assessment seems to center on the "guest worker" program, which would bring about 200,000 mostly ULs into the United States each year on a three-year rolling basis -- thus 600,000 total, with complete turnover every 3 years:

    My biggest concern about allowing millions of illegal immigrants to remain in this country, while permitting many more to enter via a guest worker program--or further illegality, which, having been forgiven once again, will no doubt be encouraged--is its impact on the wages of relatively unskilled American labor. The CAE report acknowledges the legitimacy of this issue:

    Fully 90% of US native-born workers are estimated to have gained from immigration. ***

    [B]ased on Chart one [the chart reproduced above], one might expect the remaining least-skilled natives to face labor market competition from immigrants. Evidence on this issue is mixed. Studies often find small negative effects of immigration on the wages of low-skilled natives, and even the comparatively large estimate reported in Borjas (2003) is under 10% for immigration over a 20 year period.

    This sounds disturbingly as if John argues that we should not allow immigrants to work at low-paid jobs in order to protect the native-born ULs who currently work in those jobs. This sounds an awful lot like labor protectionism, à la Pat Buchanan... which in other contexts John vehemently opposes. I don't think he has carefully thought through this argument.

    In any event, the final sentence of the paragraph that John quotes above is relevant and extremely important, and John should not have omitted it:

    The difficulties faced by high school dropouts are a serious policy concern, but it is safe to conclude that immigration is not a central cause of those difficulties, nor is reducing immigration a well-targeted way to help these low-wage natives.

    There are many legitimate reasons why someone could oppose this immigration bill, including:

    • A strong desire not to reward people who broke the law;
    • The belief that the punishment is too slight;
    • Suspicion that the immigration security enhancements won't be fully implemented or won't work as well as anticipated.

    But unless this study is completely wrong -- which one economist argues; I'll deal with the suspect Borjas objection in the next post -- the argument from economics is a lousy reason to oppose this bill; national economics actually supports some form of comprehensive immigration reform.

    Hatched by Dafydd on this day, June 22, 2007, at the time of 3:47 PM | Comments (18) | TrackBack

    June 14, 2007

    The Steyn Shine

    Immigration Immolations
    Hatched by Dafydd

    I always try to listen to Mark Steyn's weekly segment on Hugh Hewitt (Thursdays, first hour, first segment); we disagree on much, but he's such a joy to listen to because of the wit and the accent, which always make American me feel shabby and undereducated). Today I succeeded.

    But during his brief chat, Steyn made a claim that flummoxed me: He said that a little-known provision in the immigration bill (currently on hiatus) was that, as soon as the bill was signed (if resurrected), all legal immigrants, no matter where they are in the system, who arrived here after May 2005 -- millions of them -- would be forced to return to their home countries and start the application process over again from scratch.

    Steyn did not cite the provision that requires this.

    I searched through the provisions of the proposed bill but failed to find any such passage. (I did, however, find Title V, Section 511: POWERLINE WORKERS:

    Section 214(e) (8 U.S.C. 1184(e)) is amended by adding at the end the following new paragraph:

    '(7) A citizen of Canada who is a powerline worker, who has received significant training, and who seeks admission to the United States to perform powerline repair and maintenance services shall be admitted in the same manner and under the same authority as a citizen of Canada described in paragraph (2).'.

    So John, Scott, and Paul may safely hire Canadians for upkeep of their blogsite.)

    I would at least have expected Hugh to question this assertion and ask for some more facts; but he has chosen to absent him self to Walla Walla or Okefenokee or Chicago or some other God-forsaken wilderness. His anointed successor, Dean Barnett, is such a fanatic immigration-bill hater that he simply gasped and squealed in horror and sought no further clarification.

    Now, I have been following this debate since the beginning. I have neither seen nor heard of this provision before. It has not been reported in any news story I've seen. No opponent of the bill has trotted this out before, to my (admittedly not omniscient) knowledge. I haven't even seen any "immigrants' rights" organization make this claim.

    Does anybody here know what the heck Mark Steyn is talking about -- to the extent of actually giving me title and section, so I can look it up? If this is true, then of course it's a horrible, horrible section that should be eliminated by amendment -- and if not eliminated, would probably cause me to reconsider my support of the bill.

    But honestly, I have never even heard of this; and I have the unnerving sense that we have passed into the modus operandi argumentum where opponents simply invent any crazy provision and claim it resides somewhere in the bill, secure in the supposition that, as Barnett demonstrated, nobody will call their bluffs.

    Help me out here, please.

    Hatched by Dafydd on this day, June 14, 2007, at the time of 4:07 PM | Comments (30) | TrackBack

    June 10, 2007

    Hugh's Second Amendment

    Immigration Immolations
    Hatched by Dafydd

    Hugh Hewitt is trying to codify his two basic amendments that would make the immigration bill (currently on ice, pun noted) more acceptable to him.

    The first is his "let's do all the enforcement first, and only after everybody including all the conservative Republican majority in Congress agree that all the enforcement is finished can we even consider letting the minority Democrats have the scraps they want" proposal. I still find it surreal that he thinks Democrats -- who don't currently imagine themselves to be the powerless minority party -- will go for it.

    But leave that aside; I find more interesting his second amendment: the "no parole cards for anyone but illegal English, Canadian, Australian, or Latin American immigrants" proposal. Here it is in its (brief) entirety:

    (i)Treatment of Applicants whose primary language is not English or Spanish --

    (1)IN GENERAL -- At such time as the president certifies and the Congress by joint resolution agrees that the "Effective Date Triggers" of Section 1 of this act have been implemented, an alien may apply for Z nonimmigrant status. An alien whose primary language is neither English or Spanish who files an application for Z nonimmigrant status shall not be eligible for probationary benefits provided in Section 601(h). These aliens may apply for the Z nonimmigrant status, and will be granted such status upon a showing that

    (1) the alien is loyal to the United States and does not support any organization identified as supporting terror by the Department of State or the Department of Justice.

    (2) during the pendency of the background investigation into the loyalty of aliens covered by this section, such aliens may not be employed and may not leave the country or the state from which they have applied for Z nonimmigrant status except in such cases where an employer has requested a work authorization and has undertaken to file monthly reports on the status of the Z nonimmigrant applicant.

    All right, riddle me this: I understand how one can tell that an alien doesn't "support any organization identified as supporting terror," though of course the alien himself cannot show that -- it must be investigated by the authorities: If the alien's name and fingerprints don't show up anywhere linked to al-Qaeda, Hezbollah, or suchlike, then we assume he is as clean as Barack Obama. (Though I wonder with what alacrity the immigration authorities will move to investigate; will they trouble to do so at all? It would be awfully convenient to spare scarce resources by just letting all such non-English, non-Spanish applications sit in limbo forever.)

    But how on earth is anyone to show that "the alien is loyal to the United States?" Bear in mind that by definition, the alien has been living underground, hiding from the authorities -- who could deport him if they knew of his existence.

    Will opponents argue that the mere act of being here illegally demonstrates "disloyalty" to America? If so, then among those whose primary language is other than English or Spanish, the only illegal aliens eligible for a Z visa are those who are not illegal aliens.

    What other evidence could be adduced to prove "loyalty?" Illegals cannot serve in the military, they cannot vote, they cannot run for office. What would Hugh demand -- a lengthy written history of defending Israel and Jews and attacking jihad in their home countries before they left and came here?

    Also, why, exactly, does Hugh Hewitt have such animus for illegal immigrants who came here from Japan, from Norway, and even, alone among all Latin American countries, from Brazil? Somehow, Hugh has expanded his list of exclusions from parole cards from "illegal immigrants originating from countries with well-established jihadist movements" to "illegal immigrants whose primary language is neither English nor Spanish." I find it particularly risible that illegals from Brazil cannot get parole cards -- but illegals from Hugo Chavez's Venezuela and Castro's Cuba can!

    Not to mention that illegals from one specific country on the European continent do get access, while the others do not. Yet this one country, Spain, has perhaps the most active jihadist movement of any Western European country.

    For that matter, many Israelis' primary language is Hebrew, not English. It's a puzzling anti-jihad measure indeed that extends, with little scrutiny, the privileges of legal residency and a work permit to Communist Cuban illegals -- but not to Jewish Israeli illegals.

    I understand Hugh's motive: He wants to apply "special scrutiny" to potential jihadis. But the way he has crafted his amendment displays a frankly disturbing equation of language to privilege: Mexicans, Pervians, Venezuelans, and Cubans get special treatment; Europeans (except those from Spain, including Basque separatists and Moorish-descended Moslems still pining for "al-Andaluz"), Japanese, Taiwanese, South Koreans, and even Brazilians do not. And I don't see how it will help in the war effort at all, as the jihadis will simply accelerate their already extant program to recruit more Jose Padillas and Richard Reids (not to mention expand ever more aggressively into Chavezistan).

    I would propose instead that we take a leaf from the way Israelis have successfully protected their airports and El Al from terrorist attack for decades. They reject the absurdity of race-based, culture-based, or language-based profiling, which both denies individualism and has a weak spot a jihadist could find groping in the dark.

    Instead, we should hire and train a large number (several thousand) of USCIS employees whose job it is to scrutinize parole-card and Z visa applicants for behavioral clues that they might be jihadis... and then empower them to single such people out, put a hold on their applications, and order weeks or months of extra scrutiny before granting them.

    As the applicants are neither American citizens nor even legal residents -- they are in fact illegals -- I think a very good case can be made in court that anti-discrimination laws don't apply to them. Hugh must hold that same belief, as his own amendment requires it, too. Thus, there is no legal barrier to granting behavioral profilers the authority to freeze granting of parole cards to anyone they believe is acting suspiciously.

    The profilers would also -- as in Israel -- commit to memory the photographs of all those individuals we have already identified as jihadis, so they can spot them in a crowd and call security. They should also memorize known criminals... including Spanish- and English-speaking drug smugglers and other known undesirables. (The Israelis have done this for many, many years, and it has been 100% effective -- in the face of the most concerted terrorist campaign against airports and an airline in the history of the world, there have been no successful terrorist attacks there since the 1970s.) Scores of cameras feeding images to facial-recognition software can also help immeasurably in this task.

    And of course, any whose fingerprints are already on file and in our possession (from previous arrests, here or abroad) should be caught by the pattern-spotting software in the ICE system.

    That would be a far more effective method of guarding against jihadis or other gangsters or terrorsts getting residency and a work permit here (and, incidentally, far fairer -- though the former is much more important). Better still, it would not allow jihadis to easily skate past the additional scrutiny simply by learning really good Spanish.

    Hatched by Dafydd on this day, June 10, 2007, at the time of 1:13 PM | Comments (19) | TrackBack

    June 9, 2007

    Immigration as a GOP Talking Point in 2008

    Elections , Immigration Immolations , Presidential Campaign Camp and Porkinstance
    Hatched by Dafydd

    With the deep freeze of the immigration bill, spin season begins now. We cannot afford to wait until the Democrats establish the storyline that the immigration bill died because "Bush didn't push the radical right hard enough;" that would be politically catastrophic for Republicans candidates in the next election, branded as both extremist and feckless.

    The best position to take -- and the one that, coincidentally, is closest to the truth -- is that it was Senate Majority Leader Harry "Pinky" Reid (D-Caesar's Palace, 95%), a Democrat, who pulled the plug on the immigration bill... not because there wasn't enough enforcement, but because it was becoming clear that conservative Republicans were making headway in getting more enforcement into the bill.

    Democrats were upset at Sen. Ted Kennedy's (D-MA, 100%) deal to expand the list of criminal offenses that would bar illegals from getting a Z visa, which was the only reason that the similar but harsher amendment by Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX, 96%) was defeated. And there were upcoming amendments, e.g., to force the deportation of illegal aliens convicted of crimes within the United States after they served their sentences and a good shot at revisiting the issue of "sanctuary cities" -- either in this bill or (more likely) via other federal legislation. (I can picture the campaign Democrats would have to run against such a measure.)

    Republican supporters of the immigration bill were far more amenable to increased enforcement measures than were Democratic supporters; Republicans such as Sen. Jon Kyle (R-AZ, 92%) were the ones who insisted upon the strong enforcement measures in the bill in the first place, including the triggers. And judging from the mood of the country, Republicans might well have been able to increase the "trigger level" for the fence, for example, to construction of the entire thing, rather than just half, before any regularization could occur.

    The other element that most bothered conservatives was that the "Parole Cards" (as Kyl called the provisional Z visas) were open-ended: Once an illegal signed up and got one, there was no inherent pressure to upgrade to a full Z visa; the only pressure was that it was a necessary step for citizenship, so only those immigrants who ultimately wanted to become citizens were motivated to move any farther than a Parole Card.

    But with the pressure from not only Republicans but even Democrats and independent voters for much stronger border-security measures, I think it entirely possible -- especially as the bill worked its way through the House of Representatives -- that the Parole Card would have been given an expiry date, forcing illegals who received one to take steps towards actually undergoing the deeper background check, paying the larger fine, and having the head of the household leave the country in order to apply for the full Z visa (the alternative is to be deported when the Parole Card expires -- a strong incentive).

    Thus, any reasonable analysis of the bill is that, in order to pass through both the Senate and the House, it would have to become tougher on border security and enforcement in a number of ways.

    And the longer the process continued, the closer it got to passage, the more the onus would be on the majority party, the Democrats, to make whatever compromises and sacrifices were necessary to drag it over the finish line: With enough modifications, even former opponents like Sen. Cornyn and Rep. John Boehner (R-OH, 88%) could defend to their constituents. With the proper amendments, the bill would become very, very hard for Democrats to kill. (No, I don't mean an amendment to strip out everything but enforcement; that would be easy for the majority to kill without suffering any pain at the polls.)

    So I believe the Democrats were becoming increasingly worried about the monster they had created by allowing Kennedy to bulldoze them into agreeing to the enforcement measures, especially "triggers," in the first place. I suspect the Majority Leader was starting to think the Democrats had made a big mistake by starting this snowball rolling... and if they didn't find some opportunity to kill it, it would roll right over them in 2008.

    So Reid forced a pair of premature cloture votes, knowing that even Republican bill supporters would vote against them, since they had given their word to bill opponents to give them an opportunity to amend it. And when the second cloture vote failed -- even though it did much better than the first -- Reid seized the opportunity to pull the bill from consideration... and blame President Bush and the Republicans.

    I believe we must move quickly to prevent the Democrats from spinning this as some "failure" of the GOP. Let us make clear that the GOP was willing to embrace any level of security to make the bill palatable to voters... but it was the Democrats who panicked and yanked the bill in order to prevent future border-security amendments from passing.

    That leaves only one culprit for the failure of immigration reform... and he hails from Searchlight, Nevada.

    If the president is incapable of communicating this to the American people (likely), then it's up to the Republican candidates for president to stop attacking Bush and stop attacking those Republicans who supported this bill -- and instead fix the blame where it rightly belongs: On the Democrats who demanded a "grand deal" as their price for border security, then broke their word when it looked as though they might get more border security than they meant.

    Hatched by Dafydd on this day, June 9, 2007, at the time of 7:24 PM | Comments (21) | TrackBack

    June 7, 2007

    Republican Party Gets an Unexpected Mulligan - at Reid's Expense

    Congressional Calamities , Immigration Immolations
    Hatched by Dafydd

    Yesterday, we reported that there was a strong possibility that the immigration bill would go down... not because it was rejected by the Senate in an up-or-down vote, but because of the impatience of Senate Majority Leader Harry "Pinky" Reid (D-Caesar's Palace, 95%).

    Tonight it became official: The bill failed a second cloture vote -- with all but a handful of Republicans opposing the end of debate -- for the simple reason that bill opponents had been promised the right to offer amendments they thought would better the bill, and even GOP bill supporters intended to keep their word.

    The Democrats, however, demanded premature cloture... so even the main Republican defenders of the bill -- Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (KY, 84%), and Sens. John Kyl (AZ, 92%) and Trent Lott (MS, 88%) -- all voted to sustain the filibuster:

    Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) made a last-ditch offer to try to persuade GOP conservatives to whittle down their expansive list of amendments if Reid put off the procedure vote, but Reid declined. McConnell, Lott, and even Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.), the bill's chief GOP architect, voted to sustain the filibuster -- a measure of Republican frustration with what they saw as heavy-handed Democratic efforts to deprive Republicans of a chance for votes on the floor.

    Regardless, when the vast majority of Republicans (38 out of 45 voting) and a handful of Democrats insisted that the Senate continue considering amendments for a while longer, before silencing bill opponents (and proponents) with a cloture vote... Harry Reid shut down the process, pulling the bill from the agenda, most likely for the rest of the year.

    The bill had successfully fended off a bunch of poison pills, but one slipped through: an amendment by Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-ND, 95%) to sunset the entire guest worker program after 5 years. The amendment initially failed two weeks ago; but just after midnight Wednesday night, four Republican senators, including Jim DeMint (SC, %) and Jim Bunning (KY, %), changed their votes, leading to the amendment passing by a single vote, 49 to 48; DeMint and Bunning both admitted they changed their votes deliberately to kill the entire bill -- a "poison pill" indeed.

    The net effect, however, is to give the Senate a "mulligan," a do-over... which in practice will help the GOP far more than the Democrats. And it benefits Republican opponents and supporters alike of comprehensive immigration reform:

    • For those who oppose the bill, the benefit is obvious: The bill does not pass. It has been laid upon the table, and Harry "Pinky" Reid seems determined not to pick it up again for a long, long time... probably not until sometime in 2008, when the bill can be turned into a Democratic amnesty wish-fulfillment bill instead for campaign purposes.
    • But we supporters also benefit. The bill had generated such a toxic environment, with Republicans drawn into a circle to stab each other in the back viciously and repeatedly, that it threatened to split the party. Some seemed almost giddy at the thought of "bringing down" the GOP.

      Reid's impatience and arrogance gives us all a many-month-long "time out," during which more fence will be built and other subjects will come to the fore... subjects that bring Republicans together, such as support for our troops and extending the Bush tax cuts.

    So let us take great advantage of the breathing space that the (even more tone deaf than George Bush and Hugh Hewitt) majority leader gave us. Let's all just take a deep breath, calm down, forget about the immigration bill for a while... and can't we all just get along?

    Hatched by Dafydd on this day, June 7, 2007, at the time of 8:22 PM | Comments (80) | TrackBack

    June 6, 2007

    Immigration Bill Fends Off Poison Pills Left and Right

    Congressional Calamities , Immigration Immolations
    Hatched by Dafydd

    We've now entered the phase of immigration legislation where opponents offer "poison pill" amendments whose primary purpose is not to tweak the bill to make it better -- but to change it enough that it can no longer get majority support.

    Every controversial bill goes through this phase; it's traditional. And it's usually clear when a bill does, in fact, have majority support... those amendment votes fail.

    That is just what's happening now to the immigration-compromise bill; the coalition in the Senate is holding the line. In the last 24 hours, the Senate has rejected:

    • An amendment by Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX, 96%) that would have prevented legalization for illegal immigrants who had ever defied a deportation order or had committed any act of document fraud of identity theft... which of course would mean virtually all of them! This amendment was, essentially, to eliminate the Z visa for all but a small fraction of the 12 million; it was rejected 51 to 46.
    • An amendment by Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC, 100%) that would have required illegals to get health insurance (high-deductable) before allowing them to get Z visas; it was defeated 55 to 43. This wasn't exactly a poison pill, and arguably it has merit; but it would definitely have hit the poorest illegals very hard: Since they cannot get reasonably good jobs until after they get a Z visa, but they must buy health insurance before they get the visa and the job, it's rather a Catch-22. But perhaps an amendment requiring them to get health insurance within one year of getting the Z visa, on pain of having it revoked, might do better.
    • On the other side, an amendment by Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-NM, 100%) that would have removed the requirement that guest workers return to their home countries for a year in between each two-year stint of working here; that one went down by 57 to 41. This would have turned the guest workers into a permanent camp of foreign nationals parked here, defeating the purpose of requiring them to come, work, and leave again.

    Poison pills still in the batting cage:

    • A Democratic amendment to reinstate "family reunification" as the primary reason to allow immigrants to legally enter the country, rather than the point system (one amendment from, I think, Sen. Barack Obama, D-IL, 95%, would actually sunset the point system after five years; but I don't know if that has already been voted on);
    • Another flurry of Republican amendments to deny legalization to those who have been officially deported but haven't left.

    One amendment that passed was by Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-MA, 100%); it adds several crimes to the list of those that would permanently bar legalization. Z visas were already made unavailable to illegal immigrants who had committed serious felonies, including violent felonies; the Kennedy amendment, designed to give political cover to Republicans to vote against the Cornyn poison pill, would add domestic violence (presumably even if it was only a misdemeanor), non-felon sex offenders (felonious sex offenders were already barred), and gang members, even those not convicted of any crime -- at least, that is how it reads in the Times article (I haven't read the text of the amendment). This amendment passed by 66 to 32, so it clearly had bipartisan support.

    I am quite convinced that unless Majority Leader Harry "Pinky" Reid (D-Caesar's Palace, 90%) pulls the plug on the whole shebang -- which he has threatened to do -- it will pass the Senate. The House is much dicier, of course; we won't have a good idea there until after the first blizzard of amendments.

    Senate Majority Leader Reid has threatened to lay the entire bill on the table (that is, kill it) if it doesn't pass a cloture vote immediately -- which it likely would not; the bill's supporters (on both sides) have promised opponents more time to offer amendments... presumably in exchange for subsequent support, whether their pet amendments pass or are rejected (that's usually the way it works):

    Mr. Reid’s assessment that the Senate was making progress was important, because he said on Tuesday that the chamber would vote Thursday on whether to limit debate on the bill, a process called cloture that requires 60 votes to succeed. If the cloture vote fails, the bill could be blocked indefinitely by a filibuster. Mr. Reid said he would pull the bill from consideration if he fails to get the necessary votes.

    The majority leader said he wanted to complete work on the legislation this week, and he suggested that Republicans were trying to stall the bill with amendments.

    “When is enough enough?” he asked, asserting that Republicans were looking for excuses to kill the bill. His announcement provoked an outcry both from Republican supporters and Republican opponents of the compromise bill, who said the Senate needed more time.

    Senator Jon Kyl of Arizona, the chief Republican architect of the bill, said “it would be a big mistake” to try to invoke cloture this week.

    “A motion to cut off debate would be an extreme act of bad faith,” Mr. Kyl said, and he asserted on Tuesday afternoon that “we are not anywhere near finishing this bill.”

    The Senate Republican leader, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, said, “The overwhelming majority of our conference would insist on having additional days to make sure that all of our important amendments have been given an opportunity to be considered.”

    Even Senator Mel Martinez, Republican of Florida, a strong supporter of the bill, said, “I would not support cloture at this point because I don’t think that enough of our members have had an opportunity to have their amendments heard.”

    If, in fact, Reid pulls the bill while proponents and opponents on both sides of the aisle are clamoring for debate to continue, amendments to be voted on, and the ultimate bill to get a final up or down vote... then the onus of failure will be on the Democrats, not on the Republicans. GOP senators, whether they support or oppose the bill, can campaign against the Democrats for having pulled the bill just when it looked like things were coming to a head.

    In fact, Republicans might even make headway with Hispanics, who very much want this bill, by saying the GOP was unified in wanting the measure to go all the way to a floor vote, win or lose. I believe that would be a position nearly all Hispanics would accept -- and respect. Their anger at the failure to pass will rightly shift from Republican opponents to the impatient Democratic majority leader. But that is only if Republicans, even bill opponents, uniformly and loudly object to Reid pulling the bill.

    The Democrats, for their part, would have no effective counter argument: "We had to table the bill, even though it was making progress, because we were afraid that Republicans would delay it." The voters, who are always more perceptive than Democrats give them credit for, would realize the obvious: Tabling a bill delays it forever!

    I hope the bill passes; but for those who oppose it, you should be hoping that it's Harry "Pull My Pinky" who pulls it... because then Republicans would escape all the negative fallout from failure.

    Hatched by Dafydd on this day, June 6, 2007, at the time of 2:56 PM | Comments (18) | TrackBack

    May 31, 2007

    Hewitt Responds - Sort of - to Big Lizards Point!

    Immigration Immolations , Logical Lacunae , Terrorism Intelligence
    Hatched by Dafydd

    During today's interview with Mark Steyn, Hugh responded, vaguely and without attribution, to the point we raised in Where's Walid? He could at least have mentioned Big Lizards.

    Referring to his interview yesterday with Tamar Jacoby -- that was the female journalist whose name I couldn't recall in the last post -- Hugh said that she had argued that terrorists could be traced using the Z visa, as they worked inside and traveled outside the country. Actually, she didn't... Big Lizards did. She tried, but she couldn't get the words out, being only a journalist (heh).

    But Hugh then offered the most unanswerable argument I have ever heard; it's hard to see how anybody could fail to be moved by it. (Moved to something, at least; I was moved to scorn and mockery, but that's just me.) Note: Except for the last three words, this is a paraphrase to the best of my recollection; it's not word for word accurate until the very end:

    Hewitt: Jacoby said they could be tracked as they moved around and worked and went in and out of the country... and that's laughable.

    Well! Who could argue with that?

    Hugh then turned to Steyn; "that's just laughable, isn't it?" Steyn -- who also calls the bill "amnesty" -- dutifully agreed that the scenario was laughable.

    Both Hugh Hewitt and Mark Steyn failed to tell us exactly why it was laughable. True, Hewitt's baccalaureate is in government, so he probably took no science classes and only the barestly minimum of math classes; and Steyn is a high-school dropout. But surely Hugh's experience as a lawyer and Steyn's as an art critic, and the experience of both of them as pundits, should make up for complete ignorance of science and technology, even when the subject is technology.

    Steyn then rambled on, saying that it didn't matter what anybody did about visas or immigration law, because "nobody ever checks anything anyway." Of course, if this is true -- then what makes him think a strict, enforcement-only bill would be, well, enforced? Or does he, perhaps, believe there should be no further law whatsover, since it's all useless and hopeless?

    Sidebar: Too many years ago, at university, I was getting lunch at a Chinese fast-food restaurant on campus. I took some rice, then I poured some soy sauce over it. A woman (occidental) standing behind me in line, who I had never seen before, said "that's too much salt! You'll get high blood pressure." (This was at UC Santa Cruz, where RadFems were encouraged to believe that everyone wanted to hear their opinions on every issue.)

    I had just read an article on that very point. "Actually," I responded, "several recent studies found that a moderate amount of salt, which they defined as what the average American eats, does not negatively affect people with normal blood pressure."

    "The average American doesn't eat a moderate amount of salt! They eat much more than that."

    "I'm sorry, the study defined 'moderate' as the amount that an average American ate."

    "That just proves those studies are bogus... because the average American eats way, way more than a moderate amount of salt!"

    I thought for a pair of seconds. "You're a Womyn's Studies major -- aren't you?"

    "And what does that have to do with anything?"

    For some odd reason, when I heard Hugh's argument against using the Z visa and the Total Information Awareness data-mining system, I had an LSD-like flashback to that afternoon at the Omei restaurant at UCSC.

    At first, hearing what Hugh said and Steyn eagerly seconded, I took offense; I shouted at the radio. But upon further reflection, I suppose expecting either Hugh Hewitt or Mark Steyn to even understand a technological, information-science argument, let alone craft an informed response, would be like expecting me to write a brief for a tax-law case.

    I just wish they would follow "Dirty" Harry Callahan's advice in Magnum Force: "A man's got to know his limitations."

    Hatched by Dafydd on this day, May 31, 2007, at the time of 4:20 PM | Comments (26) | TrackBack

    Where's Walid?

    Immigration Immolations , Terrorism Intelligence
    Hatched by Dafydd

    I listened in mounting frustration yesterday to Hugh Hewitt grilling some poor woman journalist or blogger or somesuch whose name I didn't catch; she supported the immigration bill, and Hugh was -- er -- "interviewing" her. I was frustrated because Hugh had gone into total prosecutor mode, and he was running her through a cross-examination harsher than Spencer Tracy gave Fredric March in Inherit the Wind.

    Hugh would ask a question, and two seconds into her answer, he would ask another, loudly cutting her off in mid-sentence. It was clear he had no interest whatsoever in allowing her to make her case; he wanted to get her so rattled she would say something incriminating, so he could convict her.

    On the other side of the coin, she was probably a good journalist or trial lawyer or whatever political worker she was... but she didn't know Jack Squat about the various technologies involved in tracking bad guys. In particular, she could not give a coherent explanation to the bellowing Hugh how the smart Social-Security card could possibly help catch a terrorist hiding among the other Z visa or Parole Card holders.

    This, of course, allowed Hugh to conclude that it wouldn't help a bit; after all, it's a well-known syllogism that if one particular flustered person cannot answer your question, then clearly the question has no answer, and you have refuted the other guy's argument.

    So please allow me to step in and make the case that Ms. Whatsit couldn't; let me explain how we could use Z visas to catch evil-doers.

    As Rudyard Kipling wrote...

    Take up the Smart Man's burden --
    Explain what they really meant --
    It's the duty owed to morons
    By the super-intelligent;
    Rewrite their stupid debates,
    Square up their ducks in a line...
    Then watch as the oily ingrates
    Take credit for all that is thine!

    (All right, he didn't really write that. But he should have.)

    Ms. Whosit couldn't figure it out, and neither could Hugh, because you have to make connections between seemingly unrelated scientific or technological processes... and that is more within the purview of a science-fiction writer than a lawyer. Let me explain what I mean...

    Suppose the bill passes, and a bunch of illegal immigrants apply for Parole Cards (the provisional Z visas -- at least, that's what Sen. Jon Kyl, R-AZ, 92%, calls them). Hugh's worry is that among all the Gonzaleses and Ramirezes and Garcias will be hidden a few Mohammeds and Zarqawis... or even a Padilla or two.

    Hugh is terrified that these terrorists could also apply for Parole Cards, and then be able to move around the country, get work, and even exit and reenter the United States at will. Of course, they can do that today... but Hugh seems to believe that they're more likely to be caught and deported today, with no bill, than they would be next year with a bill and Z visas and Parole Cards. (I have no idea what current mechanism for capturing and deporting them Hugh sees; it certainly eludes my sight.)

    Let's carefully break down what it means to exit and reenter the country and to work: The border-crosser must show a passport and a SmartVisa. Specifically, he must swipe the card through a reader; this necessarily creates a record of leaving and reentering. Too, moving from place to place within the U.S. and working also creates a phosphor trail. But so what? How does that help capture terrorists?

    Enter the CIA's old computer connection-tracking program, Total Information Awareness. Congress got hysterical in 2003, defunding it -- or so they thought; but it's widely believed still to be in existence, just shifted under the umbrella of black-ops programs and funded by secret accounts.

    The reason it was so effective is that it was simply an object-oriented database data-matching application. It was not programmed with any pre-existing biases for one type of connection above the others; it noted and kept track of any and all connections between datapoints -- between Walid the terrorist and Guido the Mafioso, for example. Then it allowed for queries at any level of complexity.

    The operators looked for connections where they would not expect to find any. Of course you could find a connection between the Secretary of State and various unsavory political leaders; that's the secretary's job. Nobody thinks Condoleezza Rice is in league with Bashar Assad simply because she met with him during a trip to Syria.

    But suppose some dentist in Minneapolis calls Zarqawi in Iraq, then is called by a known terrorist in Pakistan, then is spotted by the FBI having lunch with an arms dealer in Minneapolis, then shows up as a co-signer on a loan to buy an airplane, when the other co-signer is a radical imam operating at a mosque out of Idaho.

    Those connections are completely unexpected; why would one lousy dentist know all these people? In fact, that pattern is so suspicious that we should initiate surveillance to see what our "dentist" is up to.

    But without TIA, the authorities would never have stumbled across the connections because they cross jurisdictional boundaries: The CIA identifies the terrorists abroad; the NSA records the calls; the FBI is tracking the arms dealer; and nobody is paying any attention to the imam. Without a single, unified database to bring all these observations together, nobody would notice the previously unknown dentist at the center of the web.

    Now we take the TIA database... and we add to it the Parole Card and Z visa. Suppose we're looking for Walid Achmed Mohammed, a suspected jihadist who is thought to have sneaked into the United States in 2006 under an unknown alias. Today, we would have no idea where Walid could be found; because he is underground, he could be anywhere, under any name, working for anyone.

    We make some educated guesses; let's suppose, just as Hugh fears, that Walid gets himself a Parole Card so he can move about and in and out.

    CIA informants report that Walid was spotted at a "terrorism convention" in Pakistan in January of 2008; then another source believes Walid was at a training and planning session at a safehouse somewhere in Madrid in July. But that's all we know.

    Under today's rules, that doesn't help us at all. But under the rules established by this bill, the very first thing we should do is query the TIA database to see which holders of Z visas traveled to Pakistan in January 2008 and to Madrid in July of 2008... I'd bet there were not that many. (Check not only direct routes but the roundabout routes that terrorists tend to use; the CIA is actually pretty good at that nowadays.)

    Then you take that list of Social-Security numbers, winnow out the obvious non-targets, and plug that into the Z-visa employment database. This will tell you where the eight or nine potential "Walids" have worked in the past year. Since the real Walid has no reason to believe he has been outed, he will probably follow the same pattern... criss-crossing the country carrying messages and money and working for the same set of employers along the way.

    By staking out each of those employers around the times he usually shows up, we suddenly have a very good plan for grabbing Walid Achmed Mohammed and hustling him off to Gitmo. And the best part is, neither he nor anybody in his cell would have the slightest idea how we did it!

    And there you have it; that is just one way that the provisions of this bill could help us catch terrorist infiltrators who are completely unlocatable today. There simply is no disputing that by putting themselves into the database, terrorists become much more likely to be caught.

    But what if Walid is afraid of this very scenario, so he does not get a Parole Card? But if that's the case, his movements will be severely impeded... because we will require anyone crossing our borders (whether by car, boat, or airplane) to show not only a foreign passport but also some form of visa -- whether tourist, student, former illegal (Z visa), guest worker (Y visa), or permanent resident. (For citizens, the United States passport itself could be remade as a smart card, at least including the mag strip or bar code or whatever.) If Walid doesn't have a visa, or if the name on his passport doesn't match the visa, he gets caught.

    If he tries to get multiple visas, the fingerprints will out him.

    And if he doesn't have a visa that permits working, he will not be able to find a job after this bill is enacted. Again, his operations will be severely impacted, because he will have to rely upon smuggled funds to survive.

    The question "where's Walid?" has no answer today; but if the bill passes, it could be answered with a reasonable degree of certainty for a lot of little Walids now hiding among us.

    Make sense, Counselor Hewitt?

    Hatched by Dafydd on this day, May 31, 2007, at the time of 4:59 AM | Comments (36) | TrackBack

    May 27, 2007

    Let Their Victims Come

    Immigration Immolations , War Against Radical Islamism
    Hatched by Dafydd

    Hugh Hewitt appears to keep wavering between wanting only intense scrutiny of immigrants from countries with extensive jihadist networks -- and wanting to ban such immigrants entirely, without concern whether they're jihadists or refugees; but maybe I'm just misreading him. Often, his sentences are so ambiguous it's impossible to tell:

    Bensman's focus today is on the plight of Iraq's Christians, 600,000 of whom have fled the Islamists of their home country, many into America. The article again details just how porous our borders are, and though Bensman's writing elicits great sympathy for the refugees, it also underscores just how easy it has been for Middle Eastern people to enter the country through the past few years. Even if the ration [sic, he must mean "ratio"] is 1,000 refugees to 1 jihadist, the number of terrorists or terrorist sympathizers in the country illegally is not small, and the idea of giving them legal status strikes me as insane.

    Is the referent of "them" in the last sentence (highlighted blue) "refugees" or "terrorists or terrorist sympathizers"? Obviously it would strike any sane person as insane to give the latter legal status; the question is whether we throw out the bathwater with Rosemary's baby.

    I'm disturbed that Hugh keeps quoting from counterterrorism experts whose attitude appears to be "ban them all, let God sort them out." They argue not that we should scrutinize immigrants from such countries -- which is a reasonable proposition I favor -- but that we should simply prohibit immigration into the United States from them; or at least, from countries that do not have a national database of terrorist suspects -- which is likely nearly all of Moslem and strong-minority-Moslem nations.

    Here's a section from the latest "expert"; this is actually all one paragraph smushed together; I have reparagraphed it for easier reading:

    You want solid reform, here's how you do it.

    First, if you're going to let these &^%$# in, you give them a background check they won't forget. You crawl up their &&%$ so much they'll want to leave. Each day, every day you monitor them. This way even if you get a phony name, you got a better chance of nailing them.

    It's either that or you end all emigration from those nations I listed above. And believe me, that list is by no means complete. Secondly, you create a computer system that will connect to ALL national computer databases to track these guys, and if the nation in question says "no," then emigration [sic] from that country ends immediately. If they claim they don't have a database, emigration ends until they do.

    Those that do come here are still subject to scrutiny that would make any American citizen squeamish. That's OK though because they're not citizens. They don't like it? Screw them. Move to Britain then.

    Lastly, if they come from one of those suicide-loving countries, you follow them like the plague until such a time that they become a citizen and are subject to the laws and protections of the nation. And personally ______, that won't happen. These %$#@& never want that. They just want to hurt us worse than the last guy.

    His list of countries whose immigrants here are subject to such tactics is: "China, North Korea, Malaysia, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Afghanistan, Pakistan, the UAE, Iran, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Turkey, Egypt, Libya, Niger, Somalia, Chad, Sudan, Eritrea, Kenya, Uganda, Nigeria, Angola, Liberia, and the Congo." (No word which Congo: the the Republic of, a.k.a. the French Congo, or the Democratic Republic of, a.k.a. the Belgian Congo. Perhaps both.)

    First, it's quite clear that this unnamed "expert" in counterterrorism doesn't believe for one moment that people immigrating here from, say, Iraq or Iraq could possibly be "1,000 refugees to 1 jihadist," as Hugh put it; it's clear this fellow thinks it's the reverse... or perhaps that such immigration is 100% jihadist.

    Second, the expert describes earlier how jihadists coming from those countries could evade detection via checking the records by changing their names: "'Abdul ____' will become 'Mohammed ____' or some such," he writes.

    But if it's that easy, or if the passport is forged in any event, what is to prevent "Abdul ____" from becoming "Gerhard _____", and the nationality going from Jordanian to German? Or for that matter, there are more and more jihadis who actually are Europeans or Americans of non-Arabic descent: Richard "Failed Shoe Bomber" Reid (English) and José Padilla (Puerto Rican American), for two examples. Both attempted to commit their crimes in 2002, even before Operation Iraqi Freedom began... so evidently, for some time now, al-Qaeda has been planning to shift from using operatives from nations in the ummah to those from Christian countries.

    We still end up with all the terrorists, who will enter under passports from "clean" countries (not on the list) -- but we won't get the honest to God refugees.

    All right; I know many people will say so what? So a bunch of Christians and Jews fleeing majority-Moslem countries must stay and be persecuted, or even deported back there to be tortured and beheaded. Big deal; as the expert points out, they're not American citizens. "Screw them," to quote both the expert and an earlier, identical sentiment expressed by Markos Moulitsas Zúniga about earlier victims of the same persecutors.

    And after all, we have done such things before: In Operation Keelhaul, crafted at the Yalta conference after World War II between Josef Stalin, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and Winston Churchill, Allied soldiers (mostly British, but we connived) forcibly "repatriated" tens of thousands of refugees fleeing Communist Europe back to Stalin's tender mercies. Most were summarily executed; most of the survivors were sent into the Gulag. And both Churchill and Roosevelt knew that this was to be their fate; but hey... "screw them."

    All right, fine. Some don't care. But consider this: Those refugees are our best source of human intel about those countries.

    Also, assuming that we have any intention of sending CIA agents into any of China, North Korea, Malaysia, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Afghanistan, Pakistan, the UAE, Iran, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Turkey, Egypt, Libya, Niger, Somalia, Chad, Sudan, Eritrea, Kenya, Uganda, Nigeria, Angola, Liberia, or either Congo... recent refugees from those countries are the absolute best instructors to train our spies how to speak and act like natives, and what contemporary residents there would know and -- just as important -- not know.

    By arbitrarily cutting off all immigration from a laundry list of countries, we also cut ourselves off from all human intelligence and training sources from precisely the areas that most threaten America. It would be as foolhardy as refusing all immigration from Warsaw Pact nations during the Cold War, because among the thousands of anti-Communist refugees, there might be some Soviet agents.

    So yes, let's scrutinize them; let's segregate them and insist they be personally interviewed and thoroughly checked. But we must not arbitraily cut off that supply of refugees fleeing from our worst enemies, because those very people can be our best and most helpful allies.

    And we must not get so fixated on the "cheap grace" of nationality fixation to avoid the hard work of actually evaluating everyone we can for possible terrorist sympathies. Otherwise, we're going to be blindsided by the next 9/11-style attack by terrorists who understand just how shallow and facile Western thinking can be.

    Hatched by Dafydd on this day, May 27, 2007, at the time of 3:14 PM | Comments (10) | TrackBack

    May 25, 2007

    NYT Backs Up Big Lizards!

    Immigration Immolations , Media Madness , Polling Keeps a-Rolling
    Hatched by Dafydd
    "I gotcher back, pally," said Pinch Sulzberger...

    In a bizarre twist of fate, a New York Times/CBS poll was just published... and it shows that Americans heavily support every element -- and I mean every element -- of the immigration bill... so long as you don't mention the immigration bill.

    Complete poll results here.

    This firmly supports our analysis yesterday of the Rasmussen poll which found widespread rejection of the immigration bill -- but also a huge majority, two-thirds of all respondents, supporting a comprehensive immigration bill that contained -- well, all the elements that are in the current bill. I believed then that respondents were unaware of what was in the current bill, and that if they knew, they would support it; and the NYT/CBS poll buttresses that belief.

    The problem, as I said before, is that this particular bill has been egregiously and deliberately misrepresented by a large number of opponents on both Left and Right. It has been distorted so badly that a huge number of pro-immigrant people think the bill is anti-immigrant; a mass of pro-enforcement people think it's anti-enforcement. Evidently, the pot and pan bangers on either side have gotten half the population furious at the other half, and vice versa.

    The great majority of the country, however, is actually in agreement on most issues; and every element of the bill gets majority support. Look:

    61. If you had to choose, what do you think should happen to most illegal immigrants who have lived and worked in the United States for at least two years: They should be given a chance to keep their jobs and eventually apply for legal status, OR They should be deported back to their native country?

    Chance to apply for legal status: 62%; Deported: 33%

    63. Would you favor or oppose allowing illegal immigrants who came into the country before January to apply for a four-year visa that could be renewed, as long as they pay a $5,000 fine, a fee, show a clean work record and pass a criminal background check?

    Favor: 67%; Oppose: 27%

    64. ASKED OF THOSE WHO FAVOR: Should they be allowed to apply for U.S. citizenship just like legal applicants, or should they have to wait until legal applicants have been considered first?

    Should be like legal applicants: 16%; Should have to wait: 69%

    On the question of increasing penalties on employers who knowingly hire illegals, 75% favor increased enforcement including higher fines, 15% favor increased enforcement without higher fines, and 8% oppose increased enforcement. On "guest workers," 66% favor and 30% oppose.

    And here's the biggie:

    73. When the US government is deciding which immigrants to admit to this country, should priority be given to people who have family members already living in the U.S., or should priority be given to people based on education, job skills, and work experience?

    Family: 34%; Workers: 51%, Depends: 5%.

    So there you have it.: When Americans are asked about the specific elements of the bill currently wending its weary way through the whitewashed walls of Washington, they are strongly in favor of each and every part: enforcement, regularization, guest workers, and reforming legal immigration policy.

    But wait; this is a poll conducted by the New York Times and CBS! How do we know it's at all representative of Americans as a whole? Amazingly enough -- this really is unusual, you may not know how unusual -- they give us exactly the sort of indexing information that will tell us. Here, to me, is the most telling question: When asked who respondents voted for in the 2004 presidential contest, they answered 35% for John Kerry, 36% for George W. Bush, 2% for Ralph Nader, and 5% say they voted but refused to say for whom.

    Adjusting to remove the 22% who didn't vote, and we get this: 48% for Kerry, 49% for Bush, and 3% for Nader.

    The actual figures in 2004 were 48.3% for Kerry, 50.7% for Bush, 0.4% for Nader, and 0.6% for everybody else.

    For a poll of "adults," not registered voters or likely voters, that is astonishingly close to the actual vote. That tell us that this is a fairly good cross-section of the American voter: The Kerry vote is dead-on; the slight drop for Bush matches well with the drop in the president's approval rating since the November election from low 40s and high 30s back then to low 30s now; and the rise in support for Ralph Nader matches with the increasing disenchantment with both parties (the Democratic Congress's job approval is also mired in the mid 30s).

    There are various other index questions; they're all at the back of the survey, if you're interested. They all point to a very respresentative pool of respondents.

    So this looks to be a very solid poll; it has some bad news for the GOP on a number of fronts, but nothing particularly worse than other polls. And where we can match the respondents here to an actual vote, they fit extremely well.

    So I think it fair to say that the hardliners are simply wrong, wrong, wrong to imagine that they represent the majority; and I mean the hardliners of both Left and Right. Americans want every part of this deal.

    The task now is to convince them of the truth, that the bill contains exactly the provisions Americans want, instead of the convenient lies spread by those more interested in posturing than probing.

    Hatched by Dafydd on this day, May 25, 2007, at the time of 6:06 AM | Comments (50) | TrackBack

    May 23, 2007

    Rasmussen Discovers: Many Americans Are Ignoramuses!

    Immigration Immolations , Polling Keeps a-Rolling
    Hatched by Dafydd

    A flurry of anti-immigration-bill conservative pundits are about to start quoting (selectively) from the new Rasmussen poll on immigration. Most will only tell you about two of the questions:

    • "From what you know about the agreement, do you favor or oppose the immigration reform proposal agreed to last Week?" Favor: 26%; Oppose: 48%; Not sure: 26%.
    • "How Important is it to improve border enforcement and reduce illegal immigration?" Very important: 72%; Somewhat important: 16%; Not very important: 8%; Not at all important: 2%.

    And from this, the opinion-makers will conclude that the very idea of a comprehensive immigration bill should be dropped, and we should move to the enforcement-only approach, which "everybody wants."

    This leaves aside the political dilemma: Since we live in a country that has a political government, not a military dictatorship, how can we simply ignore the majority in Congress -- which overwhelmingly wants regularization? Is the president supposed to issue an executive order dissolving the legislative branch?

    But the conclusion that Americans oppose any regularization also pretends not to notice a much more proximate point: Those were not the only two questions asked; and among the other questions is one that utterly upends the first question, transforming it instead into a pop quiz on current events:

    Still, 65% of voters would be willing to support a compromise including a “very long path to citizenship” provided that “the proposal required the aliens to pay fines and learn English” and that the compromise “would truly reduce the number of illegal aliens entering the country.” The proposal, specifically described as a compromise, was said to include “strict employer penalties for hiring illegal aliens, building a barrier along the Mexican border and other steps to significantly reduce the number of illegal aliens entering the United States.”

    That would be 2/3rds of Americans willing to support such a compromise; but only 26% willing to support this particular compromise.

    Putting these two answers together, we find that a minimum of 39% of Americans (but probably much more) do not read Big Lizards... because, in fact, every single one of those provisions is in the current compromise legislation.

    Now there are two possibilities here:

    • Those Americans who support the idea of a compromise along the lines above but oppose this particular bill have all studied the bill closely, read commentary about it from both sides, carefully weighed its pros and cons, and have come to a cautious, reasoned decision that this particular bill doesn't quite live up to the high standards demanded by the American people.
    • A huge chunk of the American electorate are complete ignoramuses who haven't the foggiest idea what enforcement elements are found in the bill; they hear "amnesty, amnesty!" -- and they freak. If asked, they would probably say, "Yeah, on Day-1, they'll make all the illegal aliens into citizens, and on Day-2, they'll all vote to kill the fence!"

    Gosh, wouldn't you love to see polling on what Americans think is in the bill, and what they think is not... along with an actual legislative analysis of what's actually there, for comparison?

    Not very surprisingly, many Americans think that's what's in the bill because that's what the unions have told them: They play to latent racist fears about "foreigners" coming to seize what few jobs remain after NAFTA and GATT. What with the 38% unemployment that already sweeps America, the unions argue -- much worse than during the Great Depression! -- this bill will mean all white people will soon have to go on welfare.

    Alas, another bunch of Americans probably believe the bill is simple amnesty with no security provisions because that's what a bunch of "conservative" demagogues are saying about it, too. They are equally happy to leave their listeners in ignorance -- worse, lead them there -- because they intend to defeat this bill or any subsequent compromise "by any means necessary."

    In the end, they prefer to keep the issue around forever unsolved as a political bludgeon; they don't want to fix the problem... they just want to use the fear of illegal immigration to recruit, raise funds, and perhaps get themselves reelected to their "75-25" congressional or legislative seats (I mean districts where the primary election is the real election; the general is an afterthought).

    There are three important take-aways from this poll:

    1. A very, very large chunk of the electorate has no idea what is in the current bill;
    2. An overwhelming majority of Americans are willing to accept compromise legislation, so long as they are assured that the security aspects will be enforced (hence the importance of "triggers");
    3. Neither the Bush administration nor the Democrats nor the Republicans in Congress have the slightest idea how to communicate with the American voter.

    Any attempt to shoehorn this poll into an attack on comprehensive immigration reform is sloppy thinking and evidence of too much eagerness and haste. And you know what that makes.

    Hatched by Dafydd on this day, May 23, 2007, at the time of 6:44 PM | Comments (53) | TrackBack

    May 22, 2007

    Fleshing Out the Outline, take 2

    Immigration Immolations
    Hatched by Dafydd

    Another couple of things that I've heard. As always, the changed stuff is in blue type color...

    The new material comes from Michael Medved; take it as you will:

    Immigration reform compromise package

    1. Reform of legal immigration. The compromise sets up a "point system" (as in Australia) for future immigration; immigrants would be accepted or rejected on the basis of the number of points they accrue [WSJ2 -- today's WSJ article.];
    2. Points would be allocated for English-language facility, education, advanced job skills that the country needs (I'm guessing high tech), and for family connections to other citizens more tenuous than spouse or children under the age of 21. Family relations will be deprivileged, while skills leading to faster, better assimilation will be privileged (I don't know if "country quotas" will be retained) [WSJ2];
    3. The only family connections that would allow automatic issuance of a green card would be spouses and children under the age of 21; older children and any other family relation would simply accrue some points but would otherwise have to satisfy the point-quota requirement in (2) [WSJ2];
    4. Border security. The following provisions must be "implemented" before either regularization of illegal aliens or enactment of the temporary-worker program can occur:

      1. 370 miles of additional border fence; this is actual, real double fencing, not virtual fencing.

        Note that "the law from last year remains in effect," according to presidential spokesman Tony Snow, referring to the law mandating 800+ miles of actual fence: The 370-mile figure is just what must be built before regularization or the guest-worker program can begin [Tony Snow interview on Hugh Hewitt radio show, May 18th, 2007];

      2. 200 additional miles of vehicle barriers: concrete barriers, berms, chicanes, caltrops, and so forth [Tony Snow interview];

      3. An unknown number of additional miles of virtual fencing [Tony Snow interview];

      4. 18,000 additional Border Patrol agents;

      5. "Effective, electronic employee-verification system for the workplace;"

      6. Crackdown on employers who hire illegals;

      "Implemented" means completed [all from WaPo -- the Washington Post article except as noted above];

    5. After the bill is enacted, any person who subsequently crosses illegally into the United States and is caught will be permanently barred from ever receiving any kind of a visa or becoming a citizen; this evidently extends beyond green card and work visa (or Z- or Y-visa) to include even a tourist visa [Medved -- Michael Medved on the Michael Medved radio show, May 22nd, 2007];
    6. Regularization of currently illegal aliens. Current illegal aliens can come forward, give full information about themselves, pay a $1,000 fine, demonstrate continuous employment since arriving, undergo a records check, and only then obtain a "probationary" Z-visa card that would allow them to stay legally and continue to work but would not allow them to apply for citizenship [WSJ2, Tony Snow interview on Hugh Hewitt radio show, May 18th, 2007];
    7. Regular and probationary Z-visa holders are barred from receiving any welfare or welfare-like government handouts; they must maintain continuous employment while here (presumably they are allowed some brief transit time between leaving one job and starting another) [Medved];
    8. In order to get a regular Z-visa, allowing the alien to begin the path to citizenship, he must meet several requirements:

      1. The head of the household must return to his country of origin and apply from there [WSJ2];
      2. The family must undergo a criminal background check [WaPo];
      3. They must pay a $4,000 fine in addition to the $1,000 fine paid to get the provisional Z-visa, for a total of $5,000 [WSJ2, Tony Snow interview on Hugh Hewitt radio show, May 18th, 2007];
      4. They must pay back taxes -- I don't know if this made it into the final compromise, but it was in the talking points memo [TPM] that Hugh posted earlier;
      5. They must pay processing fees [WSJ2];
      6. They must go to the back of the line of legal immigrants -- see (9) below [TPM];
    9. Before Z-visas will be granted, the United States Citizen and Immigration Services (USCIS) has eight years to work through the backlog of already pending legal residency applications from those who are trying to immigrate here legally.

      Only after those are granted will USCIS turn to illegal aliens who have applied for residency per the process delineated in (8) above; this will take up to five additional years.

      After a green card is granted, citizenship requires an additional five years. Thus, from illegal status to citizenship requires a minimum of 13 years, possibly as long as 18 years. [WSJ1 -- the earlier WSJ article];

    10. Separate "guest-worker" program. A separate guest-worker "Y-visa" will be created which does not lead to citizenship; a guest worker cannot apply for citizenship unless he returns to his country of origin and applies in the normal fashion anyone else would (no line-cut privileges); up to 400,000 such Y-visas may be granted each year [WSJ2];
    11. Guest workers can apply for a two-year stint working in this country. After that time expires, they must return to their country of origin for at least a one-year "rest" period. They could then reapply, again for two years here followed by a year back in their country of origin. They could apply one more time for two years here... after which they must return permanently to their country of origin [WSJ2].

    Hatched by Dafydd on this day, May 22, 2007, at the time of 5:20 PM | Comments (20) | TrackBack

    May 21, 2007

    Mending and Amending

    Immigration Immolations
    Hatched by Dafydd

    I've been increasingly ebullient today, in response to what I've heard on Hugh Hewitt's show: Out with the truculent vows never to vote for "amnesty;" in with the determination to use this compromise as a starting point, then offer a series of amendments to make it better, more effective, and more palatable to conservatives!

    I think the bill is fairly good; I don't think it's perfect or anywhere near, and it's in desperate need of both mending and amending. Here are eight amendments I support -- plus one that I think is a poison pill.

    1 The Patterico Amendment - kick out the slams!

    This amendment is based upon a long-standing demand from Patterico: He notes that there are a lot of inmates serving time in prison who are also illegal aliens; and he wants to know why, once they finish serving their prison terms, they're not immediately deported:

    So if deporting millions won’t happen, what can we do? I am for firmer enforcement in two areas: border security and aggressive deportation of illegal aliens who commit crimes other than illegal entry. I have spoken about the latter idea until I am blue in the face. Why would we employ a single ICE agent to arrest illegals who are working and producing for society, when there are tens of thousands of unidentified illegals in our jails in prisons -- 34,000 in Los Angeles jails every year -- who will serve their sentences and hit the streets again to commit more crime? [Yes, I know two of those links are identical; I'm just quoting Patterico!]

    No question about it, this is a great idea. The only thing I would add, and I hope Patterico would agree, would be some sort of review process during the deportation hearing that would examine exactly what the crime was and see if there are any special circumstances... for example, some elderly illegal immigrant who is mugged, and he defends himself with a concealed handgun -- for which he doesn't have a CCW permit, and for which some Mike Nifong clone prosecutes him.

    But for the normal cases that a prosecutor like Patterico must see every day... serve time in the slam (or even get probation), and adios.

    2 The sanctuary, shmanctuary amendment

    In a typically psychotic overreaction to our "draconian" immigration laws -- that is, to the demand (just like the Nazis used to demand!) that immigrants should come here legally instead of illegally -- a number of very leftist city councils have declared their burgs to be "sanctuary cities," meaning the city cops are ordered not to enforce any federal or state immigration laws, or cooperate in any way with USCIS, or even to inquire into the immigration status of those they arrest.

    (No word what the residents of those usually crime-ridden cities think about this; in true Democratic fashion, the people as such are discouraged from confusing matters by participating in the discussion.)

    I think federal law is a little confusing about the status of these "sanctuary" cities: I would love to see an amendment that clarified that any mayor, governor, or other city or state executive who enforced a city ordinance or state law that violates, impedes, or interferes with federal immigration law is guilty of a felony and prosecutable in federal court; and perhaps he should also be sued for damages in federal civil court, though I'm not sure how such damages would be calculated.

    Even more devastating, any city which enacts such an ordinance should see all federal funding suspended until such time as they are again in comliance with federal law. For big cities like San Francisco, this could amount to an abrupt budget hole tens of millions of dollars wide... about which, I'm sure the voters of that city would have strong feelings.

    It's hard to imagine a law that is more obviously federal in scope than protecting the borders and determining who should or should not enter (or leave) the country. This is not a city-level decision!

    And I think this is passable: Even though some really left-leaning Democrats will vote against it, the expansion of federal power will lure many Democrats to vote for it, as well.

    3 Dreier's exit-strategy amendment

    No, nothing to do with Iraq; Rep. David Dreier (R-CA, 72%) noted on Hugh Hewitt's radio show today (I think it was he) that, while any non-citizen, non-permanent-resident entering this country is required to show a passport and visa, and a record is made of the entry... there is no corresponding entry made when he leaves. This means we have no way to tell whether he has overstayed his visa.

    Drier amendment number one would require persons here on temporary visas -- tourist, student, and of course the "guest" worker Y-visa -- would be required to show the visa when leaving the United States. At that time, the record would be checked to see whether he was within his legal visitation period; if he overstayed, he should be put on a blacklist, where entry would be forbidden for some period of time. (Again, we assume review is available.)

    The computer system should also send out an alert when a temporary visa expires, but the person has not exited the country: Let's at least get a handle on who is overstaying his visa and by how long.

    4 Derier's one-stop shopping amendment

    The second amendment proposed by Congressman Dreier would be to get back to the idea that we would have only one, tamper-proof Social-Security or Immigration card for each person. The card number would link to a database that showed the immigration status of the cardholder; just stick it in the USCIS card reader, and it would show the immigration status of the cardholder, whether he was allowed to work, whether he was legally resident (and until when), and should also show on the screen a digital picture, front and side, of the actual cardholder.

    At the moment, we still have numerous different cards -- Dreier said it was more than thirty types (!) -- which creates huge confusion in the minds of employers. I wholeheartedly endorse anything that simplifies the employer's duty to determine whether the person standing before him is legally allowed to work in this country.

    5 Hewitt's retired servicemen's full-employment bill of 2007

    Hugh Hewitt also proposed a couple of amendments in today's show. First, he noted that conducting the interviews and background checks for however many illegals come forward is going to be a monster task: It's potentially 12 million applicants, though in reality, I think it will be far fewer than that.

    Still a very large number, though; in fact, it's essentially the same problem as mass deportation, with one very significant difference: Deportation requires a hearing by law, and nobody is going to passively accept it without getting his day in immigration court. By contrast, anybody would be perfectly happy if his application for a provisional Z-visa were granted without a face-to-face interview.

    So Hugh suggests a "pre-sort" to reduce the stack of those that actually require some thought and an actual interview, the tough cases. I think the idea is to use existing records to sort all applicants into one of three buckets:

    1. No-brainer acceptance: people here a long time, no criminal record, continuously employed, owners of real property, etc.
    2. No-brainer rejection: people with a criminal background, people who are wanted by the police, have a history of alcoholism or drug use, have been rarely employed, have more than one name, move around a lot (not just following the harvest, I mean from city to city), and so forth.
    3. The toughies: everybody who doesn't fit either category.

    Hugh also suggests hiring retired policemen, servicemen, firefighters, and so forth to perform this initial screening... men and women with many years spent making life and death decisions and being held accountable for them. It's mostly a paperwork job, though I suppose they might have to make some phone calls, too; so it would be ideal for older people and the disabled.

    Those in bucket 1 get their provisional Z-visa right away. Those in bucket 2 not only don't get one, they're brought to the attention of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). And those in bucket 3... well, they're the only ones who need to be interviewed.

    This pre-sort should reduce the total number of face to face interviews down to a much more manageable number.

    6 Hewitt's "stink-eye" amendment

    Originally, Hugh appeared to be saying that people from countries that have extensive jihadist networks should not be allowed to get a provisional Z-visa at all... at least until after an extensive background check.

    But this is self-defeating: Once a person from, say, Iran applied for a provisional Z-visa, he would immediately thereby come to the attention of ICE. But since he is disallowed from getting the immediate provisional Z-visa that applicants from Mexico or South Africa or Japan get, he would have no protection from swift and automatic deportation.

    The mere act of applying for a provisional Z-visa would get him kicked out of the country!

    Therefore, nobody from one of those "funny" countries could ever get a Z-visa, even if he were in the United States precisely because he was a political dissident who feared for his life. Hence the very people we most want to keep track of would remain forever in the shadows.

    But today, Hugh clarified and extended his previous remarks (as the politicos say); he now suggests that if an applicant for a Z-visa is male, between the ages of 18 and 33, and from a country with extensive terrorist activity, he should go into a separate bucket -- one that receives much more scrutiny and perhaps even surveillance. He would still be protected from arbitrary deportation while his application was pending; but he would also be watched, and his application would be examined in greater detail.

    The reason for this should be obvious.

    7 The lax tax amendment

    Captain Ed noticed an article in the Boston Globe that supposedly, the Bush Administration requested that the requirement that Z-visa applicants pay back taxes be removed from the immigration bill. I'm a little skeptical; the Globe is a notoriously unreliable (and very liberal) newspaper... but if true, I think this should be restored via amendment.

    The Bush administration has a good argument that it would be virtually impossible to calculate precise back taxes plus penalties for years of working sub-rosa, cash in hand. But several others have suggested a workable solution: Require the applicant to pay an "estimate" of back taxes based upon various factors, such as how long the illegal immigrant worked here and what sorts of jobs.

    This only works if the figure is not so absurdly high that nobody would ever apply for a Z-visa. Suppose, for example, you could only get the Z-visa if you meet the requirements -- clean background, continuous employment, etc. -- pay $5,000 in fines... and then fork over $298,440 in back taxes and penalties; then nobody would ever do it.

    This is clearly a "poison pill" that would kill the entire deal. The Democrats, many congressional Republicans, and the White House will never go along with it (so stop dreaming about using this to stop the bill!)

    But if the estimate were reasonable, with a workable installment plan for repayment, then I think it might fly. Careful, however!

    8 The tick-tock amendment

    This is one of mine that I just thought up. I don't like the idea of people applying for a provisional Z-visa... and then saying, "I won't get deported, so that is good enough for me."

    I want people to assimilate, move on to a full Z-visa, then to a green card, and then to citizenship. I don't want anyone permanently living here who has no intention of ever becoming a citizen of this country... it's just the sort of thing that causes rioting by "northwest African youths" currently living in France or Sweden. Or Spain. Or Germany, Italy, Great Britain, or Australia.

    So how about this: The provisional Z-visa comes with an expiration date. The timeclock starts when it's issued; but every time the Z-visa holder takes another step forward towards citizenry, the clock is restarted. For example, taking (and passing) citizenship classes, applying for a full Z-visa, applying for a green card, and so forth. The idea is to prevent the potential citizen from entering immigration stasis.

    When your clock is about to run out, you get notices that you had better get off your butt and do something... at least contact USCIS and they will make suggestions. If you ignore the letter, then when your time runs out -- the ICE shows up on your doorstep and starts deportation hearings.

    Again, a review board is necessary... especially if the holder claims that he has been trying to get the next step, but the USCIS is sitting on his application. (Long-time readers of Big Lizards know that Mr. and Mrs. Lizard speak from personal experience here!) But let's gradually turn up the heat on the stovetop, so that nobody turns it into an easy chair.

    Finally, the amendment that tempts me, but is probably a deal-breaker for the Democrats... hence the one I reject:

    XXX Hewitt's full-fencing saber cut XXX

    Hugh made one more suggestion, but I really don't like this one: He wants an amendment to the effect that not one, single, solitary provisional Z-visa be granted until the first half of the fence is completed. That is, rather than start the process of granting provisional Z-visas now, and make the holders wait until half the fence is completed to apply for the full Z-visa -- Hugh wants to make all the applicants wait for completion of half the fence even to apply for the provisional Z-visa.

    This is a perfect example of yet another "poison pill": It will take years to build 370 miles of double fencing. And when the time comes for granting provisional Z-visas, if the GOP is back in control of Congress, how does the Democratic Party know that Republicans won't pass a bill undoing the whole provisional Z-visa system? "Hah, hah, fooled you all!"

    It's exactly the same problem of trust as Republicans face: We refuse to accept any bill that says, "I will gladly let you have border security Wednesday for regularization today." That's why the GOP senators negotiated border-security "triggers" for regularization.

    So why on earth would the Democrats accept what Hugh Hewitt proposes -- which amounts to, "I will gladly let you have regularization Wednesday for border security today?"

    I like the current system: Both the granting of provisional Z-visas and the border-security provisions of the bill begin now; and when border security is half done, then we can start granting full Z-visas.

    So that's my run down on the possible amendments (and a very run-down lot we all are, now). Have you guys and gals any other suggestions?

    Hatched by Dafydd on this day, May 21, 2007, at the time of 9:50 PM | Comments (22) | TrackBack

    May 20, 2007

    Regularization: the Immigration Sideshow

    Immigration Immolations
    Hatched by Dafydd

    It's a tragicomic commentatry on the immigration-reform "debate" that 90% of the discussion (and angst) is wasted on the least important issue -- whether or how to "regularize" those illegals already here -- while virtually none is spent on the most important issue: reforming our legal immigration procedure to make it fair, predictable, and rational.

    The "12 Million" were here last year; they are here today; they will still be here a year or two or five from now. Whether they're regularized or not won't make much difference to the United States... so let's leave that question aside for the moment.

    What matters is what kind of immigration we get in the future: legal or illegal, skilled or unskilled, assimilated or unassimilated, working or on welfare:

    • The fence and all other aspects of criminal and immigration law enforcement are important, because they help determine whether we'll get legal or illegal immigration, and in what mix;
    • Reforming the legal immigration system is important, because that determines whether our future immigrants will be skilled, educated, English-speaking people who will easily assimilate... or unskilled hewers of water and carriers of wood, pulling down sub-minimum wage. A rational, predictable, and fair immigration policy will allow into the country both the former and the latter, but will encourage the latter to become the former;
    • And the question of a "guest worker" program is important, because that determines whether our actual immigrants, those who want to become Americans, will have jobs available to them while they develop the education, skills, and English proficiency to become citizens... or whether all those jobs will be taken by "guests" who have no interest in America -- disaffected workers and their children, alienated from society and ripe for the "messages" of street gangs, La Raza, and even al-Qaeda.

    But what do we spend nearly every second of debate time arguing about? The 12 Million. Naturally!

    To read blogposts and comments from both left and right, you'd think that was the only element in the bill, or at least the only important one -- rather than the element that will have the least real-world effect on anybody or anything, hence the least important of all issues to chew on. To the extent other elements of the bill bubble up in conversation, it's nearly always in the context of how it affects the 12 Million. This Power Line post, for example, starts off talking about enforcement; but then, as expected, the subject degenerates into the 12 Million:

    For these two reasons, my skepticism is not an argument for not passing "get tough" only legislation at the next opportunity. It is, however, an argument for making no adjustments to the status of illegal aliens, and no promises of additional adjustments, until we see how attempts at enhanced enforcement play out....

    Between them then, Paul and John produce a most wondrous circularity. Paul kicks it off:

    As it stands now, amnesty (or path to citizenship) cannot gain acceptance on its merits, but instead can only be enacted by holding enhanced enforcement legislation as a hostage.

    John then echos his own addendum, which includes this point... the irony of which appears to completely escape my two friends:

    Like Paul, I have little faith in the reliability of the "triggers." But it strikes me as more important that the illegals now in the country will be, in effect, legalized immediately. While not all of them will go to the trouble of paying $1,000 and getting a card, this matters little, since any appetite for enforcement will disappear once this mechanism is in place.

    Or in other, more familiar words: As it stands now, border enforcement (or a fence) cannot gain acceptance on its merits, but instead can only be enacted by holding regularization of the 12 Million as a hostage.

    Both statements are true... but that is a truism, because the underlying point is that neither side in this debate is prepared to render up something for nothing: The Left won't allow border security without regularization; the Right won't allow regularization without border security. Which is what I have been saying here since All Hallow's Eve Day, 2005.

    Here is another non-argument against the bill: The paralogical idea that the adolescent explictave hurled by Sen. John McCain (R-AZ, 65%) at Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX, 96%) -- the john calling the john unscrubbed -- "proves" that the bill cannot be justified.

    This is patent nonsense; it only proves that John McCain cannot be justified. The bill stands or falls on the merits of the argument, not on the ability of one notoriously thin-skinned talking head to rein in his hair-trigger temper [a smooth smoke from a blend of four fine metaphors]. The argument is easy and near impossible to refute, which is why so few even bother trying:

    1. We desperately need more border security, especially including the fence, but also including more Border Patrol agents, deportations of illegal aliens who commit crimes, and significant employer sanctions.
    2. The Democrats will never allow that without regularization of the 12 Million. No, no, it's completely irrelevant why the Democrats won't allow it; I'm sure everything you're thinking about them is correct. But the fact remains that they will not.
    3. The Democrats will allow (1) if regularization comes with it... probably. (If not, then the deal doesn't happen, and both sides whine.)
    4. The Democrats control the Congress.
    5. Ergo, we desperately need to cut a deal with the Democrats that more or less resembles the current bill.

    But now we go back to our starting point: It makes no difference to the country whether the 12 Million are legal or illegal. They're never going to be deported; the economies of several states would be wrecked if we tried. And it's not physically possible... at a rate of one immigration hearing every five minutes, 40 hours per week, 52 weeks per year, without even a break for lunch or a Christmas holiday, it would take forty years -- to deport the first one million of the 12 Million.

    And we'd only have another 11 million to go!

    So because the question is trivial, and because it makes no difference to the country whether the 12 Million stay here as illegals or pay a fine and stay here as legals, and because we so desperately need the border security... then for God's sake, leave the Demmies to their obsession and cut the deal.

    Just structure the "triggers" in such a way that they can't cheat (which is the Democrats' other obsession). It shouldn't be that tough... is there a lawyer in the House?

    Hatched by Dafydd on this day, May 20, 2007, at the time of 11:47 PM | Comments (32) | TrackBack

    May 18, 2007

    Fleshing Out the Outline, take 1

    Immigration Immolations
    Hatched by Dafydd

    I've learned some more detailed information about the bill, mostly from the interview Hugh Hewitt just conducted with Tony Snow. Here is the updated outline; the changed sections are in blue:

    Immigration reform compromise package

    1. Reform of legal immigration. The compromise sets up a "point system" (as in Australia) for future immigration; immigrants would be accepted or rejected on the basis of the number of points they accrue [WSJ2 -- today's WSJ article.];
    2. Points would be allocated for English-language facility, education, advanced job skills that the country needs (I'm guessing high tech), and for family connections to other citizens more tenuous than spouse or children under the age of 21. Family relations will be deprivileged, while skills leading to faster, better assimilation will be privileged (I don't know if "country quotas" will be retained) [WSJ2];
    3. The only family connections that would allow automatic issuance of a green card would be spouses and children under the age of 21; older children and any other family relation would simply accrue some points but would otherwise have to satisfy the point-quota requirement in (2) [WSJ2];
    4. Border security. The following provisions must be "implemented" before either regularization of illegal aliens or enactment of the temporary-worker program can occur:

      1. 370 miles of additional border fence; this is actual, real double fencing, not virtual fencing.

        Note that "the law from last year remains in effect," according to presidential spokesman Tony Snow, referring to the law mandating 800+ miles of actual fence: The 370-mile figure is just what must be built before regularization or the guest-worker program can begin [Tony Snow interview on Hugh Hewitt radio show, May 18th, 2007];

      2. 200 additional miles of vehicle barriers: concrete barriers, berms, chicanes, caltrops, and so forth [Tony Snow interview];

      3. An unknown number of additional miles of virtual fencing [Tony Snow interview];

      4. 18,000 additional Border Patrol agents;

      5. "Effective, electronic employee-verification system for the workplace;"

      6. Crackdown on employers who hire illegals;

      I don't know if "implemented" means completed, begun, funded, or what; presumably, this will be hashed out during the actual Senate debate [all from WaPo -- the Washington Post article except as noted above];

    5. Regularization of currently illegal aliens. Current illegal aliens can come forward, give full information about themselves, pay a $1,000 fine, demonstrate continuous employment since arriving, undergo a records check, and only then obtain a "probationary" Z-visa card that would allow them to stay legally and continue to work but would not allow them to apply for citizenship [WSJ2, Tony Snow interview on Hugh Hewitt radio show, May 18th, 2007];
    6. In order to get a regular Z-visa, allowing the alien to begin the path to citizenship, he must meet several requirements:

      1. The head of the household must return to his country of origin and apply from there [WSJ2];
      2. The family must undergo a criminal background check [WaPo];
      3. They must pay a $4,000 fine in addition to the $1,000 fine paid to get the provisional Z-visa, for a total of $5,000 [WSJ2, Tony Snow interview on Hugh Hewitt radio show, May 18th, 2007];
      4. They must pay back taxes -- I don't know if this made it into the final compromise, but it was in the talking points memo [TPM] that Hugh posted earlier;
      5. They must pay processing fees [WSJ2];
      6. They must go to the back of the line of legal immigrants -- see (7) below [TPM];
    7. Before Z-visas will be granted, the United States Citizen and Immigration Services (USCIS) has eight years to work through the backlog of already pending legal residency applications from those who are trying to immigrate here legally.

      Only after those are granted will USCIS turn to illegal aliens who have applied for residency per the process delineated in (6) above; this will take up to five additional years.

      After a green card is granted, citizenship requires an additional five years. Thus, from illegal status to citizenship requires a minimum of 13 years, possibly as long as 18 years. [WSJ1 -- the earlier WSJ article];

    8. Separate "guest-worker" program. A separate guest-worker "Y-visa" will be created which does not lead to citizenship; a guest worker cannot apply for citizenship unless he returns to his country of origin and applies in the normal fashion anyone else would (no line-cut privileges); up to 400,000 such Y-visas may be granted each year [WSJ2];
    9. Guest workers can apply for a two-year stint working in this country. After that time expires, they must return to their country of origin for at least a one-year "rest" period. They could then reapply, again for two years here followed by a year back in their country of origin. They could apply one more time for two years here... after which they must return permanently to their country of origin [WSJ2].

    Hatched by Dafydd on this day, May 18, 2007, at the time of 4:13 PM | Comments (16) | TrackBack

    Captain Ed On the Deal

    Immigration Immolations
    Hatched by Dafydd

    Captain Ed linked our post on the comprehensive immigration-reform compromise; but that's not why I'm linking him here. This post of his does an excellent job of refuting some of the most common arguments against the bill:

    1. Congress will never enforce the border-security provisions/triggers
    2. The bill will prompt a flood of illegals
    3. It rewards illegal behavior; the penalty for illegal entry should be deportation
    4. Once we start cracking down on the border and on employers, the illegals will self-deport

    This is not to say that there aren't good arguments against the bill; but first we must clear away the poorly thought-out dross, so we can focus on the logical worries -- for example, that there aren't enough "triggers" or safeguards built into the current version, and we should have more.

    Here are two other irrational non-reasons against the bill:

    This bill is so bad, even doing nothing would be better

    "Doing nothing" means no fence, no increased Border Patrol, no prosecution of employers for knowingly hiring illegals, and no federal law requiring automatic deportation of illegal aliens arrested or charged with committing crimes.

    Hey, wait! That last one isn't in the current bill, either. Well, yeah... and wouldn't that be a much better negotiation point than "let's do nothing instead?"

    During our long phase of "doing nothing," the number of illegals permanently residing here has grown by millions and millions. Hidden among those millions -- as we have just seen with the Fort Dix Six -- are jihadis preparing horrific attacks on us. But we can't find them, because there are so many illegal immigrants who aren't plotting any attacks inadvertently functioning as human shields.

    Yeah. Let's do nothing. That will be much better.

    If we defeat this bill, the next one will be just enforcement only

    Hint for those who aren't good on current events: The Democrats control both houses of Congress. They control the agenda. They control committee chairmanships and how many of each party gets to sit on the committees.

    The committees generally write the bills.

    The committee membership picked by the majority Democrats does not include many Blue Dogs (conservative Democrats); rather, it's far more left-liberal than the Democratic Party itself, and even more liberal than the Democratic conference in Congress. Liberal Democrats oppose border security; they are ideological true-believers in totally open borders... and they also believe that immigrants (both legal and illegal) who vote (both legally and illegally) tend to vote Democratic.

    And you know what? They're right. Hispanics in general tend to vote, oh, 55-45 for Democrats; but among recent citizens, the ratio is much worse for Republicans.

    Finally, the nutroots, which drives elections for Democrats much more than the rightroots does for Republicans, is 100% against securing our borders, for a variety of reasons. Thus, the very people who write the bills have an ideological reason, a practical reason, and a political reason not to enact border security.

    So why did they support it this time? Because there is a ton of border-security pressure coming from Main Street, and the Democratic leadership was afraid to buck it. But lo! If they were to offer this bill with lots of border security, and if the Republicans defeat it by filibuster -- then the Democrats are off the hook: They can blame the lack of border security entirely on the GOP, and we'll get hammered even harder in 2008 than we did in 2006.

    But that's all right, because the GOP leadership all have safe seats... so they're not worried. Most of them spent many, many years in the minority before and may actually be more comfortable there; in the minority, you get to fulminate and make grand gestures, but you needn't do the hard work of actually governing.

    Believe me, the immigration dynamic is exactly the same as that of the troop-funding bill: Whichever side is seen by the voters as making impossible demands, thus killing the bill, is the side that gets hammered. Killing a bill because it dares to address a problem -- the illegals already here -- that most people do want to see resolved (however they want to resolve it) is an invitation to catastrophe.

    And the next immigration bill won't be anywhere near as good for the GOP as this one.

    Jihadi screening

    Finally, let me address an intelligent argument that Hugh Hewitt is making this very minute in his discussion with Tony Snow on the former's radio show: Hugh wants to know why illegals from Saudi Arabia and Pakistan will receive the same treatment as illegals from Mexico and Nicaragua. He wants the bill modified, it appears, to include a list of "suspect" countries whose immigrants, when they apply for provisional Z-visas, will be held up while the FBI performs full field background investigations.

    Hugh worries that if some undercover jihadi comes up and gets a provisional Z-visa, this will lend "legitimacy" to his cover story. Tony Snow responded that in order to do so, he would have to make himself (and his location) known to federal authorities... and the array of terrorism-intelligence programs will thus make it more likely that he will be identified and captured.

    You mileage may vary, but I honestly believe that our jihadi would have to be an idiot to bring himself to our attention: He knows that biometric characteristics will be recorded and compared to our database -- but he does not know whether we've already picked up intel that incriminates him.

    Hugh argues that he can operate better if he's above ground, but I say that's silly: The more visible he is, the more chance someone will notice, e.g., his attempts to obtain bomb materials.

    Finally, if we make it clear that people from Middle Eastern and Central Asian countries will receive special immigration screening... then al-Qaeda will throw Jose Padillas at us by the bucketful. The jihadis are not utter fools.

    Thus, I would much rather expand the NSA-al-Qaeda intercept program, the SWIFT surveillance program, Total Information Awareness, and other terrorism surveillance and intelligence programs... and then hook the terrorism-intelligence database up to the USCIS along with the National Crime Information Center. Then, as part of the records check -- not full field background investigation, which takes months, as I know from personal experience -- every illegal seeking a provisional Z-visa will be checked against every possible datum that might identify a terrorist.

    Even if he comes from, oh, I don't know... England.

    Hatched by Dafydd on this day, May 18, 2007, at the time of 3:48 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

    May 17, 2007

    Grand Outline of Provisions of "the Compromise"

    Immigration Immolations
    Hatched by Dafydd

    The main purpose of this post is to pull together everything we currently know about the immigration-reform deal announced today. I had to go through six different sources to find it all; but here it is, all in one place.

    For future reference, as this stuff works its way through Congress, I will repost the outline below and make changes, additions, and emendations as required. So consider Big Lizards your one-stop shopping center for the grand plan that will occupy as much of Congress's time as can be spared... after the urgent requirement to investigate every Republican, living or dead, who ever worked for George W. Bush (or said anything nice about him).

    Sources: I have now read several thousand words on the Senate immigration-reform deal announced today by Sens. John McCain (R-AZ, 65%), Ted Kennedy (D-MA, 100%), John Kyl (R-AZ, 92%), and others:

    - I read the AP, Washington Post, New York Times, and Wall Street Journal (subscription required) stories on the deal.

    - I read yesterday's WSJ's story (subscription required). I read the responses by Hugh Hewitt, Dean Barnett (buried in his American Idol post), John Hinderaker, and Paul Mirengoff (addendum on John's earlier post).

    - I read the angry commentary by Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC, 100%) -- John quotes it. I read Hugh's earlier "talking points" post, in which he revealed what the GOP wanted from the bill -- and Hugh's own guess as to what will make it into the final compromise (nearly everything he said the GOP wouldn't get -- they got).

    - I haven't read anything on the subject by Michelle Malkin, the Center for Security Policy, nor Rep. Tom Tancredo (R-CO, 92%), and for a very good reason: their prior hysterical opposition to any immigration reform that even hints at anything other than a wall, imprisonment of employers, and mass deportations of 11 million illegals. They have collectively become "the boys who cried 'amnesty!'" -- at everything, without exception, that goes beyond enforcement. They have marginalized themselves (like the black vote) by being 100% predictable. They have made themselves nought but cosmic background radiation on this issue.

    Sadly, Hugh and Dean now join those ranks. By contrast, John and Paul make reasonable arguments and explain their positions, rather than simply screaming "amnesty" at me. I disagree with them, but I will continue reading and mulling what they write.

    Before getting into my own thoughts, let me summarize what is known about the deal; unlike anybody else here, I will include references for each datum. What a concept!

    Immigration reform compromise package - original

    1. Reform of legal immigration. The compromise sets up a "point system" (as in Australia) for future immigration; immigrants would be accepted or rejected on the basis of the number of points they accrue [WSJ2 -- today's WSJ article.];
    2. Points would be allocated for English-language facility, education, advanced job skills that the country needs (I'm guessing high tech), and for family connections to other citizens more tenuous than spouse or children under the age of 21. Family relations will be deprivileged, while skills leading to faster, better assimilation will be privileged (I don't know if "country quotas" will be retained) [WSJ2];
    3. The only family connections that would allow automatic issuance of a green card would be spouses and children under the age of 21; older children and any other family relation would simply accrue some points but would otherwise have to satisfy the point-quota requirement in (2) [WSJ2];
    4. Border security. The following provisions must be "implemented" before either regularization of illegal aliens or enactment of the temporary-worker program can occur:

      1. 370 miles of additional border fence (unknown whether that means actual wall the whole way, wall plus fence, or wall plus fence plus virtual fence);
      2. 18,000 additional Border Patrol agents;
      3. "Effective, electronic employee-verification system for the workplace;"
      4. Crackdown on employers who hire illegals;

      I don't know if "implemented" means completed, begun, funded, or what; presumably, this will be hashed out during the actual Senate debate [all from WaPo -- the Washington Post article];

    5. Regularization of currently illegal aliens. Current illegal aliens can come forward, give full information about themselves, and obtain a "probationary" Z-visa card that would allow them to stay legally and continue to work but would not allow them to apply for citizenship [WSJ2];
    6. In order to get a regular Z-visa, allowing the alien to begin the path to citizenship, he must meet several requirements:

      1. The head of the household must return to his country of origin and apply from there [WSJ2];
      2. The family must undergo a criminal background check [WaPo];
      3. They must pay a $5,000 fine [WSJ2];
      4. They must pay back taxes -- I don't know if this made it into the final compromise, but it was in the talking points memo [TPM] that Hugh posted earlier;
      5. They must pay processing fees [WSJ2];
      6. They must go to the back of the line of legal immigrants -- see (7) below [TPM];
    7. Before Z-visas will be granted, the United States Citizen and Immigration Services (USCIS) has eight years to work through the backlog of already pending legal residency applications from those who are trying to immigrate here legally.

      Only after those are granted will USCIS turn to illegal aliens who have applied for residency per the process delineated in (6) above; this will take up to five additional years.

      After a green card is granted, citizenship requires an additional five years. Thus, from illegal status to citizenship requires a minimum of 13 years, possibly as long as 18 years. [WSJ1 -- the earlier WSJ article];

    8. Separate "guest-worker" program. A separate guest-worker program will be created which does not lead to citizenship; a guest worker cannot apply for citizenship unless he returns to his country of origin and applies in the normal fashion anyone else would (no line-cut privileges) [WSJ2];
    9. Guest workers can apply for a two-year stint working in this country. After that time expires, they must return to their country of origin for at least a one-year "rest" period. They could then reapply, again for two years here followed by a year back in their country of origin. They could apply one more time for two years here... after which they must return permanently to their country of origin [WSJ2].

    Immigration reform compromise package - Mishnah

    You won't be surprised -- you who actually read Big Lizards attentively -- that my least favorite part of this compromise is the guest-worker program. In fact, I hate the very idea of a guest-worker program.

    I go along with Mark Steyn on this one... I think such programs in European countries have been prescriptions for disaster, bringing the great Moslem influx to Europe. Even here, I don't like the idea of a huge chunk of people coming here to work, even in two-year bursts, when they have no desire to become Americans and no sense of "Americanness."

    But frankly, the rest of it doesn't sound all that bad, depending on how it actually works in practice. There's the rub, as John and Paul noted: They're both skeptical that the federal government can actually enforce the border-security provisions and actually make the guest workers go home after two years... but they have no doubt of the government's ability to regularize current illegals.

    I concur in part and dissent in part: I agree it's more difficult to get the feds to fulfill the enforcement part of the deal; that's because Democrats are less trustworthy than Republicans, as a rule... the former are apt to decide that the Vision must be achieved by any means necessary. But "more difficult" is not equivalent to "impossible," and Democrats don't always get their way.

    We must move forward; so long as we stand here, foot in hand, we continue to have wide-open borders. Even a scant 370 extra miles of fence is better than what we have now (duh). Remember, "not making a decision" is in fact making a decision, the decision to do nothing.

    I think border enforcement and guest-worker control are both doable... provided we have a commitment to do them. But of course, if we don't have such a commitment, we certainly wouldn't be able to enact a Tancredoesque "enforcement always and only" reform. Dig?

    The most important take-away from the compromise is this: It really, truly is a compromise. Many of the provisions above -- i.e., the "trigger" that prevents implementation of regularization until border security is implemented, the point system that privileges assimilability over extended family connections, and the limitations on how long guest workers can stay -- were opposed by the Democrats and only accepted to ward off a Republican threat of filibuster.

    The Democrats were actually anxious enough for the deal that they gave as much as did we. This was the best we could get; but amazingly, it's actually better than the version floating around the Republican-controlled Senate in the 109th Congress -- which passed the Senate on May 17th, 2006... but couldn't become law, because the Republican-controlled House opposed it.

    I am very, very pleased that the bill actually addresses my main concern: That we reform our legal immigration system to make it predictable.

    Immigrants should know what they can do to make acceptance more likely, what standards they must reach, and that acceptance or rejection will be based upon individual merit, rather than arbitrary, capricious, collectivist, and corrupt. The immigrant is told what skills and education generate how many points, so he can work towards becoming an American citizen. This alone makes illegal immigration far less attractive.

    This point is far more critical to our long-term interests and national security than anything we do about the 11-12 million illegals currently here; they constitute only a temporary problem, because they won't live forever. The other point critical to national security is securing the border with some combination of wall, fence, and virtual fence, in order to keep out the next 12 million potential illegal aliens. Compared to these two points, every other immigration suggestion is mere dicta.

    But please, folks, take a deep breath and read, read, read about the compromise. This Big Lizards post is a good starting point, since I worked like the Dickens to organize everything into a grand outline. Then you can follow the debate as it flows across the Senate and eventually the House.

    A knee-jerk rejection of anything other than enforcement as "amnesty" does absolutely nothing to secure the border... and a knee-jerk vow never to vote for any Republican ever again does nothing but fill the congressional carriage team with Democratic squirrels... and then give Hillary Clinton the driver's whip.

    Even if you hate the very idea of regularization, remember this:

    • The lesser of two evils is still evil...
    • But by definition, the lesser of two evils is also still less evil than the other one.

    Hatched by Dafydd on this day, May 17, 2007, at the time of 6:46 PM | Comments (31) | TrackBack

    September 29, 2006

    Secure Fences - Do They Make Good Congressmen?

    Congressional Calamities , Immigration Immolations , Predictions
    Hatched by Dafydd

    I don't recall if I ever posted this prediction on Big Lizards, but in a private e-mail I sent to John Hinderaker, speaking of the "fence first" bill that was being discussed then in the Senate, I wrote the following:

    I'll be quite surprised if cloture is even successfully called -- and if it passes, I'll be surprised if the president doesn't veto.

    Well, color me surprised: the Senate just yesterday voted cloture on the Secure Fence Act of 2006 by a large and impressive margin of 71 to 28... which means I'm quite certain it will also pass, whenever they actually hold the vote.

    So the question is, will President Bush sign or veto the bill? I hope he vetoes; but he may see that as a political negative.

    Assuming he signs it, at that point, I will desperately hope that I'm likewise wrong in my other prediction about a "security-fence first" bill, which is that in reality, fence first = fence only; that once the House Republicans get their fence, they will never make good on their promise to allow votes on the three other major immigration reforms (or at least not on two of them):

    1. Some form of regularization of the 11 million illegal aliens already here, at least the portion of them who are only illegal because our immigration system is so messed up that it is arbitrary, capricious, and unjust (see 3 below).

      In this case, "regularization" shall mean sentencing them to some legal penalty that does not include deportation; to have the illegal entry not prevent them from being granted a work visa, assuming they should have been granted one in the first place (that is, if they have not committed unrelated crimes in the meanwhile). The legal penalty resolves the crime; the illegal immigrant has "paid his debt to society" and can get on with his life without fear;

    2. Some way to allow some number of non-permanent-residents legally to work for below minimum wage for any employer who will hire them. I personally would prefer those "guest workers" be fresh immigrants still trying to get their "green cards," rather than imported foreign labor with no intention of staying here... but that's my schtick (and Mark Steyn's);
    3. A rationalizing of the entire immigration system, so that those immigrants who work the hardest at Americanizing themselves are the ones who get to become Americans.

    I still believe that the "fence-first" members of Congress will not fulfill their promise to allow votes on 1 and 2, now that they have their fence (assuming Bush doesn't veto the bill, which he still might). Ne'ertheless, I really and truly hope to be proven wrong, that they're more honorable than I pegged 'em, because I think the fence won't work without those other reforms.

    Reform 3 is the most critical... and interestingly, I'm more sanguine about that one being enacted at some point than the other two, for the simple reason that neither party has expressed any position for or against it: thus, neither the Democrats nor the Republicans is locked into any position on rationalizing the system; neither side has painted itself into a hole.

    Suppose I suddenly jumped in front of Rep. Tom Tancredo (R-CO, 100%), and before the Capitol Police could wrestle me to the ground, I asked him: "Sir, do you believe that those immigrants who work hardest to Americanize should be the ones who get to become Americans?" I am convinced that he would say, "uh... yeah. Sure. Why not? But aren't they?"

    And from my prostrate position, as they clapped me in irons back and front, I would shout out, in my best James Boswell impersonation, "No indeed sir; there is in fact, sir, no correlation between Americanization, sir, and becoming an American, sir... sir, it is a complete crap shoot!"

    And maybe he would ponder and think a bit as they bunged me into the paddy wagon and beetled off.

    I greatly fear that we won't even have the debate about 1 and 2, and I think it only 50-50 at best that we'll ever get 3 (all right, it's a 50-50 chance that it turns out to be a 50-50 chance). But this is one of several instances where I jolly well hope my prediction will fail!

    Hatched by Dafydd on this day, September 29, 2006, at the time of 5:29 PM | Comments (21) | TrackBack

    September 25, 2006

    "Immigration" Bill... Frist, That Is

    Congressional Calamities , Immigration Immolations
    Hatched by Dafydd

    (All right, all right; a weak title. Don't blame me... it was that darned rough questioning by Chris Wallace; he's always on the phone, demanding to know what I did about the USS Cole bombing... and I wasn't even in the government, then or now!)

    Interesting post by Power Line, which follows a post on Real Clear Politics:

    Mickey Kaus poses the question whether Senator Frist was signalling an imminent flakeout on the border fence legislation on This Week yesterday. There is a cynicism in Kaus's instincts that I hope is not warranted, especially given the high regard in which we hold Senator Frist, but it is a cynicism that has been amply warranted in Kaus's past analysis of the politics of immigration reform.

    The gist of the Kaus column is that he saw Maj. Leader Bill Frist (R-TN, 92%) on This Week With George Snuffleupagus, and he could tell by Frist's "guilty, knowing grin" -- as he said "right now I got a feeling the Democrats may obstruct it ["it" = the border-fence-only bill]" -- that Frist was really "feckless" about the whole immigration question, cynically bringing it up, only to drop it a few days later.

    I read the Kaus column late last night, and I must say that cynicism is very unbecoming... particularly when it's not warranted. There is a simpler explanation:

    • Perhaps Frist really did think that everyone in the Senate, on both sides, would rise above what Frist sees as petty bickering to enact the plans for the fence;
    • But then, when the Democrats made it clear that they were going to filibuster, and a handful of Republicans joined them, Frist now realizes that the yolk's on him -- the bill he so loudly touted was going nowhere, and he (Frist) was going to look like an idiot.

    This alternative explanation perfectly explains Frist's initial enthusiasm, his current probable intent (which we don't actually know yet to be true) to drop the subject again, and even the so-called "guilty, knowing grin" that Kaus insists he saw. It's certainly true, as Micky Kaus writes, that:

    It's easy to let the fence bill drop and blame Democrats. Wink, wink. But a forceful majority leader who actually wanted either a) a vote or b) a sharpened issue against the Dems wouldn't give up just like that. He'd call a press conference to demand that the Democrats allow a vote. Put a spotlight on the issue. Make Harry Reid come up with an equally well-publicized explanation for why the Democrats oppose this popular common-denominator measure. That would be hard for Reid to do without hurting Dem election chances, and he might not do it--resulting in a Democratic cave-in and a vote. And the fence Frist says he wants.

    But the problem with Kaus's reasoning is that, like so many others, he starts from his honest admission that "I can't think of any other possibilities" than "phoniness, fecklessness, or a corrupt bargain;" but then he makes the illogical leap from "I can't think of" to the conclusion that there are no other possibilities. I suppose his idea is that if he can't think of any, how could any lesser mortal?

    But of course, there is a good reason -- one that we Big Lizards ourselves support -- for rejecting the enforcement-first approach to immigration reform. And it would be easy for Sen. Harry Reid (D-Caesar's Palace, 100%) to give exactly that press conference that Kaus so knowingly asserts cannot be given. And if Reid gave it (and did a better job than he usually does), it could indeed flip the whole immigration issue around and hang it like an anvil around the Republicans' necks.

    Simply put, the fence is great; I'm all in favor of the fence; but there are other reforms equally vital, without which the fence alone cannot work. And here's the kicker: once we get the fence, the enforcement-first crowd in Congress will turn into the enforcement-only mob, and I am 100% convinced that they themselves will do everything in their power to obstruct and disrupt every other element of immigration reform.

    The only incentive for "enforcement only" Congressmen to support other reforms is to tie those reforms to the border fence. It's a sad state of affairs for the nation -- but one that is forced upon reformers by the monomania of the enforcement-only representatives and senators. Both moderates and conservatives have immigration ideas that are vital to solving this problem; but the hard right refuses even to consider the moderates' ideas... even to the point of letting the border fence go unbuilt, if to build it means they have to accept some other reforms.

    Let's put it in an analogy that everyone can understand, I think. Even after welfare reform, there are still way too many people on "perpetual welfare." Most conservatives want to cut a number of welfare programs, and I support those: welfare reform worked very well in the past, and I think it would work well in the future.

    But at the same time, for a lot of people on welfare, it is the only life they have ever known; they literally have no idea what job skills are or why they're important. Thus, moderates believe that intense training in such job skills (starting from the basics, such as actually showing up at eight and staying until five, speaking respectfully, dressing and acting appropriately, and such) is necessary for the current generation of hard-core welfaristas to get jobs and become productive. (For sake of argument, assume the training itself is actually productive, not some liberal, namby-washy, self-esteem and preening course.)

    So a grand compromise is proposed: cut welfare programs drastically while funding intense job-training. A number of moderates, who ordinarily resist program cuts, say they're willing to accept that compromise; it can work, they say, if the job training is also present, so those cut from the rolls will have some idea what to do to avoid ending up on the streets. But the conservatives dig in their heels and insist that we do nothing but cut the programs.

    Impasse; the bill goes nowhere. And then suddenly, one of the conservatives proposes a new "compromise": "we all agree on one part of the solution, cutting the welfare programs," he says; "so therefore, let's start by doing only that... and then, some number of months or years in the future, we'll have a separate discussion about whether we should have the job training programs too!"

    It would be reasonable and responsible to debate exactly what sort of job training we should do. It's also perfectly responsible to debate exactly what other immigration reforms we need in addition to building a wall.

    But it's disingenuous to the point of flat-out lying for the hard-core conservatives to suggest a "compromise" that consists of giving them everything they want -- in exchange for their promise to someday consider what the moderates want. That's no compromise at all; it's simply saying "I get everything I want, and you get bupkis!" It's unAmerican; it's downright Palestinian.

    So what are these other vital elements of immigration reform? We've talked about them many times here on Big Lizards (and going back to my stints on Captain's Quarters and Patterico's Pontifications:

    1. Making the immigration system itself rational, predictable, and just: an unjust and irrational system will always lead to millions coming here illegally. When people are arbitrarily and capriciously denied entry, while others less deserving get right in, the hopelessness and resentment inevitably lead some of those irrationally rejected (or worse, simply forgotten in the bureaucratic shuffle) to take matters into their own hands. The scum that we desperately need to keep out of the country hide among the millions who sneak in only because the system is so badly broken.

      If we create a path that is predictable, rational, and just, then no matter how long and hard it may be, the immigrants we actually want here will remain within the legal framework, because they can see progress.

    2. Allowing those who haven't yet earned "green cards" to work to support themselves, and to get another job if they lose one, without the fear that if the company they work for goes belly-up, they'll be instantly deported. They need to be exempt from the minimum wage laws... not only because many businesses rely upon such low wages (not just lettuce and grape picking), but also because most recent immigrants are not really worth minimum wage yet. (Neither are a lot of native-born Americans, but that's a whole 'nother argument.)

      I actually oppose minimum wage laws altogether; but if we must have them, temporary resident aliens who are in the process of becoming permanent need to be exempt: having a job is more important than having a job that pays well.)

      But I totally oppose so-called "guest worker programs," having been convinced by Mark Steyn that a permanent population of immigrants who see themselves as not really a part of America is very dangerous... even if they are primarily Mexican, not Algerian.

    3. Finding some method of regularizing that portion of the 11 million already here illegally who only resorted to sneaking across the border because of the irrational and unjust nature of our broken immigration system -- while deporting those who sneak in for more nefarious reasons, or who break the law simply because they're lawbreakers: just as in point 2, we cannot allow a permanent underclass of millions of people here, seething with resentment; and yet we likewise cannot simply "deport them all," both for practical reasons (it's not physically possible) and also the moral reason: most of them do not deserve deportation. They wouldn't be illegal aliens if the failures of our own immigration system did not leave them so despairing of ever getting in legally.

      Again with the analogies: you get accepted to university; you move there and attend for all four years, taking the same classes as all the other students, passing the same tests, doing the same projects. And then, at the end, you and about half of your fellow students simply don't receive your degrees.

      You may be told that the university decided it was awarding too many of them, or that they've changed their minds about the degree requirements. Or you may be told nothing at all. You call, but you can never get through. You show up, and after waiting seven hours in line, the officials say they can't find your records: come back in a few months and wait again. But even then, they won't even talk to you; someone suggests you simply apply again as a freshman and go through the entire university program a second time.

      But the other half of the class, who did no more than you did, get their degrees with no problem. If, in your hopelessness, you simply told everybody you had that degree, and maybe even hired someone to forge it, would you really think of yourself as a criminal who should be fired from your job, arrested, and forcibly removed from the state? (If so, you're a harsher person than I.)

    I passionately believe -- as do the president and many sincere Republicans and a handful of sincere Democrats on the Hill -- that without these additional reforms, merely putting up a fence is doomed to failure. But I also believe that giving the anti-immigrant hard-liners their wall -- and I do mean anti-immigrant for many of them, not merely anti-illegal -- without linking the wall to the other reforms, guarantees that nothing but the security fence will ever be adopted.

    Hence, while I love the fence, I oppose a fence-only bill like the one Frist is pushing. Life is a series of tradeoffs; and a political position that seems harsh today may turn out to be be vital tomorrow. In any event, those of us arguing that it is vital are just as sincere as those arguing the opposite.

    Even if we occasionally grimly grin when we realize it's just not going to happen in this Congress.

    Hatched by Dafydd on this day, September 25, 2006, at the time of 2:18 PM | Comments (26) | TrackBack

    June 20, 2006

    Immigration Man 2: "No Reason"

    Immigration Immolations
    Hatched by Dafydd

    Yesterday, I posted a piece called Immigration Man, noting that none of those who so readily call normalization "amnesty" had yet posted -- at least that I have seen -- a blog article that recognized the hell that so many legal immigrants must pass through like a kidney stone.

    No anti-normalization blogger that I've read has called for reform of a system that shattered long ago, which is now run by career "civil" "servants" who have as much concern for immigrants, legal immigrants, as cock fighters have for their roosters.

    I finished by begging to be proven wrong:

    We have quite a few readers here; can anyone show me even one, single post by an anti-Hagel-Martinez hardliner about the troubles faced by legal immigrants? Can I see a post where a hardliner argues that we should reform immigration law to make the system more rational, fair, and comprehensible, less time-consuming, and less likely to induce despair or even the very bypassing of the immigration laws that hardliners fear? May I please see some evidence that the anti-illegal-immigrant hardliners care much -- or at all -- about government maltreatment of legal immigrants and potential immigrants?

    (I will define a "hardliner" as anyone who opposes what he calls "amnesty" so much, he will even give up the border fence, if that's the only way to stop normalization.)

    After nineteen comments (to this point), only one person so far has linked to a blogpost by a hardliner who has published a post agreeing that our legal immigration system is in dire need of overhaul to make it more rational, predictable, and just. And that post linked Big Lizards as its source!

    Instead, commenters have been answering quite different questions. Several seem to think I'm arguing for more immigration; I'm open to the possibility, but I never argued the point in Immigration Man. Others are convinced I oppose the fence; in fact, I'm 100% behind it.

    Still more seem to think I said that all conservatives are anti-immigrant: no again; read the post closely.

    What I point out in Immigration Man is that I've yet to meet even one person who refers to normalization as "amnesty" -- yet who is concerned enough about the insanity of the current legal immigration system that he's written a blogpost about reforming it.

    Maybe people really don't know; here are the two examples closest to me:


    My wife was a legal immigrant; she jumped through all the hoops, did everything by the book. She got a green card; she went through the whole citizenship procedure, satisfying every requirement save one: her swearing-in ceremony.

    Along the way, she was bullied, threatened, shouted at, belittled, insulted, and once made to wait from 3:30 am on the sidewalk outside the INS... only to be told at 9:00 that they were only seeing twenty people that day. She was number 27 -- and there was a very long line behind her. (I waited with her that day; she had to forcibly restrain me from strangling the moron who didn't bother putting a sign up the night before.)

    But in the end, she satisfied all the requirements and needed only to be sworn in... and they simply wouldn't give her an appointment.

    No reason. She wasn't missing any papers, she had passed all the tests, she had been here for years and years, she spoke excellent English, she was perfectly legal. They just didn't give her an appointment... for years.

    It finally took the direct intervention of our then Republican representative to finally get the damned INS to set a date for her to get sworn in; she went, raised her hand, and finally became an American.

    Please don't brush this off by saying, "oh, the government is always bureaucratic." This goes far beyond mere bureaucracy into despicable abuse.


    I've told the story of our friend Takao here several times. He came from Japan legally, but the most he could get was a work visa. He lived here, worked here -- all legally -- paid his taxes, bought a condo and a car, had health and auto insurance, learned English, got a bachelor's degree and a master's degree from an American university, never got in the least bit of trouble with the law... yet in all that time, he was never even able to get a green card.

    Not in sixteen years.

    He hired an American attorney, but it made no difference. No matter what forms he filed, the INS simply never bothered responding, beyond sending a receipt of the filing. They never told him what he lacked, what he had to do, why he couldn't get a green card.

    That is because there was no reason: there is no reason why some breeze right through in five years; no reason why others get stuck in a holding pattern for three times as long.

    In the end, Takao was laid off from the Japanese hotel where he had worked for so long; it was shortly after 9/11, and Japanese were afraid to travel to America... so the hotel got into financial trouble and had to lay off many workers.

    Takao's work visa specified that hotel; he filled out the forms for the INS to apply for another job. Instead of granting it -- they ordered him home... that's it, sayonara, it's been a slice having you.

    Because he would not break the law, he found himself on an airplane back to Narita Airport. He lives in Tokyo today, but he still loves America... even after what America did to him. God knows why. He still hopes that someday, he will be able to come here as a permanent resident.

    Random Chaos

    I hear about others who come here and have no problems: they get on the green-card track right away, they get residency, they're given an appointment for being sworn in... no problem. Others live through the nightmares depicted above.

    There is no rhyme or reason, no logic why one is waved through at a trot while another is thrown to the ground and made to crawl. It's entirely random -- or worse, the caprice of the interviewer -- who gets a pass and whose paperwork is lost for two and a half years on somebody's desk, with nobody at the INS (now the USCIS -- same car, different plastic) caring enough even to go look for it.

    The system is entirely arbitrary. It is the most unpredictable agency in the United States government, except in one respect: immigrants are routinely treated like animals. That they can expect.

    People are told what is happening; people are told what they need to do. People are treated with respect, even when they have to fill out eighty-five forms in triplicate.

    Immigrants, legal immigrants, are not people... not as far as Immigration is concerned.

    What I Want for Christmas

    I will wait until I see a hardliner finally understand why this is a vile betrayal of the American promise. I long for the day when he spends at least a tenth as much time arguing for reform of the legal immigration system as he does calling illegals "lawbreakers" and "criminals."

    (I wonder how many of these "lawbreakers" were just like Takao, except, having a family, they made the decision that rather than be arbitrarily sent back to whatever blot they left, they would stay -- and perhaps their kids could have the life the "lawbreakers" could only experience vicariously.)

    I eagerly anticipate the hardliner's insight that a system that is unpredictable, uninformative, unconcerned, vindictive, and that is run by petty tyrants who have life-and-death decision-making power over immigrants who have played by all the rules, is in urgent need of reform.

    Not to bring in fewer immigrants, nor more immigrants, but simply to have a system where someone who follows every law scrupulously can actually be told what he must do to become a permanent resident and eventually a citizen.

    For God's sake, even a horse is taught what commands it must obey; it doesn't have to guess.

    Hatched by Dafydd on this day, June 20, 2006, at the time of 6:06 AM | Comments (39) | TrackBack

    June 19, 2006

    Immigration Man

    Immigration Immolations
    Hatched by Dafydd

    I have been thinking a lot about the hard-line, anti-illegal-immigration crowd, especially in the House, but also in the conservative blogosphere. I start to wonder about the defensive claim that they're just opposed to lawbreaking -- not immigration itself.

    Let's leave aside those who nakedly oppose immigration, calling, e.g., for a "moratorium" on new immigrants for five years or three years or any other length of time. Those bloggers and pundits are simply being honest about their dislike; and while I fervently disagree with them, I always prize honesty and clarity in political debate (it's a rare and valuable commodity).

    I begin to become quite skeptical of those who say "I'm not opposed to legal immigration; but these illegals are criminals and lawbreakers, and they should not be rewarded with amnesty."

    For weeks, we at Big Lizards have focused on the tail end of that statement: not only the misleading misuse of the word "amnesty," which doesn't mean what the hard-liners pretend it does, but more generally the question of what balance to strike between security, the needs of businesses for cheap and acquiescent labor, and a just resolution for those who bypassed the immigration system to come here illegally.

    But all along, I have taken at face value the first part of the argument above: that the opponents of comprehensive immigration reform actually have nothing against legal immigration. Clearly, however, if I'm misinformed -- if they do have a deep-seated distrust of immigration in general, whether they recognize it or whether it is subconscious -- then there is little hope of ever crafting a compromise of any sort. As Ronald Reagan often said, you cannot rationally argue someone out of a position that he was never rationally argued into in the first place.

    So forgive my brashness, for I am only an egg; but I would like to see some reasonable evidence that any of the "hard-liners" against compromise on normalization actually supports legal immigration, or has the slightest concern about the arbitrary, capricous, and often discriminatory way that completely legal immigrants (and would-be immigrants) are treated in this country -- earlier by the Immigration and Naturalization Services and today by the US Citizenship and Immigration Services.

    We have quite a few readers here; can anyone show me even one, single post by an anti-Hagel-Martinez hardliner about the troubles faced by legal immigrants? Can I see a post where a hardliner argues that we should reform immigration law to make the system more rational, fair, and comprehensible, less time-consuming, and less likely to induce despair or even the very bypassing of the immigration laws that hardliners fear? May I please see some evidence that the anti-illegal-immigrant hardliners care much -- or at all -- about government maltreatment of legal immigrants and potential immigrants?


    I believe that the vast majority of those who are anti-affirmative-action (including myself) are at least equally concerned about racist laws that hurt blacks: just as I would march against affirmative action, if any such marches were planned, I have also in the past marched against the Klan. But on the other hand, I believe that nearly everyone who is anti-Israel just uses it as cover for being antisemitic -- so these sorts of things can swing either way.

    I would love to find out I was right in my original assumption, that the anti-illegal hardliners actually do care about the unnecessary tribulations cast in the paths of legal immigrants. Not only would it make rational discussion possible, but I like to think well of people I respect. But danged if I can find any evidence so far.

    Hatched by Dafydd on this day, June 19, 2006, at the time of 6:12 PM | Comments (22) | TrackBack

    June 14, 2006

    Jungian Slip?

    Immigration Immolations
    Hatched by Dafydd

    So I'm looking at a Reuters article, and the very first sentence reads:

    U.S. customs officials arrested more than 2,000 illegal immigrants, gang members and other fugitives in a nationwide sweep, the head of the U.S. Immigration and Customer Enforcement agency said on Wednesday.

    I thought, well there's yer problem! That's what we need: more federal customer enforcement. I'm from Homeland Security -- you better round up those consumers and turn 'em into legitimate customers, fellah!

    (The correct name of the agency, a division of DHS, is of course Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Multiple layers of elite-media fact checking in action....)

    Hey, I like the program; don't get me wrong. I'm all in favor of a massive crackdown to round up those illegal aliens who are committing real crimes, apart from their mere existence (and apart from ancillary crimes necessary to their presence, such as obtaining fake documents). I just think it's probably more in the federal government's purview to enforce customs than customers.

    I wonder how long before Reuters does one of its infamous "stealth" corrections?

    Hatched by Dafydd on this day, June 14, 2006, at the time of 2:42 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

    June 1, 2006

    Two Pence Worth

    Immigration Immolations
    Hatched by Dafydd

    I just listened to Rep. Mike Pence (R-IN, 100%) on Hugh Hewitt, and he (Pence, I mean) made a lot of sense... until he got on the subject of immigration. Well, regularization, actually; what it pleases him to call *mn*sty (Hugh never makes total sense, but I generally have some idea what he's on about).

    Pence presented his "four-point plan" for a compromise bill on immigration... which appears to be the House plan plus a grudging and dubious guest-worker plan. That add-on requires potential guest workers to voluntarily remove themselves from the United States, head to one of several privately-run "Ellis Island centers" (Pence's term), each situated in some foreign country, and apply for the program from there.

    I suspect there would be one "Island" per continent.

    Thus, Pence imagines that dirt-poor Guatemalan migrant workers will saddle up, head back across the border (the reaction of Mexican authorities to the entry of non-Mexican illegal immigrants will be very interesting), and journey thousands of miles to get to La Isla, wait in the line there, fill out 377 forms in triplicate (the USCIS will probably send the wrong batch, and all the forms will be in Serbo-Croatian)... all in order to go back to the United States and get that $4.50/hour job picking strawbs in Oxnard, California.


    Pence spoke eloquently about the urgency of buiding that fence, how vital it is to national security. Hugh said he agreed with Pence on the urgency of the fence... but how would Pence response if the only way to get 700 miles of fence were to find some way, somehow, to regularize some of those already here illegally?

    And Pence was stymied. He would not accept any conceivable scenario where "the great majority of the House" would ever vote for "*mn*sty;" but on the other hand, Pence would not say he would vote against such a final bill, either. He couldn't say anything; he kept dancing around Hugh's question, picking on this word or that phrasing or simply answering with a non-sequitur.

    I can only conclude that in fact, Mike Pence hates illegals already here more than he fears future waves pouring across an unprotected border; that he would rather have no fence at all, if the only way to get it were regularization of even some-but-not-all. But for some reason, he is afraid to come out and say so.

    This is really sad. I can understand people opposing regularization; it is a defensible position, albeit one I disagree with. But you have to prioritize your demands... and no sane person can argue that allowing some of those already living here underground to surface and become legal is more dangerous than failing to build the fence.

    Nevertheless, there are many in the House Republican caucus -- I hope not a majority -- who are actually willing to drop the fence, so long as that stops any kind of legalization. That is the face of fanaticism.

    Hatched by Dafydd on this day, June 1, 2006, at the time of 4:17 PM | Comments (27) | TrackBack

    A "Green" War Hero

    Immigration Immolations
    Hatched by Sachi

    You might have heard of Walt Gaya before; Michael Yon wrote about him in detail last year. But I think it's important to remember that not all Americans who fight for us are citizens by birth.

    Meet Sgt. Walt Gaya, proud owner of the Corina Bakery, 510 6th Avenue, Tacoma, Washington (stop in and buy some cake). Gaya is an Iraq war veteran (Deuce Four), a baker -- and newly naturalized citizen of Amerca.

    But he almost wasn't any of those three.

    Walt is originaly from Argentina. He met his future wife Jessica (born in Oregon) in a Queens bakery where they both worked. Love -- Portland -- marriage -- two kids (the eponymous Corina is their young daughter). Then, in the year 2000, Walt enlisted in the army.

    Walt survived two horrific bomb blasts in Iraq: a suicide car bomb and a roadside IED. Both times, his Stryker saved him; but he was badly wounded twice: his back was severely burned by the car bomb and he lost some of his hearing; and the IED left shrapnel in his left eye and badly damaged his ears. Nevertheless, after the IED exploded, he emerged from his destroyed Stryker with the rest of the wounded crew, ready to fight against the ambush that often followed such IED attacks.

    His keen eyes as a sniper had protected his comrades, and occasionally an embedded journalist like Michael Yon. He was also instrumental in finding and helping wounded children.

    And yet, Walt had a problem. Michael Yon explains:

    While Walt lay in the hospital the second time, with bomb fragments in his left eye, the first thing he said to his commander LTC Erik Kurilla was that he was worried about losing the chance to become a US citizen. Although his citizenship ceremony in Baghdad was only a few days away, Walt wouldn’t make it. After this latest IED nearly blew him asunder, he’d be on a fast plane home before then. Problem was home was not officially home, and his green card had expired while he was off to war. I joked with Walt that he was lucky INS didn’t raid his place in Iraq and drag him away. (INS would have had to win a firefight against his platoon and then the entire battalion before that would happen.)

    Now, just because he was scheduled to be sworn in during a citizenship ceremony, don't assume that the INS (now the USCIS, the misleadingly labeled United States Citizenship and Immigration Services) would automatically reschedule Gaya for another ceremony when he got back to the U.S. That would be the obvious and logical thing, but USCIS is neither. It is arbitrary, capricious, and at times driven more by personal interests and vendettas than by any coherent or sane set of rules.

    Back home, [Gaya] was still worried; being a twice-wounded war veteran might not carry cache with bureaucrats, and he knew it.

    He was right; it didn't. USCIS did not give him a new date to be sworn in.

    Remember, my own application sat at that same point -- waiting to be scheduled for swearing in -- for two years; it was only by the intervention of my congressman that I finally got an appointment for the ceremony.

    But you would think that a wounded Iraqi vet, who only missed his ceremony because he was lying in a hospital bed with shrapnel in his eye, would get prompt attention from the wretched USCIS. If you think that, you've been fooled into believing they actually care -- either about immigrants or even about American security. For months, nobody at USCIS did anything or took the slightest interest in the fate of Sgt. Walt Gaya, not even when AP reporter Tony Castaneda wrote a story, and Gaya's case gained massive publicity in the U.S.

    Fortunately for him (and for his adopted country), his commander, LTC Erik Kurilla, who had been shot again, was sent to a hospital near the one where Gaya was staying. Thanks to Kurilla's help, the papers finally went through. Walt is now a naturalized American citizen.

    Sadly, many "green card troops" face similar problems. The legal immigration system in this country is an absolute disgrace. They admit some people who should never get in, and they expel other legal immigrants simply because they get laid off; immigration often won't allow someone on a work visa to get another job, even if one is offered.

    They extend citizenship to some favored immigrants after a brief period of no difficulty; but others have to wait years just to get their swearing-in ceremonies, even after satisfying all requirements.

    Soldiers who miss their ceremonies because of wounds suffered in the line of duty get swallowed up by the bureaucracy, lost and forgotten by the very people whose freedom the soldiers nearly died preserving -- a freedom not extended to the soldier until his commander brings the full weight of the Army on his side.

    Immigrants are rarely told what they must do, what forms they need to fill out, what they need to bring with them -- and even when they are told, the requirements change without warning or notice; they are sent away for not binging some document they were never ordered to bring.

    Nobody has any idea how long the process will take, or even what has become of the immigrant's file. They cannot tell the immigrant what stage he is at or what he still needs to do. They are rude and dismissive, they don't answer questions, and they shout at immigrants like prison guards bellowing orders at convicts.

    Even getting an attorney doesn't help. You need an guardian angel, like a congressman -- or the commander of the 1st Battalion, 24th Infantry -- to even gain the attention of the USCIS. And so far as anyone can tell, not one single word of either the House immigration bill or the Senate version fixes this fatally flawed agency.

    Wouldn't it have been a shame if we had let a war hero, such as Walt Gaya, become illegal -- simply because he'd been too busy fighting for our freedom to rush home and file his immigration papers?

    Hatched by Sachi on this day, June 1, 2006, at the time of 3:00 PM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

    May 31, 2006

    What Samuelson Didn't Tell You About What the Senate Didn't Tell You - UPDATED

    Immigration Immolations
    Hatched by Dafydd

    How many immigrants over the next twenty years?

    UPDATE: See below.

    Captain Ed posted an intriguing mystery today about the projected increase in legal immigration under the just-passed Senate immigration bill, the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2006 (CIRA). This has been the forgotten story of immigration reform; and the mystery, of course, is how much of an increase there will actually be.

    (This is a "numbers" thing, so I'm in hog heaven -- meaning no offense to our kosher viewers!)

    Any comprehensive bill that passes through both the Senate and the House will certainly not entail the same increases in immigration as projected for the CIRA; the House will surely cut back on a lot. But it's likewise undeniable that there will be some increase in legal immigration even in the joint bill. Thus, CIRA represents the high end of the range of immigration increase.

    The low end is what we would get if nothing else passes, just under current law. The actual projected number will be somwhere in between these two figures.

    The Captain's Quarters post links both to the celebrated Robert Rector of the Heritage Foundation -- who has recalculated his estimates, but is still wildly overheated in his fear of excess immigration -- and also to a columnist for the Washington Post, Robert Samuelson, giving us dueling Bobs.

    The Rector link is to the same article we linked earlier (twice); Rector has simply added the following correction at the top:

    (Update: On Tuesday, May 16, the Senate passed Sen. Jeff Bingaman's (D-NM) amendment to S. 2611 that significantly reduced the number of legal immigrants who could enter under the bill's "guest worker" program. As a result of this change, our estimate of the number of legal immigrants who would enter the country or would gain legal status under S. 2611 falls from 103 million to around 66 million over the next 20 years.)

    Rector doesn't give us any explanation of how he arrived at his figure of 66 million new immigrants. But I think we can suss it out from the innards of his article.

    Rector notes in the original part of the article that:

    The figure of 103 million new legal immigrants is based on the assumption that immigration under the guest worker program would grow at 10 percent per year.... If immigration under the H-2C program did not increase at all for two decades but remained fixed at the initial level of 325,000 per year, total legal immigration under CIRA would be 72 million over twenty years....

    (He links to some cool and colorful charts here, for the visually minded.)

    But of course, not only did the Bingaman amendment stop the automatic increases in the H-2C guest worker program, it also lowered the number per year from 325,000 to 200,000. When I apply this reduction to the 72 million figure, using Rector's own figures for H-2C workers plus their spouses and children, I get an increase in immigration of 64 million (to which Rector added a couple of million to grow on, I reckon).

    However, another amendment, also by Bingaman, which passed on May 27th, caps the total number of work-related green cards to 650,000 per year, including spouses and children; Rector had earlier estimated that number as 990,000 per year, which knocks another 4.6 million off the total.

    Thus, using the Rector Ratios, using his analysis modified for the two Bingaman amendments, total immigration under CIRA would increase by 59.5 million, not 66 million (or his original estimate of 103 million).

    So much for Rector. What about Samuelson?

    Robert Samuelson -- whose main interest appears to be selecting for high-skilled instead of low-skilled immigrants -- veered off today to fret about total immigration levels in general. He is not as alarmist as Robert Rector, but he still estimates a much larger increase in legal immigration than does Sen. Charles Grassley (R-IA, 96%), writing for the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), about which more anon.

    Here is Samuelson in the current column:

    The Senate passed legislation last week that Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) hailed as "the most far-reaching immigration reform in our history." You might think that the first question anyone would ask is how much it would actually increase or decrease legal immigration. But no. After the Senate approved the bill by 62 to 36, you could not find the answer in the news columns of The Post, the New York Times or the Wall Street Journal. Yet the estimates do exist and are fairly startling. By rough projections, the Senate bill would double the legal immigration that would occur during the next two decades from about 20 million (under present law) to about 40 million.

    So Rector calculates 66 million; his own figures, when one includes the second Bingaman amendment, actually work out to 59.5 million; and Samuelson comes in with a modest 40 million. Under current law, without any immigration reforms, most believe there would be about 20 million new immigrants in the next 20 years.

    We've started to set our boundaries: the increase in immigration over the next two decades, assuming comprehensive immigration reform passes, will be more than 20 million (that's just under current law) and less than 66 million. If we believe R. Samuelson instead of the somewhat hyperventilating R. Rector, it would be less than 40 million, giving us a range of 20 million.

    But where did Samuelson get the 40 million figure he touts?

    The doubling of legal immigration under the Senate bill that I cited at the outset comes from a previously unreported estimate made by White House economists.

    Alas, that estimate remains unreported, because Samuelson does not give any citation for it. He also mentions the CBO estimate, but he doesn't report that even to the extent of quoting it. That one, however, I was able to find.

    Sen. Charles Grassley is chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, and he took a look at the expected cost of the CIRA, as an official resource for members of Congress to use before voting on any final bill. As part of that estimate, he needed to project how many new immigrants would arrive due to the bill.

    UPDATE: This part of my calculation was off, because I failed to notice that Grassley was only looking 10 years, not 20 years forward. It's off, thus, by about 7.8 million, which I will add here....

    Grassley -- no friend of CIRA, which he voted against -- estimated for the CBO an increase of 7.8 million [actually, 15.6 million] new immigrants over and above the 20 million who would come here under current law. That would give an upper bound of [35.5 million], and a range of [15.5 million].

    Thus, if we believe Charles Grassley, we're only talking about adding an additional [35.5 million] new legal immigrants under CIRA, against the background of 20 million we would add even without CIRA. That means an increase of about [78%] -- significant, but hardly the catastrophic level projected by Rector, and even below the figure estimated by Samuelson.

    (Captain Ed is concerned not only about immigration but about the total increase in United States population; he writes:

    That level of immigration [the Samuelson numbers -- the Mgt] would be the equivalent of adding eight Minnesotas to the nation within a generation without adding any more territory, and that doesn't even take into account the concomitant growth through births.

    (However, the concomitant growth through births is zero, since we're hovering at exactly replacement rate right now, 2.09 births per mother; since that number is probably dropping -- though it's not likely to hit the historic low of 1.77 in 1980 -- we might end up actually losing native-born population... were it not for immigration, the US could eventually find itself in the same dilemma as Europe, with too few people to sustain their GDP -- although we're unlikely ever to be as bad off as they are now, with fertility rates in the 1.6s.)

    So there you have it. The likely range, I believe, is the low-end one, since the Samuelson projection is invisible (you can't find out any information about it), and the Rector projection uses highly dubious assumptions, each of which tends to push the total up to ludicrous heights.

    Thus, we should expect the actual increase of legal immigration due to reform to be somewhere south of [15.5 million] over two decades, assuming a comprehensive bill actually passes. That is the projection that appears to be both rational and defensible. Make of it what you will.

    Hatched by Dafydd on this day, May 31, 2006, at the time of 7:34 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

    May 27, 2006

    Matthew Dowd: Americans, Republicans, Conservatives Support Comprehensive Immigration Reform

    Elections , Immigration Immolations , Politics - National , Polling Keeps a-Rolling
    Hatched by Dafydd

    Matthew Dowd, GOP poller extraordinaire, writes that the ultra-hardline conservatives who insist that the American people demand "enforcement only" and hate the "amnesty" of the Senate bill have it exactly backwards. In fact:

    Dowd's memo says that an internal RNC poll conducted by Jan Van Louhuzen finds that "overwhelming support exists for a temporary worker program. 80% of all voters, 83% of Republicans, and 79% of self-identified conservatives support a temporary worker program as long as immigrants pay taxes and obey the law."

    More, from the RNC internal poll: "When voters are given the choice of other immigration proposals, strengthening enforcement with a tamper-proof identity card (89% among all voters, 93% among GOP), various wordings of a temporary worker program (the highest at 85% among all voters, 86% among GOP), and sending National Guard troops to the border (63% among all voters, 84% among GOP) score the highest among both all voters and Republican voters."

    Also: "Voters don't consider granting legal status to those already here amnesty."

    Hm. So... you mean that maybe the hysterical Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL, 96%) might actually be misinformed when he says that he speaks for "the base?"

    Captain Ed posted on this; that's where I saw it. But it doesn't seem to be getting much coverage from most of the conservative bloggers.

    And that's too sad; isn't it better to confront the strongest arguments against one's position? Isn't truth more important than any one person's "position" on an issue?

    I think a principled response from someone who opposes the Senate bill would be to say something like:

    "All right, it may well be true that the GOP is listening to its base on this issue, that this really is where the GOP is today. But it's up to the party leadership to lead, to teach people how wrong initial impressions can be. The Senate Republican leadership is not living up to its responsibilities by showing Republicans how this bill attacks the very foundations of conserative ideology, blah blah blah."

    I don't buy this argument; the GOP rank and file understand the core of the immigration dilemma much better than the enforcement-only gang, perpetually gnashing their iron teeth like Baba Yaga, making a sound like a thousand pots and pans clattering down the chimney.

    It turns out that polling by Dowd and also his analysis of major media polls aligns very well with the principled compromise that Big Lizards has advocated for months; it seems that we, not some other blogs, truly had our finger on the pulse not only of America, not only of the Republican Party, but even of self-described conservative Republicans. Not bad, even if we are toasting our own kazoo.

    I think we should listen to the base... but not because they agree with me. In fact, it's the other way 'round: I changed my mind on several points of this discussion because people I respect -- members of the Republican base -- offered arguments that made a lot of sense to me.

    One of the interesting points that Dowd found was that hardly anyone considers an earned path to citizenship to be "amnesty" for illegal immigrants:

    Voters don’t consider granting legal status to those already here amnesty. Seventy percent (70%) of voters say illegal immigrants who have put down roots in the U.S. should be granted legal status after they go to the back of the line, pay a fine, pay back taxes, learn English, and have a clean criminal record; just 25% say that would be amnesty and we should instead impose criminal penalties on illegal immigrants in the U.S. Republican and conservative opinion is only slightly lower—68% of conservatives and 64% of Republicans support granting legal status over criminal penalties.

    Voters want comprehensive reform, including a temporary worker program and legal status, not inaction. When voters are given the choice between a comprehensive reform plan of getting tough on border security and a temporary worker program or no reform at all (below), 71% choose comprehensive reform and 19% choose no reform. Support for comprehensive reform is even higher among GOP base voters—80% of conservatives and 72% of church-going Protestants want comprehensive reform over no reform.

    It's certainly possible for a principled conservative to reject Hagel-Martinez (actually, whatever bill comes out of the joint conference), regardless of how popular it is, not only among Republicans but among conservative Republicans. But at the least, such opponents should recognize and admit that an enforcement-only stance, or a "status quo" stance, will likely damage Republicans in 2006... rather the buoying them up, as some have suggested.

    Americans, Republicans, and conservative Republicans actually support comprehensive immigration reform, and they will not take it lightly if the enforcement-only crowd burns down the bill, rather than acquiesce in creating a path to citizenship for the illegals already here -- as supported by 80% of Americans and over 75% of Republicans.

    Cud for thinking.

    Hatched by Dafydd on this day, May 27, 2006, at the time of 6:31 AM | Comments (68) | TrackBack

    May 26, 2006

    Welcome Power Line Readers....

    Immigration Immolations
    Hatched by Dafydd

    Paul Mirengoff was kind enough to post about our immigration-bill exchange. In the post, he noted that I "don't defend it in [my] email."

    That is true. One of the joys of having a blog is that I needn't repeat the same arguments over and over in every missive... I can point people to Big Lizards! I wish I had done this in my e-mail to Paul, but I'll do it here.

    We have discussed this issue, and in particular the Hagel-Martinez Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2006, in many, many posts... supporting the basic idea but often bashing particular provisions: for example, importing a permanent class of foreign workers instead of just expanding the number of actual immigrants we let in legally.

    And we have also noted important changes that should have been in the bill but don't appear to be (in either the Senate or House version), such as a reform of the legal immigration system to make it less capricious and arbitrary and more rational and fair.

    Here is a list:

    1. A Tale of Two Cities
    2. Heck, Big Lizards Can Break This Silly Logjam
    3. Breaking: Senate Compromises On Immigration Reform
    4. Patterico's Brilliant Idea
    5. The Continental Divide
    6. A Modest Proposal
    7. First Impressions: Bush's Speech On Immigration
    8. A Specter Is Haunting the Blogosphere...
    9. The "Cost" of Illegal Immigration - and Rhetorical Dissimulation
    10. Excellent Amendment: Criminals Can't Become Citizens
    11. Please Fence Me In, Part Deux
    12. Will Robert Rector Recalculate?
    13. Perm the Temps
    14. Plenty of Room for Improvement - Updated
    15. Senate Passes Bill... Will Conservatives Play Dog-In-the-Manger?
    16. You Are Getting Sleepy, Sleeeeeeeepy....

    As you can see, Big Lizards has certainly not been ducking this issue! Sixteen posts arguing our position probably stacks up reasonably well to Power Line, especially considering that they have three brilliant folks arguing their side, and I'm the only member of the Big Lizards team arguing ours (Sachi is more interested in Iraq and country music).

    It's not that we have no arguments for our position; it's just that I didn't want to try to shoehorn them into an e-mail.

    Hatched by Dafydd on this day, May 26, 2006, at the time of 3:44 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

    May 25, 2006

    You Are Getting Sleepy, Sleeeeeeeepy....

    Immigration Immolations
    Hatched by Dafydd

    I reckon we have to add a new category: argumentum per repetitio, or the Snark Syllogism, from the famous Lewis Carroll poem (which Carroll subtitled "an Agony in Eight Fits"):

    "Just the place for a Snark!" the Bellman cried,
    As he landed his crew with care;
    Supporting each man on the top of the tide
    By a finger entwined in his hair.

    "Just the place for a Snark! I have said it twice:
    That alone should encourage the crew.
    Just the place for a Snark! I have said it thrice:
    What I tell you three times is true."

    Or, in some cases, five times in a single paragraph:

    The problem is not just the bill's amnesty provision, though the amnesty provision is profoundly unjust and misguided. Thomas Sowell, for example, has explored the amnesty issue in what is now a series of three devastating columns: "Bordering on fraud (1)," "Bordering on fraud (2)" and "Bordering on fraud (3)." Moreover, as the Meese column demonstrates, the current amnesty proposal repeats the framework of the 1986 amnesty that helped bring us to our present pass.

    Toss in a bracketing pair of amnesties on top and bottom, and that makes seven times. Whew!

    Let's have a show of hands... can anybody here guess what one word Scott would use to describe legalization of illegal immigrants? Take your time....

    As the doddering former Sen. Foghorn Leghorn -- sorry, I meant Fritz Hollings -- might have said, "they's too much, Ah say, they's too much amnestyin' goin' on roun' heah!"

    Hatched by Dafydd on this day, May 25, 2006, at the time of 4:57 PM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

    Senate Passes Bill... Will Conservatives Play Dog-In-the-Manger?

    Congressional Calamities , Immigration Immolations
    Hatched by Dafydd

    Although the Senate has passed its version of the immigration bill, we really have no idea what the final product will look like. The House bill is so different that the resulting merger will be barely recognizable as the offspring of either.

    Some, however, don't want the problem addressed at all. If they can't get everything they want, the prefer everybody gets nothing at all. Sen. Jess Sessions (R-AL), for example, would much prefer there be no border fence at all, if the price is that illegals already here ever get normalized:

    “We’ve had some good debate in the Senate,” said Senator Jeff Sessions, Republican of Alabama, who is a fierce critic of the measure. “But it’s still not fixed, in my opinion, in a whole number of ways. What really needs to be done is for the bill to be pulled down.”

    Here is something for the critics to ponder... if this bill is not enacted this Congress, it will be enacted in the next, which begins in January. But the 110th Congress will be more liberal than the 109th -- and especially so if the 109th fails to enact immigration reform.

    Time is not on your side. Negotiate now in strength -- or be prepared to haggle tomorrow from weakness.

    Hatched by Dafydd on this day, May 25, 2006, at the time of 3:59 PM | Comments (22) | TrackBack

    May 24, 2006

    Plenty of Room for Improvement - Updated

    Immigration Immolations
    Hatched by Dafydd

    In defending the basic outline of the Hagel-Martinez immigration bill, Big Lizards does not want to leave the impression that we think the bill is perfect. In fact, we eagerly await negotiations with the House of Representatives; there are elements in the House bill that we hope prevail.

    For example, the House bill authorizes 700 miles of fence, rather than the slightly less than 400 miles in the Senate bill. The Senate bill, however, adds 500 miles of vehicle barriers: the best of both bills would be 700 miles of fence plus 500 miles of barriers.

    Second, Real Clear Politics Blog reports that the repayment of back taxes allows illegals to get by with only repaying three years of back taxes... even if they have a longer history of tax evasion.

    Tom Bevan quotes a column of sorts by Charles Grassley, which he posted on his website (I guess that makes it more like a blogpost!):

    Taxes -- Under the bill, illegal aliens get an option to only have to pay three of their last five years in back taxes. Law-abiding American citizens do not have the option to pay some of their taxes. The bill would treat lawbreakers better than the American people. The bill also makes the IRS prove that illegal aliens have paid their back taxes. It will be impossible for the IRS to truly enforce this because they cannot audit every single person in this country.

    I'm not sure about the last couple of sentences; they seem completely incoherent. But we certainly agree with the firebrand (who hates any sort of bill beyond mass deportations) that illegals who haven't been paying their taxes should be held to account for all of them, not just the last three years.

    (Assuming this is true, of course; I haven't read the bill, and due to past behavior, I'm not necessarily willing to trust Grassley to stick to the truth in a debate.)

    And of course, we'd rather see the "guest workers" be actual immigrants, people whose intent is to live the rest of their lives in the United States and become citizens... rather than a permanent underclass of foreign nationals imported as cheap labor, as Europe is doing. True, Mexicans are not much like Algerians or Moroccans or Philippine Moslems; but they're also not much like Americans.

    There is great room for negotiation on this bill, many things that can be -- and should be -- changed. But there is no chance for dropping any of the big three:

    • Secure the border with a real fence;
    • Allow more people to enter the country, either as guest workers or immigrants, to continue doing jobs that need doing, but that Americans won't do (the "spillway");
    • Do something to regularize the millions of illegals already here.

    No bill that excludes any of these three has a prayer of passing through Congress... and not to act at all would be a catastrophe of both policy and politics.

    So instead of railing against those elements that are deal-breakers, let's focus on trying to make the bill better: to increase whatever part you see as beneficial to make the bill, on the whole, a deal we can live with.

    UPDATE, a few minutes later: Mary Katharine Ham, guest blogging on Hugh Hewitt, reports on a teleconference between Ed Meese and a group of conservative bloggers about the immigration bill, and about Meese's New York Times op-ed today opposing it, "An Amnesty by Any Other Name ...." The conference was run by Matt Spaulding of the Heritage Foundation.

    Let's see if we've grasped the essentials here: a group that opposes what it's pleased to call "amnesty" for illegals invites a speaker who opposes what he calls "amnesty" to speak to a bunch of conservative bloggers -- who oppose what they call "amnesty." And by golly, after thrashing out those differences, they finally all concur that they must oppose what they call "amnesty" for illegals!

    It seems that Big Lizards must once again resort to the all-purpose, industrial-sized Robert Anton Wilson, "the Persecution and Assassination of the Parapsychologists as Performed by the Inmates of the American Association for the Advancement of Science Under the Direction of the Amazing Randi," Right Where You Are Sitting Now, And/Or Press, 1982, p. 67.

    Wilson channels the voice of Lemuel Gulliver, supposed author of Jonathan Swift's classic Gulliver's Travels:

    And so these Learned Men, having Inquir'd into the Case for the Opposition, discover'd that the Opposition had no Case and were Devoid of Merit, which was what they Suspected all along, and they arriv'd at this Happy Conclusion by the most Economical and Nice of all Methods of Enquiry, which was that they did not Invite the Opposition to confuse Matters by Participating in the Discussion.

    Though we did like the fact that Meese came out in favor of rationalization of the legal immigration system:

    Meese agreed that the goal of any plan should be to make our legal immigration process quicker and more able to meet needs of immigrants and employers. He also stressed that immigrants don't come into the country bearing hats that indicate whether they're dangerous or not, so increased enforcement has to be part of the plan.

    One out of two ain't bad. For a ballplayer, batting .500 would be spectacular!

    Hatched by Dafydd on this day, May 24, 2006, at the time of 1:51 PM | Comments (15) | TrackBack

    May 22, 2006

    Perm the Temps

    Immigration Immolations
    Hatched by Dafydd

    Last Thursday, May 18th, Mark Steyn completely changed my mind about a guest-worker program.

    He was being interviewed by Hugh Hewitt (as is Hugh's wont every Thursday), and Steyn made this argument:

    HH: Well, since we spoke on Monday night, I've been thinking about your condemnation of guest worker program. And I think that resonates with people, Mark Steyn, as they begin to think about a permanent underclass called in to work. And I think it's ringing a bell that reminds us of Europe.

    MS: Well, you don't have to just talk about Europe, where I think it has been a disaster. I mean, you talk about relatively benign societies that don't make the news.

    Fiji...a century ago, the British imported, essentially, a guest worker class to Fiji. Indian workers. And what happened was that eventually, the population rose, and I'm quoting off the top of my head here, but it's about like 46, 48 Indians to native Fijians. And as a result, that country has become tribal and profoundly unstable.

    [I'm not sure what Steyn is trying to say here; according to the CIA World Factbook, the Fijian population is 51% Fijian, 44% Indian, and 5% Everybody Else. -- the Mgt.]

    And if you look at any...even the most benign bi-cultural societies are profoundly unstable.

    This is not an immigration issue. When you have up to maybe a fifth of the population of the United States as a special illegal class, mainly from one other society in the world, that is not an immigration issue. Immigration is a quite separate thing.

    I would like first to make a big distinction: Steyn referred to a bi-cultural society... not merely a bilingual one. There are a number of stable bilingual societies; Switzerland, for example. But Switzerland is not bi-cultural: the German, French, and Italian cantons of Switzerland are certainly not blowing each other up... but that may be because they are all by and large the same culture: Western European.

    If there were a section of Switzerland that was almost exclusively occupied by Bosnians or Kurds, it would be another story.

    What Steyn argues is that Mexico's culture is sufficiently different from America's that it is deadly to have a permanent, floating population of people here who think of themselves not as Americans -- not even as proto-Americans -- but as Mexicans in exile.

    Who are these foreign nationals? Many are already here illegally, while most are here legally on perpetually renewed work visas. These ex-pats, whom we will call "guest workers," assuredly came here originally just to work. They didn't think of themselves as an invading army of infiltrators.

    The problem is what happens to them after they arrive: they are immediately set upon by activists from MEChA and La Raza. These serpents begin whispering fantasies of "Aztlán" into the ears of our (legal or illegal) guests, telling them that everything from deep inside Oregon to the Rio Grande, from Texarkana to the Pacific, is really theirs, it really "belongs to Mexico," and Mexico should "take it back."

    (By the way, the word "reconquista," referring to taking back the American Southwest, is generally not used by Chicano activists that I've seen; I think it's a misunderstanding. Chicanos mostly talk about Aztlán; I've only heard reconquista from those opposing them.)

    The truly goofy part of this is that Mexico never actually controlled California in any real sense. They claimed they did, following their independence in 1821; and the U.S. went along with the gag (since it didn't concern us at that time). In the mid-1820s, Mexico City started sending governors to the former Spanish colony... but Californios (both Spanish- and English-speaking) simply ignored them, just as they had by and large ignored the colonial governors immediately preceding them: they ran their ranchos, trapped beaver in the Sierras, and lived more or less placidly.

    There were also Californios who declared themselves governors of California (also ignored); but the whole thing was up in the air and a big mess... until 1846, when John C. Frémont, with his rag-tag army of mountain men, scouts, and assorted riff-raff, more or less committed the United States to capturing California as part of (pretty much the end of) the Mexican-American War.

    There never was any "Aztlán." The mythical idyllic kingdom was seized upon by Chicano activists in the 60s to demand that the United States turn the entire Southwest over to Mexico. In 1969, they formed el Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlán -- MEChA -- the Chicano Student Movement of Aztlán.

    MEChA (and the National Council of La Raza "the race," founded concurrently with MEChA) act as agents provacateurs of Mexican and other Spanish-speaking immigrants (legal or otherwise). But at least an actual immigrant has somewhat of a defense: most immigrants left their home countries and journeyed to America in order to escape tyranny and poverty and find freedom and opportunity.

    Telling someone who fled what he considered to be a dreadful life in Mexico that his new home should now be "returned" to Mexico -- the very place he just left! -- is likely to meet with a chilly reception... and indeed, most actual immigrants do not support groups such as MEChA and La Raza.

    (Their American-born children, on the other hand, with no memory of the old country and why Mama and Papa left, are another question.)

    But consider how different it is when the targets of the agit-prop are not immigrants, who made the choice to become Americans, but rather just imported workers who still think of themselves as Mexicans (or Bolivians or Venezuelans). I think Steyn is arguing -- and if he is, I have come to agree with him -- that such non-Americans may well look around California or New Mexico or Texas and say to themselves, wouldn't it be great if all this just belonged to us? If we didn't have to go work for the gringos to get a piece, but it was just ours by birthright?

    From there, it's a short leap to saying, but it already is ours -- the gringos stole it from us!

    We have indeed seen this sort of resentful cultural-warfare arise within a permanent underclass of imported workers who are never allowed to become citizens of the host country: most egregiously in France, Denmark, and other European countries. Riots, arson, murder, and even (potentially) acts of mass terrorism flow from just such a disconnect between people and the culture they reside inside.

    Even their children are often denied full citizenship, and they tend to become even more radical than their parents.

    It's a very good argument, and it has convinced me: I no longer support a "guest worker" program, as the Senate bill (and the president) advocates. But so, too is my own argument a good one: that no wall, no matter how strong, can withstand a million people trying to knock it down to get in.

    In my other analogy, I still believe in the "spillway" that allows the dam to stand, rather than being overtopped and then destroyed by the rising flood of water it tries to hold back. So what is the solution?

    The solution is to understand that distinction between immigrants and foreign workers: if we must have a spillway -- and we must -- then it should be in the form of an increase in the number of new immigrants we accept. And not just highly educated people (there aren't enough of them); but also those young men with families, men who may never have had much of a chance at an education or training, but who are willing to work... and who believe in the American dream of freedom and opportunity.

    Let's allow more permanent immigrants to replace temporary workers. And to facilitate this, we should also waive the minimum-wage laws for new immigrants here on a work visa.

    They're not forced to accept low wages; if they have skills and education, they can find better jobs. But let's allow them to accept a low-paying job, if that's all they're qualified for when they first arrive. When they manage to apply for and receive a green card, then they once again fall under the minimum-wage rules; but by then, they really should be doing something better than picking strawberries or cleaning hotel rooms.

    (I oppose minimum-wage laws in general for everybody; but that would be utterly impossible to pass through Congress at this point.)

    In fact, we should make such education and language skills a requirement for getting permanent residency, except for spouses of American citizens. Make immigrant applicants demonstrate not only knowledge of English, but also make them pass a high-school level examination of basic knowledge, not only in American history and civics but also math, science, and everything else a typical high-school student must master before getting a diploma in forty-nine of the fifty states.

    Let the new immigrants take those jobs that "Americans won't perform" (which is actually true; Americans will not, not even at sharply increased wages). Let them take the jobs at the same rates that temporary guests now receive; it's better than no job at all. And make sure they know that if they learn English and get an education, they can certainly find much better jobs... and do a much better job of supporting their families and giving their niños better lives.

    But there appears to be great confusion about this among the "movement conservatives." On the one hand, conservatives seem to accept Steyn's basic point: that it's horrifically dangerous to import hundreds of thousands of foreign nationals into America, people with no intention of ever becoming citizens.

    But how do we square the Steyn Syllogism with the Kyl amendment, whose defeat was mourned by conservatives across the country? Here is the Washington Post:

    The Senate killed an amendment that would have denied a chance for permanent status and eventual citizenship to illegal immigrants who have been in the country less than five years and to any future immigrants who enter the country under the guest-worker program.

    Opponents said the amendment, offered by Sen. Jon Kyl, an Arizona Republican, would have gutted the bipartisan bill that allows guest workers an opportunity to seek permanent residence.

    This is insane. Sen. Kyl should have offered an amendment to only admit workers who were applying for "permanent status and eventual citizenship." Kyl has it exactly backwards... and this is one reason why many see conservative opposition to the immigration bill not as solely anti-illegal, but simply anti-immigrant as well.

    After all, "future immigrants who enter the country under the guest-worker program" have not necessarily yet broken any American laws. Sure, some folks might have snuck in here earlier, then snuck out again without being caught; but others haven't... and Kyl's amendment does not discriminate between them. He lumps them all together and says none of them, even those who never violated our laws, can come in as guest workers and stay as Americans.

    Nor have I seen Kyl or any other conservative propose increasing the number of those admitted as immigrants in lieu of a guest-worker program; typically, they want to eliminate the latter and slash the former to the bone.

    The Steyn Syllogism is inarguable, but it implies a very stark choice: either we cripple our economy by starving those businesses that currently depend upon illegal aliens (de facto "guest workers") -- or else we must consciously woo more actual immigrants to American shores by allowing them to work those jobs, even below minimum wage, while they're trying to better themselves such that they can move on up... and make room for the next wave of actual immigrants.

    Let's "perm" those temps.

    Hatched by Dafydd on this day, May 22, 2006, at the time of 4:08 PM | Comments (31) | TrackBack

    May 18, 2006

    How to Fake a Poll

    Immigration Immolations , Polling Keeps a-Rolling
    Hatched by Dafydd

    Lots of buzz about the Rasmussen poll that many -- Hugh Hewitt, for one notable example -- are touting as showing that Americans just want a border-enforcement bill only, with no guest-worker program or normalization of illegals already here.

    It's possible, I suppose, that such sentiment is indeed sweeping the country, undetected by any other polling company; but you sure can't conclude that from this garbage.

    The problem is twofold:

    1. Rasmussen does not tell us the methodology of the poll; we don't even know whether the poll was by telephone, e-mail, or an online, internet poll (like Zogby often uses). We don't know the margin of error, which would be different for each state (and in a state like California could be quite substantial).

      Methodology makes a huge difference; it can make or break a poll. Perhaps this information is available to "premium subscribers;" I don't know, because I'm not willing to spend $349 to find out. But most polling firms actually put the methodology on the poll itself for release to the general public.

    2. Much more important, however, is that the questions Rasmussen asked are biased, and the question order is calculated to move opinion rather than measure it. I would go so far as to call this a "push poll."

      It's actually shameful that a respected company like Rasmussen would resort to such tricks; I wish they had just done a straight poll, since I would really be interested in the answers to properly framed questions.

    For starters, let's look at the issue whose response is being seized upon for political purposes: the border security "stick" versus the guest-worker and normalization "carrot." Here is a fair series of questions to ask, were I writing a poll instead of Rasmussen:

    As you know, an immigration bill is being debated in the Senate right now. A number of elements are being considered, including securing the border with several hundred miles of fence and vehicle barriers, allowing some number of non-citizen "guest workers" to enter the country for a limited time period to work, and offering a path to citizenship for the approximately 8 million people who have already lived here without permission for more than two years.

    1. Which of the following elements should be in this bill? (Choose up to four.)

    A. Secure the border with several hundred miles of fencing.
    B. Guest-worker program.
    C. A path to citizenship for those who have lived here without permission more than two years.
    D. Harsher sanctions on employers who hire illegals.

    2. If you could only get border security with a fence by accepting a guest-worker program and a path to citizenship, would you be willing to accept that deal?

    A. Yes, the fence is important enough to accept the other elements.
    B. No, I would not accept the other elements even to get a fence.

    3. If you could only get a guest-worker program and a path to citizenship by accepting several hundred miles of border fence, would you be willing to accept that deal?

    A. Yes, those elements are important enough to accept a fence.
    B. No, I would not accept a fence even to get the other elements.

    4. Would you support a bill that authorized the fence and harsher employer sanctions but did not include either a guest-worker program or a path to citizenship?

    A. Yes, without hesitation.
    B. No, under no circumstances.
    C. Yes, but only if no other bill could make it through Congress.

    This would be a very fair way to gauge what people really want. Note, for example, that I avoid both the biased terms "illegal alien" and "undocumented worker": the first skews the sample against them, while the second skews the sample towards them. I use the very neutral term "lived here without permission."

    These questions would have told us a lot, especially for those who did not pick either B or C in question 1 but nevertheless picked A in question 2: people who didn't want a guest-worker program or path to citizenship but were willing to accept it as part of a deal (and the corresponding scenario on the other side).

    Question 4 would test whether those supporting the "carrots" consider them absolutely necessary to gain their support, or whether, if nothing else could pass, they could still accept a border-enforcement only bill.

    These would be fair questions that would actually tell us something about what the public wanted -- and also what they would be willing to settle for. But that's not what Rasmussen asked. Here is the actual question:

    3. Some people say it makes no sense to debate new rules for immigration until we can control our borders and enforce the existing laws. Do you agree or disagree?

    What the heck does that mean? New rules for immigration? I would have no idea whether that meant a guest-worker program or different criteria for who is admitted under the legal immigration policy. Heck, for that matter, doesn't 400 miles of fencing and 500 miles of vehicle barriers also constitute "new rules for immigration?"

    Does "control our borders and enforce the existing laws" mean build a fence first, or just that we should, right now, today, enforce existing law better -- while we continue to debate building a fence and having a guest-worker program and path to citizenship?

    This is an incredibly poorly written question. Some of the respondents will take it one way, others will take it another, still others will hear it a third or fourth way. We cannot tell anything about the opinion of Americans from this stupid question.

    Worse, it's question three in a series of questions; immediately preceding it is a question which sets a decidedly negative tone against immigrants in general, and especially those here illegally:

    2. Some people believe that the goal of immigration policy should be to keep out national security threats, criminals, and those who would come here to live off our welfare system. Beyond that, all immigrants would be welcome. Do you agree or disagree with that goal for immigration policy?

    3. Some people say it makes no sense to debate new rules for immigration until we can control our borders and enforce the existing laws. Do you agree or disagree?

    Question 2 first clearly plants the idea that immigrants are coming here to suck up welfare, join criminal gangs, and commit acts of terrorism against the United States. Only then does Rasmussen ask their crappy question 3. You think the first might possibly influence response on the second?

    Also, as a general rule, a question that begins "some people say" practically begs the respondent to agree. It conjures the image of some vast sea of people all saying the same thing... do you want to go with the flow, or be some kind of an oddball?

    The penultimate question, despite following these two, throws the "conventional wisdom" interpretation of question 3 into a cocked hat:

    4. There are currently 11 million illegal aliens living in the United States. Most have lived here for more than five years. Should the United States forcibly require all 11 million illegal aliens to leave this country?

    In not a single state does a majority answer Yes to this question. Not one. Alabama had a plurality of 50% saying yes, 29% no; seven other states (Arkansas, Michigan, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, West Virginia, and Wyoming) had pluralities saying Yes, ranging from 49-31 in TN to 41-40 in AK -- which clearly is within any likely margin of error for a poll of 500 people.

    Contrariwise, in the 25 states where a plurality said No, we should not "forcibly require all 11 million illegal aliens to leave this country," five states had a clear majority opposed, while another four have a plurality of 50%. All of the states that actually border Mexico that were polled came down against deportations (New Mexico was not polled for some reason).

    The mean split among those states with a plurality saying Yes, deport is 44.6 to 36.3, for a spread of 8.4%. The mean split among those with a plurality saying No, don't deport, is 47.0 to 35.0, for a spread of 12.0%. The No-deport states are very significantly firmer in their position than the Yes-deport states. This does not particularly sound like a pool of respondents who are in the Rep. Tom Tancredo camp.

    Is it really too much to ask to get an honest, legitimate poll on what people want in the bill, what they'll accept as part of a Grand Deal, and what they absolutely wouldn't take under any circumstances... rather than a biased push-poll whose purpose is to spook the herd and scuttle the deal?

    It's too bad that so many in the blogosphere are quite capable of seeing the gaping flaws in some bad poll that is against their position... but will seize upon any poll that supports them, no matter how many warning signs there are that it simply isn't serious.

    By the way, here are my own positions, so you can take into account my biases. I've put them behind the "slither on" vehicle barrier....

    1. I support a fence, but I think it won't work without a "spillway" to siphon off those people trying to come here for legitimate reasons.
    2. A guest-worker program could be that spillway; but so could an increase in the number of actual legal immigrants we accept -- those wishing to live here permanently.

      Given my druthers, I would rather the latter than the former, as I think Mark Steyn makes a very good point that "guest workers" are disturbingly similar to what so many European countries have done to very bad effect.

    3. Tied for most urgent task, fully as important as "securing the border," is rationalizing the legal immigration policy so that would-be Americans have a clear "path to citizenship" (a phrase I have used for years): they would know exactly what they had to do to become permanent residents and then citizens, and about how long it would take.

      The path must be mandatory, not subject to the caprice or vindictiveness of Immigration workers. At any point, the immigrant must know what he has accomplished, what is still left to do, and how to go about completing the path to his swearing-in ceremony.

    4. So long as enough guest workers or new immigrants (whichever we choose) are let into the country to satisfy the labor needs, I don't object to very harsh legal sanctions, including prison time, for employers who still hire illegals.

      If insufficient numbers are allowed in and employers simply cannot fill the jobs with legals, then I think it grossly unfair to turn the law into a business suicide pact.

    5. I have no particular position on the legalization of those already here, save that it's a bad idea to allow a huge permanent underclass of resentful criminals to remain. If we cannot find a way to make them leave -- and it appears we cannot -- then it's probably marginally better to find a way to legalize them. But I'm much less concerned about this point than the others above.
    6. Finally, I believe that if the GOP-controlled Congress and the Republican president do not make some significant changes to the immigration status quo, we'll be massacred on November 6th. Or at least it will be a whole heck of a lot harder.

    Make of it what you will.

    Hatched by Dafydd on this day, May 18, 2006, at the time of 5:39 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

    May 17, 2006

    Will Robert Rector Recalculate?

    Immigration Immolations
    Hatched by Dafydd

    Yesterday, in The "Cost" of Illegal Immigration - and Rhetorical Dissimulation, I tore into the "backgrounder" by Robert Rector of the Heritage Foundation which attempted to make the case (unsuccessfully, in my opinion) that we could not afford a guest-worker program. (He also attacked normalization of illegals already here, but that's a different subject.)

    Rector calculated that the guest-worker program could end up costing tens of billions of dollars per year in increased welfare payments:

    Because nearly all of the guest workers and their families would within a few years become eligible for government welfare and other services, the fiscal costs from the program could rival those stemming from the direct amnesty provisions of the bill.

    As Rector had previously estimated -- way overestimated, again in my opinion -- the cost of normalization at $46 billion per year or more, he must have been estimating a similar cost for the guest-worker program. (In addition, like most "security-only" activists, he uses his own private definition of the word "amnesty;" but however churlish, that doesn't affect his calculation.)

    Rector arrived at his estimate by taking the beginning annual cap on guest workers (325,000) and increasing it according to the formula in the original bill: in any year that the number of people trying to enter as guest workers exceeded the current cap, the next year's cap would automatically rise 20%.

    Finally, CIRA would issue 325,000 new visas per year to "guest workers." The number of visas available could increase by 20 percent annually, reaching two million per year within ten years. By 2017, the guest worker program would have admitted some eight million new workers. Illegal aliens who have been in the country for less than two years would be eligible to become guest workers and would probably be the primary recipients of these supposedly temporary (H2C) visas. Recipients of these visas could bring spouses and children into the country immedi­ately, increasing the number of entrants over ten years well above eight million.

    It is, of course manifestly absurd to assume that the availability of "guest workers" would rise limitlessly at the maximum allowable rate; does he expect the entire population of Mexico to pour into the United States, leaving 761,606 square miles of empty real estate south of the Rio Grande? At some point, probably far below "two million per year," we would reach labor saturation. The law of supply and demand has not been repealed.

    But it makes little difference, because the action taken on the floor of the Senate yesterday moots Rector's argument, requiring a complete recalculation. Senators voted not only to lower the initial cap from 325,000 to 200,000, they voted to eliminate the automatic 20% rise when the cap was reached:

    Today the Senate voted 69-28 to set aside an amendment by North Dakota Democrat Byron Dorgan to eliminate the guest-worker program from the measure. Dorgan said the program would cost Americans jobs and wages. "The guest-worker provision is about importing cheap labor,'' he said before the vote....

    The Senate then backed, by a voice vote, [Jeff] Bingaman's [D-NM] amendment to reduce the number of yearly visas available to foreign workers by 40 percent and prohibit increases that may be sought by industry if the visa-cap is met in any year. [Jeff Bingaman gets a 100% rating from the ACLU -- and 12% from the American Conservative Union. -- the Mgt.]

    Besides throwing Robert Rector's estimates into a cocked hat, this vote may actually cause a problem -- not in the politics; it makes it more likely to pass. Rather, it causes a problem in the policy: we may be building too small a "spillway."

    The point of the guest-worker program is to take pressure off the fence and other border-security provisions. The idea is that the huge majority of people who cross illegally do so just to find work. These illegals do not cause all that much damage by their existence here (though they may cause damage sneaking in across private property); alas, real bad guys, especially terrorists, may hide among the vast number of illegals, making it virtually impossible to detect them.

    So long as hundreds of thousand of people are being denied entry, they will "push" against the wall. As I've said many times, no wall, no matter how strong, can stand against a million people trying to knock it down.

    The only way to stop the illegal entry is to build a gate in the wall, a "spillway in the dam": we need to separate out those illegals who just want to work and shunt them through a legal guest-worker program; that way, those humans still trying to enter illegally -- assuming the honest can enter legally -- must be presumed to be dishonest.

    We can use far more draconian interdiction methods against presumed criminals and terrorists than we can against presumed decent, hardworking families that include women and children.

    But all this depends upon one key point: that those coming here just to work are, in fact, able to get in and work. If not, then the spillway is too small, the water builds up behind the dam, and eventually, the dam bursts.

    The whole point of the guest-worker program is not to give work to poor Mexicans; I really couldn't care less about them. (Go ahead, call me heartless. Believe me, I've been called much worse.) What does matter is that we need to relieve enough pressure on the fence or the fence will fail.

    I worry that 200,000 a year with no increases, even if the cap is clearly shown to be too small, will not relieve enough pressure. After two years of backlog, there may be just as many trying to enter illegally as there are right now.

    I hope this is revisited soon: it would be a terrible shame if an otherwise decent, comprehensive bill is crippled from the very beginning... by an ultra-liberal Democrat, of course.

    Hatched by Dafydd on this day, May 17, 2006, at the time of 5:14 PM | Comments (14) | TrackBack

    Please Fence Me In, Part Deux

    Congressional Calamities , Immigration Immolations
    Hatched by Dafydd

    Hugh Hewitt will be very happy, and with good reason: the Senate just overwhelming approved the Sessions amendment to the immigration bill, requiring 370 miles of actual fence, plus 500 miles of vehicle barriers. The lopsided vote -- 83 to 16 -- sends a very, very strong signal that the Senate is finally aboard and serious.

    I can't find a roll-call (it may not be up on Thomas yet), but even assuming all 55 Republicans voted for it, that would mean that at a minimum, 29 of 45 Democrats must have voted for the fence, too. That's 64%.

    Then Sen. David Vitter (R-LA) proposed one of the "killer amendments," one that would remove all of the guest-worker and normalization sections from the bill. A huge argument erupted over the meaning of the word "amnesty," with one side insisting upon the actual meaning of the word in law and philology, and the other insisting, in true Humpty Dumpty fashion, upon a special definition that they just now made up.

    I complain about this irritating tactic of "argument by redefinition" when the Democrats do it; should I do less when Republicans resort to the same, "progressive" dodge?

    But it's a moot point: minutes ago, the Senate rejected the Vitter amendment 66-33... which means (for fairness sake) that, even assuming all 44 Democrats and one "Independent" who caucuses with the Democrats (Triple-J) voted against the Vitter amendment, at a minimum, 21 of 55 Republicans (38%) must also have voted against stripping out these "carrots."

    This is going very well:

    • Putting the fence and the barriers into the bill makes it far more likely that the House will be willing to accept the compromise;
    • Leaving in the guest-worker provision will take enough pressure off the wall that it will actually work (that's the "spillway in the dam," in my earlier analogy);
    • Leaving in the normalization means that the Democrats will see themselves getting something, so they will be less likely to scuttle the deal on procedural votes; and it will mollify enough liberal or moderate Republicans that majority is attainable.

    It looks like this bill is now destined for passage; and aside from a handful of representatives -- most of them named King, for some unfathomable reason -- I haven't heard from any of the movers and shakers in the House that the Senate bill was dead, or that they would refuse to agree to the citizenship and guest-worker provisions. (In fact, Speaker Denny Hastert, R-IL, has already said he and some other leaders would accept that... and that was before the president's widely popular speech.)

    But will the policy itself work? Nobody can answer that until it happens. Those who voted for Simpson-Mazzoli in 1986 (and President Ronald Reagan, who signed it) sincerely believed that it would work, and it seems to have been a crashing failure: we had about 3 million illegals then, and twenty years later, we have 11 million.

    (But did it really fail? There isn't any way to tell even that; perhaps without the Border-Patrol and employer-sanction provisions in Simpson-Mazzoli, we would have 22 million illegals by now. That's the trouble with alternate-history; how can we ever know?)

    In any event, the border-security measures this time are far stronger than in 1986, and the citizenship path is much longer and involves a lot more pain and punishment for those illegals already here -- including admission of guilt, a big fine, back taxes, and so forth. And in the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2006 (CIRA, or Hagel-Martinez), these pieces are all structured into the bill itself; they don't rely upon Democrats keeping their word.

    In the 99th Congress, which enacted Simpson-Mazzoli, the Democrats controlled the House and the Republicans controlled the Senate 53-47; but in the 1986 election, the Democrats took the Senate, too... so in the 100th Congress, which would have been responsible for appropriating the money for the actual border-security measures (of which there were some, mostly penalties on employers and more Border Patrol agents and such), was entirely Democratic... and those measures never happened.

    It may well be that the failures of Simpson-Mazzoli were more because the Democrats refused to implement the "sticks" than because the deal itself was flawed.

    So that gives conservatives even more incentive to stay involved, to turn out in droves on November 6th, and to make absolutely certain that both houses of Congress remain firmly in Republican hands... thus to make equally certain that the "sticks" of Hagel-Martinez get enacted along with the "carrots."

    Hatched by Dafydd on this day, May 17, 2006, at the time of 1:34 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

    May 16, 2006

    Excellent Amendment: Criminals Can't Become Citizens

    Crime and Punishment , Immigration Immolations
    Hatched by Dafydd

    The Senate is currently working through a series of amendments. Some are bad; some are really ugly, like Byron Dorgan's (D-N.D.) attempt to prevent "foreigners and recent illegal immigrants" (!) from signing up to be guest workers; one presumes Dorgan wants the guest-worker program limited to Americans only.

    But some of the amendments are really, really good. For example, this one:

    Compromise averted a third showdown, when the bill's critics and supporters agreed to deny illegal immigrants any chance at citizenship if they had been convicted of three misdemeanors or a felony.

    The last time this came up, I think I remember it was the Senate that killed it; so it's a great leap forward (er, maybe I should use a different expression) that the Senate is now aboard in saying that we only want to extend citizenship to assimilated immigrants with American virtues, not thugs with American vices.

    I'm sure the House will have no objection to this provision.

    Hatched by Dafydd on this day, May 16, 2006, at the time of 5:06 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

    The "Cost" of Illegal Immigration - and Rhetorical Dissimulation

    Immigration Immolations
    Hatched by Dafydd

    Robert Rector at the Heritage Foundation -- an organization that has long derided any immigation plan other than pure enforcement as "amnesty" -- has put up a "backgrounder" study on the foundation's website. He purports to show that any immigration plan that offers "amnesty" (by which Rector means any path to citizenship whatsoever) will be a huge drag on the American economy. The key graf:

    An immigration plan proposed by Senators Mel Martinez (R-FL) and Chuck Hagel (R-NE), the Com­prehensive Immigration Reform Act (CIRA, S. 2611) would provide amnesty to 9 to 10 million illegal immigrants and put them on a path to citizenship. Once these individuals become citizens, the net addi­tional cost to the federal government of benefits for these individuals will be around $16 billion per year. Further, 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 citizens. The long-term cost of government benefits to the parents of 10 million recipients of amnesty could be $30 billion per year or more. In the long run, S. 2611, if enacted, would be the largest expansion of the welfare state in 35 years.

    Rector's intent is to make the economic case against any form of guest-worker program, any path to citizenship for anyone currently here illegally, and -- in my opinion -- against immigration in general. But how solid a case does he really make?

    Let's take a look.

    "Amnesty" or "plea bargain?"

    Let's get one side issue out of the way before starting: Rector consistently uses "amnesty" almost as a synonym for citizenship; in fact, he uses the word "amnesty" forty-one times in this article, starting with the first word of the title.

    "Amnesty" means a general pardon prior to trial or conviction. A pardon is "the excusing of an offense without exacting a penalty : remission of punishment."

    • In law, when the president pardons someone, the offense is erased as if it had never occurred;.

      According to Black's Law Dictionary, "it releases punishment and blots out the existence of guilt, so that in the eyes of the law, the offender is as innocent as if he had never committed the offense."

    • When the IRS has a "tax amnesty," you are allowed to repay back taxes with no penalty whatsoever, often even without interest;
    • When states or cities declare "firearm amnesties," the same holds true: you can turn in anything, and you won't be arrested or prosecuted;
    • When President Carter and Congress declared an amnesty in 1977 of Vietnam draft-dodgers, they were allowed to return to the United States with no charges of any kind.

    An amnesty means the crime is "blotted out," as if it never occurred. But in fact, under Hagel-Martinez, the illegals are punished; the crime of illegal entry is not blotted out: they must admit guilt and pay a substantial fine.

    The word for the executive reducing a sentence already imposed on someone already convicted is clemency, or perhaps commutation. But what we're really discussing is when a person voluntarily admits guilt in exchange for a reduced sentence. The term for that is a plea bargain.

    But I reckon "plea bargain" isn't enraging enough to create a mass, emotional uprising... hence they've settled upon "amnesty." It may be completely wrongly used, but I suppose the ends must justify the means.

    Cost in perspective

    First, a bit of background of our own. The current U.S. budget is about $2.6 trillion; so an increase of $46 billion at some point in the future -- the first $10 billion about six or seven years from now, the $30 billion (assuming it happens, see below) about 10-15 years after that -- amounts to 1.7% of the budget... and could be paid for by just a slight reduction in any of a number of other areas.

    Second, Rector clearly assumes (from the fact that he doesn't even mention it) that we will do absolutely nothing to get a handle on spending on entitlement programs over the next 16 to 22 years. This in itself is a rather breathtaking assumption: since the Heritage Foundation itself has recommended a number of things we could do -- the easiest and most obvious being shifting Medicare from a defined benefit to a defined contribution program -- one must conclude that Robert Rector believes that the Heritage Foundation will have no influence whatsoever on American economic policies... a stunning admission of impotence from a formerly influential body!

    From A To-Do List Before Spending Hits Tipping Point, by Heritage Foundation President Ed Feulner, December 20th, 2005:

    Of course, to really control Medicare spending, lawmakers will have to fundamentally change the program. It's time to design a new system based on personal choice, market competition and light regulation. Such a system should be a "defined contribution" system, not the "defined benefit" system we have now.

    That means the government would agree to contribute a certain amount to fund each beneficiary's coverage. This would create a market for private health plans that would compete for customers by offering attractive benefit packages. It also would let seniors keep their pre-retirement health care plan if they're happy with it or design new coverage options tailored to their needs.

    Such a defined-contribution plan also would allow lawmakers to control costs. Defined-benefit programs don't work because they're like a blank check -- each new medical advance creates a new government requirement. A defined-contribution plan would allow seniors to enjoy those advances without sticking Uncle Sam with the big bills.

    Several states have already begun experimenting with a defined contribution Medicare plan, rather than a defined benefit plan... notably Florida and South Carolina, two states with very large numbers of retirees. And according to yet another Heritage Foundation paper, these state reforms -- made possible by the federal waiver system for state experimentation pushed through Congress by President Bush -- are expected to dramatically reduce Medicare costs, starting almost immediately and into the future.

    From the same article I quoted above:

    There are plenty of places to make cuts right now. For example:

    * The Congressional Budget Office has published a "Budget Options" book identifying $140 billion in potential cuts.

    * The federal government spends $23 billion annually on silly special interest projects such as grants to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and efforts to combat teenage "goth" culture in Blue Springs, Mo.

    * Washington spends $60 billion annually on corporate welfare, versus $43 billion on homeland security.

    And that's just for starters.

    Right. So if we could make just 20% of the cuts envisioned in each of these areas, that's $41.2 billion per year right there. The Medicare changes that the Heritage Foundation proposes, along with Health Savings Accounts, would save tens of billions of dollars in Medicare costs almost immediately, a savings that will continue to rise with every passing year.

    Potential spending cuts dwarf any increased cost from a guest-worker program or normalizing illegals already here... a cost that even Rector admits would be at least partially mitigated by increased tax revenues from the newly-legalized former illegals.

    So Rector's objection is a non-issue from the beginning. The real issue is general control of spending: if we do that, any increase in spending related to illegals made legal will be easily absorbed; if we do not gain control of spending, then immigration won't make any difference -- we're sunk anyway.

    Convictions make convicts

    But even more than that, the Heritage study demonstrates a rather colossal disdain for the ability of new legal immigrants to support their own families. For example, Rector notes that when adult immigrants (legal or otherwise) become citizens, they are allowed to bring both their parents to the United States as legal immigrants; some of those parents will themselves eventually become citizens.

    He estimates, probably not unreasonably, that about 10% of those immigrants' parents will eventually come here and become citizens (though he assumes that every adult immigrant has two living parents who will want to come here, which is not reasonable at all; but let that lie). Thus, he guesses that legalizing 10 million immigrants will eventually produce 20 million parents coming here from the old country, of whom two million will eventually become citizens.

    How many does he estimate will immediately go on welfare then? Oh, approximately two million:

    If ten million current illegal immigrants were granted amnesty and citizenship under CIRA, as many as twenty million foreign born parents would be given the right to immigrate to the U.S. Once in the U.S., the immigrant parents would receive social services and government funded medical care, much of it paid for through the Medicaid disproportionate share program. [Note, not "might receive" but "would receive." -- the Mgt.]

    These immigrant parents coming to the U.S. would also be eligible to apply for citizenship themselves. On attaining citizenship, most would become eligible for benefits from the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Medicaid programs, at an average cost of over $18,000 per person per year. While it is true that the language require­ments of the citizenship test would serve as a bar­rier to immigrant parents becoming citizens, the tests are not very difficult and the financial rewards of citizenship would be very great. If only ten per­cent of the parents of those receiving amnesty under CIRA became citizens and enrolled in SSI and Medicaid, the extra costs to government would be over $30 billion per year.

    What exactly is Rector saying? Medicare is available to every senior or disabled person, regardless of income; but he is talking here about Medicaid:

    Medicaid is available only to certain low-income individuals and families who fit into an eligibility group that is recognized by federal and state law.

    In other words, Medicaid -- unlike Medicare -- is a welfare program. So is SSI, by the way, another federal payment made only to low-income citizens and legally resident aliens, brought to us courtesy President Richard Nixon.

    Perhaps I'm not being exactly fair to Mr. Rector. Maybe he's not saying that 10% of the parents will become citizens, and of those who do, 100% will immediately go on welfare. Maybe he means that 40% or 50% will become citizens, and of those, only 10% will go on welfare.

    How many does he think will become citizens, with or without welfare? He doesn't say; nor does he give us any reason to believe that the intersection is 10% of all immigrating parents of immigrants... despite the fact that his entire calculation critically depends upon this estimate.

    Perhaps I can be pardoned -- or granted clemency -- for believing that in fact, Rector by and large assumes that the only reason these parents of immigrants would ever become citizens themselves is to suck up welfare benefits; it fits the tone of the rest of his piece.

    I think it very plausible that only 10% of elderly parents of adult immigrants might eventually become citizens themselves; but the idea that every last one of them can't wait to jump aboard the "welfare wagon" is insulting, offensive, and absurd..

    For one point, you're an "adult" in this country at age 18; in many Third-World countries, people have children at a much younger age. Thus, a great many of those parents brought in by immigrants will be in their forties and fifties and used to hard work. Does Rector think they loafed their time away in Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvadore, Armenia, and Ukraine? Why wouldn't a substantial portion of these parents find work themselves?

    May immigrants come here and start their own businesses: stores, restaurants, meat markets, dance instruction, computer software... who knows? Family-owned small businesses have become the backbone of the American economy, and the fastest growing segment thereof. Such businesses often hire the whole family, and nobody is on welfare.

    And does Rector assume from the outset that all attempts at assimilation will fail, that nobody among the immigrants is responsible and shares the American ethic of paying your own way and supporting your own family -- even your parents when they get old?

    Does Rector thus casually assume that current immigrants are morally inferior to all the earlier generations of immigrants -- possibly even including his own parents or grandparents?

    The cost of inflammatory rhetoric

    This is the level to which this discussion has degenerated, where even respectable and respected institutions like the Heritage Foundation begin any discussion with a hidden, anti-immigrant bias, anger at all these foreigners coming into "our" America, and the assumption that they only come to suck up our welfare and live on Easy Street.

    Good God, we deserve better from that side of the debate.

    We desperately need continuing input from those for whom border security is paramount:

    • We need pressure to build a real wall;
    • We need more money and manpower offered for border security;
    • We need much harsher penalties for employers hiring illegals once they have legal guest workers available instead;
    • We need guarantees that we won't repeat the disaster of Simpson-Mazzoli in 1986 (signed by Ronald Reagan, by the way).

    But when the security-side of the debate abandons the field, refusing even to engage in the effort of making a marginally good bill into a pretty good one, preferring a one-sided bill that cannot pass to a balanced bill that will... then our country -- and their own cause of border security -- is ill-served indeed.

    Hatched by Dafydd on this day, May 16, 2006, at the time of 4:22 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

    May 15, 2006

    A Specter Is Haunting the Blogosphere...

    Immigration Immolations
    Hatched by Dafydd

    ...the specter of absolutism.

    The GOP now consists of a house divided; and as Lincoln taught, a house divided against itself cannot stand.

    I admit, I am stunned and angry that my favorite writer on my favorite blog has made himself the blunt end of a battering ram that is lustily knocking down the entire temple of achievement we've built in this city on a hill for the last five years.

    Here he is on the speech:

    He Had His Chance...

    ...and he blew it. He should have given the speech I told him to. As soon as he started talking about guest worker programs and the impossibility of deporting 11 million illegals, it was all over. President Bush keeps trying to find the middle ground, on this and many other issues. But sometimes, there isn't a viable middle ground. This is one of those instances....

    President Bush doesn't have many chances left to salvage his second term. After tonight, he might not have any.

    No "viable middle ground." It's my way or the highway. And what is the speech that John "told him" to give? Anent immigration, it boils down to this:

    So, discussion about long-term approaches to immigration will continue. But in the meantime, your priority will be securing the borders and enforcing the laws currently on the books. Which means that the crackdown on employers of illegals will be expanded. Announce some specific measures to begin securing the Mexican border, preferably including some kind of fence.

    Bush did say this, of course; all of it! And there is nobody on the right, least of all Big Lizards, who does not support a dramatically increased border security... a fence, even a bigger fence than Sen. Sessions calls for; more Border Patrol; drones, sensors, even National Guard along the border. I am for this, Sachi is for it, President Bush is for it.

    So what so enrages John?

    The only plausible answer is that John wanted this to be the only program. He wanted Bush to announce that he was not going to pursue anything but enforcement now... and that everything else -- rationalizing the legal immigration system, guest-worker program, and normalization of those here illegally -- would have to be put off until some indefinite time in the future.

    In other words, John Hinderaker is outraged and says that Bush's second term is no longer "salvageable" because Bush didn't accept the "compromise" he offered: we get everything we want today... and in a couple of years, we might talk about whether the rest of you get anything at all.

    John, of course, knows that such a bill could never pass the Senate. So evidently, John prefers an enforcement-only bill that doesn't pass to a compromise bill that does.

    He's right about one point: there are issues where there is no "viable middle ground." Slavery was one; we could not be a nation half slave and half free. The war on terrorism is another: either you're with us or you're with the terrorists.

    There are black and white issues; but it is sheer folly to see every issue as so stark a choice, with one winner and everyone else a loser. Even day and night have a twilight between them. We must find a viable middle ground here, or we shall have no ground to stand on whatsoever... and we shall have done it to ourselves.

    If destruction be our lot we must ourselves be its author and finisher. As a nation of free-men, we must live through all time, or die by suicide. -- Abraham Lincoln, 1838

    That sound you hear is the rumble of electoral doom, as half the GOP, like Samson, pulls the temple down upon all our heads -- their own, included.

    Do they think of the other half as Philistines, because they would rather see a good compromise bill that passes and moves the ball forward... than stand fast on purity of essence, refuse to settle for anything short of "perfection," and therefore accomplishing nothing whatsoever?

    The other sound you hear is the joyous ululation of the Democrats, as they watch the Republican Party tear itself apart over this issue like sharks in a feeding frenzy... because one side of the debate is unwilling to give even one angry inch:

    • Bush supported the fence!
    • Bush supported a crackdown on employers of illegals!
    • Bush supported enforcing the existing laws!
    • Bush supported ending "catch and release" of illegals!

    And that wasn't enough, because he didn't come out swinging against guest workers and for mass deportation:

    As soon as he started talking about guest worker programs and the impossibility of deporting 11 million illegals, it was all over.

    So that's it; if the anti-immigrant side of the GOP -- fair or not, that is the impression they leave -- persists in this folly, the idea that we can round up and deport eleven million people, and that we can just seal off the border and keep all the foreigners out, then bid adieu to the House, the Senate, and the White House, and gird yourself for twenty years of absolute hell on Earth. Because if we blow this, then that's how long the Republicans will have to wander in the wilderness until we're back in power.

    Twenty years of socialist misery. Twenty years of staggering tax increases. Twenty years of racial preference poured down our throats with a gasoline funnel. Twenty years of imperialist judges nullifying elections and ruling by decree.

    Twenty years of increasingly savage terrorist attacks; America will be Israel under Barak.

    But at least, thank God, we will have stuck to our guns and refused to compromise in any way, shape, form, manner, style, jot, or tittle.

    For the love of God, people... compromise means you must give a little. There is a middle ground. And if I'm wrong, if there is not, then we are all lost -- because John's side does not have the support of the American people and will never win.

    Here are our choices:

    1. We settle on a reasonable compromise bill that includes both border enforcement and also immigration reform, a guest-worker program, and some eventual normalization; and we try to make it the best bill we can, given those constraints; or...
    2. We rend the party, the Democrats win, and then you'll find out what "amnesty" and "open borders" really mean. And minor things like the entire war on jihadi terrorism will trampled underfoot by the Democratic thugs who seize control of our country.

    And all for the want of the simple art of giving a little to get a lot.

    Think. Think. Think two times, three times... and don't throw away this magnificent opportunity -- just because you only get three-quarters of a loaf instead of the whole bloody thing on a golden plate.

    Hatched by Dafydd on this day, May 15, 2006, at the time of 9:17 PM | Comments (45) | TrackBack

    First Impressions: Bush's Speech On Immigration

    Immigration Immolations
    Hatched by Dafydd

    I'm splitting my initial response to Bush's speech tonight into three sections: Content, Delivery, and the Reaction I expect it will receive.


    Overall, I liked the speech quite a bit. I wish President Bush had been more explicit about the fence; but he did mention it not once but twice, so there is no question he supports some amount of actual, real, physical fencing along the border.

    The president unambiguously distinguished the fence from a mere "security barrier," which he prefers for the rural areas where few people are crossing now; the implication is that the barrier would be less aggressive than the fence, more like a classic vehicle-barrier -- chicanes, concrete blocks, checkpoints, maybe even automated spike-strips that can deploy in front of a vehicle trying to run the checkpoint (we use these in some places in Iraq).

    So real, actual, and tough walls ("fencing") in high-traffic areas where there is a lot of illegal immigration, and a barrier in rural areas where there is some but not much illegal crossings, with those areas where there are few to no crossings covered only by a "virtual fence" (as others have called it; Bush didn't use that term) of motion detectors, infrared cameras, and Predator drones overhead (but presumably sans the Hellfire missiles.)

    Also on the enforcement side, the prez noted that he had increased the Border Patrol from 9,000 when he was first inaugurated to 12,000 today; and he called for increasing them to somewhere above 18,000 -- which would more than double the 2001 level. But he will call upon governors to allocate 6,000 National Guardsmen to assist the current Border Patrol (increasing the manpower to 18,000 as soon as the state NGs come aboard) for one year; thereafter, each increase in trained and deployed Border Patrol would be matched by a decrease in the Guard.

    Huh, he missed the opportunity to say, "as the Border Patrol stands up, the National Guard will stand down." (See now if Big Lizards had been writing his speeches, he would have been hounded from office long ago.)

    I like this, but I don't think it's going to be very effective. Under posse comitatus, if Bush nationalizes the Guard, then they probably cannot be used on the border -- even if, as he says, they won't conduct any law enforcement operations. But if he doesn't nationalize them, it will be up to the individual governors; and some -- e.g., Arnold Schwarzenegger of my home state of California -- have already signalled they're not on board with this proposal. Maybe the feds can armtwist the governors on this; but in California's case, there may actually be more "immigration activists" opposing anything that seals off the borders to illegals than there are ordinary people who want to see an end to illegal immigration.

    So you read it here first: I predict that no matter how much the feds call for state National Guard units to deploy on the border, California, Arizona, and New Mexico will not play along... at least not to the extent that Bush envisions.

    Still, some is better than none; I'm sure he'll get cooperation from Texas, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida. I have no idea what Gov. Blanco of Louisiana will do: she's a liberal, but LA blacks are not exactly pro-illegal-immigration; and of course, she wants lots of federal aid -- so maybe Congress could include a federal-funding stick for non-complying states to go along with any carrots that are offered in the way of federal help to local law enforcement that works with federal cops on illegal immigration.

    He discussed the guest-worker program and "normalization" of those illegals already here; and I was very pleased that he made quite a point of connecting these to border security. He hasn't read Big Lizards enough, or else he would have used my phrase: there is no wall so strong that a million people pushing won't knock it down.

    But he did say that there are so many people desperate to come here that a wall and enforcement, no matter how strong, cannot keep them out. That it's imperative to reduce the number of folks trying to get in here illegally... and the only way to do that is to give them a legal way of doing so. (He also failed to use my analogy of a dam, with and without a spillway. His people really do need to get in touch with my people!)

    I was disappointed that he didn't talk about rationalizing the legal immigration system, but he certainly didn't oppose it. I keep hoping that any comprehensive reform will include changing the current system -- arbitrary, byzantine, nationality-based, corrupt, and so bureaucratic it makes the Department of Motor Vehicles seem positively user-friendly -- to one that is rational, explicable, fair to everyone, clear about what prospective immigrants must do, and with an enforced time-table for response by the USCIS (the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, what used to be called the INS).

    But all in all, the content of this speech is a very, very good start to a compromise bill that nobody will love -- but that everybody can live with. And that's what a compromise is, b'gad.


    At the beginning, Bush seemed oddly hesitant, as if he had not had enough practice time; but within a few minutes, he got into the swing of it, and the speech went smoother from there.

    As usual, he came across (to me) as sincere, heartfelt, and intelligent. As usual, I'm sure he came across to die-hard liberals as a lying Fascist weasel with the IQ of an eggplant, and to die-hard Tancredoites as Vicente Fox's sock puppet... for whatever that may be worth.

    Not his best delivered speech; those are invariably his stump speeches, of course, since he has the opportunity to refine them over weeks of giving them all over the country. But not his worst speech, either; his worst are always those where he is doing something purely for political reasons, and not because he really believes what he's saying... such as the "steel tariffs" speech.

    He believes what he said today; he just didn't have a lot of time to practice it, as it was likely being revised up until moments before he delivered it.


    The most important question is how the Republican base will react. I think they'll be pleased, by and large: a month ago, this speech would have been a lot "softer," with less explicit discussion of border control and a more lenient guest-worker and "normalization" section.

    Bush is now much more oriented towards border enforcement than he was, and he recognizes that the base matters: George W. Bush has "grown" on this issue.

    I believe Bush's approval rating among conservatives will rise; but it's not going to be sudden. They want to wait and see how he interacts with the House and Senate. For example, will Bush support the amendment offered by Sen. Sessions to add an actual fence into the Senate bill?

    Jeff Sessions -- excuse me, Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III (can you tell he's from the South?) -- wants to amend the Senate bill to add 370 miles of actual fence, plus 500+ miles of vehicle barriers. Majority Leader Frist (R-TN) is very strongly behind it, and I suspect Bush will embrace this, too. But until he does, I think conservatives are going to be skeptical.

    I'm afraid some so-called "conservatives" barely listened to the speech; since the only thing many of them would ever accept is pure enforcement, mass deportations, and internment camps -- no guest workers, no normalization, and nothing else -- there was no reason even to bother with what the president said: I suspect many had their responses already written before Bush even spoke, and they simply waited until the speech ended before clicking the Publish button (for the sake of appearances).

    Hugh Hewitt, in a nutty update that caters to this mob, wrote this about fifteen minutes after Bush finished talking:

    Memo to Tony Snow: The blogosphere/talk radio callers/e-mailers are turning against this speech in a decisive fashion. They simply do not believe the Administration is really committed to border enforcement, and the spokespeople sent out to back up the president's message aren't doing that job. Period.

    Decisive? After a quarter of an hour?

    If this really is true, then "the blogosphere/talk radio callers/e-mailers" are all a bunch of horses' asses. However, I really doubt that those Huge is hearing from now, in the first couple, three hours after the speech, will be truly representative of that vast body of intellectual opinion (for which I have a lot more respect).

    Much more likely, at the moment, Hugh is hearing from the Perpetually Aggrieved wing of the Republican Party (which has its much larger counterpart among the Democras), who could barely contain themselves until the speech was actually delivered to e-mail Hugh that they hated it. I'm sure Frank Gaffney is beside himself with indignation; but I prefer Power Line's blog-of-the-week the Strata-Sphere, where A.J. Strata proves himself a man of intelligence, wisdom, courage, and sincerity. (By which I mean he agrees with me, of course.)

    Today conservatives and Americans across this nation, especially those who voted for George W Bush, should be thankful for what we have accomplished and for having George Bush as President. My tolerance for the whiners who don’t get all they want, or who say the pace of getting America to become more responsive to conservative ideas is too slow, is totally used up. Tonight, when George Bush speaks his is going to discuss how we can take SOME steps towards getting a handle on immigration and the security threats it represents.... [All emphasis added]

    I have no words of thanks to those who are so frustrated they have turned on Bush when he needs our support, and threaten to sit out elections. Why would I have any thanks for that kind of action? I am thankful we avoided a President Gore and President Kerry. Gore would have lost his mind after 9-11 (look at how he handled the 2000 election). And Kerry would have been so confused about what to do he would have signed legislation beforing vetoing it.

    All right, this is just my first, few, brief thoughts on the subject of Bush's speech on immigration. I'm certain I'll have something much more substantial -- and much longer -- to say later, when I've had a chance to digest. (Metaphorically and also literally; we're just about to eat dinner here at Lizard Central.)

    Hatched by Dafydd on this day, May 15, 2006, at the time of 7:20 PM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

    April 7, 2006

    A Modest Proposal

    Immigration Immolations
    Hatched by Dafydd

    A number of people (such as Charles Krauthammer) have proposed that we build the wall first, and then, only after it's shown to be working, legalize the illegals already here.

    All right; let's set aside, for the time being, any talk of legalization of those already here. What about the other, forgotten issue of reforming legal immigration?

    My argument all along has been that there is no wall so strong that a million people pushing on it won't knock it down. I say that if honest men can enter through the front door in God's own daylight, then only thugs, goons, and terrorists will try to enter in the Devil's night through the window. These are arguments about legal immigration and legal guest workers -- they have nothing to do with regularizing those already here.

    Not even Tom Tancredo can say that rationalizing our legal immigration policy is "amnesty." (Amnesty for what?)

    So here is my modest proposal. I wonder if Krauthammer, or anybody else who says he is only against illegal immigration, will join me in this?

    1. We start building the wall immediately. Not "start the process," but start sinking steel poles and laying concrete. We just grab the map the House used for its 700-mile proposal and start construction. (We can start on May Day, just to freak out the Left.) With me so far?
    2. At the same time, we rationalize the legal immigration process. I don't mean make it easier or drop any requirements; heck, I might want to add requirements for legal immigration. By "rationalize," I mean a set of rules that lead automatically to a Green Card and eventual citizenship, no matter how many years it takes (within reason -- 80 years is right out). All I want to see is: "if I follow these steps, I will get permanent residency; if I then follow these other steps, I will become an American citizen."

      Not "then maybe I'll get a Green Card," or "I might be allowed to be a citizen." A flat, automatic system: jump through the following hoops, whatever they are, and you've got it automatically, without the immigrant having to petition the USCIS and hope they decide in his favor (the USCIS can stop a particular case if something serious comes up).

    3. At the same time, put into place a guest worker program... for which the alien can only apply from his country of origin, not from within the United States. This is to prevent people currently here illegally from piggybacking onto it (unless of course they sneak back across the border and apply from Mexico; but how could we even know that?)
    4. We drop the hammer on companies still employing illegals, notwithstanding the guest worker program; we detect violations by whatever means we choose to put into place.

    Notice something? No legalization of current illegals at all! Didn't even bring it up. This is entirely and completely about securing the border, rationalizing our current legal immigration, and setting up a system to bleed off those folks who just want to come here and work and are willing to do so legally. The latter two points are designed to take pressure off the wall so it will work... the "spillway in the dam," as I have characterized it.

    After this has worked for a while (assuming it does), only then do we talk about legalizing the illegals.

    How about this? Is this acceptable to hard-core immigration conservatives?

    Hatched by Dafydd on this day, April 7, 2006, at the time of 10:31 PM | Comments (53) | TrackBack

    Goodbye D.C., Hello Baghdad

    Congressional Calamities , Immigration Immolations
    Hatched by Dafydd

    I cannot, will not join in this Snoopy dance of glee at the complete inability of Republicans and Democrats in the Senate to come to agreement on a very fair and reasonable immigration compromise. Every single substantive objection on either side can be fixed. The fixes are not difficult to find. There is only one objection that is insurmountable: liberal Democrats and conservative Republicans appear have allied to force the bill to collapse.

    One of those two groups is rationally pursuing its own self interest; it will actually benefit at the ballot box if the effort collapses completely. Sen. John Kyl (R-AZ) is not in that group. The reality is that if this bill ends up collapsing, it will cause Republicans to lose seats in the House and Senate in November... which hurts conservatives in Congress a heck of a lot more than it hurts Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco) or Harry Reid (D-Las Vegas).

    It's unfathomable to me that men and women who belong to the world's most exclusive club, what it pleases them to call "the greatest deliberative body in the world," are congenitally incapable of deliberating. Instead they posture, the proclaim, they throw hysterical tantrums. They act more like the Shia in the Iraqi National Assembly than like grown-up adults who actually care about America. Goodbye, D.C., and hello Baghdad.

    The deal has collapsed (at least for the moment) because of conservative Republican attempts to amend the bill (two amendments in particular) and the Democrats' filibuster of those amendments. So let's start with the amendments themselves.

    In theory, they're not bad; but the devil once again lurks (as usual) in the details:

    One amendment would have required the Department of Homeland Security to certify that the border was secure before creating a guest worker program or granting legal status to illegal immigrants. Another would have had the legalization program bar illegal immigrants who had deportation orders or had been convicted of a felony or three misdemeanors. Democratic critics of the proposals said they were intended to ensure that the legalization process would never be implemented.

    Gosh, who could argue with those? What possible reason could there be not to -- all right, let's actually think a second time about each:

    Require certification of border security before implementing immigration reform

    Fine. I have no objection to the theory, but -- how exactly does the amendment define "secure?" Does this mean the DHS has only to certify that the wall and fence have been properly built? Or does it mean he must guarantee that it's impossible for even a single illegal to cross the border? If the latter, that could not be legally certified in a hundred years.

    Do conservatives offer this amendment in order to advance the issue, or to kill the entire bill? If they're being honest about it, they will be willing to negotiate exactly what constitutes "secure" enough for the DHS to certify. They will offer standards that can actually be satisfied within a reasonable timeframe, say two to three years. Honest Democrats are willing to negotiate those standards, to make sure they allow certification within two or three years -- not thirty or forty, or never.

    But if either side simply wants to collapse the entire effort, it's easy enough: just insist upon the impossible -- either a level of security that can never be achieved, or refuse to require any such certification whatsoever, which is equally unreasonable.

    Permanently bar from citizenship illegals who have been deported or been convicted of felonies or multiple misdemeanors

    Again, there is nothing inherently wrong with this idea; but it can easily be turned into a poison pill. For example... do they include under the deportation clause immigrants deported for no reason other than having been caught? If so, it's absurd: this part of the bill is already directed solely at persons illegally in the country. Are they really saying we only want as citizens those illegals clever enough not to have been nabbed? What is it, a proxy IQ test?

    Or by "deported," do they mean those deported for reasons much stronger than "you were caught here illegally?" If they mean the latter, then conservatives must spell out exactly what deportation reasons provoke the permanent ban.

    And felonies are one thing; but three misdemeanors? Do they really mean that if an immigrant was a stupid teenager twenty years ago, and if he went on a one-night spree knocking over garbage cans and got convicted of three counts of malicious mischief, that he is forever barred from becoming a citizen? That is quite literally insane.

    If conservatives have any interest at all in actually coming to some agreement, they must be willing to negotiate exactly what criminal convictions and reasons for deportation will permanently bar citizenship.

    Democrats who want a bill will be willing to allow a vote on such a list of crimes. This requires all Democrats to go on record either saying they want to let murderers and rapists into the country... or else accepting that some people won't qualify for citizenship because of bad character. But moderate Democrats will agree to both amendments (or at least agree to vote on them), if they are reasonable and spelled out in detail.

    Who's got hand?

    The distinction is this: if the liberal Democrats negotiate in bad faith and manage to force a collapse, they win at the ballot box. If the conservative Republicans force collapse through sheer pigheadedness and refusal to compromise... then they lose in November.

    But the conservatives are driving the bus right now; they've got the upper hand. If they negotiate in good faith, they have the power to force a successful resolution. The moderate Republicans are already on board, and 55 Republicans need only five Democrats to stop a filibuster.

    In the last test on Wednesday night, an even tougher vote against cloture on the Democratic version of immigration reform got (surprise!) four moderate Democrats and one Democratic nutcase to vote with the Republicans:

    Voting against cloture were all 55 Republicans (including co-sponsors McCain and Specter) and five Democrats, who stiffed their own party boss, Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Caesar's Palace): Robert Byrd (WV), Ben Nelson (NE), Bill Nelson (FL), Kent Conrad (ND), and Byron Dorgan (ND). Of this group, only Sen. Dorgan is not running for reelection this year... and he may have felt obliged to support his fellow NoDak, Kent Conrad, who is.

    So here is the stark choice:

    1. If conservative Republicans are willing to negotiate their amendments in good faith, they'll be joined by moderate Republicans and enough moderate Democrats to overcome any filibuster, allowing reasonable changes to strengthen enforcement in the immigration reform bill.
    2. Contrariwise, if the conservatives insist upon unreasonable amendments, they won't get the Democrats; in which case, they will be unable to amend the bill at all, because they can't break Harry Reid's filibuster without Democratic votes.
    3. Without amendment, the bill collapses... which benefits only the liberal Democrats -- not the conservatives, the moderate Republicans, or even the moderate Democrats.
    4. Victory or defeat is entirely in the hands of conservatives: if they will negotiate in good faith, they (and the country) will win. If they insist upon "my way or the highway," everybody loses -- except Reid and Pelosi, of course.

    People must understand that conservatives are a minority in Congress, as they are in the country. They cannot simply cram a pure-enforcement bill down everybody's throat. It's not in the cards; it won't happen.

    If they try hard, however, they can gain enough support to make reasonable changes:

    • Define what it means for the border to be "secure" and make it reasonable enough that it's just two or three years away -- not thirty or forty.
    • Define exactly what crimes bar citizenship, so we don't end up with mass numbers of people being denied for trivial offenses that even many sitting members of Congress have committed.

    With those amendments and perhaps a few others -- emphasis on reasonable -- they can get on with the negotiation and light this candle. They can actually achieve something.

    Or they can clench their fists and refuse to back down even an inch. They can become the most Do-Nothing Congress since the 80th in 1948, as Hugh Hewitt likes to say. Like the Shia in Baghdad, they can bring democracy to a screeching halt.

    Until November.

    Hatched by Dafydd on this day, April 7, 2006, at the time of 6:34 PM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

    The Continental Divide

    Immigration Immolations , Kulturkampf
    Hatched by Dafydd

    There are two basic camps on immigration; the camp you choose typically determines your positions and priorities.

    • Illegal immigrants are essentially criminals.
    • Illegal immigrants are essentially thwarted freedom-seekers.

    There is an interesting geographic dispersal about these camps: the first is primarily found in states that have very few illegal immigrants, the second primarily in states that have a very large illegal population -- though of course there are campsites of each in each type of state.

    To characterize the first camp:

    Illegal aliens are line jumpers. Lacking either patience or any sense of the rule of law, unwilling to wait alongside others equally anxious to become Americans, they simply steal into the country unasked, like arrogant burglars.

    They have no respect for private property. They pretend to want only freedom and liberty, but what they really want is a better material life: jobs in America pay more than in Mexico or the rest of Latin America. There is nothing wrong with materialism... but it must be bought, not stolen. Others have waited longer; the illegals push them aside and just take what everyone else has to earn.

    They carry their culture with them and disdain ours. Most have no interest in being Americans; they just want to leech off of America to send money to their relatives back home -- and to bring those relatives here like parasites to sponge off of Uncle Sugar.

    Even legal immigrants bother me when they make plain they don't think much of America, except as a cow to be milked. Assimilation has been a dismal failure; illegal aliens are just more direct about what they want. Look at the protesters -- see how many Mexican flags and how few American flags!

    They don't belong here. We should never reward burglars simply for being devious enough to avoid discovery for five years. They should leave. If they won't leave voluntarily, it's our duty to make them leave by any means necessary.

    It's our country, native-born and naturalized citizens... not theirs, not yet. First take back our territory, and then maybe we'll discuss what to do about those already here illegally.

    And I'll also characterize the other camp -- to which I note I firmly belong:

    Illegal immigrants are caught in a bind. They are more sinned against than sinning.

    If we had rational immigration laws that evaluated each immigrant on a case-by-case basis, making plain what he needs to do and to refrain from doing, then most of them would be legal immigrants. They are "illegal" because our laws are archaic and arbitrary, not because they are inherently dishonest.

    Most came here seeking only freedom of the individual and a better life for their families. If we give them half a chance, they will join America fully, assimilate, learn English, and be as good a resident and eventually citizen as the European immigrants who came before them.

    Of course, some illegal immigrants don't fit that description. Some are merely here to work; those should be guest workers, not on the citizenship track. And some are just criminal thugs whom we should exclude from the country or deport if they manage to slip through. But they constitute a tiny minority of all those who immigrate here illegally.

    All we need do is rationalize the system so a would-be immigrant knows what is expected of him -- and what he can expect, of a certainty, if he plays by the rules. If he knows that by following a prescribed procedure, he can eventually become an American citizen... then he will lose all interest in sneaking across the border and living a lie.

    Give them a chance; they are no different than your grandparents and great-great grandparents. Only our government has changed, becoming harder and less tolerant of the engine that drove us for more than 130 years before the clampdown.

    So which camp are you? It's a good proxy measurement for whether you support or oppose the current Senate compromise legislation.

    Hatched by Dafydd on this day, April 7, 2006, at the time of 4:29 AM | Comments (28) | TrackBack

    April 6, 2006

    Patterico's Brilliant Idea

    Crime and Punishment , Immigration Immolations
    Hatched by Dafydd

    Over on Patterico's Pontifications, Patterico has a great idea for a codicil to be added to immigration reform pending in both the House and Senate:

    We will never deport the millions of illegals currently residing in the country. But, as I have previously argued, we can use our scarce enforcement resources to target violent criminals. [All emphasis added by BL]

    While many illegals are hardworking folk, some are robbers, kidnappers, rapists, violent gang members, and murderers. Police officers often know who these individuals are — yet they have their hands tied by local policy.

    Targeting violent illegals makes good sense.

    Patterico hasn't been posting much lately; I suspect he's in trial on some major prosecution. It's good to see him back today, and with an excellent suggestion for an amendment to the bill in Congress.

    Hatched by Dafydd on this day, April 6, 2006, at the time of 4:36 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

    Breaking: Senate Compromises On Immigration Reform

    Immigration Immolations
    Hatched by Dafydd

    In a shocking example of comity, the Senate -- including most Democrats -- appears to have coalesced around the compromise bill of Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist; the Democrats appear to have dropped their objections both to the "no felony convictions" rule for citizenship, and also to the lack of guaranteed re-entry for those illegals who have been here less than two years: they're still obliged to return to their countries of origin and apply for readmission, but under this bill, they can be denied for any of a number of reasons.

    What may have turned the Senate around is the decisive, crushing rejection of the original McCain-Kennedy-Spector bill passed out of the J-Com. In the vote to end debate (cloture vote on a filibuster), the bill needed to get 60 votes. It garnered 39, less than two-thirds what it needed. In fact, in a bipartisan mauling of Sens. John McCain (R-AZ), Arlen Specter (R-PA), and Edward Kennedy (D-Margaritaville), 60 senators voted against ending debate.

    Voting against cloture were all 55 Republicans (including co-sponsors McCain and Specter) and five Democrats, who stiffed their own party boss, Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Caesar's Palace): Robert Byrd (WV), Ben Nelson (NE), Bill Nelson (FL), Kent Conrad (ND), and Byron Dorgan (ND). Of this group, only Sen. Dorgan is not running for reelection this year... and he may have felt obliged to support his fellow NoDak, Kent Conrad, who is.

    Slipping a bit on the bloodstained Senate floor, Reid then rushed to express support, late last night, for the Frist bill; as Big Lizards predicted late last night (early this morning, for you sun people), "this is one of those rare occasions where both sides really do want a bill."

    As we noted, the Frist bill is almost the same as the one rejected, except for introducing a three-part classification of illegals:

    1. Those here five years or more need not return to their home countries; they can apply for guaranteed legal status in situ (after paying back taxes, paying a fine, and only if they can show they have continuously worked -- no welfare, I think this means -- and if they don't have any felony convictions already). This group comprises about 60% of the 11 million - 12 million illegals, according to Dr. Sen. Frist, or 6.6 to 7.2 millions.
    2. Those here between two and five years do have to return to their countries of origin and apply for readmission; but they are guaranteed re-entry if they meet the requirements above. I have seen no figures on how big a percent this group is of the remainder.
    3. Those here less than two years have to return (if they want legal status), but they are not guaranteed re-entry. If they don't, they're subject to deportation (if caught).

    We're not particularly happy about that last category; the most likely response is that most of those in Camp Three won't return or legalize at all. But since the bill also heavily increases border security -- I'm sure there is a virtual fence, and I think the bill authorizes a physical fence across some of the southern border, but don't hold my feet to the grindstone on that one -- and also coils like an anaconda around businesses that hire illegals, it will be significantly more difficult for illegals to operate here with the sort of impunity they have enjoyed for decades.

    This could actually work... because in addition to a fence (virtual or physical), and in addition to regularizing those already here, the bill also sets up a guest worker program for future in-and-outers and clarifies the path to citizenship for future immigrants; this means decent people who want to come here for honest reasons have a legal way to do so -- and therefore no reason to pay a coyote to sneak them past the border.

    This takes a lot of the pressure off the system and allows us to vigorously enforce the border laws: when customers with legitimate business can enter through the front door in broad daylight, it's much more acceptable to drop the hammer on people slithering in through the window at night.

    The House earlier passed a bill that was all cop and no compassion: straight, heavy-handed border protection, including declaring that those here illegally, however long, were guilty of a felony, and could therefore never become citizens. The House version didn't even offer a nod to those who desperately want to become Americans, or even just work here honestly for a while, but who cannot, for various reasons, navigate through the labyrinth of immigration law.

    This House bill (or a substitute) will have to be reconciled with the Senate's bill in the joint committee... but House Speaker Denny Hastert (R-IL) has already signalled that it would be possible for the House to support a compromise bill, so long as it also contains tough enforcement measures -- which the current Senate version does.

    So we at Big Lizards have very high hopes for this version of immigration reform: it's a solid bill, it has strong backing that is even (I can't believe I'm typing this word) bipartisan; and the president is eager to sign it.

    This will go a long way towards allowing the Republicans to do well in the November elections. If nothing else, they can point to this major bill, the most significant immigration reform in two decades (and a lot better than Reagan's amnesty program, since this bill is not amnesty -- except for those right-wingers who redefine the word "amnesty" the way lefties redefine "civil war"). I presume they'll also confirm a few more conservative judges and will probably vote to make the Bush tax cuts permanent. That presents a flurry of action on issues important to Republicans and will bring them out to vote.

    The senators finally stopped "foaming at the mouth" and got down to brokering a deal. Good job, fellows!

    Hatched by Dafydd on this day, April 6, 2006, at the time of 3:04 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

    Heck, Big Lizards Can Break This Silly Logjam

    Immigration Immolations
    Hatched by Dafydd

    According to AP, there are now two competing Senate immigration-reform proposals, one pushed by Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Las Vegas), the other by Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Nashville). Hey, it's Lounge vs. Country!

    They're both pretty similar at this point. Here's AP:

    In general, both bills would increase border security, regulate the flow of future immigrants and offer legal status to many of the men, women and children who came to the United States unlawfully or overstayed their visas.

    The rival plans differ on the details, though, and so far, at least, attempts at a bipartisan compromise have failed.

    Each side is filibustering the other's bill; that means each bill has to get 60 votes to move on, you'll pardon the phrase. Since there are only 55 Republicans and only 45 Democrats (counting Jumpin' Jim Jeffords as a Democrat, since that's who he caucuses with), without some crossover voting, neither side can budge an inch. It's an impasse!

    So what exactly are these demonic "details" that evidently contain the Devil?

    In general [AP seems to like that meaningless prepositional phrase], the measure backed by Democrats would grant most of the 11 million immigrants legalized status and the opportunity to apply for citizenship after meeting several conditions. They include payment of a fine and any back taxes, passing a background check and learning English.

    By contrast, the Republican approach requires illegal immigrants who have been in the United States between two years and five years to return to their home country briefly, then re-enter as temporary workers. They could then begin a process of seeking citizenship.

    Illegal immigrants here longer than five years would not be required to return home; those in the country less than two years would be required to leave without assurances of returning, and take their place in line with others seeking entry papers.

    If we were brokering this debate, we'd have a workable compromise in about two minutes. We warned about this "poison pill." Remember what Big Lizards wrote in an earlier post?

    And even here, the main bone of contention seems to be pretty simple: the McCain-Kennedy camp wants to be able to regularize them in situ, after they pay a fine and all back taxes; but the Cornyn camp wants them to do all that, but still be required to return to their country of origin and then be readmitted here legally.

    I think the reason the McCainiacs (which includes me on this one, special issue) are so opposed to forcing the illegal immigrants -- and I do mean immigrants, not workers -- to return and then try to be readmitted is their sneaking suspicion (which I share) that what the Cornynites really want is to trick them into returning to their countries of origin... so they can say "ha ha, you're never getting back in... never!"

    Clearly, that same fear will occur to illegal immigrants. Without some sort of legal assurances, they won't leave; they would rather stay here illegally than return "home" without any hope of being allowed back into what they consider their real home, the United States.

    If your goal is to get illegal immigrants to exit and then be readmitted legally, you must guarantee they will, in fact, be readmitted, assuming nothing disqualifying arises during the reentry security checks. Without such assurance, the reentry provision is just a poison pill to kill the whole deal, and the demand for it is dishonest.

    The fix appears pretty simple. Here is the compromise bill that could gather 35-40 of the Republicans and maybe half or more of the Democrats (that's a low of 57-58 in favor, if you're counting; close enough that they can probably break the filibuster -- since this is one of those rare occasions where both sides really do want a bill):

    The Senate should go with the Frist bill, with one change: those illegals who have been here less than two years still have to exit and re-enter the country legally... but they're guaranteed readmission, unless the background check turns up something really bad, like a felony conviction.

    One interesting side issue: earlier today, Sen. Reid threatened to filibuster against an amendment, offered by Johns Kyl (R-AZ) and Cornyn (R-TX), to permanently refuse citizenship to illegals who were convicted of a felony. Power Line covered this; here is the pertinent passage:

    This is astonishing: Blog of the Week Right Wing News notes that Senate Democrats have successfully blocked an amendment to the immigration bill now under consideration that would have prevented aliens convicted of felonies from becoming citizens:

    Democrats said the amendment would "gut" the immigration bill under consideration in the Senate and refused to allow a vote on it.

    So now the Democrats are using the filibuster to protect the "right" of convicted felons who have emigrated to the U.S. illegally to become citizens. How can they possibly justify that, you ask? Beats me:

    "I do not have to explain in any more detail than what I have as why I don't want to move forward," Mr. Reid said. "I don't agree with the amendment. I don't think it's going to benefit this legislation that is pending before the Senate and I'm going to do what I can to prevent a vote on it."

    Later, Mr. Reid added, "We're not going to allow amendments like Kyl-Cornyn to take out what we believe is the goodness of this bill."

    Big Lizards has sussed this one out, too: in the poisoned atmosphere of the Senate, Sens. Reid, Kyle, and Cornyn are simply not talking to each other... and Harry Reid believes that the "felony" rule, in conjunction with the House bill making it a felony to be in the country illegally at all, is meant to sneakily bar all illegal aliens from ever becoming citizens.

    So how about restoring the felony rule for re-entering illegals... but write right into the clause that it only applies to felonies other than being in the country illegally or "smuggling aliens" -- which Right Wing News notes is actually one of the felonies in question. (Smuggling aliens could be interpreted to mean an illegal alien bringing his wife and kids into the United States along with himself.) Maybe we could bar professional "coyotes" but not aliens who "smuggled" in other aliens for non-monetary, non-felonious reasons.

    That legal assurance should allay Democrats' fears that this is just a backdoor way to bar all illegals from re-entering once they've left in order to re-enter -- which would be a dirty trick indeed, and would make Republicans look just like the racists the Democrats always accuse us of being.

    There. Problems solved. It's amazing how easy this all is... when you're not a thin-skinned, hysterical, hyperpartisan, foaming-at-the-mouth D.C. politician on the warpath, I mean.

    Hatched by Dafydd on this day, April 6, 2006, at the time of 5:48 AM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

    April 4, 2006

    A Tale of Two Cities

    Immigration Immolations
    Hatched by Dafydd

    I won't say this is my last word on immigration reform, because something interesting might crop up. But I'll be loath to post anything more unless I think of a totally different angle.

    An article by Herbert Meyer (via RealClearPolitics blog) notes a distinction I only recently internalized: the difference between immigrants and guests.

    The distinction is simple to explain but profound in its implications:

    • An immigrant wants to renounce his citizenship in his country of origin (usually birth but not always) and become an American;
    • A guest wants only to visit for a time; this includes tourists, students, and workers (legal and illegal). A guest worker, of course, wants to come here and work, then go back home.

    These two groups create two radically different "cities," which can exist in the same physical space: on the right hand, a city of foreigners who are really just Americans in training, who think and act as much like Americans as they can; and on the left hand, a city of foreigner who like being foreign, who don't like America or Americans, who may even seethe in resentment that the American Southwest was "stolen" from Mexico (to which it actually never belonged) -- a city of people marching in the streets waving Mexican flags and holding signs that say "this is MY continent!"

    The immigration debate, then, is a tale of two cities; and which city you see determines which side you're on. But if we look a little closer, close enough to determine fine distinctions, we discover that it's really one city after all. Only then can we slip carefully through the barbed wire to create a plan to satisfy both camps in Congress.

    Terrorists are rarely immigrants; there is too much scrutiny, too many background checks. They normally come as tourists or students, or they just sneak across the border. Guests are the biggest security risk; immigrants, even when here illegally, are the most valuable of the people seeking admission to the country.

    The most important issue related to any of this is protecting the border. While I believe that no wall can work without first separating out those people -- immigrant and guest -- who come here for benign reasons from those who come here for malicious reasons... it is equally true that no such reformation of the rules can work unless you control the borders. Otherwise, everyone you don't want to admit will just sneak in anyway. Realistically, the two programs must be done simultaneously, like lifting ourselves by tugging on our own bootstraps.

    Once the borders are better controlled, though, my first concern is towards regularizing and rationalizing our immigration system; doing the same for guests (including guest workers) can come later. So if we had to drop one or the other from the bill currently slithering its way through the Senate, I would prefer to lose the guest-worker program than immigration reform.

    Ideally, I want all four programs: border security, immigration reform, a better managed guest-worker program -- and regularization of those immigrants already here illegally, but whom we would otherwise be happy to admit under the reformed immigration system. But the guest-worker program is least important of those four.

    Which is good, because it appears one of the most contentious. I doubt that anyone, not even Tom-Tom Tancredo, would raise a serious objection to rationalizing the immigration system: making a clear path to citizenship encourages exactly the sort of committed immigrants we need. Nobody can be in favor of an arbitrary system where applicants have no clue what they're supposed to do to become citizens.

    And the only people who could possibly oppose better border control are politicians who hope to be reelected on the illegal votes of non-citizens (the Sanchez Sisters spring to mind).

    The big divide occurs over the last two problems: guest workerss and people already here illegally (guests or immigrants). These are two partially overlapping groups, but it's easiest to split them into three groups: guest workers here legally; illegal workers; and illegal immigrants:

    1. How many legal guests should we allow? All who want to come; only those who we determine, to the best of our ability, are not threats; a predefined number of those we determine are not threats; or none at all?
    2. What do we do with people who are already here illegally but have no interest in living here permanently?

    I don't believe there is much to argue about these two categories. First, we come to agreement on how many legal guest workers to admit; any question of numbers can be compromised (that's what Congress does best).

    After settling that point, it's easy to deal with the next: if enough guest workers can enter legally, then we can drop the hammer on employers who hire people still coming illegally. That should drastically reduce this group, because if the workers can't get jobs, they'll go home (where it's much cheaper to live).

    The big, tough question is the third:

    1. What do we do about the millions of people who are here illegally -- but only because our immigration system is so screwed up, they can't get in legally, even though there is nothing wrong with them: they're sane, decent, honest, hard-working people who only want a better life for themselves and their families. This number is far less than the 12 million we hear about, because many of those are Cat-2 (illegal workers), not Cat-3 (illegal immigrants).

    We're talking here about people who would be happy to immigrate here legally, following all the rules and jumping through all the hoops -- except that we have such a wretched system, they can't figure out what to do. They keep being rebuffed, but nobody will tell them why or what they can do to fix the problem or make themselves more attractive applicants. In desperation, they sneak in or overstay a student or tourist visa.

    And even here, the main bone of contention seems to be pretty simple: the McCain-Kennedy camp wants to be able to regularize them in situ, after they pay a fine and all back taxes; but the Cornyn camp wants them to do all that, but still be required to return to their country of origin and then be readmitted here legally.

    I think the reason the McCainiacs (which includes me on this one, special issue) are so opposed to forcing the illegal immigrants -- and I do mean immigrants, not workers -- to return and then try to be readmitted is their sneaking suspicion (which I share) that what the Cornynites really want is to trick them into returning to their countries of origin... so they can say "ha ha, you're never getting back in... never!"

    Clearly, that same fear will occur to illegal immigrants. Without some sort of legal assurances, they won't leave; they would rather stay here illegally than return "home" without any hope of being allowed back into what they consider their real home, the United States.

    If your goal is to get illegal immigrants to exit and then be readmitted legally, you must guarantee they will, in fact, be readmitted, assuming nothing disqualifying arises during the reentry security checks. Without such assurance, the reentry provision is just a poison pill to kill the whole deal, and the demand for it is dishonest.

    The traditional response, that guaranteeing readmission provides an incentive for future immigrants to come here illegally, is a non-sequitur; since we're rationalizing the process anyway, it's easier for a person of good character to come legally than sneak across and hope for another piece of legislation down the road. And if the person is not of good character, they wouldn't be readmitted anyway.

    Assuming everybody is honest, here then is a broad outline of a bill that would actually pass:

    1. We control the borders by a combination of a real wall, an electronic wall created by advanced technology, and beefed up border- and law-enforcement agencies.
    2. We decide how many guest workers (who can pass the threat firewall) we will admit legally, then make it easier for them to move through the steps than it currently is. The number should be higher than it is right now, since the number of illegal who can get jobs here indicates we're not admitting enough legals.
    3. We tighten the noose around employers who hire illegals anyway... those not satisfied with cheap legal guest workers and want to maximize profits by hiring even cheaper illegal workers. We require employers to verify the status using the systemI wrote about earlier (like verifying a credit-card payment but with embedded photo and biometric information).
    4. We rationalize the path to citizenship for immigrants. It can be long and arduous, but so long as they can see that they're making progress, they'll continue along it. Remove all race-based and country-of-origin-based quotas; if you want to control the numbers, use a point system based upon individual attainments or family situations.
    5. Finally, we make all illegal immigrants first exit the country and then apply for readmission legally (after paying appropriate fines and back-taxes)... but we guarantee that if nothing untoward pops up during the reentry security checks, they will be readmitted; otherwise, they have no incentive to leave.

    And with that, I believe you can get sixty senators and a majority in the House.

    Big Lizards: solving society's scaley conundrums in the blogosphere!

    Hatched by Dafydd on this day, April 4, 2006, at the time of 7:42 PM | Comments (31) | TrackBack

    March 30, 2006

    Two Walls That Pass In the Night

    Atrocious Analogies , Immigration Immolations , Israel Matters
    Hatched by Dafydd

    "Atrocious Analogies" is the new topic of the day, mostly sparked by Captain Ed's otherwise excellent post George Will: Ich Bin Ein Ost-Berliner? -- both the atrocious analogy he accuses George Will of making, and the atrocious analogy that Ed himself makes!

    Cap'n's "analogy" has been raised by a number of people opposed to the Senate J-Com's immigration plan and supportive of a "wall" (or fence) along the American southern border to keep out illegals, and that makes it worth discussing.

    Ed's post is actually good; I especially like this point, noting the need for much stronger border control:

    No illegal will enter a program that costs him significant fines and back taxes when all he has to do is stay quiet and keep crossing the border in both directions as he sees fit. As for learning English, that would certainly be a novel approach; we don't even make our legal immigrants do that any more, as evidenced by ballots in a plethora of languages and government-sponsored translators at all level of public services. [Emphasis added]

    As you know -- or should, if you've been reading -- I too support such a wall, and for the same reasons Ed does (and George Will does, too); so my objection to Captain Ed's analogy is not ideological. It's literary: I think the Captain Ed analogy squashes conversation nearly as badly as does Will's, and both should be tossed in the dustbin of rhetorical history.

    All right, all right, I'll tell you what they are. You demanding readers take all the mystery out of blogposts!

    George Will makes his conservative case for the moderate approach to immigration reform, giving enough room for hard-line enforcement while arguing for eventual absorption of the illegals already inside the US. However, he starts out with an almost unforgivable analogy that will have border-enforcement readers seeing red before they ever get to the rest of his arguments:

    America, the only developed nation that shares a long -- 2,000-mile -- border with a Third World nation, could seal that border. East Germany showed how: walls, barbed wire, machine gun-toting border guards in towers, mine fields, large, irritable dogs. And we have modern technologies that East Germany never had: sophisticated sensors, unmanned surveillance drones, etc.

    That is, of course, the allegedly atrocious analogy that George Will made. Actually, it's not really atrocious: it is merely unfortunate. It wrongly invokes the image of a prison-country like the Soviet Union (and its satellite, East Germany), which repugnant image blinds otherwise rational folks like Captain Ed to the point Will is really trying to make... which is simply that such brutal force is what you need to prevent a large number of people from passing a wall -- it makes no difference which direction.

    I'm no great admirer of Will; I think he's the most overrated supposed "thinker" of the supposed "conservative" persuasion. And this is one reason why: he is so enamored of the sound of his own typing that he really doesn't spend much time thinking at all.

    My own dam analogy is much better: building a wall to stop immigration without also building a gate through the wall for the decent, law-abiding, and hard-working is like building a dam across a river -- without building a spillway for the water.

    The lake you create will rise and rise, until eventually it will overtop the dam (a word I just learned recently in the brouhaha about the New Orleans levees), causing a horrific cascade over the top that will likely cause a catastrophic breach (a word I already knew). The water must go somewhere; it won't flow back upriver.

    In reality, we really are talking about what George Will suggested: machine guns, minefields, razor-wire, helicopters, a huge military force diverted to the border (the Border Patrol cannot handle it, even at ten times its present size)... and a huge number of dead children, women, and men whose only crime was -- they wanted to live in "freedom." And it won't work anyway: there is no wall so strong that a million people pushing won't knock it down.

    But wait, ab Hugh (I hear you ask), you said you support the wall. What gives?

    I support a wall -- but only as part of a comprehensive solution that also includes three things:

    1. A guest-worker program to temporarily admit those who just want to work here then migrate back across the border again;
    2. A clearly defined path to citizenship -- neither arbitrary, nor racially or nationality based -- for those decent, honest, hard-working immigrants who want to live the American ideal;
    3. Some mechanism to regularize those immigrants among the 12 million illegals who actually want to become citizens and at least register and regulate the rest, who only want to be guest workers.

    (Note that I am now clearly separating 1 from 2.)

    Once we have a door that the deserving can open, I have no objection to using Blackhawks and Predators on the felons still climbing through the windows.

    I have an analogy for you, I hear you suggest: how about the walls separating Gaza and he West Bank from Israel? Aren't you in favor of those, too? Isn't that the real analogy?

    Funny you should mention that. Here is what Captain Ed wrote:

    Israel's border with the West Bank and Gaza provide a much clearer analogy. First and foremost, it's built to keep people out, not create a nation of prisoners. It also provides deterrence from illegal crossings, forcing Palestinians towards well-manned checkpoints where security reaches maximum efficiency. The idea is not to kill Palestinian crossers, but to keep them from trying to enter Israel illegally at all. And, by the way, it works; it has been the single most important tool the Israelis had in ending the intifadas. (And by the way, it's hard to argue that Israel isn't a developed nation, that the Palestinian territories aren't a Third World area, or that their border is less significant to Israel's national defense than our southern border.)

    But it's easy to argue the one terrible flaw that spoils everything about this analogy: there are no hordes of decent, law-abiding, and hard-working Palestinians desperate to emmigrate to Israel. There is only one group of people trying to breach that wall: terrorists who want to butcher Jews by the thousands, if they only could, and drive them into the sea.

    They let through a small number of day-workers, who must leave again at night. And that's pretty much it.

    Israel protects its wall with soldiers, machine guns, and minefields... and it's perfectly proper to do so, since the only people likely to get killed are illegal combatants, terrorists, and mass murderers. There is no million people trying to knock down the Israeli "security fence;" there is a small group of a few hundred, and they're all people who deserve to die. (Yes, every human life has value; but sometimes, that "value" is a negative number.)

    And that makes all the difference. A wall across our southern border may well work; I'm in favor of trying. But only under the circumstances I mentioned above. And in any event, there is no valid analogy at all with the wall that Israel built (is building), because they need only keep out bad guys -- while we need not only to do that but also to channel the hundreds of thousands of good guys. We need a dam with a spillway; Israel only needs a seawall.

    There is one more atrocious analogy that I must highlight; again, it comes from Captain Ed's post -- and I really do like the post, if only the Captain (and George Will) would take better thought on their analogizing:

    The rest of Will's column fares better, although I disagree with his emphasis on what will be an amnesty program in practice, if not in name.

    A while back (I mean about twenty-five years ago) I read an article about "swinger" parties, which I must confess I know about only at second-hand, alas. Those are gatherings where a number of adults come to, well, copulate with each other in various permutations. The only money collected is whatever is necessary to buy the chips and soda (or whatever they drink at such places); the participants at the one in question were all middle-aged, middle-income folks who just liked sex a lot.

    A politician was demanding that the city of Los Angeles ban such parties (in the city that contains Hollywood? fat chance!) And in the course of his argument to the LA City Council, he found occasion to declare that --

    It's exactly like prostitution, except no money changes hands!

    (I don't have the clipping in front of me, but the words are seared, seared in my brain. Along with another one that I'll reveal at the end.)

    Captain, Captain... "amnesty" means a general pardon; and a "pardon" means to exempt from penalty, to let an offense pass without punishment.

    It is impossible by definition for a program that fines lawbreakers to be an "amnesty" -- neither in name nor practice.

    Folks can argue that the fines aren't stiff enough, or maybe that there should be prison time in some cases; but if punishment is meted out at all -- and a $2,000 fine is pretty stiff for such poor people -- then it ain't amnesty! (Even if the business pays it, then the business is being fined for the crime of hiring illegals.)

    So let's either stuff the analogies back in the sack, or at least spend some time to come up with new ones that better fit the circumstances. These hoary, old cliches are bursting at the seams. Let's take the high road and win one for the Gipper, give it the old college try and put our thinking caps on. All's well that ends well!

    (Oh, I almost forgot: back in 1984, I was at a conference on George Orwell at the Los Angeles World Science Fiction Convention. During the discussion of Orwell's chastisement of various leftist pamphleteers for their inelegant use of language, one anguished audience member leapt up and declared, "they're literally raping the language! They're literally raping the language!" Then he sat down again. Friend Lee and I were the only two spectators to burst out laughing.)

    Hatched by Dafydd on this day, March 30, 2006, at the time of 4:53 PM | Comments (19) | TrackBack

    March 28, 2006

    Border Control, Immigration Law Reform, Assimilation

    Immigration Immolations
    Hatched by Dafydd

    This post is brief, almost a "stub," as Wikipedia likes to call its one-paragraph discussions of larger topics. The three legs of the immigration stool are:

    1. Improved border control;
    2. Rational reform of the entire system of immigration law, from who gets in, to who can work, to who can stay.
    3. A much larger focus on assimilation, which must be made mandatory for permanent residency and citizenship.

    Border Control

    Ideas include a real wall, a "virtual wall," a high-tech biometric-imprinted ID card, more Border Patrol agents.

    Rational Reform of Immigration Law

    A defined and well-understood path to residency and citizenship: if you do the following good things (hold a job, learn English, invest in America through buying a house, say), and if you refrain from doing the following bad things (commit a crime, go bankrupt, receive welfare, whatever), then you will receive a Green Card after the appropriate length of time; and you will eventually become a citizen.

    No more guessing, hoping and praying, hiring lawyers, or pleading with congressmen; a clear, defined path that is the same for everyone.

    One very big change requires a constitutional amendment: I think we should change the birthright citizenship clause so that a person is only an American by birth if he is born in the United States to a mother who is legally resident... either a Green-Card holder or at least a legally resident alien. If Mom sneaks across the border and gives birth, the child is not automatically a citizen of the United States.


    One huge advantage of immigrating to America is that we do not require you to give up your ethnic or religious identity in order to become an American. Anybody here know an Italian-American? How about a Mexican-American, Japanese-American, or Arab-American? Tens of millions of each, and we as a country are richer for the wonderful cultural elements we gain from them.

    But unlike the Borg, we do not require immigrants to jettison their unique backgrounds to be Americans... only those elements that are antithetical to what America stands for (anti-American elements such as sharia, reconquista, or slavery).

    We require them to accept, or at least tolerate, the core beliefs of America: liberty, democracy, responsibility, duty, capitalism, and equal justice.

    Immigrants used to assimilate almost universally; most still do today. They become Americans in total, and with a whole heart. But we must formally require this before we extend citizenship or even permanent residency. There are various ways to do so, too numerous to go into in this stub.

    And that's it; that would solve the problem, I believe. And that is as clean as I can put it. But the stool needs all three legs, or it topples over.

    Hatched by Dafydd on this day, March 28, 2006, at the time of 4:51 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

    Migrant Protectionism

    Immigration Immolations
    Hatched by Dafydd

    John HInderaker was kind enough to link our last post, Ins and Outs of Immigration, in his most recent piece on Power Line (my favorite blog, not even excepting Big Lizards). In that post, John professes perplexity about the best course of action relating both to the currently resident illegal immigrants and also those trying to come here legally in the future.

    Perplexity is almost the only possible response... primarily because we're talking about so many people: literally millions and millions.

    The best approach is to have a lodestone, a principle to which one sticks until and unless it's proven false. Trying to put together a technocratic, patchwork "solution" is doomed to failure, because that technique only works when the technocrats actually have a handle on the situation (it works for redesigning the New Orleans levees, for example: do this and that, fix this over here, and Bob's got a good idea about overtopping problems in the future).

    John brings up a very important point, one that leads directly to my own personal lodestone. He writes:

    The remaining issues are not so clear, however: what do we do about the 11 million or so illegal aliens who are already here, and what impact would shutting off the flow of labor from Mexico have on our economy? President Bush's guest worker proposal is, of course, intended to address those problems. I'm not sure whether the administration's proposal is the right one, in part because I've become convinced that the flow of illegal immigrants has depressed wages for unskilled labor.

    John is exactly correct about this; and that is precisely why we need to continue such immigration, albeit with more regularization, because we want the wages of unskilled labor to be depressed. We pay too much for it. We pay more than it is worth in a free market.

    Note: this is not a "response" to John, because he didn't argue any particular side here; this post is a riff off of the Power Line post, the hares started in my own mind by John beating the bushes.

    Analogies are often very useful to limn the larger principles behind a specific instance. In this case, the most natural analogy is to the flood of cheap Japanese cars that really began in the 1970s. Big Iron complained that such cars would "artificially" depress the value of their own cars; the "big three" (Chrysler, Ford, GM) demanded that the federal government clamp down on such imports, restricting the flow of cheap cars here in order to protect the jobs of American autoworkers, then among the highest-paid industrial workers in the world.

    And the Ford and Carter administrations obliged to some extent; some barriers were erected -- and the Japanese figured out ways to sneak around them. For example, they opened up Toyota and Nissan (then sold under the name Datsun) plants in the United States, which assembled parts manufactured in Japan. This confused the legal issue of whether the cars were domestic or imported. Detroit demanded ever more draconian regulations, including a rule that would define an automobile as an "import" if it were made by a company owned by foreigners, no matter where it was made -- or who the factory employed. The United Auto Workers joined wholeheartedly in this protectionism.

    But in the end, it was a King Canute situation. There was nothing we could do to completely protect the American auto industry without crippling the rest of our economy. The effect was immediate and severe: the qualtity of cars soared and consumer choice expanded. Decades of automotive monopoly -- rather, "triopoly" -- had papered over huge and growing problems of legacy pensions, overemployment, a total lack of innovation, utter complacency, and -- it was the Carter years, recall -- corporate malaise.

    Cars today cost a lot more than cars did in, say, 1972, even taking inflation into account. Much of that is overregulation by federal, state, and local agencies; but the rest reflects the tremendous improvements in quality. Even so, I'm pretty sure that the number of cars per 1,000 people is higher today than in the 1970s.

    The fight was between protectionism and capitalism, and it turned into a rout. What was "artificial" in the 1970s was not the impact of the Japanese cars; it was the cozy cocoon the Big Three had created for themselves.

    Back to immigration. Almost certainly, any form of regularization of what are now illegal aliens will result in higher wages for industries traditionally manned by illegals, including farm labor and hotel workers: a captive workforce is willing to accept less money because they have no choice.

    That means some products will cost more. Those prices are artificially depressed right now. On the other hand, other cost factors will decrease: legal immigrants making somewhat more money will be able to afford health insurance, for example, and will not utilize hospital emergency rooms as doctor's offices. They will also begin "migrating" (sorry!) to other types of jobs than picking fruit and cleaning hotels, because they will legally be allowed to do so... and this will actually lower labor costs in manufacturing (unskilled and semiskilled) and the service industries, as John suggested.

    But that's good, not bad, for society. Lower wages allow companies in those industries to hire more workers at the same cost, increasing competitiveness. People who currently work at unskilled or semiskilled jobs in "protected" industries will see a real drop in their income. So it goes; that's how capitalism works. Most of them have the option to improve their skills and earn more money.

    The worst thing is for the invisible hand of the free market to be tripped up by the "invisible foot" of government (Milton Friedman's term). To artificially interdict the free flow of capital, labor, and products leads to economic disaster -- as Europe has long since exemplified.

    Draconian immigration laws do exactly that: they create artificial labor scarcity, raising wages beyond what the employees are really worth. Laws that criminalize employment (by criminalizing "presence") function exactly as minimum wage laws; they are anticompetitive and anti-capitalist.

    I am a capitalist; not only do I "admit" it -- I revel in it. My hero is Danny DeVito's "Larry Garfield" in the wonderful movie Other People's Money, a much better role model than the absurd caricature "Gordon Gekko" in Oliver Stone's paean to socialism, Wall Street. And that is my lodestone, my Polaris, in the great immigration debate.

    There are only two factors to consider: national security and capitalism. Both are equally important.

    Hatched by Dafydd on this day, March 28, 2006, at the time of 3:40 PM | Comments (18) | TrackBack

    Ins and Outs of Immigration

    Immigration Immolations
    Hatched by Dafydd

    Yesterday, the Senate Judiciary Committee passed the McCain-Kennedy immigration reform bill out of committee, sending it to the floor. Of course, under the arcane and byzantine rules of the U.S. Senate, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN) has the option either to send the committee's bill to the floor -- or his own bill, which differs wildly.

    I hope he will not take that option, since it would enrage not only all the Democrats but enough of the Republicans that it would likely go down in flames, making Frist a laughingstock. (I don't dislike the guy enough to do that to my party.)

    Another possibility is that Frist would move neither bill, first seeking agreement among the Republican caucus to a changed version of the J-Com bill that would include some of the harsher border-protection language of Frist's. In either case, whatever bill ends up going to the floor will first be amended; and then it must be reconciled with the bill from the House of Reps... and the differences between the House and Senate on immigration are just as stark as those between Frist's bill and the committee bill.

    I should reveal my biases right up front (since I'm not a member of the Antique Media and never will be): I am both pro-immigration and also pro-border control. I have written about this many times before (for example, here and here). I truly and actually believe in the American ideal; but my ideological creed must be tempered by the forge of reality: we obviously cannot simply open the borders and let a firehose of immigration spray across. I try to keep at least two of my feet on the ground.

    But those who insist we can just "seal the borders" and "deport all the illegals" are making the same ethereal, other-worldly mistake. It is not physically possible to round 'em up and ship 'em out; there are twelve million illegals here right now, for heaven's sake. Any immigration reform plan must come to grips with this 800-lb gorilla.

    As odd as I feel saying it, the McCain-Kennedy bill is the only one to come out of either body that tries to find a solution to that King Kong of dilemmas, what to do with the 12,000,000. I don't particularly like Sen. John McCain (R-Gadfly) and I despise Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Margaritaville). But their bill at least makes an attempt to resolve that problem.

    And strangely, it's also the closest to the bill President Bush proposed. At least the J-Com bill includes a guest-worker program with a path to citizenship -- and that is another huge point in its favor, since at the moment, there is no defined path to citizenship... and that is nine-tenths of the problem: since we don't make any provision to let even the most deserving come in the front door (it's entirely random -- when it isn't being race-based), those desperate for freedom come squirming in through the window.

    What do you expect? Even the most decent people will take desperate measures to feed their families and let their children grow up in freedom, not tyranny.

    According to the Times, the J-Com bill includes the following provisions:

    • Double the Border Patrol;
    • Make deportation of illegals easier;
    • Criminalize the building of tunnels across the border;
    • According to AP, it would "authorize a 'virtual wall' of unmanned vehicles, cameras and sensors to monitor the U.S.-Mexico border;"
    • Associated Press again: it would "shelter humanitarian organizations from prosecution if they provide non-emergency assistance to illegal residents;"
    • Creates a temporary worker program, a la Bush's proposal;
    • Creates a path to citizenship: after six years fairly continuous employment in the temporary worker program, the immigrant can apply for permanent residency (what used to be called a "green card"). After five years here with a green card, they could apply to become American citizens;
    • Anybody currently residing here illegally could (it appears) apply to become a temporary worker, as above. He would first have to pay all back taxes, pay a civil fine for having entered illegally, pass a criminal background check, learn English, and so forth. He would not get a green card for six years, just like the temporary workers; and he would have to line up for citizenship behind those who entered here legally at the same time he snuck across the border.

    Naturally, the anti-immigration crowd immediately dubbed that final provision as "amnesty." In fact, they dub anything short of lining up all the immigrants and mowing them down as "amnesty." The Times:

    Senator Jeff Sessions, Republican of Alabama, said the Judiciary panel "let the American people down by passing out a blanket amnesty bill."

    This is legislative DaDa-ism. The Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 simply offered instant green cards to every illegal living here since 1982. That is what a "blanket amnesty bill" looks like... and it looks nothing like this one. "Wolf! Wolf!"

    Of course, if the nativists would condescend to join the debate -- with some suggestion more helpful and workable than mass internments, razor wire, a minefield, machine-gun emplacements, and half the Army stationed along each border -- they might actually be able to influence the provisions of the eventual bill.

    For example, the current version does not require those living here illegally to return to their countries of origin before applying to become a temporary worker; perhaps it should. It would certainly make it clear that they weren't getting any kind of "amnesty."

    Also, perhaps that "virtual wall" could be a real wall stretching at least part of the way across the border. But we still need the ability to separate those whose only crime is entering illegally -- but who would enter legally if we didn't make it so nearly impossible, and who would work responsibily to support themselves and their famlilies -- from those who are criminals in every sense of the word, coming here to commit robberies and murders, smuggle drugs, or blow up buildings. There are comparatively few of the latter, but they hide among the teeming masses of the former.

    With a mechanism to legally admit those who just want to come here to work, the "wall" only needs to keep out the much smaller number of actual thugs and terrorists. But if we insist upon a wall to keep everybody out, it's doomed to failure: there is no wall so strong that it can't be knocked down by the hands of a million people pushing.

    If we let the otherwise honest immigrants enter through the door during business hours, they can undergo criminal background checks, be fingerprinted and biometricized, and we can keep better track of them. And when honest folks can come in through the door in daylight, then the cops have greater license to use force against anyone trying to enter by night through a window.

    So I'm bucking the trend here: I think this bill is a reasonable beginning; but it needs work. It's a little too immigration-friendly, but to call it "blanket amnesty" is both ludicrous and counterproductive. Better to amend the worst parts and expand the best, and actually get something workable.

    The alternative is a complete Republican collapse, which will make it more likely that the next Congress will include Majority Leader Reid and Squeaker of the House Pelosi, and Judiciary Committees chaired by Sen. Pat Leahy (D-VT) and Rep. John Conyers (D-MI)... and just wait and see what the heck kind of a bill you get out of that lineup.

    Hatched by Dafydd on this day, March 28, 2006, at the time of 5:36 AM | Comments (36) | TrackBack

    March 13, 2006

    Please Fence Me In

    Immigration Immolations , War Against Radical Islamism
    Hatched by Dafydd

    All right, I've changed my mind a bit about the "security fence" many nativ-- er, America-focused folks want to build along the 3,000-mile border with Mexico. Not that I now think it will actually solve any problems by itself; I stand by my original conclusion: there is no wall, no matter how strong, that can stand up to a million people trying to knock it over.

    But I now believe that without first getting their fence, many members of Congress will not even give honest consideration to any system to divide the illegales into two groups: those honest and decent folks who are simply desperate to feed their families and give their children a better life (about 99% of illegal immigrants)... and those who cross the line for nefarious purposes: to smuggle drugs, evade prison, or worst of all, commit heinous acts of terrorism against the United States.

    Solely in order to finally reduce the immigration problem down to something we can handle, I now support building the friggin' fence first. I hope the congressional gentry will feel happy enough about that achievement that they will bend their mighty brains to the more urgent problem of understanding who is really our enemy -- and who merely twists around our insane immigration laws.

    I have a friend from Japan named Takao, who lived here legally for sixteen years. He had a job. He owned a condo, paid his taxes, and repeatedly tried to get a Green Card; but there is no mechanism to do so. There is no series of steps you can take that will lead to permanent residency. He even hired an American lawyer, but the lawyer just ripped him off for thousands of dollars and did nothing.

    When Takao suffered a tragic loss, he couldn't work for a couple of months... and he lost his job. The INS quickly ordered him out of the country... because his work-visa was good only so long as he worked at that particular employer. No other would do!

    He was crying when he left. He wanted to live here for the rest of his life. He played by the rules. And in the end, the rules screwed him. The INS couldn't care less. Takao was simply mailed back to Japan like an unordered cheese: return to sender, address unknown.

    The fence, once we build it, will reveal the fallacy of imagining that a security barrier along the southern border will be as effective as the similar barriers separating the Gaza Strip and the West Bank from Israel. It will not, for the simple reason that our illegal immigrants have a completely different motivation than Arabs illegally sneaking into Israel.

    In Israel, there is already a de facto segregation: Arabs who just want to live and work in Israel have already moved there, and done so long ago; in fact, a very significant proportion of the Israeli population is Arab -- mostly Moslem Arab, but some Christians and a tiny batch of Jewish Arabs.

    Those left in the Palestinian Authority who cross under night's black cloak have only one purpose in mind; that very fact restricts their number. Few men (and even fewer women) truly want to be martyrs, no matter what words they mouth when words are demanded. They grumble or cheer, as the case may warrant; but only those committed to the struggle are willing to burrow like trap-door spiders beneath the wall, knowing they will strike and die.

    That is the very situation I want to create in the United States. Today, millions flood across the border, desperate not to kill children in school or wives at home with their babies, but to build a world where their own babies and children can grow up without knowing starvation of body or soul, wracked by poverty and crushed by oppression. They come for the same reason my own ancestors came -- back when we welcomed the tired, the poor, the huddled masses.

    Today, for reasons entirely understandable, we simply cannot take them all; we would quickly lose our country. But even so, I cannot find it in my heart to wish ill of father and mother who break the law only to give a better life to those to whom they have indeed given life. I cannot understand my countrymen who wish them to die in the desert (children too?) or who want the Army to "protect" our land from these "invaders"... with M-16 and Abrams tank.

    The compromise is to let in the father, but not forever. To let him come and work (God knows we need the labor) and send the money home, then go home himself when he has provided for his family; a guest worker, just as described.

    This is not "amnesty," except to those for whom words have no more meaning than the lives they would likewise misuse. In amnesty, those already here are tapped with a magic wand, given a Green Card, and told they can stay indefinitely. The distinction is between giving a man a cot in a homeless shelter -- and letting him wall off a corner and file a title deed.

    But there is another, smaller group that creeps like the night on little cat feet, across the border with no thought of children they don't have or a family they long ago abandoned. These men -- and occasionally women -- think only of the harm and misery they can cause, whether for sake of ideology or monetary gain.

    They are sociopaths: other humans are less than zero to them. They are the polar opposites of men working to support their loved ones. These others have no one they love, because they are incapable of love: hate long ago expelled it from their stomachs, the way a hydrophobic dog vomits water. It is this group I want to interdict, hold, and when appropriate, imprison or execute.

    But we cannot find them now, for they hide among the first group. And the first group, even if they suspect, are afraid to raise voice against them... because they know if they do so, even to save another man's children, they would condemn their own to a painful, belly-bloated death by hunger -- if the rabid dogs didn't cut their tongues from their mouths before they could utter the accusation.

    To stop the beasts, we must first separate them from the men.

    There is only one way I can think to do this: and that is to open the door to the latter. Let them come in straight and honest, photographed, fingerprinted, with a high-tech guest-worker card linked to a database of background, current history in the United States, and biometric information to prevent identity theft. Where the door is opened wide, only the guilty try to slip through the window.

    With a technologically sophisticated guest worker program, there will not be a million men trying to knock down the wall. There will only be a handful trying to burrow under it, slide around it, or glide over the top... a quiet enough number that a beefed-up Border Patrol could catch them all -- being finally able to focus their force, not spread it scattershot among foul and fair alike.

    Then and never else will the security fence truly work, because it will in fact mimic the successful Israeli wall... rather than King Canute vainly ordering out the tide.

    Hatched by Dafydd on this day, March 13, 2006, at the time of 3:36 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

    November 11, 2005

    French Introspection? Ooh La La!

    Immigration Immolations
    Hatched by Dafydd

    As if the New York Times has been reading blogs, they have started examining the question of France and whether or how much the French lack of a national identity is in part responsible for the non-assimilation of their Moslem immigrants.

    Some choice quotations, all emphasis added by moi:

    "I was born in Senegal when it was part of France," [Semou Diouf] said before putting the pipe in his mouth. "I speak French, my wife is French and I was educated in France." The problem, he added after pulling the pipe out of his mouth again, "is the French don't think I'm French."

    That, in a nutshell, is what lies at the heart of the unrest that has swept France in the past two weeks: millions of French citizens, whether immigrants or the offspring of immigrants, feel rejected by traditional French society, which has resisted adjusting a vision of itself forged in fires of the French Revolution....

    "People have it in their head that surveying by race or religion is bad, it's dirty, it's something reserved for Americans and that we shouldn't do it here," said Yazid Sabeg, the only prominent Frenchman of Arab descent at the head of a publicly listed French company. "But without statistics to look at, how can we measure the problem?"....

    The idea behind France's republican ideal was that by officially ignoring ethnic differences in favor of a transcendent French identity, the country would avoid the stratification of society that existed before the French Revolution or the fragmentation that it now sees in multicultural models like the United States. But the French model, never updated, has failed, critics say. "France always talks about avoiding ghettoization, but it has already happened," Mr. Sabeg said, adding that people are separated in the housing projects, in their schools and in their heads [Yeah, well this "fragmented" United States ain't having no Moslem riots at the moment! -- the Mgt.]....

    Most second-generation Muslim immigrants are generally no more observant than young French Catholics. But the legacy of discrimination [or the lack of any specifically French identity -- the Mgt.] creates the conditions for young people who feel neither French nor North African to seek an identity in Islam - often anti-Western, political Islam.

    I don't know what to make of that last assertion. It's classic Times: vast, sweeping, unsourced. But it strikes me as more or less true, or at least verisimilitudinous: if true, doesn't this mean that the French antipathy towards non-European culture and especially against religion is, in fact, driving young Arab French into the arms of a particularly violent and primitive religion, militant Islamism?

    The real problem, as I see it, is that this "transcendent French identity" they seek is one founded in the French revolution of 218 years ago and, as the Times notes, "never updated." It cannot function as a specifically French identity today because it is so inextricably bound up in the social milieu of eighteenth-century Europe. Unlike the American "organic laws" -- the Declaration of Independence, the Articles of Confederation, the Constitution, and the Northwest Ordinance of 1787 -- which actually do transcend their eighteenth-century origins by avoiding too close an embrace with the petty questions of the day, the French Revolution degenerated into "the Terror" and became thoroughly and horrifically tied to a particular place and time (especially after its inauspicious end at the hands of one of its own, the "Emperor" Napoleon Bonaparte.

    At least some of the French private sector is starting to understand the true solution:

    Karim Zeribi, a former soccer player and political adviser, said a study he carried out earlier this year found that résumés sent out with traditionally French names got responses 50 times higher than those with North African or African names. In the wake of the study, Mr. Zeribi established an agency in April called Act for Citizenship, which canvasses minority neighborhoods for qualified job candidates and markets them to corporations.

    "We want to create a network for these people where there is none," Mr. Zeribi said. Still, he said, his young candidates are regularly asked if they are practicing Muslims when they are interviewed for jobs.

    This clearly is the way to go... apart from whatever the French government has to do to reassure the immigrants that they are not confined to particular ghettos in France -- "mosquitos trapped in amber," as Sachi put it in a previous post -- the best step is for business and private interests to seek out, on their own franc, qualified Moslem employees and students.

    Hatched by Dafydd on this day, November 11, 2005, at the time of 2:02 AM | Comments (10) | TrackBack

    October 31, 2005

    Just Go Right in There and Get 'Em!

    Immigration Immolations
    Hatched by Dafydd

    Yesterday, Captain Ed had an interesting and troubling post on the rise of a particularly vicious Central-American gang called Mara Salvatrucha, or MS-13, M-18, or MS. At the end of the post, Captain Ed noted that deportations have had virtually no effect on gang members, who now number more than 50,000; they simply sneak right back into the United States again the moment they are released. He ends with this ringing demand:

    We need to demand that Congress finally do something about the southern border and the flood of illegals that come across it if we purport to take security seriously, especially in this age of terror. We made an impact on the Supreme Court and on spending just by speaking out -- and we need to do so on this issue as well. [Emphasis added]

    All right. Like what, exactly?

    Note, I want specifics: not like Phil Donohue's prescription for how he would have captured Osama bin Laden without invading Afghanistan: "I would just go right in there and get him!" Ed links Michelle Malkin (Chris Kelly writing) -- another brilliant blog whose brilliance seems to fade a bit on this particular issue; Kelly suggests no more of a solution than does Captain Ed.

    There are probably about 12,000,000 illegal immigrants in the U.S. How do you round up this many people? How many cops would it take? Do we need to rewrite the posse comitatus act to set the military loose to search American houses and arrest people they suspect of being criminals? How many soldiers do we pull out of Iraq and Afghanistan, not to mention Central America, to play police officer when they have had exactly zero training for that function?

    Where do we put all these detainees as we round 'em up? Reopen Manzanar for anyone suspected of being an illegal immigrant? Even at a rate of one hearing every five minutes, it would take more than 37 years just to process the first million detainees -- and you still have 11,000,000 to go. Plus however many slip across during that first 37-year period. How many courtrooms, judges, court reporters, and clerks are we going to dedicate to doing nothing but processing these hearings? And since the arresting agent would have to testify in any case where irregularies were alleged by the detainee, how many Border Patrol and soldiers do we pull from the line to hang around the courthouse in case they're needed?

    And when the hearings end, what do we do with the proven illegals? Deport them?

    Nothing, absolutely nothing, is going to work so long as we're dealing with millions of people. Before anything else is done, we must create incentives for the illegales to regularize themselves. And we only do that by offering something: people who have hidden here for years are not going to turn themselves in for nothing.

    President Bush's plan might not be the best we can construct; Congress will have its say. But without first separating the "people [who] want nothing more than economic opportunity" -- the vast majority -- from the criminal scum who join gangs like MS-13 (or worse, al-Qaeda), everything we do will be overwhelmed by sheer numbers. As any engineer knows, any structure, no matter how sturdy, will collapse under its own weight if you make it big enough.

    There is no blinking it: we are going to have to offer carrots along with the stick to get undocumented aliens to turn themselves in voluntarily. There is no alternative. Some may wrongly term this "amnesty;" but given the choice between the unpalatable and the impossible, I know which I would select.

    Hatched by Dafydd on this day, October 31, 2005, at the time of 4:03 AM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

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