More Misguided Thinking From RIFuture & State Legislators on Illegal Immigration
RIFuture is, once again, promoting muddled and ultimately dangerous thinking in their most recent posting on illegal immigration, A Closer Look at Immigration Reform.
This latest commentary again ignores how communist and socialist forces – people openly hostile and opposed to American Founding principles of liberty and equality – were key players in many May Day protests.
Ignoring some of the players is symptomatic of a larger problem: how their latest commentary again blurs factual distinctions between legal immigration and illegal immigration – thereby willfully undermining critical public policies related to American sovereignty, American citizenship, and the rule of law.
Their posting quotes from what they describe as a “compelling essay” by Bill Shuey, Executive Director of the International Institute of Rhode Island. In addition to declaring his support for the toothless McCain-Kennedy amnesty bill, here are some choice excerpts:
The proper place for immigrants – especially those deemed “illegal” (I prefer the term “undocumented” or “out of status” when characterizing the between ten and thirty thousand such residents of our state. We serve thousands of individuals every year who simply want to realize their “American dream.” Part of the American dream is becoming a U.S. citizen. We ought to remember who the immigrants of Rhode Island really are. Maybe you are an immigrant, or your neighbor, or co-worker. Quite probably – if you aren’t an immigrant yourself – your parents or grandparents were immigrants. Immigrants built Rhode Island and continue to do so; we feel strongly that Rhode Islanders should stand up and demand that immigrants receive basic protections and human rights: the freedom to travel as they please, see their families, choose their jobs, and have equal protection under the law.
Well, why don’t we all just gather ’round the campfire, hold hands, engage in happy talk, and sing Kum By Yah. A counter-argument to such shallow thinking was offered in an earlier posting on this site, Identifying Four Core Issues Underlying the Immigration Debate.
But shallow thinking is not limited to RIFuture. If you want a local example of how our General Assembly is also blurring the distinction between legal and illegal immigration, read how this bill grants illegal immigrants the right to pay in-state tuition costs at our state colleges – and then says the schools cannot share their information on the illegal status about such people with any government agencies. Wink, wink. Why pass a new law if we are going to knowingly not enforce existing laws? Now take a step back and think about the implications of this proposed bill: An American citizen born and raised in Massachusets will pay more to attend URI than an illegal immigrant. In other words, we are economically penalizing a law-abiding citizen and economically rewarding a law-breaking non-citizen. And that is just one small example of how illegal immigration and current amnesty proposals undermine the rule of law – and the sense of fair play – in America. All of us should send that message to the bill’s authors: Assembly members Grace Diaz, Joseph Almeida, Thomas Slater, and Anastasia Williams.
Unfortunately, the granting of in-state tuition rights to illegal immigrants is not limited to Rhode Island. As Peter Kirsanow, a member of the U.S. Civil Rights Commission, writes:
They’re doing so in clear defiance of congressional intent to make such preferential treatment unlawful. Title 8 Section 1623 of the U.S. Code (part of the Illegal Immigration Reform Act of 1996) provides in pertinent part:
Limitations on eligibility for preferential treatment of aliens not lawfully present on the basis of residence for higher education benefits
a) Notwithstanding any other provision of law, an alien who is not lawfully present in the United States shall not be eligible on the basis of residence within a State (or political subdivision) for any postsecondary education benefit unless a citizen or national of the United States is eligible for such benefit without regard to whether the citizen or national is such a resident.
So the problem is actually worse than expected here in Rhode Island. The introduction of this bill by these four legislators not only violates all sense of fair play, it violates Federal law. What kind of example are they setting for the residents of our state? For our children? It is an outrage that only encourages further disrespect for the rule of law.
These kind of actions are creating a growing reaction across the country and (H/T to Power Line) Diana West addresses that in her editorial, Fighting Back:
“Backlash” is one of those words with an iffy reputation, connoting an angry or even unreasoned reaction to a benign or just plain immutable reality. Like a tantrum, a backlash is widely regarded as an emotional spasm that inevitably subsides, leaving the supposedly benign or just plain immutable reality to unfold unmolested…
…More often than not, “backlash” is the word mainstream liberals use to describe the sound the silent majority makes when it finally gets around to piping up. The nation’s borders are breached by millions of illegal aliens, who not only provide an immorally cheap labor force but also more than 29 percent of prisoners in Federal Bureau of Prisons facilities: That’s progress. Somebody yells, Hey, put up a fence: That’s backlash. The following headline in The WashingtonPost, summing up reaction to May Day amnesty demonstrations, crystallizes this cracked-prism vision. “After Protests, Backlash Grows: Opponents of Illegal Immigration Are Increasingly Vocal.”
Who, The Post seems to wonder, do these increasingly vocal “opponents” think they are: illegal aliens?…
But this is no fit of pique. Indeed, it could be part of an ad hoc movement. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 463 immigration bills have been introduced just this year in 43 states, “the biggest crop of state immigration proposals ever recorded,” The Post writes. Most of the measures, the newspaper continues, “are designed to get tough on illegal immigrants, on employers who give them jobs and on state officials who give them benefits” – in other words, to fill the breach left by Congress…
Will these get-tough – or, at least, get-tougher – state measures pass? The answer will tell us a lot about whether what we’re witnessing is a passing “backlash,” or a durable national movement, that has emerged from the vaccuum on border protection and national preservation left by our leaders in Washington.
…I feel as though I’m seeing more anecdotal reports of American citizens taking local action. The fact is, if Americans can find a sustainable level of outrage and concern to drive such reform at the state level, we, as a nation, might actually have a chance to survive the hand-wringing, no-can-do gridlock in Washington.
…Surely, it’s time to wean ourselves from immorally cheap labor and immorally cheap goods. Surely, it’s time we learn that some things cost more than we want them to, even – no, especially – American citizenship.
So where should public policy go from here? In an article, A Two-Step for America: Addressing our immigration problems (available for a fee), Kate O’Beirne offers these ideas:
…Militant advocates for illegal immigrants smear those who oppose legalizing 11 million aliens as hostile to Hispanics…
But America is a nation of legal immigrants. The way to maintain that tradition is for Congress to reject the amnesty and guest-worker bills in favor of a two-phase approach. In Phase One, Congress would get serious about enforcing the immigration laws – and only afterward, in Phase Two, increase legal immigration. This approach would be pro-enforcement, pro-immigrant, and in accord with public opinion.
The American public are sticklers for obeying the law. They see a program that permits illegal aliens to live and work in the U.S. while awaiting citizenship as an amnesty for lawbreakers. And they recognize that millions around the world would jump at the chance to be accorded this privilege – if only they met the prerequisite of having violated our laws. Public opinion overwhelmingly favors getting serious about border control and cracking down on illegal immigration. Polls indicate that more people view immigration as a security issue than as an economic one. A majority favors stationing troops at the border with Mexico and building a 2,000-mile security fence.
…Even senators McCain and Kennedy, the authors of the leading amnesty plan, have bowed to public sentiment by adopting a rhetoric of strengthening the borders. Of course, this is merely a pose, as their plan actually rejects all serious enforcement proposals. It neither increases the number of agents nor builds new barriers at the border. It does not make employers verify the legal status of new hires. It requires little more by way of enforcement than the creation of a national strategy to deal with our porous borders some time in the distant future. Its approach, in other words, is amnesty now, security later.
New enforcement measures aren’t enough. We also need to fix the federal agencies that are responsible for implementing them. Four years ago, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) found that immigration fraud owing to the widespread use of phony documents was “pervasive and significant.” This poses a security problem: Two-thirds of the 94 foreign terrorists known to have operated in the United States between the early 1990s and 2004 committed immigration fraud. The GAO also concluded in a recent study that the Department of Homeland Security has little prospect of discouraging the use of fraudulent documents because it has no strategy for punishing offenders.
Phase One of immigration reform should set appropriate benchmarks to establish that our borders have been strengthened, the problem of fraudulent documents has been addressed, the backlog of immigration applications has been eliminated, and an effective system of workplace enforcement is in operation. Our first priority should be dramatically to reduce the number of illegal entrants, currently about 800,000 a year. A reduction would permit easier assimilation of legal immigrants – and consideration could then be given to increasing their numbers.
There is no reason to wait until an enforcement system is in place before debating what future legal-immigration proposals should include: The incentive for illegal immigration could be reduced if, along with effectively enforcing our borders and ruling out amnesty, we gave preference in any future guest-worker program to those who have resided in their countries of origin for two years prior to entering the U.S. Privileged consideration should also be given to immigrants who demonstrate a strong desire to assimilate and become Americans by learning English.
There is little reason to think that illegal aliens will have more respect for the laws Congress passes than Congress has itself. Today’s dysfunctional system is a creature of Congresses that habitually pass immigration laws they have no intention of enforcing. By undertaking reforms in the two phases outlined here, the current Congress could win the public trust necessary for fundamental – and positive – change.
Newt Gingrich offers these thoughts as a guide to a more robust immigration policy in Honesty in Immigration: Our Shining City on a Hill Requires a Firm Foundation of Law:
The thousands of people we have seen marching in the streets of our cities and the planned May 1 boycott to protest U.S. immigration policy are the product of two decades of a fundamentally dishonest immigration system.
For more than 20 years, the United States has failed to control the borders or enforce immigration laws while many U.S. businesses have profited by breaking the law. In turn, the U.S. government failure to enforce the immigration laws has encouraged outright defiance of federal authority by certain state and local jurisdictions. Adding insult to this deplorable state of affairs is an immigration bureaucracy that has been slow, cumbersome, rude, heartless, and incompetent in the discharge of its duties.
This dishonest system has lured millions to enter our country illegally and obtain work here illegally.
Where are we and how should we proceed?…
First, we must deal with the immediate. Open borders are a grave national-security threat. Why have a multibillion-dollar ballistic-missile-defense system when a terrorist can rent a truck and drive a weapon of mass destruction across the border? Gaining control of our borders is therefore an immediate and pressing national-security requirement. The secondary effect is that it would dramatically stem the flow of illegal immigration, illegal drugs, and the human trafficking of slaves (mostly female and mostly for sexual exploitation).
The longer-term threats of illegal immigration are economic and cultural.
Economically, in a world of vast income differences, instantaneous communications, and cheap travel (even when illegal), we cannot continue to allow a wide-open illegal employment system. The current flood of illegal migration if left unchecked for a period of decades will decisively undermine the economy in both economic and legal terms.
Culturally we have shifted from an integrating, English-speaking American citizenship focused model of immigration to an acceptance of foreign habits (which are going to include corruption), foreign loyalties (illustrated by the waving of foreign flags by many of the marchers, some with attitudes of contempt) and the insistence (not necessarily by immigrants) on creating non-English speaking legal and educational structures.
Instinctively, most Americans understand the corrosive effects of lawlessness on the economy and the culture.
Most Americans are open to people who want to become American, who will work hard, obey the law, and who are willing to learn English and American history. Within this framework of patriotic integration it is possible to be both pro-conservative and pro-immigrant.
But this framework cannot stand unless it is built upon the solid foundation of the rule of law�
Lawmakers in Washington are trapped because they keep trying to appease lawbreakers while their fellow Americans watch with disgust…
It is possible to describe the situation in terms which are for both legality and immigration, for both controlling the border and having a worker visa program, for being sympathetic to newcomers and determined to sustain American civilization and for respecting other languages while embracing English as the language necessary for success in America. It is possible to do this in terms which will be acceptable to most immigrants and to most Americans.
It is partially a question of what we are opposed to.
If the Left-liberal choice is this map of Texas and Mexico combined with the rest of the U.S. missing, and the Mexican flag flying above an upside down American flag at an American pubic school in Arizona and the people who not only break the law but refuse to learn English while saying publicly they want to reunite the Southwest with Mexico, then you can safely assume that more than 80% of Americans will oppose you.
Left-liberals understand that they cannot defend the above, which is why they would like us instead to believe that they are fighting against racists who want to close the border, behave harshly against innocent people, break up families, exploit migrants, and live in a xenophobic world.
An intelligent center-Right coalition would be for both security and immigration, for accuracy in identity (including a voter card with id and a biometric worker visa card) and patriotic integration of those who want to become American.
An intelligent center-Right coalition would define the opposition in terms that would lead most honest migrants to feel comfortable with defining clearly the underlying anti-security, anti-accuracy, anti-American civilization patterns of the hard Left-liberals�
…There has to be a sequence of reestablishing trust.
First, control the borders with decisive legislation aggressively implemented with tight deadlines. Once we have stopped the illegal flow of people we will have demonstrated the seriousness necessary to gain both the credibility and the leverage needed to implement the next steps�
Accordingly, the Congress should pass a border-control bill immediately. There is no reason the Congress cannot immediately pass such a bill, and then concentrate on additional immigration reform measures later�
Second, establish patriotic integration and the primacy of English (English first, not English only) combined with a requirement that Americans can only vote in American elections and applicants for citizenship have to select where their loyalty is.
Third, establish real enforcement against unlawful employment by employers and especially against employers who are breaking both immigration and taxation laws. Make clear that the dishonest hiring and tax evasion of the last two decades are over and there will be expensive penalties for people who break American immigration law. Insist that cities enforce the law or lose their federal funding. All this can be done with the right incentives and without rounding up anyone.
Fourth, establish an outsourced worker visa program with a biometric identity card, a background check, and a 24/7 computerized real time verification capability so no business can claim ignorance. Permit businesses to send workers home to apply for their worker visa as a deductible business expense. Eliminate the fly-by-night subcontractor shams that are clearly set up to evade the law. Maximize the opportunity and the incentives for people who are here to return home and become legal.
Note that none of the above requires direct action against people who are here illegally. None of these steps will break up families or cause undue hardship. The focus of all these initial efforts is to stop the attraction of new people and to dry up the illegal jobs. If illegal jobs cannot be found, people will have no choice but to pursue legal means to employment�
As we transform our immigration system from a dishonest to an honest one, it is understandable that those living and working here illegally � especially those who have lived and worked here illegally for a long period of time � would be anxious and fearful about the future. While our two-decade-long failure does not mean that we are required to maintain a dishonest system, it does mean that must have a humanitarian period of transition as we replace an illegal channel of immigration with a legal one.
There is a huge difference between a cautious limited policy of integrating the people attracted by a dishonest and shameful policy (the deliberate cultivation of illegality over the last 20 years) and amnesty which will only reinforce the message of the dishonest past and create a wave of people who will continue to pour in expecting the continuation of the yesterday�s failed policies.
If lawmakers can agree to the first four steps we have plenty of time to think through and work out the details of a humane, compassionate, and legitimate process of patriotic integration for people who were lured to America by an incompetent government and lawbreaking businesses and who do not deserve to bear the full brunt of popular anger at such dishonest and hypocritical policies.
If the American people see that their leaders are serious and determined to control the border then create an effective worker-visa program along with a comprehensive program of patriotic integration into American civilization they will be much more supportive of a program for helping those with deep connections to America find their legal place in American society.
You can find even more substantive details of Gingrich�s illegal immigration policy recommendations in a separate working paper, Ending the Dishonesty: The Way Forward on Border Control and Patriotic Immigration.
People like O’Beirne and Gingrich are raising meaningful policy proposals that deserve to be the focus of our public debate across the country.
After you have read their policy proposals, contrast them with the comments from RIFuture at the beginning of this posting and ask yourself who is being intellectually, legally and ethically rigorous. Contrast O’Beirne’s and Gingrich’s proposals with what is being proposed in our General Assembly and in Washington, D.C. by both President Bush and the Congress. Then ask yourself who is engaging in shallow happy talk versus problem-solving in a manner consistent with the fundamental American principles of the rule of law and of liberty.