Saturday, May 15, 2010

The Disconnect between the Will of the American People and Congress

Rep. Jared Polis, (D., 2nd CD) writing in the Denver Post on May 13, 2010 starts out well with the statement, “I have never seen such a disconnect between the will of the American people and Congress.” Polis claims that “the American people have had it with our broken immigration system” but in actuality, as all the polls show, the American people have had it with the Congress and the Administration, not our immigration system. Polis further states that “across the ideological spectrum, no one is happy with the status quo.” Of course, voters are unhappy with the status quo for a multitude of reasons. Foremost among those reasons is the fact that the Administration has done little or nothing to enforce the immigration laws already on the books. Instead of a broken immigration system, it is a failure of enforcement that has created the disconnect Polis speaks of.

Polis seems to think that states like Arizona are diverting their police officers to enforce immigration laws. This is a misrepresentation of what the new Arizona immigration law requires. Since the state is overrun with illegal aliens and the federal government has failed in its duty to the people, Arizona has enabled police officers to check the bona fides of anyone they stop for other law infractions. The officers are not being diverted from their regular duties. They are merely being allowed to check legal residency status at the same time as they check other forms of identification such as drivers’ licenses and proof of insurance. The ability of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to apprehend illegal aliens is seriously compromised when the local law enforcement authorities in sanctuary cities are directed not to cooperate or assist in the task of apprehending illegal aliens. Given the huge size of the problem and the sheer volume of illegals in some communities, ICE agents are simply overwhelmed without the help of the police. There is no other solution than the one enacted in Arizona. ICE is dependent on the active assistance of local enforcement agencies in the performance of their regular duties.

In the absence of any effort by the current Administration in Washington to deal with the problem, States like Arizona are providing the leadership needed to turn the tide of illegal aliens by enabling local authorities to provide the assistance needed by ICE to do its job. Polis, using a very unfortunate choice of words, says, “Unless Congress acts, more states, counties, and cities will likely pass thuggish and spiteful laws that scare and scapegoat American citizens of certain ethnic heritages.” These laws passed by states like Arizona are neither thuggish nor spiteful. They are legitimate attempts by duly-elected local and state representatives of the people to deal with a problem that both the Congress and the Administration have chosen to ignore. To call these efforts thuggish and spiteful is an insult to the American people. The misguided use of such words is indicative of those with a mindset that favors illegal aliens over citizens and who therefore are responsible for the disconnect.

Both the Congress and the Administration have been deaf to the pleas of citizens for the immigration laws to be vigorously enforced. The E-verification system languishes because Congress has failed make it mandatory across the border for all employers, public and private, and all employees, both current employees and potential new hires. 

Every member of congress has taken an oath to support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic and bear true faith and allegiance to the same. They swear or affirm that they take that obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that they will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which they are about to enter. When it comes to illegal aliens, it becomes clear that the Congress has no intention of honoring that oath. They have a different agenda and the American people are just an impediment to that agenda.

Liberal “Sens. Harry Reid, Charles Schumer and Robert Menendez (RSM) recently released a conceptual proposal for immigration reform with a simple theme: If you obey our laws, learn our language and pay our taxes, we will welcome you to America.”  Not so fast there, senators! We don’t need or want anymore impoverished immigrants to burden our social, educational, and medical services budgets and add to our crushing national debt. Instead, we need a national objective of a stable population to be achieved with a soft landing for our economy within twenty years.

The senators say nothing about the failure of the federal government to enforce the laws already on the book. Instead they trot out the tired cliché about “fixing our broken immigration system.” Before we can reach any conclusions about the effectiveness of the current immigration system, we must first make a comprehensive effort to enforce the existing immigration laws.

If the Senate proposal is turned into a bill and brought to the floor, we will see which members of Congress have the backbone to stand up for the national interest, national sovereignty, and national character and which will pander to special interest lobbies like La Raza and cheap labor interests. Polis talks about the disconnect between the Congress and the American people but fails to recognize that the RSM framework is a perfect example of that disconnect. Poll after poll has shown that the voters are opposed to amnesty for illegal aliens. Yet, Reid, Schumer, and Menendez have ignored those results and opted instead to include a form of amnesty in their framework. This will extend the disconnect not mend it.

Similarly, the House is working to pass some form of comprehensive immigration reform (CIR) that, like earlier laws, purports to secure our borders, restore the rule of law to our country, create jobs for Americans, prevent illegal immigration from occurring in our country, and provide for a new amnesty. In the minds of these legislators “CIR” is  erroneouslyconsidered to be synonymous with “amnesty.”

Some argue that what is being proposed is not amnesty. Technically, it is not amnesty if any penalty is imposed, even if it is just a slap on the wrist or some requirements that will never be enforced. However, the common understanding of amnesty is any measure that allows illegal aliens to remain in this country and work, thereby rewarding them with the object of their illegality.

The Senate outline is a tired rerun of the same provisions and promises of the bills that failed in 2007 and 2008.   The senators have tried to repackage those provisions to make it look like they have made some important compromises.  But the amnesty provision that most Americans object to is still there in one form or another.  A bill that omits the amnesty provision would garner widespread support. The other elements of the House version are important and would have a good chance for quick passage if the provisions for amnesty were removed. Our long experience with the existing laws has clearly demonstrated that none of the House provisions can be achieved without vigorous and continuous internal enforcement based on electronic verification of the work status of all employees. While adding more border patrol agents, improving border infrastructure, and revising the rules of engagement are all important, internal enforcement remains the sine qua non of in depth border security. Without internal enforcement, secure borders will remain a pipe dream. The failure of Congress to recognize this fact is part of the disconnect from will of the people.

Typically, Congress tries to candy coat each new proposal to assuage hunger of the voting public for real border security. But most of the proposals turn out to be just another snow job consisting of empty promises that will never be enforced.

No one is suggesting that all illegals should be deported en masse.  Some fireugn workers are important to our economy.  If it can be shown that illegals in certain jobs have not displaced citizen workers, then green cards should be issued on a selective basis. However, foreign workers who have entered the U.S. illegally must never be eligible for citizenship.  That is the least penalty that must be imposed to create the disincentive to violate our borders.  However, if their foreign-born children remain in school and learn English and civics, they could become eligible for naturalized citizenship at age 21.  Illegal aliens are more interested in legal status than they are in citizenship. They mainly want to be out from under the threat of deportation.

There is no reason why E-verify cannot be implemented immediately. We need it right now to detect Social Security name and number mismatches, duplicate and fraudulent Social Security numbers, and other fraudulent identification cards so that employers will no longer have any excuse for hiring or retaining individuals who are here illegally. It is against the law to “knowingly” hire illegal aliens. But employers can get off the hook easily by saying, “I didn’t know” so that loophole must be closed.

The fine for those who have worked here illegally should be based on the applicable tax bracket times the average earnings of illegals times the number of years worked. For example, if the applicable tax bracket is 15% and the average earnings of illegals is $30,000 per year and a particular individual has worked here for 10 years, his fine should be 0.15 x $30,000 x 10 or $45,000 payable over a 10 year period at $4,500 per year.

Polis quotes Edward Alden, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations who studies immigration, as saying the Senate proposal "shows how far the Democrats have moved in terms of tougher and tougher enforcement" and that "across the board you see language that would be very comfortable in a proposal written by Republicans." If the Administration gives as much attention to enforcing the senate proposals as it has those already on the books, the new enforcement ideas will remain useless and meaningless.  With no intention or mechanism for enforcement, the new proposals are just hoodwink the public  and  facilitate the passage of the bill.  As long as the bill contains anything that looks like amnesty it will not represent a true effort to solve the problem.

The RSM framework represents no significant departure from the existing unenforced statutes. It is just another cynical attempt on the part of the Congress to assuage the concerns of the voting public without any real plan to enforce the result, except for any amnesty provison.  If the Congress really wanted to enact an immgration refom bill, the first step should be to remove anything that an ordinary citizen would consider to be tantamount to amnesty.

Polis asks, “Why does this disconnect persist? Should we blame the xenophobes who scream 'amnesty' at any reform effort? Or the civil libertarians who oppose any real type of verification of employment status?” The answer is: None of the above!  Polis is simply indulging in insulting hyperbole when he refers pejoratively to “screaming xenophobes.”   He doesn't mention those who fly foreign flags and demonstrate in the streets for rights they are not entitled to.

The disconnect persists because Congress has its own agenda and is not listening to the people. It would not be difficult to pass any necessary immigration reforms but the devil is in the details. If the Congress were to omit any amnesty considerations or pathways to citizenship, make internal enforcement the centerpiece of a reform bill, and make failure to enforce immigration laws an impeachable offense, the bill would have smooth sailing.

No matter what it is called or what penalties are imposed, amnesty is a nonstarter for the immigration debate. Amnesty, per se, is not immigration reform. Immigration reform is: (1) flexible immigration quotas tied to the total unemployment rate by sector; (2) a national objective of a stable population; (3) an end to chain immigrations except for the children and spouses of citizens; (4) a requirement for at least one parent to be a citizen before citizenship is granted to the child; (5) a delay in the award of citizenship until one’s 21st birthday; (6) English as the official language of the U.S.; (7) a system that requires employers to provide irrefutable evidence of need before any foreign worker can be hired; (8) a label on green cards that specifies what kind of work the aliens can perform; (9) a six month term working on border infrastructure for illegal aliens apprehended at the border or internally; (10) a rigid set of criteria for immigration decisions that excludes family separation as a valid basis for appeal; (11) a limit of no more than 250,000 legal immigrants per year in all categories including chain immigrations but excluding visas issued to students, tourists, and temporary migrant farm workers; (12) fast track citizenship for those who enlist in the armed forces for not less than 4 years and who have served at least one tour in a combat zone; (13) legal immigration quotas focused on those who possess innovative or entrepreneurial skills or who have successfully completed a PhD in a physical science, engineering, math or medicine; (14) a prohibition against citizenship for anyone who has entered the U.S. illegally; and (15) a requirement for true fluency in English before citizenship can be granted.

This framework for immigration reform that would eliminate the disconnect between the people and the Congress on this issue.  It would sidestep the contentious issue of amnesty.   Anyone opposing or delaying these immigration reforms will be seen as directly responsible for making the problem worse. Without swift and bold action, we will undoubtedly have many more illegal aliens living and working within our borders. In 1968 there were about 1.3 million illegals in the U.S. On the occasion of the 1968 amnesty bill Senator Ted Kennedy stood up and said,

This amnesty will give citizenship to only 1.1 -- 1.3 million illegal aliens. We will secure the borders henceforth. We will never again bring forward another Amnesty Bill like this."

Now Rep. Polis, Senators Reid, Schumer, and Menendez and others are proposing another amnesty. It is déjà vu all over again.

If the 1.3 million in 1968 has grown to 12 million today, that would represent a compound rate of increase of 9.7% per year. At that rate the 12 million will become 12 million x 1.097^40 years = 487 million by mid-century. That is a staggering figure! No wonder Congress wants to sweep the 12 million under the carpet with a mass legalization and then begin to count all over again from zero. Although the math is correct, the demographers insist that our population will be “only” about 485 million by 2050.  However, unless something is done besides putting words on paper in another useless bill, the U.S. population could easily exceed 1 billion by the end of this century.

Colorado Senators Michael Bennet and Mark Udall have ignored the cries from Main Street and have called upon Senate Majority Leader Reid to promote the same old amnesty ideas. Represenatives Ed Perlmutter, Diana DeGette and John Salazar have joined Representative Polis as co-sponsors of HR 4321, a new amnesty bill.

People shouldn't be able to cross the border without the proper documents, or to overstay their visas, and businesses shouldn't be able to exploit cheap labor off the books. This continues to happen because the Congress has yet to realize that internal enforcement is the essential ingredient. If the illegals believe that if they can escape the immediate environs of the border, they will be home free, they will keep coming no matter how many agents we assign to the border. East Germans were willing to brave mine fields, machine gun towers, and multi-layered fences and walls to escape to the West because they knew they would not be repatriated. With no such deterrents to contend with, illegal aliens will keep flooding across our borders because they know the probability of being apprehended and repatriated is nil under the current no enforcement policy. Polis is right when he says, “We must stop playing politics with a problem that we should have fixed long ago.” The fix is clear: no amnesty -- vigorous and continuous internal enforcement based on E-verification of work status. E-verify works and will become even better once we implement it across the board for all employers, public and private, and all employees, current and potential new hires.

Politicians in both parties have been barking up the wrong tree and need to come to grips with the fact that while improvements in border staffing, infrastructure, and rules of engagement are necessary, they are not sufficient without internal enforcement that conveys the message: “If you come here illegally, we will catch you and you will serve a minimum of six months working on border infrastructure before you are repatriated with the admonition that if you return you will do a minimum of two years of hard time. The East Germans found out that fences, walls, and mine fields are not enough to deter illegal border crossings. We need to take that lesson to heart and implement a bold program to apprehend and repatriate illegal aliens. Fences and border patrols are not enough.

“So let's not replay this Republican vs. Democrat game with immigration. Good ideas and solutions transcend party.” This issue is too important, and it's time for us to get behind a plan that provides border security in depth and denies jobs, citizenship, and sanctuary to illegal aliens. We know what will work. It is time to get off the amnesty bandwagon and get on with border security.

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