Here’s an update on the other side’s amnesty jargon. Outdated are comprehensive immigration reform and legalization. The latest trendy phrase is “path to citizenship,” no doubt the result of market research into what resonates best among those amnesty advocates need to convince. “Amnesty,” suggestive of forgiving criminals, offends. The softer “path to citizenship” may resonate positively with the undecided.
In the meantime, Governor Jerry Brown announced that he plans to "carry the message to Washington" to advocate for what he perceives as an urgent need for amnesty. Brown’s enthusiasm for an eventual Senate Democratic amnesty bill is hardly a surprise since during the last two years he’s supported driver’s licenses for aliens, endorsed in-state tuition and Cal Grants for college age alien students and signed a bill that nullified E-verify. [Jerry Brown Plans to Fight for Immigrant ‘Pathway to Citizenship,” by Jim Sanders, Sacramento Bee, January 17, 2013]
According to Brown, since California has nearly 3 million illegal immigrants that account for about 1 in 4 of the nation’s total alien population, making them citizens is imperative. As citizens, they can more easily find jobs and (unstated by Brown but undeniably a factor) qualify for more expansive social service eligibility.
Brown’s logic is, to describe it mildly, tortured. Because California has more illegal immigrants than any other state, Brown should be arguing against amnesty because it will only add to his already considerable budget and unemployment headaches. For most of the last decade, California has racked up annual budget deficits in excess of $10 billion to which illegal immigration has made a significant contribution. Public school education alone may account for $10 billion. (Read my CAPS’ Issues report on the link between illegal immigration and California’s budget crisis here.) Only brutal, across-the-board spending cuts keep California’s deficit from soaring past the $20 billion mark.
California’s immigrant welfare use is high and its education level low. Nearly 40 percent of all immigrant-headed California households participate in at least one welfare program. Among 19-year-old immigrants, 29 percent have not graduated from high school, a grim statistic that is linked to California having the nation’s least educated workforce.
Amnesty would hurt California not only directly by making its current illegal residents legal (and thus job and welfare candidates) but also indirectly. Eventually, the new citizens can petition to bring their relatives, a process called chain migration that would add to California’s already overpopulated condition.
If the unthinkable happens and amnesty passes, no lessons will have been learned from the 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act, at the time disingenuously referred to as a “one-time amnesty.”
Millions more than the estimated 2.7 million received amnesty. Fraud, especially in the Special Agricultural Worker (S.A.W.) category, was unchecked. For all the details regarding IRCA, read the Center for Immigration Statistics’ fellow David A. North’s backgrounder here.)
The bottom line: amnesty encourages more illegal immigration which in turn begets future amnesties.