Here we go again. Earlier this week, the Senate introduced the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act, another misguided crack at immigration reform.
Since the middle of the 20th Century, Congress has more than quadrupled legal immigration with neither public support nor input. Since 1986, Congress has also passed seven amnesties. Today's illegal alien population is an estimated 11 million.
The record is clear: Amnesties encourage more illegal immigration. Since 2000, more than 60 amnesty bills have been introduced, but thankfully haven't passed.
Amnesty is so unpopular that politicians, afraid of offending Americans, don't mention the word anymore. Instead, they call it "earned legalization" or "pathway to citizenship," hoping to pass amnesties with greatest expediency and the least debate.
Powerful Beltway lobbies have dominated immigration legislation for decades: businesses want more workers; ethnic politicians, an expanded base; immigration lawyers, more clients; universities, more students; labor union leadership, more dues-paying members, and foreign governments, expanded remittances. In 2010, Latin American countries alone received more than $69 billion in remittances from foreign nationals working here.
Corporate lobbies fund think tanks, economists and immigrant advocacy groups to drum up support. Journalists write compelling stories about individual illegal immigrants, but rarely address mass immigration's adverse effects.
Both parties shamelessly pander to the Hispanic vote. Even with record unemployment, Washington power brokers agree that, supposedly in the name of bipartisanship, America needs more foreign workers.
Not surprisingly, S.744 is more of the same, only bigger. The same Capitol Hill players call the shots, and yet still ignore the important issues.
The nation needs to decide:
• Should the government regulate immigration, setting limits and enforcing them, as other nations do and as America did in the past, or should we deregulate immigration, as we did with trade and banking, and allow market forces to decide the numbers?
• If we regulate immigration, do we want an increase or a decrease?
• What criteria should determine that decision?
• How big do we want to grow?
• Should "labor shortages" be solved by importing foreign workers or by requiring employers to hire from within?
The Bloomberg News op-ed Immigration Reform Must Look Beyond Today promotes the views of business elites for a market-based system.
But expanding labor markets has depressed wages and generated enormous wealth at the top. Immigrants' low wages don't generate enough taxes to cover the public services they require: about 25 percent of immigrant households use means-tested programs. In short, the enormous profit from cheap labor is private, but the costs are public.
Pulitizer Prize-winning journalist and Center for Immigration Studies Senior Research Fellow Jerry Kammer wrote in 2011:
"The 'comprehensive' immigration reform package that advocates have long been promoting is another example of the privatize profits/socialize loss politics that often prevail on Capitol Hill with regard to many issues, not just immigration. Politically powerful and well organized interest groups persuade lawmakers to design policy systems that concentrate benefits among the politically active and disperse the costs among the unwilling but unaware American public."
Every nation limits immigration — not because they don't like immigrants, but because they want policies that expand the middle class for all, immigrants and native-born.
America however doesn't have an expanding middle class and many immigrants struggle. The United States has record unemployment, growing poverty, stagnant wages, massive debt, a crumbling infrastructure, unfunded entitlements and unjust income disparities.
In the midst of this astounding government mismanagement, politicians nevertheless want more legal immigration and amnesty for illegal immigrants already living here.
The United States may need immigration reform. But S. 744 won't provide the kind that will help Americans live better lives.