March 18, 2014
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Earlier this week, a group of House Republicans said that despite a series of delays, they’re eager to move forward on comprehensive immigration reform, buzz words for bills that would legalize 12 million illegal immigrants and issue more than 20 million work visas during the first decade after enactment. Rep. Raul Labrador, R-Idaho, a former immigration lawyer and member of the now-defunct House Gang of Eight, leads the charge.
Labrador said the best time to begin immigration piecemeal deals would be later this year so that Congress could vote on them after the midterms, but before the 2016 presidential election. The time out, Labrador hopes, will give both parties a better chance to work together.
Given President Obama’s recent announcement that he’s asked Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson to “review” the deportation process, it’s unlikely that Congress will have enough confidence to pass new immigrations laws since the White House through executive edict has rewritten the existing ones. Obama’s statement that he would seek more ways to amnesty illegal aliens came shortly after he met with three Congressional Hispanic Caucus members, CHC Chairman Ruben Hinojosa and Reps. Luis Gutierrez and Xavier Becerra who, among dozens of other immigration advocates, have bitterly complained about what they claim are record deportation levels.
Immigration critics interpret “review” as looking for new ways not to deport anyone. Currently, Obama’s long, lucky list of illegal immigrants’ prosecutorial discretion recipients includes minor children, parents of U.S. citizen children, and relatives of military personnel. Increasing that list would reaffirm Obama’s pledge that he’s got a pen and a phone to ram through issues on which he can’t get congressional cooperation.
First, let’s conclusively clarify who is and who isn’t getting deported. Total deportations have reached so called record numbers, as advocates maintain, because they now include border apprehensions that would not have been counted in previous administrations. Before Obama, immigration officials classified border crossers caught and eventually sent home as “returns.”
Under today’s guidelines, “returns” plus “removals”—those deported from the U.S. interior—are grouped together. Counted by themselves, removals alone are at a 40-year low and represent a mere 1 percent of the total alien population living in the interior. President Obama and Secretary Johnson have confirmed that “returns” are now included in the total calculation.
Labrador is scheming to position immigration bills for a period when it might be most politically expedient to get them passed, the congressional lame duck session. The Hispanic lobby, of which Labrador is a covert member, will continue to pressure Obama, an easy task since amnesty is his top domestic priority.
Except for a small handful, no one on Capitol Hill speaks for unemployed American workers who would take the brunt of the greatly expanded labor pool. The Department of Labor estimates that 50.5 million working age Americans are either officially unemployed or are not working, but want to work.
Even employed Americans wouldn’t be spared from a blanket amnesty’s consequences. Many among the newly legalized, formerly unemployable because of their immigration status, would willingly take an American’s existing job at a lower wage especially in construction, leisure and clerical occupations.
More immigration is bad for everyone including recent legal immigrants aspiring for a better life and the 4.5 million waiting in line who may face green card delays up to 20 years.
Joe Guzzardi is a Californians for Population Stabilization Senior Writing Fellow whose columns have been syndicated since 1987. Contact him at [email protected]