By Joe Guzzardi
August 9, 2013
Americans have seen it all before. Thousands of illegal immigrants and their advocates will gather and march publicly to demand that Congress passes legislation which will eventually grant citizenship to 11 million aliens. In 2003, the Immigrant Freedom Bus Ride departed from nine major cities and ended in New York with a stopover in Washington D.C. Although the event was heavily publicized, nothing came of it. A massive 2009 Capitol Hill alien protest yielded the same result—nothing.
During the current congressional recess, organizers have planned more nationwide demonstrations. Next week, throngs will meet at Dodger Stadium and drive to Bakersfield to protest in front of House Republican Whip Kevin McCarthy’s office. More than 1,000 vehicles are projected to participate.
Whether that many show up or not, immigration sympathizers have pinpointed August as make or break for their amnesty efforts. The House has done little to pass immigration reform. The most definitive action the House has taken is to reject the Senate’s bill, the Border Security, Economic Opportunity and Immigration Modernization Act, and to promise to move ahead piecemeal. At the core of immigration bills the House may consider will be border security, or so the assurances go.
But when it comes to immigration reform, nothing in Congress is ever as it appears. Top House Republicans have cast its inaction as a strategic play designed to boost reform’s chances. Doing nothing but pledging that they’re working diligently behind the scenes starves Democrats of an active target. The slow boat approach also protects House representatives from being criticized by skeptical constituents at their local Town Hall meetings.
As they headed home earlier this month, representatives were well armed to field angry questions from enforcement advocates. House leadership distributed the 24-page Immigration Resource Kit that highlights conservatives’ concerns about enhanced border security but minimizes the central fact that any bill it might write must be reconciled with Democrats who want increased immigration and instant legal status. The fear among wary grass root Republicans is twofold: 1) the lessons of the failed 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act which promised but did not deliver border security and internal enforcement have been forgotten and 2) enough House Republicans want amnesty that they’d make any conference, behind-closed doors deal to get it.
Pressure on House Speaker Boehner to produce is intense. Big business represented by the Chamber of Commerce, religious groups, academic institutions and Beltway lobbyists including most prominently the Hispanic lobby, lead the push for amnesty and more immigration.
During the last several months, new special interest groups have sprung up exclusively to force legislators to sign an all-encompassing immigration bill. The most prominent among them is Project for a New American Economy founded by New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg whose net worth is estimated at $27 billion. The White House has put all its weight behind reform, too. President Obama is desperate for what analysts call “signature legislation” that might improve his legacy.
The fix may be in. Gang of Eight leader Chuck Schumer is on record as saying that while the Senate prefers a comprehensive bill as he puts it “…any way the House can get there is okay by us.” Warning! Any bill, even piecemeal, that gets to conference would likely emerge as amnesty.
In the meantime, American workers get the shaft. A Center for Immigration Studies report found that since 2000, 1.3 million fewer native-born Americans hold jobs even though their working-age population has grown by 16.4 million. In contrast, during the same period, 5.3 million new immigrants have won jobs while the nation’s working-age immigrant population has grown by 8.8 million.
Amnesty will bring more workers into the saturated labor market where 20 million Americans are either unemployed or under-employed and further depress already stagnant wages. Legislators may be able to figure out a way to sneak amnesty into their post-recess agenda. They’re skilled at deception and show little concern for America’s future.
Joe Guzzardi is a Californians for Population Stabilization Senior Writing Fellow whose columns have been syndicated since 1986. Contact him at [email protected]