By Joe Guzzardi
April 5, 2013
I’ll list three good reasons why I don’t think major immigration legislation will pass this year or at any time during President Obama’s second term. First, despite the happy talk show chatter and the optimistic print news reporting, reaching an immigration agreement is tough work. Even within the parties, opinions differ widely about the specifics. Should the bill include immediate or provisional permanent legal residency? Would the newly amnestied immigrants qualify for welfare benefits? How many years should pass before a citizenship option kicks in?
If more guest worker visas are included, how many should be issued? One estimate based on government data predicted that the Gang will push for as many as 1 million new visas. In 2012, the United States distributed 700,000 non-immigrant work visas. Arguing that there should be more is a tough sell when 90 million working-age Americans aren’t in the labor force including 54 percent of Black Americans who also don’t have a job.
If you’ve been sucked in by the Gang of Eight’s relentless upbeat prediction that Congress will pass a bill this spring, study your history. Look at the multiple failures of previously immigration bills attempted during the nearly three decades since the 1986 Immigration and Reform Control Act. President George W. Bush spent two disastrous years, 2006 and 2007, trying to pass an immigration bill. The DREAM Act, which its advocates thought would gain wide congressional support because its beneficiaries are young adults, failed repeatedly. During the ten years since it was introduced, the DREAM Act couldn’t gather a consensus and often never reached the floor for a vote.
Second, Americans don’t believe the Gang’s promises that the border will be secured or that amnesty will provide an economic boost. Since the Gang began its behind closed doors negotiations, Department of Homeland Security officials admitted that they have no effective metric to gauge border control. Chris Crane, the President of the National ICE Council, promised that if amnesty is granted before securing the border, another wave of 11 million aliens will quickly follow. Crane was responding to the Gang’s Chuck Schumer’s statement on “Meet the Press” that legalization would come “first” and “Then, we will make sure the border is secure.”
Americans want enforcement. In a Pulse Research Poll conducted among likely voters, 72 percent said they favor reducing illegal immigration through work place verification, more border agents and local police cooperation.
As for the touted fiscal benefits legalized immigrants’ will provide, the general tenet is that unskilled laborers with limited educations, which make up a large percentage of the illegal immigrant population, aren’t net contributors. The reverse is true. The Senate Budget Committee Republican staff calculates that amnesty could end up being a multi-trillion dollar entitlement for those who immigrated illegally but eventually obtained green cards.
Third and most important, the Gang’s immigration reform blueprint is bad legislation that the average American disapproves of. While the Hispanic lobby and Capitol Hill special interest groups promote the bill as good for America, outside the Beltway people oppose it. If Americans were to ask, “What’s in it for my family and me?” the answer would be nothing.
Congress should heed the advice from one of its own. Former U.S. Rep. Martin Frost (D-TX) voted for President Bush’s amnesties. But Frost, who lost his House seat which he held for 12 terms to an enforcement challenger, Pete Sessions, said amnesty is a political albatross. Calling immigration reform “the most difficult of subjects” and advising President Obama “not to waste capital”, Frost said “No year is ever a good year” to take up amnesty.
The Gang is too far along to pull out now. But when the Gang tallies the final, losing results, Frost will be able to say, “I told you so.”
Joe Guzzardi is a Californians for Population Stabilization Senior Writing Fellow whose columns have been syndicated since 1986. Contact him at [email protected]