The Number’s Game
What happens when 12 million people become 40 million?
By Mark Cromer
March 14, 2008
Conventional wisdom has held that legislation offering mass legalization to immigrants in the United States illegally would have to wait until 2009, at the earliest, to have any hope of passing, given the successive defeats last year of the McCain-Kennedy amnesty plan and the DREAM Act.
Yet the Congressional Hispanic Caucus is busy preparing a new amnesty proposal to debut on Capitol Hill this year.
While its prospects are somewhere between slim and doomed, caucus members surely see raw political benefit from introducing their plan with the election in full swing. It plays well with Latino constituents in their districts and puts the next president on notice that another immigration showdown is coming sooner, not later.
Caucus Chairman Joe Baca has declined to discuss details of the pending proposal, but he has said that it would “include the 12 to 14 million people” who he says are currently in the United States illegally.
Whenever it is that Baca and his consorts in the ethnocentric caucus are finally ready to present their plan (and let’s hope it will be in a more deliberate and transparent manner than McCain’s cloakroom scheme), their estimate of “12 to 14 million” illegal immigrants should be vigorously questioned.
This lowball figure is rooted in a U.S. Census Bureau projection that relied on voluntary self-reporting from a population whose advocates even acknowledge are reluctant to cooperate with authorities. And why would three or more families of illegal immigrants living jammed together in a single family home in violation of a variety of municipal and health codes, suddenly step forward to offer an accurate accounting of just how many people live there?
If Baca’s estimates were accurate, they would be alarming. But the far more ominous reality is the surging population of illegal aliens may well be as many as three times that number.
Indeed, far more exhaustive analysis of illegal immigrants in the U.S., notably by Bear Stearns in 2005 and Californians for Population Stabilization in 2007, point to a vastly larger population of people; ranging from 20 million conservatively to nearly 40 million men, women and children on the high end.
These daunting figures put supporters of mass immigration on the defensive and thus they are loathe to acknowledge them, choosing instead to doggedly stick with a fantastical, lowball number.
This is understandable, since acknowledging that illegal immigrants now potentially account for more than one out of every ten people in the U.S. would be an irrefutable admission that the 1986 mass amnesty was a catastrophe for the American people—and a potent inducement for millions more economic refugees to cross the Rio Grande.
The logic then must hold that if an amnesty that legalized more than three million illegal aliens turned out to be the precursor to the largest, sustained wave of immigration in the history of nations; what will an amnesty that legalizes 30 or 40 million people trigger?
In the spring of 2006, the Heritage Foundation projected that an amnesty on the scale of the proposed Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act, coupled with ‘chain migration’ preferences that allow an immigrant to quickly import their extended family (under the sugary auspices of “family reunification”), would effectively flood the U.S. with another 100 million people within 20 years of its passage—legally.
Fortunately, amnesty dressed up as “immigration reform” was defeated in 2006 and 2007 and Baca’s Hispanic Caucus is not likely to have much better luck this year. Americans want more jobs, not more foreign workers and downward pressure on wages.
Nonetheless, when Baca unveils the plan, it’ll be easy to assess whether he actually believes his own claim of 12 to 14 million illegal immigrants in the U.S. is accurate: He should be asked—and held to answer—what he proposes if triple that number line up for legalization?
If he is truly confident that there are no more than 14 million illegal immigrants currently living in the U.S., will Baca and his caucus then agree to cap legalization at, say, 15 million people and commit to apprehending and deporting the rest?
Surely legalizing 15 million people—a historically epic amnesty—is more than generous.
That is, of course, unless he and the Hispanic Caucus really want amnesty for 40 million people.
Mark Cromer is a Senior Writing Fellow for Californians for Population Stabilization.