Tuesday, August 9, 2005
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Is there a grand compromise on immigration?
Tamar Jacoby thinks the answer is yes. She explains why in the Weekly Standard:
There might be a consensus at the elite level, but I'm very skeptical that this consensus extends down to the populace. Click here for why I'm skeptical.
The interesting question is if Jacoby is correct, whether public hostility would derail any proposed reform.posted by Dan on 08.09.05 at 01:18 AM
Public hostility would not derail the proposal. If it did most places would have much tougher immigration laws.
It is somewhat rare that politicians do what the majority of people want with respect to immigration. There are some examples, Australia's detention of illegal immigrants and Denmark's tightening of immigration laws, but on the whole governments and elites like immigration.
It's one of those things where there is reasonably weak opposition from most of the populace, but the elites in business and politics want immigration and are well organised and push for it so they get their way. Democracy is sometimes the government by well organised small groups of badly organised large groups.
posted by: sien on 08.09.05 at 01:18 AM [permalink]
The Bush administration is determined to depress blue collar wages and allowing illegal immigration is the best means to do so.
Meanwhile thousands of members of MS 13, the Salvadoran gang, are terrorizing neighborhoods around the country.
WE need sane immigration policy, with enforcement. We are likely to get neither.posted by: save_the_rustbelt on 08.09.05 at 01:18 AM [permalink]
Most of the Americans I know are children or grandchildren of immigrants (or immigrants themselvs). Historically, most newly arrived immigrants have been poor. Most were unwanted at the time. And yet paradoxically, this steady stream of "undesireables" has been a huge boon for the US. What exactly is the problem with expanding the quotas?posted by: Larry on 08.09.05 at 01:18 AM [permalink]
This is all deckchair Feng Shui. The most critical issue here is border security, and nobody is serious about it except a few renegade Western congressmen. Oh, and the vast majority of the American people.
I get a little depressed reading analyses like these, which speak of growing consensus on subjects about which most Americans have not yet been consulted.
Of course there is an alternative to immigration reform on whatever model: doing nothing. Political strategists in both parties are focused now on the Hispanic vote, and doing nothing keeps that vote in play by avoidng steps thought likely to antagonize Hispanics. Moreover Jacoby's idea of Congress and the White House "coming together" is conveniently oblivious to the amount of bargaining and the number of unpopular compromises necessary to pass an immigration reform package -- and to the Bush administration's demonstrated reluctance to get involved in either. I don't see immigration reform happening without leadership from the administration, and don't expect to see such leadership anytime soon.
Incidentally, and for what it is worth, what I've heard over the last two years in the Atlanta, GA area does not suggest that the most emotional aspect of this issue is the presence of those illegals who have been in the country for a long time. It is rather the recent arrivals, especially the ones who bring their families and burden local governments.posted by: Zathras on 08.09.05 at 01:18 AM [permalink]
posted by: Ashish Hanwadikar on 08.09.05 at 01:18 AM [permalink]
Living in Arizona brings this issue home to me. I don't have any objection to legal immigrants, and would be fine with expanding the number who are allowed in through the system. But our coddling of illegal immigrants is dangerous. There is certainly no consensus among people here regarding that "guest worker" amnesty nonsense Bush is pushing...even among those of us who voted for him twice.
I really think Hillary is setting herself up to use this issue as a centerpiece of her campaign in 08. And while I don't see her as being that attractive to red states, being the voice of strength against illegal immigration might be enough to do the trick.posted by: Bob on 08.09.05 at 01:18 AM [permalink]
As a good Conservative, I suspect you know that sometimes the best alternative is doing nothing, or at least nothing much. Immigration -- both illegal and legal -- serves a lot of purposes. Immigrants provide cheap labor -- something that might keept at least a few jobs from going overseas. They also pay taxes -- notably social security, and they will probably keep our population from crashing a la Europe. (And Hispanics, unlike the Muslim immigrants of Europe, do not seem inclined to blow us up.)
Most Americans live in neighborhoods where their known encounters with illegal immigration is limited. Even in my very urban Atlanta neighborhood, I rarely see Hispanics. (I would have to drive only three-four miles, though, to a selection of Hispanic enclaves in the city.) I think most folk don't like it, but are not likely to cast their votes on the issue. If they were, Pete Wilson would have remained governor of California. Bush has always seemed rather honestly laissez faire on the idea of immigration, and, like you, I doubt his convictions will require him to push on this issue.
But, really, this may be an issue where gridlock is actually serving the National Interest. The 9-11 guys, after all, crossed the border from Canada, not Mexico.posted by: Appalled Moderate on 08.09.05 at 01:18 AM [permalink]
It's a bit more complicated than that, Dan. The immigration issue is primarily Mexican, and that is created as much by "push" factors in terms of domestic Mexican politics as economic "pull" factors in the U.S.
Immigration control solely on this side of the border plain won't work as long as Mexican elites are pushing their people out of Mexico as a means of freezing the domestic Mexican political status quo with them on top. Vast political changes are required in Mexico to make its economy grow.
A large prosperous middle class is as much a threat to the existing power structure in Mexico as it is in China. So Mexican political elites are pushing their aspiring would-be middle class here.
And effective border control in the U.S. requires painful political changes too. Notably budget and creation of much larger Border Patrol with jurisdiction over illegal immigrants throughout the country rather than just the border.
Another of those, not the least, is elimination of full federal constitutional rights for all non-citizens present in the U.S., whether or not they are legal or illegal immigrants. Their huge numbers make it effectively impossible to regulate them given federal constitutional due process standards.
"This leaves, however, the unspeakable elephant of immigrant alien surveillance and control sitting in Homeland Security's waiting room. With rare exceptions, citizens aren't our foreign terrorism threat. Resident aliens - legal and illegal - are the threat and no one, not even General Odom, has addressed this defect in the Homeland Security Department's organization.
The concept would require enactment of new criminal legislation which applies only to resident AND non-resident aliens (i.e., extra-territorial jurisdiction could be asserted), and need not be confined to terrorism. There could be a Foreign Terrorist Act, a Foreign Contraband Act (drug-smuggling), etc., all part of a new federal code with its own rules of evidence, procedure, etc. Which would include trial only by a court, not by a jury.
While there would be complications when a given investigation turns up citizen involvement, those would be much easier to deal with once the major part of the problem - full constitutional protection for resident aliens - is adddressed.
We wouldn't need new courts. Existing administrative law judges would handle ordinary immigration problems, but without the truly onerous due process requirements mandated by the Constitution. Existing federal judges would hear most charges brought by Department of Homeland Security prosecutors. The proposed special military tribunals would try extraordinary cases.posted by: Tom Holsinger on 08.09.05 at 01:18 AM [permalink]
"If they were, Pete Wilson would have remained governor of California "
This is indicative of the amount of smoke that open borders republicans have been able generate on this issue.
Repeat after me -- Pete Wilson won reelection, Pete Wilson won reelection, Pete Wilson won reelection.
The real test of whether immigration is beneficial is whether those impacted by it are happy. Well, Americans have been voting with their feet, leaving California (the most impacted state) in droves according to demographer William Frey, especially the white working class, but also young professionals who want a decent, inexpensive place where they can start a family. That's all that needs to be said about the 'benefits' of immigration.posted by: Mitchell Young on 08.09.05 at 01:18 AM [permalink]
If illegal aliens are exempt from obeying the law, why should anyone obey the law?
The are many obvious reasons, but none can completely overcome the question, "why should I obey the law if others are exempt?"posted by: save_the_rustbelt on 08.09.05 at 01:18 AM [permalink]
"deckchair Feng Shui."
Mark - great phraseposted by: save_the-rustbelt on 08.09.05 at 01:18 AM [permalink]
So they are leaving California because of the immigrants or because California is exceptionally expensive? Or is California expensive because of the immigrants. (An argument, I confess, that I have not heard before.)posted by: Appalled Moderate on 08.09.05 at 01:18 AM [permalink]
Part of what is labeled as anti-immigration sentiment is really anti-multiculturalism.
I believe most Americans have nothing against immigrants who want to assimilate. They are some of our finest Americans. But immigrants who do not want to become Americans or who want to commute to a job here are not going to assimilate. The elites of the country are multi-culturalists. A public education system that rejects assimilation in favor of multiculturalism is part of this problem. The people, including many immigrants, are not multiculturalists. The immigration issue will not be resolved until the issue of multiculturalism is resolved.posted by: Richard Heddleson on 08.09.05 at 01:18 AM [permalink]
Or is California expensive because of the immigrants. (An argument, I confess, that I have not heard before.) -- Appalled
My guess it is both, although it is hard to get a handle on the first reason, because people don't like to admit being 'xenophobic' etc. But immigrants like being around their own kind, so why not Americans?
On the economics, common sense tells you that flooding a limited amount of land (unless you want to live in a desert) with a lot of people (at least 8 million , or 1/4 of the California population, by rough memory) drives housing prices up. Many immigrants are doubling and tripling up families in single unit houses to be able to afford to live. Most natives are not willing to do that.
Coupled with downward pressure on wages for trades, and you have a rapidly deteriorating situation for working Americans.posted by: Mitchell Young on 08.09.05 at 01:18 AM [permalink]
Immigration to SoCal was at the same rate through much of the 90s, and yet housing prices fell throughout the decade in SoCal (to be more precise from 1988 or so on to 1998 or so). Its only in the last 5 years that housing prices in SoCal have doubled or tripled. Immigration does of course lead to increases in housing prices in some areas but it is not responsible for the huge increases in prices of the last 4-5 years in SoCal.
Repeat after me. Pete Wilson may have won one election, but he helped to poison the well for the Republican Party (at the state level) in California for at least a decade. At this point, every California governor (including Arnie) has to appeal to the Hispanic block to be voted in, and it will take a very unusual Republican President to get the Hispanic vote in Ca any more.posted by: erg on 08.09.05 at 01:18 AM [permalink]
I believe Pete Wilson won three statewide elections, the first for the U.S. Senate and then two for governor. It was his successful 1994 gubernatorial re-election campaign that saw him endorse two anti-Mexican immigrant initiatives on the same ballot. Those both passed too and were then all or mostly thrown out as either pre-empted by federal law or unconstitutional.
It was the subsequent Hispanic voter reaction to the xenophobic GOP campaigns for those (not the actual initiatives themselves which many Hispanic voters agreed with), as exploited by my Democratic Party operative father in league with then-Clinton Administration official Leon Panetta (an old buddy of Pop's) which has put the California GOP in about a million-vote hole for each general election since (Schwarzenegger was elected Governor in a special election).
And the California GOP's own policy of forming a circular firing squad for each general election also has much to do with the electoral disaster which has befallen it since 1994.posted by: Tom Holsinger on 08.09.05 at 01:18 AM [permalink]
To be clear -- when I said Pete Wilson won one election, I meant, he won one election on the basis of his support for an anti-immigration initiative. That had not been an issue in his prior elections.
But that campaign has undoubtedly hurt the Repubs in California for possibly decades. Maybe if McCain were to run he could take Cal, but I doubt even that.posted by: erg on 08.09.05 at 01:18 AM [permalink]
erg and tom holsinger,
You are simply repeating media and Bush republican spin about "Pete Wilson poisoning the well" for Republicans in California. The Republican party has since nominated immigrantophile candiates for statewide office, only to see them lose. Tom Campbell, some Asian guy whose name I can't remember, even the last normal Republican gubinatorial candidate whose name I also can't remember. All of these guys either shied away from the immigration issue and lost or took the pandering to immigrants route and lost.
Now, let's look at Ahnold. It's common perception that he won and Davis was recalled because of the power shortages (induced by immigration related population growth?) that plagued the state. However a huge issue -- not covered in full by the MSM , was anger over plans to grant drivers licenses to illegals.
Now, here's a test. What president could possibly be more immigrant friendly than Bush II. Specifically Mexican friendly. And he still lost the 'hispanic' vote -- whether with 42% or 35 % or somewhere in between is debated. But he still lost. Moral, Republicans should concentrate on mobilizing the Anglo or white or whatever you call the majority population in these country. Wilson did it -- and won!posted by: Mitchell Young on 08.09.05 at 01:18 AM [permalink]
Just for the record, AM, I have never suffered from any doubt that being conservative on the one hand and being feckless and ineffectual on the other are profoundly different conditions, and I do not believe that doing nothing is advisable with respect to the immigration issue.
I hear too much resentment of unassimilating immigrants here in violation of the law to think that "don't worry, be happy" is an appropriate response. My point upthread is that responsible public officials have barely begun to face the issue in all its complexity honestly. This is almost always a bad thing.posted by: Zathras on 08.09.05 at 01:18 AM [permalink]
It was covered pretty thoroughly actually (along with license fee increases which were an even more serious issue). And Arnold (himself an immigrant) avoided any immigrant-bashing in his campaign.
The fact is he did susbstantially better than in 2000. If he had the same % if the Hispanic vote as in 2000, he would have lost the popular vote again and might have lost the electoral college (NM would certainly have gone over, NV too, maybe CO or even FL)
Moral: The USA of 2005 is different demographically from the USA of 1994 and the USA of 2015 will be different still. Wilson could not have won in 2003 on the same platform, it took a star running against a an extremely unpopular Governor to take California.
And AZ, NM, NV, Colorado continue to see increase in immigrant populations. COntinue to follow your proposed strategy and the GOP could lose Texas (!!) in 12-20 years.posted by: erg on 08.09.05 at 01:18 AM [permalink]
You don't know how to count. I know how to count. I was taught by three people - my father, my godfather (Phil Burton - you might be familiar with the name) and a Republican campaign consultant named Sandy Weiner, who managed a bunch of successful campaigns in California and elsewhere sometime ago, made a pile and retired. I'd have been Weiner's apprentice if I had had the "belly" for the trade.posted by: Tom Holsinger on 08.09.05 at 01:18 AM [permalink]
I can almost guarantee you that the Gop will lose texas one day if massive unskilled immigration is continued. California is already unwinnable by the Gop (except for Arnold, that spectacular exception that proves the rule). Many states in the west and other areas to come will be unwinnable by the Gop. Our nation is in a delicate 50-50 balance between Democrats and Republicans. How can immigrants not upset this when they are disproportionately Democrats? What people need to know is that this can be stopped. It is not a force of nature, but a consequence of specific government policies (yes, the worlds superpower could indeed seal the border).
posted by: scottynx on 08.09.05 at 01:18 AM [permalink]
Erg, you're moving the goal posts. First you say the Wilson poisoned the well, then after being shown that neither immigrant friendly GOP candidates (do the names Fong, Cambell, Lundgren, or Simon ring a bell?) nor El Presidente Bush , Segundo has been able to win the hispanic vote, you assert an unknowable -- that Wilson could not have won in 2003. I've shown you that immigration was an issue -- manifested by the driver's licences for illegals fight -- and that was a factor in Ahnolds win. There are none so blind as those who will not see. (Actually, the GOP problem in California is its strength elsewhere. Even 'conservatives' here are moderate on abortion, school prayer, and the other issues that rile the Republican red-state base.)
The GOP will lose Texas, because of demographic trends, unless is does something to stop the inflow. With time, some Texas hispanics could become assimilated, which would let them trend GOP. However continued influx just creates a permanent low wage, ill educated population. That type populations vote democratic. Always have, always will. Continuing current policies on immigration assures this type of population will grow.
For the future, 74% of voters in California are 'Anglo' . They would flock to a candidate that was willing to take on immigration. You could also use this as a wedge issue to attract Blacks to the GOP, as they are even more anti-mass-immgration than whites.
All this is beside the point, of course. The bottom line is what is best for Americans. Their preferences in opinion polls, and more important their revealed preferences in relocated away from immigrants or putting their kids in private schools, shows that they do not like current policy.
That's the point of the Jacoby piece, after all. She's a fanatic open-boarders type. Seeing that her prefered policy is going down the tubes, she is throwing out a decoy.
I think Richard upthread has it about right. It's not immigrants, it's illegal immigrants, and more specifically the bending over backwards to cater to them that bothers me. I think the Denver library situation is a perfect example. I want the people to come here to assimilate. We're seeing evidence in England right now of what happens when a large group doesn't.posted by: Bob on 08.09.05 at 01:18 AM [permalink]
California Hispanics by and large aren't listening to Republican candidates anymore. Pete Wilson poisoned the well that bad. Arnold was different because he had his own name recognition independent of the GOP, and it was a special election, not a general election. IMO he'd have won anyway but it was a blowout because he didn't appear on the ballot as the GOP candidate.
Republican candidates for statewide office in California start out a million votes behind because of the Hispanic vote. It's not just a question of proportionate votes - it's turnout. The latter was what my father and Leon Panetta focused on during 1995-97 - getting legal Hispanic immigrants to become citizens and immediately registering them as Democrats. That resulted in a major, major voter demographic bulge which will take a generation to fade out.
I repeat that you don't know how to count - you don't what is important in California elections, what isn't, or how to tell the difference.posted by: Tom Holsinger on 08.09.05 at 01:18 AM [permalink]
Personally i am more than willing to put all the aspects of assimilation/civil rights aside (as they are contentious to say the least) and focus on the singular area that 90+% of the electorate probably agrees on but that neither party champions- law and order.
If there is one thing that has made the Western world and particularly America internally strong, it is the love of and adherence to law. Certainly not in every case, and not all the time, but compared to other (inevitably more volatile) cultures like the Arabs, our belief in following the rules has been hugely successful. Generally we dont ignore red lights, line jump, or cheat on our taxes here (although there are many exceptions of course). We take that for granted. Many other cultures simply dont have our ingrained urge to stay between the lines most of the time.
I think that ethic has faded and is fading. Both political stripes do it, doubtlessly, but I have to point to the top where activist courts design decisions to reach the conclusions they prefer as a major crack in the foundation. If law doesnt mean what it says it doesnt mean anything.
The border issue is another major blow to law and order being respected. Watching floods of lawbreakers enter our country at will does not lend faith to the underlying order and fairness of our nation. If you want to issue every Mexican a temporary work pass and let them line up and enter legally, thats one thing. But this wink and nod stuff is not only insanely dangerous physically, imo it leads to further breakdowns of society all over the place.
Like Guiliani proved, little crimes and misdemeanors encourage big ones. We need to get back to holding the law to be a special and critical, almost holy thing. We certainly cant expect immigrants to pick up that value if we dont hold it dear anymore.posted by: Mark Buehner on 08.09.05 at 01:18 AM [permalink]
Kudos to your father and Leon Panetta. However to keep asserting that Wilson 'poisoned the well' is just ridiculous. They say four years is an eternity in politics -- 1994 was eleven years ago. And again -- Pete Wilson won. Only the Republicans are stupid enough to throw away a winning strategy.
I repeat -- Republican candidates that run on controlling immigration win, new republican 'club for growth' types like Tom Campbell, Matt Fong, and Bill Simon don't. Heck, Dianne Feinstien is tougher on immigration than those guys -- and she won.
I think here we have to take the game back one level. If I were a democratic operative, I would definitely talk up the false story about Republicans scaring the 'burgeoning Hispanic vote' by focussing in immigration. It keeps the Republican party from stressing their best issue.
I have two examples of winning candidates -- Wilson and Ahnold -- that won at least impart on immigration issues. Until open-borders Republicans can produce a candidate has won the Hispanic vote (outside of Florida, a very special case) they should be seen as what they are, full of hot air.
My own belief is that the 'red state' dynamic that is working so well for Republicans nation wide is hurting them here. California voters want immigration control, good environmental laws, God out of the classroom, and fairly liberal abortion rights. Republicans don't offer them any one of those. Only Ahnold has met the criteria recently -- and his is of course from outside of the republican party machinery.
Most Americans live in neighborhoods where their known encounters with illegal immigration is limited.
I guess I've got a leg up on you then, since I have lived in L.A. for many years. You probably do not want your city to turn into L.A.
California is quickly developing into a two-tier society, a la... Latin America.
As for Jacoby, I didn't waste my time reading her piece since I know exactly what she's going to say. Let me suggest instead this highly recommended Open Letter to Tamar Jacoby.
I'd also suggest reading up on Bush joining forces with big, corrupt corporations to push for massive immigration. According to radio host, Roger Hedgecock they're going to go all out with the smears. So, our "American" president will be smearing Americans who support border control and what's right for America.
44% of Americans would support impeachment of Bush if he lied about Iraq. Combined with those who are appalled by his open borders policies that would come to over 50%. Perhaps it's time for the real conservatives to take charge.posted by: The Lonewacko Blog on 08.09.05 at 01:18 AM [permalink]
There is a more recent 'winning strategy' which ought not to be tossed away - the Bush strategy of 2000 and 2004. Which aimed at Hispanics as potential voters, not enemies.
Bush/Rove ran a brilliant campaign in 2000. Bush had no business having a chance to beat Gore. Gore was the 'incumbent' after a great run of economic growth. One of the ways Bush gave himself a chance was by wooing Hispanic immigrants. A large part of Bush' winning margin last year was his increased vote among Hispanics.
Hispanics are one of the 'coming' blocs of voters in the US, along with Asians. The GOP should be aiming to at least split the vote with the Democrats with these voters in the long term.posted by: Don on 08.09.05 at 01:18 AM [permalink]
Bush lost the Hispanic vote. He could not possibly have done anything more, exept having Vicente Fox as his running mate, to attract the Hispanic vote. And he lost. Republicans always lose the Hispanic vote; Bush was no exception.
Also, Bush did worse among Asians, if memory serves, than even Bob Dole. Why? New, poor immigrants are an increasing share of Asians, rather than long established
You guys that actually believe this Hispanic strategy remind me of the new business owner who was selling his product at 8 dollars, when it cost him ten dollars to produce. When asked how the business was going to succeed, he said. "Sure we are loosing 2 bucks on every sale -- but we are going to make it up in volume." The high profile Bush-Rove strategy may have increased his share of the Hispanic vote to 42% (and it may have been as low as 35%) . So by bringing in more, and more, and more, you are continuing to lose at least 8 percent, but that eight percent becomes larger in absolute terms.
Time now to get serious about the border, get serious about interior enforcement, reduce legal quotas, and switch to a points-based system of immigration. Two generations from now, the Hispanics will have turned into Reagan democrats, just as the 1924 immigration law cut off all those 'white ethnics' and made them assimilate.posted by: Mitchell Young on 08.09.05 at 01:18 AM [permalink]
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