This is about the “comprehensive” immigration bill that just passed the US Senate (today is 7/3/13). It’s sponsored by a set of four Democratic and four Republican Senators who unfortunately allowed themselves to be nicknamed the “Gang of Eight.” A man who was recently a darling of the conservative wing of the Republican Party, Marco Rubio, is one of its four Republican sponsors.
Let me say first that I have not read the 1,000-odd page bill. Two reasons. One is that normal people, I believe, do not read any legal document that’s 1,000 page-long (or 500, or 200). The second reason, is that I have an in-house legal expert who will be glad to take on this task, I am sure. (See Prof. Terry’s “Comments” on my post :“Homosexual Marriage.”) As I will explain shortly, there is no need whatsoever to suspend one’s life for days to form a valid opinion about this important matter (or about most important matters before Congress).
A reminder: I am an immigrant, even a formerly illegal immigrant. I have written several times on this blog to scourge fellow conservatives for the serious misunderstandings of immigration many of them harbor. (Look on this blog for all titles containing the word “immigration.”) A fellow immigrant and I published a long article on how to solve the problem of illegal immigration in the respected libertarian journal, the Independent Review. The face of this blog has a live link to the article entitled: “If Mexicans and Americans could cross the border freely” (Formerly: “Thinking the unthinkable: illegal immigration; The bold remedy.” ), with Sergey Nikiforov, The Independent Review, 14-1: 101-133 (Summer) 2009.
Instead of an unthinkable reading punishment, I formed my opinion of the Senate piece of legislation by listening carefully to the radio ad touting its merits to conservative audiences. The main thrust of the ad is to deny that the Senate bill is yet another form of “amnesty” for illegal aliens. Its general tone is one of toughness:
“Yes, we are making it possible for illegal immigrants to become legal but it’s not going to be a cakewalk, “ says Senator Mario Rubio of Florida, erstwhile leader of the conservative branch of the Republican Party.
Number One: The ad uses language to the effect that illegal aliens in the process of being regularized will have to go to the end of the line. The implication is that they will be made to re-come in under the normal admission process, this time.
Problem: Under current rules, there is no such normal process. I mean that there is zero legal way for the average adult, married Mexican to be admitted permanently to this country. Same thing for the average Chinese. It’s almost the same thing for the average married Irishman, for God’s sake, except that he has the option of winning at an admission lottery. So does a Tanzanian, for example, but, again, not a Mexican or a Chinese. (Would I make this up?)
There is a tremendous untruth in the part of the ad that implies starting at the end of a non-existent line. Either the Republican Senators are not telling us important things about the contents of the bill: Does it also radically change general admission rules to the US, or does it merely seek to fix the existing problem of illegal immigrants?
Or: the four sponsoring Republican Senators, do not understand the existing immigration system.
Personally, I think they are incomprehensibly ignorant and that they are led blindly by their Demo colleagues’ staffers.
Number Two: The ad appears superficially specific on the point that the illegals will have to “learn English” as a condition of their regularization. There are several problems with this seeming toughness. They become apparent as soon as you think about the implications of this nonsense statement: Will the illegals be forced to go to school to learn English? Who will take attendance? How many absences from class will be grounds for deportation? What happens if the whole family passes the English proficiency test but little Miguelito (15), distracted by little Maria in the front row, gets a D- in English? Will Miguelito be packed off to Mexico? Will he have to be married off swiftly to a cousin (of either sex) who possesses legal status in the US?
This is not serious.
I refer to “Miguelito,” because about half the illegal aliens in this country are Mexicans. They constitute easily the largest category of illegals. So, speaking of Mexican immigrants, I don’t always know which are legal and which are not but I can solemnly affirm something about either category of Mexican immigrants and the English language: The briefest of excursions in Mexican-inhabited areas of our cities, the smallest peek at Spanish language media will tell you that Mexicans are eager to learn English, that they allocate significant resources to the task. The most superficial of observation will thus affirm that Mexican immigrants act mostly the way you expect rational economic actors to act. They would rather obtain the better jobs that come with knowing English than work in the fields like mute beasts of burden. They would rather the transactions of everyday life were easier rather than more difficult, etc., as happens when you don’t know the dominant language. Deuh!
The fairly widespread belief that they “refuse” to learn English is one of the stupid, “Know-Nothing,” nativistic nightmares that give the political right a bad name. It’s also a sort of negative projection of most native-born Anglos’ deep, tenacious incompetence in foreign languages: “How can the a semi-literate Mexican field hand manage to learn some English when I, after three years of Spanish in high-school and two in an expensive college am unable to say, for example, ‘I will see you in one hour’ in Spanish. That would be too unfair. Better to ignore the evidence of my own eyes.”
It’s nearly impossible to believe that Sen. Rubio, the bilingual son of Cuban immigrants shares in this deep cultural misunderstanding. He allows this stupid part of the ad because….. Whichever way you finish the sentence is bad news for the bill and for Mr Rubio’s future career as an intellectually responsible conservative torch-bearer . There is a politician, a Texas Senator who has been doing a good job on the air of combating this non-sensical bill, by the way. His last name is Cruz, not an Irish name or a Polish name.
Number Three: Sen. Rubio and his Republican Senators accomplices in the Gang of Eight are being grossly manipulated by their Dem colleagues and by their staffers. The main objective of the bill is to install in this country an unbeatable Democratic majority for the foreseeable future. The intent is to turn this polity into a one-party system. Everyone assumes, of course, that the electoral benefits of the bill will redound to the Democratic Party. If you don’t believe it, conduct a simple mental experiment: Tell yourself under what circumstances the implementation of the present bill, or of one similar to it, would cause a net increase in the number of Republican voters?
At best, at the very best, the admission of ten million formerly illegal immigrants and of their dependents would have no effect on American electoral politics. There is no scenario whereas it would help the conservative cause.
New immigrants vote Democrat. Immigrants from societies with authoritarian traditions vote left unless their societies have gone through violent purging convulsions such as happened in “communist” Eastern Europe in the nineties. The idea that the government should leave people alone is a sophisticated one. It does not grow naturally out of the experience of oppression.
(Tech. Note: As mentioned, about half of illegals are estimated to be Mexicans and their children. The other half is divided up between groups of several national origins. I refer to the first category: Mexicans and their children. I do not refer to the pseudo-sociological category “Hispanics,” whose only commonality is last names and the likelihood that one of their grandparents had Spanish as a first language.)
Noe that, as I have pointed out before, this quandary comes entirely from the insistence that regularization, legalization, of illegal immigrants entails access to citizenship. It does not. It does not, especially for immigrants from Mexico. If you think about it, there is little demand for citizenship emanating from that particular immigrant group. The exception is an organization that calls itself, “The Race.” (“La Raza”). It’s the same political organization that reminds us every so often that California, Nevada, Utah, Arizona, etc, are not American soil.
As the case of Europe demonstrates, there is no compelling reason to tie legal status to exist somewhere with political rights within that entity. As Nikiforov and I point out in our Independent Review article (see above), Romanians can work and live in France without voting in French elections, without determining the future of French society. Many Mexicans would be happy with the right to move freely across a porous border that would be porous for them alone, as is usually the case between good neighbors. (And, as we argue elsewhere, unfettered transit of Mexicans would likely improve American ordinary police control over the border.)
Conservatives decision-makers should follow three simple imperatives:
Bring illegal immigrants out of the shadows.
Don’t reward anyone or anything for past trespasses (including with guaranteed new voters ).
Keep in mind that the current immigration situation, however deplorable, is preferable to a permanent Democratic majority that would be tantamount to the installation of a one-party state in this country.
The Senate immigration bill is not a bill conservatives should favor. It’s actually a bill of goods that Republican backers are too naïve, or too blind, or too lazy, to detect. Republican decision-makes need to get some backbone. The desire to be loved is a very bad adviser.:
If you win elections by sacrificing both principles and rationality, who is the “you” that has won?
And I don’t need to read the 950 other pages, or the 989, or whatever, that describe other aspects of the putative reform of immigration. It’s a bad bill. Three rotten apples are plenty enough to make the barrel of apples that is the bill unbuyable by rational conservatives.