Same job, different uniform.

Friday, October 28, 2005

The Immigration Imbroglio

There are two basic unspoken propositions behind much of the debate about the lack of controls to immigration in this country. Both propositions serve to illustrate why the lunacy of de facto open Southern borders is not only not recognized as lunacy, but is rather seen as an opportunity for profit or political power.

1. Unlimited immigration, or massive illegal immigration which is effectively unlimited, which is the case today, benefits the wealthy, the political parties (primarily the Democrats), and identity group ideologues.
2. Unlimited immigration does little or nothing for the poorest US citizens and legal immigrants financially, but (incremetally) increase their potential political clout.

There is no doubt that illegal immigration from Mexico is out of control. The massive influx of Mexican nationals into California and Texas has changed the politics in those states, perhaps forever, but certainly for the short run. The Democrats see these new residents and potential citizens as the opportunity to re-construct a grand coalition of interests nationally. Winning the Hispanic vote is essential to continued Democratic political success, and they must win it decisively. Any inroads that Republicans can make in the Hispanic voting bloc reflect not only increase Republican support, but also decrease Democratic support. Bloc politics is a zero sum game, and both parties are playing to the crowd.

Immigration reform is a tar baby. Politicians who attach themselves to it can only be elected in states where immigration is not a dire problem, unless the “reform” in question allows for more immigration. President Bush, for instance, has made inroads into the Hispanic vote by taking on issues important to them, immigration amnesty being the most notable. The problem with Republican me-too-ism is that regardless of how much they pander to pro-immigration Hispanic voters, the majority of those voters will nevertheless vote Democratic. Democrats continue to support the massive naturalization program instituted under President Clinton, and will always be willing to bow more to the Hispanic lobby because the two groups share interests in the expansion of federal power and redistribution programs that the Republicans can never support if they desire to remain a viable political party. What all of this means is simple: President Bush’s inroads into the community of Hispanic voters is temporary at best, and probably will not carry over to the party in general. In the long run, Hispanic voters will join black voters, government workers and teacher’s associations as reliable Democratic allies.

Given the foregoing, Republicans must become the party of immigration reform. A compelling case can be made for it, but there must also be a recognition that the long-term health of the party and the Union are wrapped up in potential short-term political losses. But the gain at stake could be enormous if reform is sold correctly. The fact is that those who will benefit MOST from proper immigration reform are the poorest of the poor in the United States, who will necessarily see their wages rise as the pool of cheap labor dries up. They must be made to understand that each new undocumented worker that crosses the border is taking food from their mouths and money from their pockets.

Action plan.
Labor is aware of the risks of increases in immigration. Union laborers have to recognize that more workers mean more people competing for the same work. And given the number of Right-To-Work states, there will inevitably be a lessening on wages throughout each particular state as more workers, undocumented and legal alike, enter.

Blacks and other minorities need to understand that with government money becoming ever tighter due to mandatory funding of particular programs, increases in immigration mean increases in mouths to feed and dilution of money available to fund programs of concern to them.

Other immigrants who have entered the country legally must understand that their positions and those of their relatives and others from their old countries are threatened by unlimited immigration across our Southern borders. There will come a point when immigration will be forced to tighten, and the easiest immigrants to stop are those who must fly here from other places.

What this effort will require is a bold, tactically exact and straightforward series of public statements and proposed acts of Congress that are specifically targeted to those portions of the population most affected by unlimited immigration. Appealing to the self-interest of our poorest and most vulnerable citizens and documented workers is the best, and I think the only way of achieving immigration reform.

The political stakes are enormous, and the conversation has scarcely begun.

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Blogger girlfriday said...

Snarky for Congress?

Saturday, October 29, 2005


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