Immigration, Again

Senator Jeff Sessions (R, AL) had some thoughts on this, which he passed on to the House Republicans as they left for their annual retreat.

As they consider the subject of immigration in their retreat, I expect the Republicans to focus on three things: border and interior security, legalization for some of the existing 11 million aliens, and ensuring that President Barack Obama enforces immigration law.  Within that, Republicans will consider ways to deal with the children of illegal aliens, visas for guest workers, and a legalization process that would require illegal aliens to pay fines and back taxes.

Contained in Sessions’ thoughts for the House Republicans were concerns about

…the negative impact of the House immigration proposal on US workers, taxpayers, and the rule of law.

[Sessions’] analysis said increasing the number of immigrants would hurt an already weak economy, lower wages, and increase unemployment.  He cited White House adviser Gene Sperling’s comment earlier this month that the economy has three people looking for every job opening.

…the House GOP leaders’ plan that’s taking shape would grant work permits almost immediately to those here illegally, giving them a chance to compete with unemployed Americans for any job.  He said it would lead to a surge in unskilled workers and would provide amnesty to a larger number of immigrants in the country illegally, giving them a chance to apply for citizenship through green cards.

I have some disagreement with the Republicans’ focus and with Sessions’ suggestions.

Absent from the focus is any action on easing immigration—making getting entry visas of any type easier and faster to get.  What the Republicans seem to be working on is an excellent start, and if that’s all that can get done this session, that much is worth getting done.  But they—and their Senate counterparts—must recognize that this is only a step on a long journey, and they must return next year (coincidentally, a new Congressional session) and take another step toward rationalizing our immigration system, and hopefully post 2016, finalizing that rationalization.

Unaddressed in both the House Republicans’ and Sessions’ positions is the role of immigrants in our elections.  The fear (carefully unspoken here) is that immigrants are monolithically Liberal in their attitudes and will be in their voting habits.  This is to misunderstand the willingness to take great risks, the initiative involved, the self-reliance inherent in the effort it takes for an alien to make the journey into the United States, whether that journey and entry are carried out legally or illegally (in most cases other than smuggling or terrorist entry, especially those entering illegally, perhaps).  Sessions, and Republicans and Conservatives generally, are overly pessimistic, and they lack confidence in the Conservative message as it regards immigration, immigrants, and our existing illegal aliens.

Sessions misunderstands the relationship between immigrants and jobs.  It’s immigrants who start, and succeed with, small businesses at a vast rate, and it’s small businesses that are the jobs creators in our economy.  Sessions’ jobs concerns are misplaced here.  The job applicant to job ratio claimed by Sperling would be greatly reduced by those immigrants and their new businesses.

Finally, the conflation of legalization or a path to citizenship with amnesty is simply a mendaciously offered red herring.  The plans on offer for legalizing existing illegal aliens all involve penalties of some sort, ranging from self-deportation (which could be satisfied by visiting the nearest consulate or embassy, these facilities being foreign soil) to paying a fine and back taxes (which carry their own penalties).  Amnesty simply isn’t present in any of the plans.

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