Immigration: The Line Holds In Congress
July 30, 2004, 05:00 AM
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With Congress safely adjourned until Labor Day (phew!), now is a fine time to evaluate how the immigration reform movement is doing on Capitol Hill.

I’m happy to report that the news from the Hill is quite good. We’ve hung tough and stood off furious attacks by our foes.

Most helpful to our cause is that arguments for more immigration or more non-immigrant visas are intellectually barren.

This is not to suggest that these arguments were ever particularly persuasive. But now so many immigrants have waltzed into America that the Establishment can no longer ignore the negative consequences.

Hold onto your hats, now! Even the New York Times’ Bob Herbert admitted, in a carefully worded July 23rd Op-ed entitled Who’s Getting the New Jobs?,” that “new immigrants” (in which Herbert includes illegal aliens) are taking jobs away from Americans.

No doubt Herbert has been reading VDARE.COM’s own Ed Rubenstein. He reported the same findings more than two weeks earlier.

Here are the two biggest Hill accomplishments over the last few months:

  • Despite intense pressure this spring from the hotel and tourism industry to pass the Save Our Summer Act 2004 that would have increased H-2B visas from 66,000 to 106,000, the bill never came up for a vote. Since summer businesses have continued to operate normally—VDARE.COM has not received word of any failures—claims by some small business owners that they might have to close shop turned out to be alarmist.
  • The AgJOBS bill, despite having a filibuster-proof majority of 63 cosponsors was not voted on either. Senate Majority leader Bill Frist, presumably acting on instructions from the White House, maneuvered to kill the bill for this Congressional session.
Do not underestimate the significance of “no vote” on either the Save Our Summer Act 2004 or the AgJOBS bill. It’s a huge triumph.

I asked Roy Beck, Executive Director of NumbersUSA Education and Research Foundation, to comment.

Regarding the failure of the tourism lobby to increase the H-2B visa cap, Beck told me:

“Nothing came to floor of either house. Nothing possible until September, after official summer vacations!

“Some of the resorts got around the H2B problem by exploiting loopholes in the J visas. But I’m not sure they will brag about that. It seems to me that we won a gigantic public relations victory after calling their bluff.

“Where was summer cancelled or even impeded because of lack of H2Bs?

And as for the even bigger score regarding the stalled AgJOBS bill, Beck continued:
“It really is remarkable that AgJOBS did not come to the floor of the Senate after getting 63 signers, including the majority of Republicans. 

“The Washington Post [“Bush’s Retreat on Immigration Reform,” By Harold Meyerson, July 21, 2004] has made it clear that it believes the reason was that the White House got a huge message from the American people (especially Republicans) after Bush’s January amnesty announcement. Bush doesn’t want anything coming up for a vote that might remind his base how much he abandoned it.  In addition, Senators (particularly the GOP signers) got such a loud outcry on AgJOBS that many of the signers privately begged Frist not to bring it up for a vote.

I can’t think of a much bigger or clearer example of the power of public opinion to stop the power of elite lobbies.  The public’s opinion aced the combined power of the AFL-CIO, Chamber of Commerce, Catholic Church, most Jewish groups, the liberal Protestant establishment, the ag business , the open-borders ethnic lobby, the majority of major newspaper editorial boards that took a stand and the Mexican government.

The AgJOBS coalition passed the magic 60 number of co-sponsors in March and applied every bit of lobbying muscle it could muster to get a Senate vote that month. We will enter September with nothing having been done on it.

Every wave of protest against Bush last winter and against Senators since then has culminated in this victory thus far.”

The bill’s sponsor, Idaho Republican Senator Larry Craig, confirmed Beck’s analysis. In a July 12 Roll Call story by Emily Pierce, headlined “Frist Blocks Craig’s Immigration Measure,” Craig was quoted as saying:
“There is a strong effort on the part of my leadership to block my effort in coming to the floor with a strongly developed, bipartisan piece of legislation. I surely thought the underlying bill, with 60-plus cosponsors and my amendment with 63, ought to be something that can come together. Apparently, it can’t, or it won’t." 
In the end, Craig was undone by the fear among aware Republicans that no matter how vehemently he denied that S.1645 is an amnesty, the people weren’t fooled.

Craig’s home -state colleague Senator Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) correctly argued that S.1645 would reward illegal immigrants by giving them a direct path to permanent residency.

Said Crapo:

"Larry believes this does not provide amnesty, but whatever word you use, I’m concerned about those who come to this country illegally getting in line ahead of those who stayed home and tried to get in legally."
Numbers USA’s Beck sees these two Hill wins as part of a continuing pattern of significant victories by the immigration reform movement.

Summarizing, Beck told me:

“Five amnesties were passed by Congress in the 1990s. But since 2000, not a peep of an amnesty has been able to get through.  The open-borders folks have not even tried to push the Section 245i de facto amnesty for more than a year after being beaten so badly and repeatedly on it. 

“Don’t get me wrong, the amnesty lobby will keep coming back over and over. We cannot let up.  But the fact that we are going into conventions without an AgJOBS amnesty, without a DREAM amnesty, without a Section 245i amnesty, without an H-1B increase, and most amazingly of all without an H-2B increase, is an incredible victory for the rag tag army of loosely organized, modestly funded national and local organizations.”

The immigration reform message—“Enough is enough!”—has come across to Congress loud and clear. This success is heartening.

As VDARE.COM keeps saying, a journey of a thousand miles starts with single steps.

 

 

Joe Guzzardi [email him], an instructor in English at the Lodi Adult School, has been writing a weekly newspaper column since 1988. This column is exclusive to VDARE.COM.