Call me insensitive if you like, but I couldn’t help smiling at Friday morning’s conjunction of events.
7:00am approx. Suspect 2 identified as a Muslim from Chechnya.
9:30am approx. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano cancels her scheduled appearance before a Senate Judiciary Committee “Hearing on Comprehensive Immigration Reform Legislation.”
10:00am Time appointed for that hearing. Hearing commences.
Suddenly, just as politicians and commentators were getting to grips with the Gang of Eight’s 844-page Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act, our ruling class lost control of the discourse. In Friday’s hearing they struggled manfully, but not very convincingly, to regain that control.
Both the refugee program and the asylum program have been significantly strengthened in the past five years such that we are much more careful about screening people and determining who should and should not be coming into the country.
Is that true? Iraqi terrorist Ramadan Alwan came here in April 2009, according to Refugee Resettlement Watch. That’s only four years. Perhaps he was admitted before that “significant strengthening” got significantly strong.
Also from the hearing, here were Lindsey Graham and John McCain, apparently speaking in unison: “We have 11 million people living in the shadows, which leaves this nation vulnerable to a myriad of threats.” [Boston terror fears raised at Senate immigration hearing, By Alan Silverleib, CNN, April 19, 2013
Neither of the Boston bombers was “living in the shadows.” One was a naturalized citizen, the other a legal resident.
And so on. It will be very fascinating to see, over the next few days, how quickly the elites can wrest back control of the immigration discourse.
Meanwhile the subject of that hearing, the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act, demands our attention.
I had a go at reading it on Wednesday. By twenty pages in to the thing, though, I had lost the will to live.
I had forgotten that reading legislation is a specialist skill of the minor sort, like reading mathematical papers. You need to get a few under your belt before you can follow what’s happening.
(Math papers have soft brown spots in them that send the experienced reader’s spirits plunging. “It easily follows that . . .” can hide a multitude of sins. Even worse is: “It follows from a well-known 1952 result by Pumpernickel that . . .” It might or might not. You can waste half a day trying to find out, even if somebody did translate Pumpernickel’s paper from the original Czech. I suppose something analogous applies to legislation.)
Well, I shall wait for the summaries done by people fluent in Legisperanto. Even then, though, my motivation for reading will be low. In the present state of our political culture, all this portentous high-legislative activity comes loaded with insincerity. Congress proposes, but the almighty federal bureaucracy disposes.
Or not, as we see with the multitude of unenforced immigration laws already on the books. Senator Jeff Sessions at Friday’s hearing:
We have laws today that are utterly ignored, and I have no confidence that this administration, based on what we’ve seen, will ever enforce any law.
You might think me too cynical, but I am at the advantage here of having been through the U.S. immigration system. Even if this new law were to get passed, and even if this administration, and the next, and the next, made sincere efforts to enforce it, they could not.
The USCIS people—and don’t get me wrong: they are nice people, dealt with me courteously, and I have no doubt are doing their best—cannot handle their current workload. Give them ten or twenty years to master this new bureaucratic extravaganza that Schumer, Rubio & Co. have cooked up, they might just possibly re-attain their current unimpressive level of mastery; but to imagine that the Act, once passed, will swing smoothly into action, all the things in it happening and being done, is wild fantasy.
Just look again at the name of the thing: “Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act.”
My first thought: shouldn’t that be three Acts? Can someone give me a reason why we should not have a Border Security Act, followed by an Economic Opportunity Act, then capped with an Immigration Modernization Act?
The Gang has dropped the word “comprehensive” from their bill, but its spirit is still there in the title; and it is exactly that “comprehensive” spirit that makes this legislation so monstrously, malevolently, wrong.
Here are things that need to be done about U.S. immigration, in the order they need doing, with no step being commenced until the previous step is satisfactorily complete.
(1) Rigorously enforce all the people’s laws currently on the statute books. That would include speedy, humane repatriation of any illegal alien that can be identified as such. (We could start with this guy.)
It would also include compliance with the Secure Fence Act of 2006: “The double-layered fencing on the border that was enacted by Congress in 2006, but never completed, must finally be built.” (Why did I put that in quotes? Because I lifted it from page 26 of the 2012 Republican Party Platform, that’s why.)
As well as reducing the number of current illegal aliens and preventing entry of new ones, enforcement of existing laws would give the public some confidence that new laws will likewise be enforced. Only the delusional or seriously inattentive have such confidence at present.
(2) Mandate use of the E-Verify system by all employers in all states. (Currently only one-third of states mandate E-Verify at any level, and in most of those the mandate does not cover all employers.)
Yes, I know, it’s an imposition on employers by the federal government, and I don’t like that any more than you do. It’s a minor imposition, though, thanks to the internet; and sometimes you have to settle for the lesser of two evils. The greater evil here is mass displacement of American workers by unscrupulous employers.
And yes, I know it’s horrifying to libertarians: but the hell with them.
(3) Get a handle on the visa-overstay problem. At the very least implement entry-exit checking, as Australia and Japan have successfully done. The other part of this is identification of overstayers in-country, a much thornier problem. If the overstayer can’t work, though, because of mandatory universal E-Verify, the scale of the problem will be much reduced.
(4) Stop settlement. We have all the citizens we need. Half a century ago, with 57 percent of the population we have now, we staffed massive labor-intensive industries, put men on the moon, and created a popular culture that swept the world.
From Friday’s hearing:
“Unless you think the U.S. should simply stop issuing green cards, I don’t see what relevance this [i.e. the Boston immigrant-terrorism incident] has to the debate over immigration reform,” replied Ben Winograd, an immigration lawyer who favors large-scale immigration into the United States.[Boston chaos wrecks first immigration hearing, By Neil Munro, Daily Caller, April 19, 2013]
There is an excellent case to be made that the U.S. should stop issuing green cards, with a small number of obvious exceptions. I understand that Mr. Winograd disagrees strongly with this; but as a lady once said in a different case, “He would, wouldn’t he?”
If public sentiment won’t stand for a complete end to settlement, then somehow—by polling, perhaps—let’s figure out the lowest number that is popularly acceptable. For the twenty years 1946-65, settlement (i.e. permanent residence “green cards”) averaged 240,000 a year. That should be an absolute upper bound, though I believe a smaller number could be sold to the public, given present disgruntlements.
At the very least, stop the more preposterously indefensible forms of settlement: family members of lawful residents and citizens, other than spouses and minor children. Oh, and shut down the bogus “refugee resettlement” rackets, with their numbers and countries of origin dictated to us by the U.N.
(5) End all guest-worker programs, including H-1B. (Make that especially H-1B. This will stop the “foreignizing” of entire professions.)
With 300 million people in our country, it is not conceivable that we have any shortage of workers in any category, let alone a 700,000 shortage. See the numerous withering rebuttals to this fool on Steve Sailer’s blog.
Reasonable exceptions can be made for academic geniuses, intra-company transfers and such; but 700,000? Come on.
(6) Cut back drastically on foreign student numbers. The main category, the F-1 visa, tallied at 486,900 in fiscal year 2012. If you throw in the other Fs, and the Js too—not unreasonable—you have 865,406.
We are under no obligation to educate half a million of other nations’ citizens; and when, as is surely the case, most of the educating institutions are getting U.S. taxpayers’ money, they should be told to do the best they can at swelling their endowments without help from Chinese billionaires, Russian Mafiosi, or Omani Sheikhs.
I could go on, but that would be a good start; and these things could be done seriatim, law by law.
It’s often said that the biggest red flag on legislation, making it immediately suspect to the inquiring citizen, is when the congresscritters have stuck a victim’s name on it, especially if it’s the name of some winsome child.
Likely that will continue to be true; but an equally red red flag should be the word “comprehensive” in a bill, or its implication by the conjunction of two or more unrelated issues—Border Security, Economic Opportunity—in its title.