And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Washington to be born?
(Apologies to the shade of W.B. Yeats.)
What rough beast? Why, the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, Immigration Modernization, and World Peace For Ever Act. (I may have embroidered slightly there. Polemic license.)
Rough it certainly is, and its defenders have had to take extra chutzpa pills to keep their composure while they serve up bare-faced lies on nationwide TV.
Thus Janet Napolitano, testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday on national security:
One of the real significant improvements made by this bill is to bring people out of the shadows. We know who they are. We know where they are.
“We know where you live,” was the traditional snarl of sectarian leg-breakers to potential victims in the Northern Ireland slums. Now that the Troubles over there have wound down, perhaps we could hire some of those guys in as consultants to the DHS, which is obviously in need of help in the know-where-they-are zone.
Under existing law, if you're illegally here, you can get a green card. It says you have to go back to your country of birth, you wait 10 years, and then you apply for the green card. All we're saying is, if you decide you wanted to stay here, you'll have to wait for more than 10 years...So I would argue that the existing law is actually more lenient, that going back and waiting 10 years is going to be cheaper and faster than going through this process that we are outlining.
So we’re discussing a law that makes it harder than it currently is for illegal aliens to get green cards? So what’s in it for illegals and those seeking to keep them in the U.S.A.?
Registered Provisional Immigrant Status, that’s what. As Mark Krikorian testified to the Senate Judiciary Committee on Monday:
RPI status brings with it work authorization, a legitimate Social Security account, driver’s license, travel documents—in effect, Green Card Lite. It is only the upgrade of this status to that of lawful permanent resident—Green Card Premium, if you will—that is on hold until the enforcement benchmarks are satisfied.
And, ah, those benchmarks: the one that says, for example, that the DHS must have a plan to achieve 90 percent “effectiveness rate” for the capture of aliens attempting to cross the Southern border, or else—or else what? or else the DHS Secretary will be dismissed? impeached? or else the 101st airborne will be deployed on the border? or else what?—or else “there shall be established a commission to be known as ‘the Southern Border Security Commission’.”
And note the DHS doesn’t have to actually achieve that 90 percent effectiveness rate, it only has to have a plan to achieve it. (Another point on which Rubio lapsed into terminological inexactitude, as Senator Chuck Schumer (Evil Party-NY) slyly pointed out.)
What is “effectiveness rate,” anyway? The bill says
The “effectiveness rate,” in the case of a border sector, is the percentage calculated by dividing the number of apprehensions and turn backs in the sector during a fiscal year by the total number of illegal entries in the sector during such fiscal year. [Summary PDF]
Got it. So we need to know both the number we caught trying to cross, and the number we didn’t catch.
I can see how we know the first quantity there, just by adding up the number of apprehensions reported by border agents. But...how do we know the second? Counting “gotaways” is an inexact science, to put it mildly.
Once you start looking into this bill, in fact, you realize what kind of beast it is: one with a huge, grinning, fanged head and a long but entirely decorative, nonfunctional tail.
The head: Amnesty for the illegal aliens present in the U.S.A.—twelve million, twenty million, who knows?
The tail is everything else: all the bogus “enforcement” provisions, the “triggers” and “benchmarks,” the “Southern Border Security Commission” and the (brand new!) “Employment Verification System.”
Amnesty’s the thing: not merely the main point of the bill, but the entire point. The rest is, in the words of the late Daniel Patrick Moynihan, boob bait for the bubbas.
Even where I thought, on a first glance through the text of the Rubio-Schumer bill, that there might be something positive in it, closer reading disabused me.
The heading to Section (C)(2303), for example, “Repeal of the diversity visa program,” gladdened my eye. The diversity lottery has never borne any relation to rational immigration policy. Its abolition is high on the wish list of any patriotic immigration reformer. The Gang of Eight want to repeal it? Excellent!
Except that they want to replace it with something even less rational:
As part of a compromise that would replace the current “Diversity Lottery” program, countries with low rates of immigration to the United States—including Kyrgyzstan and Russia—would be awarded five points . . . This system would give a person with a Kyrgyzstan passport an advantage over otherwise equally qualified people from countries like Mexico, the United Kingdom, Canada and Brazil . . . The same bonus is also offered to people from a series of unstable countries that are not covered by the Diversity Lottery . . . [including] Egypt, Libya, Somalia and Tunisia, as well as countries alongside the war-wrecked Chechen homeland in the Caucasus mountains . . . The immigration bill’s five-point bonus is also quite large. It is equal to the bonus given to people who have earned bachelors’ degrees in science, math or any other topic.
[Immigration plan could aid migration from unstable regions, including Chechnya, by Neil Munro, Daily Caller, Apr. 22, 2013]
And this great shaggy beast is on the move, lumbering towards congressional passage and the President’s signature. Will it make it?
That depends on the balance of forces. The forces pushing for Rubio-Schumer—urging the beast onwards—are mighty indeed: the race lobbies (more recruits to the ranks), the public-sector unions (more clients), Democrat vote-herders (bigger flocks), the academy (more paying students), the churches (who mostly run the coffer-filling “refugee resettlement” rackets), any business that would rather hire cheap, complaisant foreigners than pricier, self-assertive Americans (which is to say, any business at all) . . .
Since that takes you pretty much the length of K Street, all we have on the other side is a handful of skeptical congresspersons, a smaller handful of skillful and well-placed patriots, some poorly-financed research institutes, one or two gadflies in the mainstream commentariat, and VDARE.com.
Plus, of course, the American people: good-natured and vaguely sentimental about immigration, while yet, as they demonstrated in 2006-7, not hard to stir to action when something egregiously dishonest is being put over on them.
Let’s hope that is still true, and get stirring.
If it is not true—if the American people cannot be strirred in time—then we are back with Yeats
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity
and the future will be rough indeed.
John Derbyshire [email him] writes an incredible amount on all sorts of subjects for all kinds of outlets. (This no longer includes National Review, whose editors had some kind of tantrum and fired him. He is the author of We Are Doomed: Reclaiming Conservative Pessimism and several other books. His writings are archived at JohnDerbyshire.com.
John Derbyshire's latest book, From The Dissident Right, is available in kindle form here.
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