---- — Explain to me, please, why I should be enthusiastic about the Republicans coming up with a way to spend $46.3 billion on border security that will gain us very little while helping the Senate pass an inane immigration bill they mainly favor for political reasons.
Supporting this fraud will supposedly help them win Hispanic votes, but it almost surely won’t. Despite some people strangely calling immigrants conservatives, most have not been and their mostly liberal voting patterns aren’t likely to flip-flop because of blatant GOP opportunism.
If enacted in its current 1,200-page, loophole-ridden indefiniteness, the Senate bill would likely flatten the party while walloping the country. You might say the party deserved it if it were not for some House Republicans harboring workable ideas that could come to fruition. Yes, we need to find a way gradually to legalize and ultimately make citizens out of the most deserving of the 11 million or so illegal immigrants here now. I grant the move rewards law-breaking. Then there is the Heritage Foundation’s estimate that, over the next half-century, governmental expenditures would be trillions more than if they were not legalized. While a precise figure is debatable, the cost would assuredly be huge.
But the problem needs to be resolved, some systems of deportation would be ugly beyond us carrying them out, and I am not sure officialdom will ever get behind anything effective. I do think that, before anyone is legalized, we need a definitively proven system of identifying illegal immigrants in the workplace to make sure the illegal inflow from here on out is tiny. And to offset costs, we also need to go to work skills and education as the chief criteria for being allowed in.
So what did the Senate cough up? For one thing, we got this GOP-inspired plan to hire another 20,000 border agents, invest in fancy new technology and build a 700-mile fence that still leaves plenty of crossing space on the 1,954-mile U.S.-Mexican dividing line. Put it all together and you have tens of billions dedicated to further aggravating a monster debt — and an estimate by the Congressional Budget Office that this and other efforts will reduce the expected illegal inflow by no more than 25 percent as workers with temporary work visas stay past their expiration.
That’s hardly the worst of it. The rest of the Senate bill has an immigration inundation scheme that is going to drown our society with an estimated 38 million new Americans over the next 20 years. It’s a number we cannot begin to accommodate, even though it does not count the illegal immigrants granted amnesty or the 8 million new illegal immigrants thought likely to arrive over that stretch of time.
The Congressional Budget Office said the gross domestic product will go up. Of course it will. That many more people means a lot more workers producing a lot more services and products, but, as some experts note, many of those jobs are going to pay so little that the workers will receive more in government services than they will pay in taxes. And what the cheerleaders don’t tell us about the CBO calculation is that it says per-person income will be lower in this country over the next 18 years than it would be under the law as it now stands.
If we would mainly admit highly skilled workers instead of bumping that percentage up just a bit, and if we would further de-emphasize family unification that leads to more unskilled workers, we would suffer far fewer of the negatives outlined by such experts as Heather McDonald, a Manhattan Institute fellow. She points out how struggling newcomers too often raise high school dropouts in one-parent homes and boost our poverty and welfare rates.
We can hope House Republicans will follow those who want to avoid a do-it-all-at-once measure as they figure out ways to achieve reform one small, smart step at a time.
Jay Ambrose, formerly Washington director of editorial policy for Scripps Howard newspapers and the editor of dailies in El Paso, Texas, and Denver, is a columnist living in Colorado. Email SpeaktoJay@aol.com.