The Politics of Immigration Posted by: McQ
on Wednesday, March 29, 2006
Mickey Kaus is one of my favorite political analysts who really does sport keen insight in matters political.
He's frankly puzzled as to why many pundits are sure the Republicans are in for a rough ride in the 2006 elections. He's puzzled because of the rising visibility of one issue.
Immigration. To Kaus, immigration seems to be a natural issue for Republicans:
Immigration has several characteristics that suggest it's a good locomotive for GOP victory in November: 1) Voters say it's an important issue; 2) A majority wants some sort of border-control action; 3) The GOP base feels intensely about it; 4) Many Congressional Democrats are—by ideology or interest group pressure—locked in to a pro-immigrant, non-tough stance (or if they strike a tough pose it seems just that). In all these respects, immigration resembles welfare reform, a key hot-button base-mobilizing issue for Republicans in the 1994 midterms. ...
By the numbers: 1) this is a rising issue in any number of polls to be consulted, and, overwhelmingly Americans want something done about immigration, or better said, illegal immigration. That being said, what they want done is still not particularly clear, but it seems most want the tide of illegals stemmed if not stopped. That of course takes us to point 2).
Point 3) relates to something about which the GOP is concerned. Voter turnout. That's because they believe that voter turn-off has begun to seriously set in and may cause them to loose seats in November. This is a voter turnout issue because, as Kaus notes, it is one the base feels very strongly about.
And number 4). The Democrats have to make a choice. Ideology (and the resultant money support that will bring from the base) or political pragmatism by adopting an anti-immigrant pose. It'll be an easy "pose", if they choose the latter, to puncture.
So? Well, as with all political gifts there is certain baggage and obstacles which must be overcome before this works for the GOP.
Kaus notes that short term they have a president in George Bush who favors a much milder form of reform than does the base. The question is whether the GOP congressional candidates can run far enough away from Bush (and get the word out) before November?
He also notes a long-term problem looming. Antagonizing and losing the Latino voter base. How can this be overcome? By using the short term problem to ameliorate the potential long-term problem:
The method is to let the President set the general, generous tone of the party, while local GOP officeholders run as get-tough individuals. Precisely because Bush, not Congress, leads the party, what he says should have the greater impact on its long-term profile. By praising the illegal immigrant work ethic while taking a compromising, high-minded policy line he might at least avoid permanently alienating Latinos. Meanwhile, GOP House candidates wage local campaigns in which they identify with prevailing anti-illegal sentiment—getting themselves reelected while doing a minimum of damage to the party's national image.
It might work. It may also be the issue that keeps the GOP in the majority on both sides of Congress. If it does, watch immigration become a major issue for the GOP going into 2008. As Kaus points out, its a sequel to the 1970 welfare issue.
Could individual Republican candidates have run as anti-welfare in 1970, even though a GOP President, Richard Nixon, had proposed a startlingly liberal guaranteed income plan? They could—that was Ronald Reagan's position, for example—and I suspect many did. The same with immigration.
UPDATE: Shark's comment reminds me there's something to add. The impact of the recent rallies. In my opinion, there will be a backlash to those rallies which will be framed as an element of the "reconquista". A good example can be seen here. If the argument is successful, and the GOP figures out how to exploit it, it could indeed help turn out their base (shark's rather pessimistic prediction not withstanding).
I’ve posted this a few times and anymore would be spamming this point so I’ll stop after this time.
The term ’illegal’ can be made go away without changing anything else about the situation. Hitching the anti-illegal immigration issue to mearly the fact that it is illegal is hitching the counter-argument to a technicality that can be changed through some bureaucratic trickery.
The problem isn’t that its illegal. It’s that is more immigration from a single source than assimilation could possibly accommodate.
In the 50’s and earlier there was massive social pressure for immigrants to integrate to our system of politics, justice, etc. That has since faded. However we practice immigration through smaller populations from multiple countries & cultures. And perhaps after one or two generations, integration eventually occurs. But having massive integration from a single culture who due to their segregation from their status as illegal immigrats (which will be replaced by segregation due to their status as guest workers) have zero movement towards integration. We have a colony forming. A colony which will suck members that have previously integrated back into itself.
Perhaps Atzlan will never happen, but we’re headed for critical mass on Balkanizing the Southwest.
We’re setting ourselves up for more delay resolving this issue by linchpinning to the work ’illegal’. That technicality can be made to go *poof* overnight.
The issue is complex. In 1994 a massive anti imigrant proposition was pushed in California. It went on to overwhelming victory. However, it set forth a Democratic tidal wave that overwhelmed the state. The pundits have always said that the Democrats were going to take California and the proposition merely postponed that. However, in alienating the primarily Christian Latino population, it has unnecessarily excarcebated politics in California. Bush’s stance is directly opposed to his party which is good, unlike Wilson’s 1994 California stance. On the national front, the issue will temporarily help the Republican Party, if California serves as an example.
The issue can be simplified by making immigration an economic and not a political or security weapon. The Republicans are focusing on security, however, that argument does not help those who use immigrant labor regularly. It seems to imply that the illegal problem is here to stay with us, even if we can eliminate the security concerns that go with immigration.
As with many other issues the democrats don’t have an immigration policy.
Labor is strongly against lax immigration and labor provides support for many democratic congress people. I’ll note that "moon beam"Jerry Brown was an out spoken critic of open immigration as well. Perhaps he was ahead of his time. Those dems that want to break the Hispanic vote away from the republicans will push for easy immigration. There will be no democratic consensus. The support will probably vary on a district by district basis. In short, the dems as a party are unlikely to have a position on immigration leaving the republicans to take the heat on their own. They do have a majority and can do whatever they want.
Their track record at solving problems is not a good one.
Guest worker program or not, we are still going to have an illegal immigration problem.
Anything that whiffs of amnesty will only cause more illegal immigrants to come across the border. Making 12 illegals "legal" won’t solve the influx of cheap labor that depresses wages of people who "got here first." In fact, Bush’s mention of a guest worker program a year or two ago caused an increase in the number of illegals from the southern border.
Let’s not fall for the bait ’n switch back in 1987 or whenever when they granted "amnesty" and promised more enforcement but didn’t do anything relating to enforcement. We must first have enforcement. Amnesty and guest worker programs should come later.
I couldn’t possibly agree with you more. The notion of a woman being in this country for 8 months and 30 days then having little "Juan" on the 31st day or any other way one cares to define it, little "Juanito" is an American citizen. Now where is the fairness in that idea? Moreover, where is the fairness for my grandparents who waited in lines, injected, detected, and inspected for anything and everything? These very dignified people studied daily in a study group to ensure passing the citizenship test and that I might add, in English.
The United States Constitution has become an antiquated document for the most part and no one wants to change or amend it. I am positive that the document was written deliberately to create compromise. However, it is because of its age and relentless objection to change that America is now in trouble.
Being an educator I have witnessed situations that make me sick. I have seen high school students that could not pass a citizenship test to save their own lives. Moreover, I have proctored this very test to many, many immigrants who are not able to even read the little 50-question test. So let’s enable any and all immigrants who wish to come here and do whatever.
Two years ago with a brief tenure in the Commonwealth of Virginia I needed to update my driver’s license. I was the one who needed the passport. I also needed utility bills and two separate forms of photo identification. If one were to meet me, think Sweden. Think toe-headed platinum blond hair and red skin from the sun. As I waited patiently for my turn I was overwhelmed by the amount of state appointed translators who were needed to assist in the translation of the written driver’s examination. Suffice it to say that these translators were not only translating the exam, but providing the answers as well.
A few years back in graduate school I did a very scientific sanctioned survey finding out how many people knew the official language of America. Well over 93% of those surveyed did not know the answer. The other 7 odd percent had guessed or improperly identified the Nation’s official language. The moral of my story: America does not have an official language. No where is it even mentioned by the Founding Fathers.
Therefore, with more than 12 million illegal immigrants in this country with translators for driver’s licensing and a whopping 480 billion dollars being sent back to Mexico for relatives, I too, believe in some constitutional changes. For example, if the country does not declare an official language then I can assure everyone that someone else will and it will not be English.
Furthermore, why is this body of quasi-educated people referred to as Congress so bent on granting amnesty? Seriously, are they conveying the message, "…come, stay, no punishment, become a citizen in a few years...?" In addition, what do these political idiots think granting amnesty going to accomplish? I will tell you: A huge burden on social welfare programs; crime rates that will escalate until we live in martial law with the military as our police force; and, are we just supposed to let free the tens of thousands illegal immigrants who are in prision?
Therefore I end with a quote from Nuclear: "Guest worker program or not, we are still going to have an illegal immigration problem." And then again, "We must first have enforcement. Amnesty and guest worker programs should come later." Well stated both of you.
My personal thought about this whole immigration issue is as follows. Every illegal immigrant who is in the united states and has more than one criminal record, doesn’t contributes in a positive way to this country then he/she should be deported back to their country of origin. Anyone that is here and works hard, has no criminal record, pays taxes, well then what’s the problem? We want people that contributes to this nation and stays clean from crimes.