Over the past few days, I’ve been watching with interest on Twitter as Doug Mataconis and Jason Pye have been moaning about the new immigration law in Arizona. Now, I grant it’s a bad law from a civil liberties perspective. I’ve seen to much of policing from the inside to trust police not to run a truck through any ambiguities that they find in the law.
But some of the links they’ve posted seem a bit overdone. For instance, one of them linked to an article that implied that there’s a white supremacist behind the movement to pass the law. But what really caught my eye was a link to an article that gave all the standard libertarian reasons for having open immigration.
There was only one thing wrong with the article. It made all sorts of arguments about natural rights and economics, but nowhere did it address national security.
So, I guess my question is this: If you are going to argue for opening the borders, how will you go about doing so in a world of hostile nation-states, whose citizens may wish to do us harm? Clearly, the framers gave some thought to the issue, as they gave Congress plenary power to regulate immigration.
So, even granting that the rights-based and economic arguments are correct, which, mainly, I do, I still would like to know how you would address the security implications of open borders in a hostile world.
Surely, our agreement on the general principles of liberty don’t require us to commit seppuku by allowing hostile foreign powers to take advantage of them, do they?
Let’s run through the main problems associated with illegal immigrants: state welfare costs, crime (or is it?), lack of assimilation (particularly if they’re allowed to vote), and suppressing wages for poor natives.
I think we can mitigate a lot of these problems with solutions far more realistic (in the short-to-medium term) than mass deportation, amnesty or ridding ourselves of the welfare state.
First, let’s recognize that the security threat becomes more complicated when you place wishful restrictions on immigration. When there’s a flood of mostly non-threatening people crossing the border outside of any official process, it’s a lot harder to pick out the few really malicious ones. And it’s really hard/expensive to stop that flood along such a long border.
We should be striving to funnel as many of them through official processes as possible, so we know who’s here, we know their backgrounds and we can separate the villains from those who just want to observe a basic civic peace and take advantage of opportunities in a freer country. That means offering carrots and sticks to both prospective immigrants as well as those who are already here, and I’ll get to those incentives below.
Second, minimize how much the welfare state serves and controls non-citizens.
- Uncompensated care makes up only 2.2% of medical costs in this country, and a good chunk of that doesn’t come from illegals, so the fact that many illegals wait until they need to use the emergency room, while irritating to some, isn’t a political hill to die on. As long as it’s mostly limited to taking care of communicable diseases and real emergencies, which can be enacted into law, it’s tolerable.
- Education is a much bigger problem. I recall reading that there are 1.6 million illegal immigrants under age 18 in the States, and being from Southern California, where the largest budget item by far is education, I know that they (and natural born citizens born to noncitizens) represent a big cost. Here we can do a bit of political jiu-jitsu: target guest worker families with a school voucher program.
- They’re already in public schools, so it’s a win if they instead form the basis for a larger private school market. The larger the market, the more the market can work its magic.
- It can come with strings attached, like a requirement that any school accepting vouchers be able to show an improvement in English language skills at least as good as nearby public schools.
- It’s not like Democrats have a good argument against it: it’s nearly the opposite of cream-skimming. And when guests get this, naturally other groups are going to want it too.
- Transfer payments (Social Security, unemployment, welfare, etc.), obviously, should be off the table for non-citizens. I have no problem with people who want to take risks in a freer market; a host country owes them nothing more than securing their rights.
The idea here is to weed out those who aren’t seeking opportunity so much as handouts. Those seeking opportunity are naturally more eager to assimilate.
Third, take the prospect of adding tons of dependent immigrants to the voter rolls off the table. Instead, we can get most of what we want by creating a liberal guest worker program that virtually all prospective immigrants and current illegal residents can join simply by identifying themselves to authorities, as long as it’s clear that they’re going to generally be paying their own way, so that people with a dependent mindset are weeded out by attrition.
So what are the carrots and sticks here? Without doing anything that would turn stomachs (and thus make reform politically impossible), we can get rid of the bad apples while not incurring the large costs associated with trying to throw 12 million people out of the country.
- A program allowing people to easily enter the country without being harassed should increase suspicion of anyone who’s still trying to immigrate the hard way — and that would increase public support for border security.
- Deport illegals who fail to register under the guest program and then commit serious crimes — violent crimes or big property crimes like auto theft. Those who commit petty crimes and can’t prove their status can either apply for guest status and take their punishment here or accept deportation.
- No sweeps or “asking for papers” for those who are just here peacefully. Only those charged with another crime can be asked to prove their status within a reasonable time frame.
- Come to an agreement to build cheaper-run prisons in Mexico to hold illegals during their sentences — no sense in keeping them in expensive American prisons if we’re planning on deporting them anyway.
- Illegals can’t access the school voucher program, but guest worker families can.
- Perhaps also allow vouchers for English-language and Civics education for adults.
I’m open to any other ideas, but that seems like a good foundation, accepting (in the neolibertarian fashion) that the welfare state won’t disappear tomorrow, but offering a positive agenda that tends to increase liberty.
So why would libertarians not be “open borders guys” as Dale admits in his post about Arizona’s new illegal immigration law? Well, for one, for the same reason Milton Friedman understood when he said “you can’t have free immigration and a welfare state.”
I’d love to have free immigration or “open borders”. I’d like to see free people who want to work and better their lives be able to freely wander to where such opportunities exist. In an ideal world, what I would call my moon pony and unicorn world, that’s the way it would work.
I’d also prefer not to have a welfare state. Welfare states are, in my opinion, destructive states that kill human productivity and builds the power of the state to a degree that “citizens” eventually become vassals. Additionally, I’m not keen on my hard earned dollars going to support such a state. But they do.
If you eliminate the welfare state, the “open borders” argument has more credibility. But borders aren’t going away anytime soon. Unilaterally eliminating ours or, for the sake of argument not monitoring who comes in the country, isn’t going to change anything as regards the welfare state. Unless those coming in are required to immediately contribute to the state welfare apparatus (an anathema any open border theory) before taking advantage of it, the desire to keep illegals out and away from state welfare that the citizenry has paid for will remain high. That’s a practical concern that drives much of the anger and desire of the citizenry to keep illegals out.
Since the welfare state doesn’t appear to be going away any time soon (if ever) either, again it seems rather silly to argue that “open borders” is a viable solution. Yes, it’s an ideologically pure libertarian solution, but it denies reality. That doesn’t mean it’s not a good goal, but it does mean that in the current situation, no one is going to listen to it seriously or give it any credence.
And then, to compound the argument against open borders, there’s a second problem. There are a whole bunch of people out there who are trying to kill us. Not random criminals, who are bad enough, but an entire movement dedicated to the demise of those who live in this country. “Open immigration” or open borders would only grant full and unimpeded access to those who want to do us harm. It is something they’d welcome. Imagine, if you will, not monitoring anyone who comes in or what they might bring. How long would it take for our enemies to establish themselves and strike?
Now the natural inclination of my libertarian kin at this point in a discussion like this is to say, “yeah, but if we hadn’t gotten entangled in those foreign alliances and remained isolationist, we could have …”. Could have what? Sold our products to ourselves? Avoided a religiously driven zealotry that targets nations like ours just because they’re” infidels?” Pretended Nazism and Japanese imperialism weren’t a threat to us and our way of life?
Even if that’s shrugged off, we still need to trade to live. And trade requires interaction. International trade requires international interaction. You can’t do that as an isolationist (and “open borders” seems contradictory – at least to me – to being an isolationist. How does one “isolate” themselves except behind their borders?). Those you interact and trade with have certain demands that come with trade you either negotiate or they refuse the trade. While it is wonderful to think that we could have survived quite nicely by being internally self-sufficient and trading only within our borders, it’s probably nothing more than a pipe-dream. We could no more keep the world out of here than the Japanese were able to keep us out of Tokyo bay. Simple demand of the citizenry for products from other nations would have forced that.
Open borders have only existed in times when there was no welfare state and no existential threat – and, in fact, no real government in place. Think the settling of the west and the borders of both Canada and Mexico. People passed through them pretty much at will seeking a better opportunity or a better life. That is an era which has passed. Even as we were warned by our founders to avoid foreign entanglements, we were becoming aware of their necessity – self-protection or mutual protection among them. And even as we wished for the ability to open our borders to all free people, we became aware of those who would use such an advantage to harm us. Or, as the welfare state developed, to take advantage of that to which they’re not entitled.
Like many laudable desires, that of “open borders” doesn’t survive reality of a changing (and smaller) world. All things being equal, I’d prefer open borders for free people. But that’s not how this world works and the disadvantages – partly our own doing, partly that of our enemies – argues pretty strongly against “open borders” – at least in the present.
All of that said, we have a problem to deal with. The welfare state isn’t going away nor are our enemies. The border situation is intolerable, we have an antiquated and essentially broken immigration system and we a very large number of illegals already here. What are we going to do about that?
Whether or not you agree with Arizona’s recent law, it points out the frustration that many of the border states are undergoing as the problem continues and grows. I’ve mentioned any number of times that while the solution won’t be simple, the general outline isn’t rocket science:
- Streamline the legal immigration system so people can more easily access it, apply, receive visas, green cards, etc. It shouldn’t take us half a lifetime or cost multi-thousands of dollars to immigrate here, prove their worth and become US citizens.
-Streamline the work visa program and the seasonal work visa program. If I can order a kindle book from Amazon with a single click and have it downloaded to the kindle within a minute , it tells me the technology is probably available to make such a program much easier than it is at present.
-Kill the “anchor baby” provision. It may take a Constitutional amendment, but whatever it takes, remove the incentive. Heck in some countries they have tour packages aimed specifically at pregnant women in other countries to come here and have their baby. Sorry – no short cuts, no breaking the line, no gaming the system.
-Deal with the illegals in the country. Require them to register by a certain date or face permanent deportation. Once registered provide them with a clear, but back of the line path to citizenship, if they so desire. Make the requirements tough but fair. My guess is we’ll find many, if not most, of them would instead prefer a work visa or a seasonal work visa rather than citizenship. Many are here illegally because they can’t get those sorts of visas now.
-Secure the border. We do have an existential treat. Throughout our history we’ve had many existential threats. As long as different ideologies exist, especially those based in religious zealotry or secular imperialism, we’ll continue to have existential threats. Until those go away, we’re always going to have borders and those borders are going to have to be guarded to protect our citizenry.
I believe in immigration. I believe, in some ways, it represents the heart and soul of this country. I believe in giving those what want to work hard and better themselves the opportunity to come to this country to do so. But they need to come here legally through an improved system to do that. Since we do indeed have a welfare state, I want those who try to game that system by illegal entry stopped. And since we have existential enemies, I want them stopped at the border too.
It may not be my moon pony and unicorn utopia, but it is reality and it is that with which we have to deal. Then we can work on utopia.
Yesterday, Arizona Governor Jan Brewer signed into law a controversial immigration bill, the text of which you can find here (PDF). Now, before getting into the bill itself, et me just say I’m not an open-borders guy. The sheer mass of illegal immigration is a problem in the southern border states. If you’re interested, I went into more detail a few years ago on the subject.
The law itself provides for the following:
- Makes it a misdemeanor for an illegal alien to solicit work in any way shape or form, so no more hanging out around Home Depot.
- Makes it a code violation to knowingly employ illegal aliens, and may subject the business to suspension or terminations of any and all licenses, i.e. business license, liquor license, etc.
- No jurisdiction in the state can refuse to enforce immigration laws.
- Illegal aliens are considered to be trespassing if found on any public or private property in the state of Arizona. I.e., physically present anywhere in the state. It’s a class I misdemeanor. If the illegal alien has drugs or money in his possession, that bumps the charge to a Class 3 felony.
- A person may be arrested on the spot for this extended offense of trespassing if the officer has probable cause to believe the person is an illegal alien.
- A peace officer may stop any person operating a motor vehicle if the officer reasonably believes the vehicle is being used to transport or smuggle illegal aliens.
- A vehicle used to knowingly transport illegal aliens is subject to mandatory immobilization or impoundment.
I saw a statement by an Arizona police spokesman at Tucson PD that said, essentially, that this new law would never, ever be used by peace officers in racial profiling. And you can believe as much of that as you please. If you think the cops in AZ will be rounding up blue-eyed, blond-haired fellows who say “aboot” instead of “about”, I’ve got a bridge to sell you. It connects Manhattan with Brooklyn. It’s in great shape. Worth every penny.
Essentially, if you’re a swarthy, dark-haired gentleman, the cops can stop you and ask for your papers. You should probably obtain a copy of your birth certificate, Social Security card, and Sons of the American Revolution membership certificate, and keep them with you at all times. And lose the attractive Ricardo Montalban accent, because that’s certainly not going to be an asset when speaking to the nice officer.
And if you do pick up a few day workers at Lowe’s, don’t be surprised when the cops stop you, then laugh at your insistence that you just wanted some weeding done or nice raised garden installed, and insist on calling you “Mr. Coyote” as they impound your vehicle and drag your ass off to jail.
I really don’t see how this law can pass Constitutional muster. It practically requires racial profiling. It will almost inevitably lead to civil rights violations of both lawful immigrants and American citizens, as police officers demand proof of citizenship, and subsequently arrest some poor sap who left his wallet at home. It’s just a disastrously bad law.
Now look, I understand that illegal immigration is a tough problem. I believe that we do need to better secure the borders. I know the Feds do little more than lip service at enforcing immigration laws. So, I understand why state government are frustrated, and grasping at something else they can do to ease the budgetary, law enforcement, and social service strains that illegal immigration puts on state and municipal budgets.
But this sort of state effort is so intrusive and far-reaching, and so ripe for abuse, that it can’t possibly be the right answer to the problem. I see no way that it can be enforced in a manner consistent with basic civil rights. It’s just a bad law.
You may recall my post yesterday when I pointed to the probability of some sort of action on immigration after the Easter break because the Hispanic vote isn’t very enthusiastic about Democrats right now and November is approaching?
Well, Ezra Klein has picked up on the vibe too:
I’d say it’s pretty unlikely that comprehensive immigration reform happens this year. But then, who cares what I think? Harry Reid is in charge of the Senate, and he says he’s got 56 votes, and it’s gonna happen. “We need a handful of Republicans,” he told an immigration rally in Las Vegas.
The cynical take, of course, is that Reid is running for reelection in a state that’s about 20 percent Hispanic. But that suggests an important change in the political reality: The cynical thing for Democrats to do in an election year might be to pursue immigration reform. And that would make immigration reform a much likelier addition to the agenda.
Now granted it doesn’t take the equivalent of a political rocket scientist to figure this out. Congressional Democrats are wildly unpopular, November midterms threaten to wash them out of the Congress like you might wash all the pollen on your driveway down the sewer and they’re casting about anywhere for a way to re-energize their base. And, if you look at the last election, Hispanics went for Obama with 67% of their vote.
Reid claims he has 56 votes. He also says he needs “a handful of Republicans”. Obviously Democratic Senators up for re-election in ’10 are going like the idea. But needing that handful of Republicans means at the moment he probably hasn’t got any – well, maybe Lindsey Graham.
And note who Reid is talking too – certainly not Tea Parties, but instead “immigration rallies”. The guy who draws 100 people to a campaign event in his hometown is out addressing immigration rallies – yeah, back to that “political rocket scientist” crack.
So it appears the argument I was making yesterday and Klein is making today, seems to have some legs. I gave you part of the game plan yesterday as to why Democrats want to introduce it now and Klein repeats it. But, speaking of cynical, he lays out some other reasons as well:
If Democrats actually pursue immigration reform, their [Hispanics -ed.] participation becomes likelier. And if Republicans — or tea partyers, or conservative talk radio — overreact to the prospect of immigration reform, their participation becomes virtually assured. That last bit also suggests another reason Democrats might want to see immigration on the agenda: It’s got the possibility to tear the Republican coalition apart. Beltway Republicans are very, very concerned about losing Latino voters, and so they try to be careful on the issue.
Or – the GOP base will be pushing one way and the assumed spineless Beltway Republicans will be tiptoeing another while the very outcry drives Hispanics to the polls.
I can’t refute or dispute Klein’s prediction at this point – we’ve seen similar things happen in the past. But I do agree completely that it is a cynical plan – but then that’s politics isn’t it. As many are fond of saying, “it ain’t bean bag” and, as is often the case – getting re-elected, by whatever means necessary (to include “let’s pretend we’re doing something on immigration and the GOP are the bad guys”) usually takes priority over any real concerns about what is good for the people of the country.
So, after jamming the health care reform legislation through Congress, Democrats begin to turn a wary eye toward November and the mid-term elections.
A good portion of them have deluded themselves into thinking Bill Clinton was right – that after they passed the legislation all the furor would subside and Americans would accept the new legislation – even embrace it. The term “Judas goat” comes to mind. And I think for those who bought into that nonsense, they realize they’ve certainly been led into the electoral slaughter pen. The Obama post law-signing sales tour has been anything but successful in changing the public’s perception of the law. And it certainly hasn’t cooled the anger about its passage.
Some Democrats are giving up to “spend more time with their families” as has Bart Stupak. They see the writing on the wall and don’t like what they’re reading. Others are gearing up for a fight that many experts are sure they’ll lose. Of course there are those on the left who’re sure the tide will turn. James Carvelle recently said the GOP “peaked too soon”. I don’t think so.
However, what are the Democrats going to do to reverse this trend that sees them losing big in November. Well, the word was they were going to do energy next. And that energy would contain a utility tax being called “cap-and trade lite”. Frankly I don’t see them trying to introduce any new tax before November unless they’re just a lot less intelligent than they should be.
But they have to do something to take the public’s mind of HCR and do something positive for their chances in November. I was thinking about that when this headline caught my attention – “Hispanic loyalty to Democrats wanes” with the sub – “Inaction on immigration reform has key voting bloc less enthused about election.” Ah ha! Why is this potentially the issue that will be most important to Dems prior to November – because of the nature of the election.
“The number of Latinos who say they are enthusiastic about midterm elections is the lowest we’ve ever seen,” said Barreto, whose firm polls extensively among Hispanics. In 2006, 77 percent of Hispanics were excited about voting. In a recent poll, however, just 49 percent were excited.
As Barreto noted, midterm elections usually feature lower turnout, which means victory hinges on energizing the party’s core supporters rather than persuading swing voters.
So Barreto is asserting that Hispanics are inclined to vote Democratic and unlike the 2006 mid-terms, have much less interest in voting in this mid-term because, well, see the headline.
Conclusion – look for a flurry of activity addressing “comprehensive immigration reform” in an attempt to energize the hispanic vote prior to November and, I’d guess, try to lure some independents back as well. Whether they get anything done or not is probably not as important right now, in the short time span involved, than appearing to make the effort. Whether that will be enough to save them remains to be seen.
But if it doesn’t – then what? What would a lame duck Democratic majority Congress attempt from November to January. My guess, and that’s all it is, with nothing to lose, they’d go for broke and try to ram as much of their agenda through as possible. And that means they’ll be working on a comprehensive energy bill, to include cap-and-tax, and possibly a VAT tax, and be prepared to introduce them the day following the mid-terms. Success might not be easy, but if Nancy Pelosi knows she’s losing her speakership and Harry Reid finds himself out of a job – anything is possible.
Like health care, no one is going to argue that immigration doesn’t need reforming. It’s the amount and type of reform that’s going to engender the argument.
That said, is immigration next on the Obama agenda? As I said on the podcast last night, I expect the Democrats to push for whatever they think they can get through the Congress by November. I think they recognize that their window for the radical side of the agenda will slam shut then. And I think they see some potential – in the form of electoral support, even if it ends up being future electoral support – in tackling the immigration issue. Let’s face it – after November, they’re going to need all the help they can get at the voting booth, illegal or otherwise.
Given all the focus on health care yesterday, you may have missed the news about an immigration rally in DC.
Mr. Obama addressed the crowd via a videotaped message displayed on huge screens, promising to keep working on the issue but avoiding a specific time frame.
“I have always pledged to be your partner as we work to fix our broken immigration system, and that’s a commitment that I reaffirm today,” Mr. Obama said.
He expressed his support for the outline of an immigration bill presented last week by Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina, and Senator Charles E. Schumer, Democrat of New York. While pledging to help build bipartisan support, Mr. Obama warned, “You know as well as I do that this won’t be easy, and it won’t happen overnight.”
What’s been clear is Obama has promised a lot of people a lot of things and has delivered on few of those promises. The speakers pretty much laid out the “benefit” a beleaguered Democratic party should focus on:
“Every day without reform is a day when 12 million hard-working immigrants must live in the shadow of fear,” said Representative Nydia M. Velázquez, a Democrat from New York who is the chairwoman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus.
“Don’t forget that in the last presidential election 10 million Hispanics came out to vote,” she said. She told the crowd to tell lawmakers “that you will not forget which side of this debate they stood on.”
Wow – 22 million potential Democratic votes. Now there is incentive.
Don’t forget the bill Obama says he supports, the Graham/Schumer bill, requires a national ID. That is a new Social Security card (which, you were promised, would never be used for identification purposes) with your biometric info stored on it and on government data bases.
That’s a non-starter. Again, I am not the problem here. The 12 million here illegally are. I am not at all prepared to surrender even more of my privacy on the vague promises of politicians and bureaucrats.
Yes, immigration has to be fixed. So does border security – fix it first. Then, streamline the immigration process, make it easier to apply and emigrate. Figure out how to bring seasonal workers in efficiently and have them return home after the season is over. Offer a path to citizenship to illegals from the back of the line that requires fines, back taxes, an application process and a requirement to learn english. Address the anchor baby scam.
But, no national ID. Any bill that contains that is unacceptable.
Lindsey Graham, fresh off his bi-partisan attempt to sell cap-and-trade lite is now engaged with Chuck Schumer in trying to establish a need for a national ID.
In a Washington Post op/ed, they lay out their plan for immigration reform. In all honesty not all of it is bad. And if they stopped there (and added something about anchor babies), it might be a plan most could get behind. But then they throw this in the mix:
Besides border security, ending illegal immigration will also require an effective employment verification system that holds employers accountable for hiring illegal workers. A tamper-proof ID system would dramatically decrease illegal immigration, experts have said, and would reduce the government revenue lost when employers and workers here illegally fail to pay taxes.
We would require all U.S. citizens and legal immigrants who want jobs to obtain a high-tech, fraud-proof Social Security card. Each card’s unique biometric identifier would be stored only on the card; no government database would house everyone’s information. The cards would not contain any private information, medical information or tracking devices. The card would be a high-tech version of the Social Security card that citizens already have.
Prospective employers would be responsible for swiping the cards through a machine to confirm a person’s identity and immigration status. Employers who refused to swipe the card or who otherwise knowingly hired unauthorized workers would face stiff fines and, for repeat offenses, prison sentences.
What were you told about your Social Security card? It’s not an ID card and it would never, ever be used as a means of identification – correct? This proposal goes completely against that promise about the card.
Secondly – read the middle paragraph about the storage of your biometric info. Biometric information is by definition “private information”. It is unique only to you. Additionally, what good does it do on a card if there isn’t some way to verify it? And unless that information exists at another site, what are you swiping the card to do? Where is the swiped card’s information going and what is verifying it as “ok”?
So again read it carefully – “no government data base would house everyone’s information”. Translation: multiple government data bases would house parts of all your information. Bottom line – the government would have your biometic info on file in their databases.
Enforce the borders, streamline the immigration process to make it work better and quicker, work out a method to bring in seasonal workers, offer an arduous path to citizenship to illegals that involves taxes, fines and learning english and deal with the anchor baby problem.
But come up with a method of verifying citizenship that doesn’t involve my biometric info or a national ID because I am not the problem and I’m not going to become a party to handing my private biometric info over to government or carrying a national ID.
Got that Mr. Graham (I know better than to bother addressing Schumer)?
He was a bit exercised about a certain line in the Obama speech. He’s since apologized for inappropriate behavior and, frankly I agree. It was inappropriate. Just like Obama calling Sarah Palin and other liars was equally inappropriate, especially when later hypocritically calling for “civility”.
But back to Wilson. He was apparently reacting to this line in Obama’s speech:
There are also those who claim that our reform effort will insure illegal immigrants. This, too, is false – the reforms I’m proposing would not apply to those who are here illegally.
So why was Wilson outraged. Most likely because he has actually read the bill in the House and what he has read doesn’t synch with what the president said. Here’s why:
The America’s Affordable Health Choices Act of 2009 (HR 3200) is extremely complex and there’s no way to know how the bill ultimately will be implemented. First, it is unclear if illegal immigrants will be required to have health insurance, as would citizens and legal immigrants (green card holders). In its summary of the bill, the Congressional Research Service (CRS) states, “Under HR 3200, all legal permanent residents (LPRs), non-immigrants, and unauthorized aliens who meet the substantial presence test … would be required to obtain health insurance.”1 Substantial presence is defined as having been in the United States for at least 31 days during the current year and at least 183 days during the current year and previous two years. No mention is made of legal status in the legislation for determining substantial presence.
So under HR 3200, as long as anyone meets the “substantial presence” definition, regardless of “legal status”, they’re required to get health insurance. That would include illegal immigrants.
That’s why Joe Wilson yelled.
President Obama, has decided that in addition to the health care, energy and education debates, he’ll also crank up the immigration debate:
He said then that comprehensive immigration legislation, including a plan to make legal status possible for an estimated 12 million illegal immigrants, would be a priority in his first year in office. Latino voters turned out strongly for Mr. Obama in the election.
“He intends to start the debate this year,” Ms. Muñoz said.
12 million is the low-side estimate. Others estimate the total to be as high as 20 million.
Here is the argument he can plan on seeing prominently pushed from the other side as it concerns legal status for illegal immigrants:
“It just doesn’t seem rational that any political leader would say, let’s give millions of foreign workers permanent access to U.S. jobs when we have millions of Americans looking for jobs,” said Roy Beck, executive director of NumbersUSA, a group that favors reduced immigration. Mr. Beck predicted that Mr. Obama would face “an explosion” if he proceeded this year.
“It’s going to be, ‘You’re letting them keep that job, when I could have that job,’ ” he said.
The argument that the jobs immigrants hold are jobs Americans won’t do rings even more hollow in a recession.
Additionally, starting this emotional issue up now, while he’s trying to push the other issues I mentioned is going to diffuse focus and may cost him critical support on health care, energy or education.
This is not a smart political move. But it is one I welcome.