Category: Immigration
Posted by: A Waco Farmer
Tocqueville and I disagree sharply on immigration. He has been collecting highlights from the discussion on the web against the "compromise" bill, as well as contributing an outstanding original piece to our discussion yesterday (read here).

Today's haul of op-ed pieces seems especially fertile and noteworthy. It strikes me that we are fast approaching the moment of truth. The fruit of Tocqueville's efforts:

1. Peggy Noonan: President Bush has torn the conservative coalition asunder.

"What conservatives and Republicans must recognize is that the White House has broken with them. What President Bush is doing, and has been doing for some time, is sundering a great political coalition. This is sad, and it holds implications not only for one political party but for the American future."

"This White House thinks its base is stupid and that its heart is in the wrong place."

"The president has taken to suggesting that opponents of his immigration bill are unpatriotic--they 'don't want to do what's right for America.'"

"They are trying to lay down markers for history. Having lost the support of most of the country, they are looking to another horizon. The story they would like written in the future is this: Faced with the gathering forces of ethnocentric darkness, a hardy and heroic crew stood firm and held high a candle in the wind. It will make a good chapter. Would that it were true!" (read the column in its entirety here).

2. Charles Krauthammer: Get in Line, Einstein

"[T]he campaign for legalization does not stop at stupidity and farce. It adds mendacity as well. Such as the front-page story in last Friday's New York Times claiming that "a large majority of Americans want to change the immigration laws to allow illegal immigrants to gain legal status."

"Sounds unbelievable. And it is. A Rasmussen poll had shown that 72 percent of Americans thought border enforcement and reducing illegal immigration to be very important. Only 29 percent thought legalization to be very important. Indeed, when a different question in the Times poll -- one that did not make the front page -- asked respondents if they wanted to see illegal immigrants prosecuted and deported, 69 percent said yes" (read the op-ed in its entirety here).

3. Hugh Hewitt: Can Any Immigration Bill Be Saved?

"At this point I take out my Harriet Miers Fan Club charter membership card and put it on the table: This push for this bill is a disaster, Mr. President. Much much worse than the Miers nomination on which you had many good arguments, or the ports deal, on which you had fewer. On this issue there is no place to stand, and you are asking your friends in the Senate to go down fighting for a bad bill.

"It is a bad bill because no one believes the government can conduct millions of background checks (many spokesmen for the bill don't even pretend to know where the paperwork will go!). No one believes the bill will halt the next 12 million. No one believes you are going to assure the fence gets built. No one believes that the employer verification system will get done or work when some half-assed version of it does get done. No one believes that the probationary visas don't automatically convert illegal aliens with few if any rights into Due Process Clause covered legal migrants, with a Ninth Circuit ready and waiting to keep them here for decades" (read the entire post here).

4. Jim Pinkerton: An Optimistic Prediction:

"On immigration, the GOP finally exorcise(s) itself - rejecting the president's not-so-well-disguised amnesty plan. Whereupon Sen. John McCain's (R-Ariz.) presidential prospects [are] blown away; the Arizonan...disappear[s] in a dust-devil of four-letter insults aimed at fellow Republicans.

"Opponents of the 2007 immigration bill, led by Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), force a series of votes on hot-button issues: Should English be the official language of the United States? Should illegal aliens be able to collect Social Security benefits? Should bilingualism be protected? Should dual citizenship with Mexico be expanded?

"In each instance, The New York Times counsel[s] the Democrats to vote in favor of "sophisticated" open-borders liberalism. And, of course, Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) and Barack Obama (D-Ill.), each hungering for The Times' presidential endorsement, [are] eager to please. But the "Reagan Democrats" - the folks who had elected populist Democrats such as Jim Webb and Jon Tester to the Senate in 2006 - [are] not so pleased.

"So when the Republicans finally [find] their voice on immigration, the Reagan Democrats [are] re-Reaganized. Finally, Republicans [are] speaking about realism and the national interest, always a winner for them.

"The Democrats [try] to fight back, using the health care issue, but the GOP [is] ready with a response, pointing to moderate health plans enacted by Republican governors from Massachusetts to California.

"Finally, late in the '08 campaign, the Democrats attempt to energize their own small base, endorsing gay marriage and repeal of the Patriot Act."

It [doesn't] work. The Republicans, nominating a ticket free of any close association with the outgoing administration, [win] a comfortable victory.

It could happen. Read all of Pinkerton here.

Thanks again, Tocqueville for your diligence on this issue.
Category: Immigration
Posted by: A Waco Farmer
This comment from Tocqueville regarding my previous post (read here) in re NRO and WSJ and their feud over immigration deserves a closer look. He takes umbrage at the ill-considered calumnious comments directed at the anti-immigration camp. Again, my point is that we ought to take care what we say (and how we say it) to one another in this debate.

Guest Blog: Tocqueville:

Of course, the WSJ has been inexcusably superficial, self-delusional, dismissive of history, dismissive of the both the objections and the opponents ("...anyone who calls this approach 'amnesty' has twisted the definition."), and, perhaps most stunningly, painfully naive in its reliance on the government to enforce the provisions of an immigration law, when the failure to enforce the last immigration law brought us to the present dilemma and the last immigration law was, in turn, a panic reaction to circumstances brought on by the failure to enforce the earlier predecessor law.

I wince at the insincerity and naivete explicit in the WSJ's reliance on the supposed voluntary return home of immigrants to wait in line to return. Right. Sure. The payment of fines and the learning of English. Right. Sure. Border security. Right. Sure. Biometrics-based employment. Right. Sure. Verfication. Right. Sure. (Did the WSJ not notice that the bill gives Homeland Security exactly one business day to conduct this verification and, failing that, the requirement vanishes?)

Not a word about the political reality that only 26% of the country favors the bill and over 50% flatly oppose it. Where is the "will of the people?" Not a word condemning the government for standing by impotently for decades while border security and immigration policy adulterated.

I would think that the 2006 US Sentencing Commission statistics would interest your readers and inform this issue. Last year in the Middle District of Florida 26.6% of the offenders were white, 27.7% were black, and 43.9% were Hispanic (pg. 188). In the Southern District of Texas 5.9% were white, 4.8% were black, and 88.7% were Hispanic. And etc. Not a word about who these illegals are and what they are doing. Just platitude and whitewash and delusion.

But I am not disappointed in the WSJ editorial page; it is what I expected. Anyone who applauds John McCain, the premier political opportunist of our time, for his supposed political courage obviously neither has nor even recognizes political courage.
Category: Immigration
Posted by: A Waco Farmer
Wow! Andrew Jackson could not have said it any plainer.

From the Editor's of the National Review:

We hereby challenge the [Wall Street] Journal’s editors to debate the immigration bill in a neutral venue with a moderator of their choosing — two or three of us versus any two or three of them. We propose to do it in Washington next week so it will have the maximum impact on the Senate’s consideration of the most sweeping immigration reform in decades (time and place to be worked out in a mutually satisfactory fashion).

Read the entire piece here.

My prediction: WSJ accepts the invitation to meet on a modern-day field of honor, and we will have a great debate.

I can't wait. God Bless America.

One other vitally important thought to keep in mind: for those of us who see the anti-immigration conservatives as fundamentally misguided, we should understand that they are our brothers and, on this issue especially, are acting and speaking from the depths of their heart-felt, core convictions and love for America.
Category: Immigration
Posted by: A Waco Farmer
Tocqueville and I disagree sharply on immigration. He has been sending highlights from the discussion on the web, which are noteworthy:

1. This powerful video.

Tocqueville says: The people in this video don't look like they are interested in compromise or consensus on the issue of amnesty for illegal immigrants:

Watch and hear the chilling images here.

2. From Fred Thompson:

"Most Americans know that we have an illegal immigration problem in this country, with perhaps as many as 20 million people residing here unlawfully. And I think most Americans have a pretty good idea about how to at least start solving the problem - secure our nation's borders.

"But there's an old saying in Washington that, in dealing with any tough issue, half the politicians hope that citizens don't understand it while the other half fear that people actually do. This kind of thinking was apparent with the "comprehensive" immigration reform bill that the U.S. Senate and the White House negotiated yesterday."

Read in full here.

3. Tocqueville says everyone should read this account of the legislation from Mark Steyn (read here).

Thanks Tocqueville.

UPDATE: Tocqueville continues to add resources to this list in the comments section. I invite you all to keep an eye on this link for the latest and most provocative commentaries (read here).
Category: Immigration
Posted by: A Waco Farmer
Where Are We Now?

1. Our system of regulating immigration (especially immigration from Mexico) is so dysfunctional as to be non-existent.

2. We have no idea how many illegal aliens we are currently hosting in our nation, but most credible estimates indicate somewhere around 12,000,000 undocumented persons.

3. If we do nothing, immigration will continue to exist as an unrestrained force of nature, disturbed only by market variables.

4. The hard-line stance of many conservatives (an impermeable fence, massive deportations, an army on the border capable of maintaining complete security, etc.) is not politically possible in the foreseeable future.


The Democrats control both houses of Congress. They are content to allow the current system to continue unmolested.

The Republicans are divided on the issue between nativists and market-oriented, Wall Street Journal type conservatives, who believe that a large segment of the undocumented (illegal) population are essential to our economy.

The rest of America is mostly divided, ambivalent or apathetic; there is no national consensus for action at this moment.

5. Doing nothing means the continuation of a regime all of us (conservatives) can agree is bordering on disastrous.

6. We cannot get everything we want. We cannot even decide on what it is exactly that we want.

For the record, here is what I want:

--secure borders (as much as that is possible)

--national ID cards

--tough penalties for employers who employ illegal workers

--some humane system for allowing workers from Mexico to work for American employers as the need arises

--some humane system for allowing a larger percentage of those workers to become American citizens, recognizing our special relationship with Mexico and other neighbors to the South

What to do?

Join the process with reasonable expectations and honest intentions. Let's get in the game and help solve the problem.

An aside: Senator John McCain has shown himself an intrepid statesman on immigration--but a deaf, dumb and blind politician. His principled stand makes his already challenged campaign to win the Republican nomination even tougher. Nevertheless, I admire his grit.
Category: Immigration
Posted by: A Waco Farmer
Last September (read original post here), I chastised Republicans for eschewing the opportunity to craft meaningful immigration legislation; instead, they chose to cast themselves as hardliners on immigration, portraying Democrats as soft-headed multiculturalists in favor of an open-border. The problem with that strategy, I said back then, was that it was a low-percentage gamble on an unpredictable future.

What if the 110th was the last Congress in which a GOP majority ruled both Houses with a Republican president holding forth at the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue? Eschewing a thorny compromise in favor of a short-term boost of political adrenaline risked that nothing got done on immigration, for a long time. Back then, as well as now, doing nothing meant de facto amnesty and affirming a status quo that almost all of us agree is unacceptable.

As I predicted, the vaunted immigration gambit as a defining and motivating difference between the parties turned out to be 100 percent impotent as a political strategy. Bad politics and bad policy.

Now the Democrats are in control of Congress, and we are getting a fairly weak immigration bill; nevertheless, as Senator Jon Kyl points out, a flawed bill is better than nothing).

So, looking back, the Republican House and the conservative grassroots declined the opportunity to create an imperfect but necessary law through a process that they controlled. Today, they wake up to find themselves on the outside looking in, befuddled and angry.
Category: Immigration
Posted by: A Waco Farmer
Does immigration threaten our security? Yes. But maybe not in the way you might imagine.

The Okie Gardener has written extensively on the nature of Islam and the threat it poses to the world and, specifically, to the United States. In the Gardener's post a few weeks ago, he reaffirmed his position in the context of Europe and Muslim immigrants:

"Old Europe has a major problem: the less-than-replacement-level birthrates of native Europeans means declining populations, and the destruction of the state welfare systems. The solution these nations have adopted is to allow large-scale immigration. But, these [Muslim] immigrants are, for the most part, not assimilated, and in many ways do not wish to be assimilated. European institutions and traditions are giving way."

In the comments section, Martian Mariner (responding to another poster) took that line of thinking to task:

"I think that Muslims "act up" the most precisely in those societies where there is a strong Islamophobic segment of society, such as France and the low countries. In others societies, where immigrant Muslims are able to integrate economically and socially into the greater culture, there aren't as many problems. The US is the prime example of this. All acts of terror committed by Muslims on American soil have come from non-US citizens, and American imams have been almost unanimous in their condemnation of such attacks."

The Mariner makes an important point and provides a convenient segue back to one of our most-pressing national crises, immigration, which we must approach with common sense and a realization that the crux of the issue is really acculturation.

In addition to some practical steps (i.e., securing the border, national IDs and treating employers who break the law as criminals), broadly speaking, what must we do to save ourselves?

1. Recognize that the number of immigrants (twelve million "illegals," mostly from south of our border) reflects a real economic need dictated by market forces.

2. Recognize that "illegal" is an arbitrary distinction. It is circular reasoning to argue that we are against "illegal" immigration because we are for "law and order." As we are a nation blessed with the ability to adjust laws as the need arises, we can solve the crisis of "illegal" immigration with the stroke of a pen. Out-dated immigration law should not force us into foolish policy. Rather, common sense should drive policy and lawmaking.

3. Recognize that there is no "American stock." Americans are not born high-achievers and engaged citizens. We are not bound by any one religion, skin color, ethnicity or tribal genealogy. American nationality revolves around one key principle: fidelity to America and Americanism. Volunteers, in fact, make the best Americans. Americans born into the franchise often fail to understand the value of the birthright.

Generally, those hearty souls, who swim rivers, crawl under barbed wire, brave deserts or traverse oceans, in order to be Americans, are much more zealous patriots than those of us raised within the fold.

Moreover, this generation of immigrants is not sub-par. They are not so different from the Pope-loving, beer-swilling, unwashed "shanty Irish," "Bohunks" and "Dagoes" of earlier times. Much like those despised immigrant groups of the past, today's immigrants are different from us culturally--but they are more like our pioneering forefathers who weathered elements and overcame danger to make life better for their families than we are. Pioneers are good for America. Quite frankly, we need them more than they need us (and they need us a lot).

4. Recognize that we need a consistent infusion of hard-working, God-fearing and family oriented people to maintain our frontier ethos. We should change our laws to find a way to welcome these twenty-first century would-be Americans.

5. Recognize that ACCULTURATION is the key to security. The market drives immigration. Integration and assimilation will happen naturally over time. Most importantly, and this will not happen without our specific attention and action, we need to acculturate these immigrants; that is, we must inculcate these groups with traditional American values.

In ordinary circumstances, this would not be a daunting task. Our immigrants are generally inclined to see the good in our system and our history. However, we are currently atop an educational complex run amok. Instead of imbuing students (immigrant and native-born alike) with a history that values "one Nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all," our system is busy poisoning these optimistic immigrants with an alternative narrative of exploitation, pessimism and victimization.

6. Recognize that promulgating a narrative that takes apart the single unifying principle of a nation is suicide.
Category: Immigration
Posted by: A Waco Farmer
Approximately a month ago, I asserted that the leadership of the Democratic party faced a choice in re the minimum wage (see this previous post for review): they could accept a "deal" in which they gave something away (permanent reduction of the "estate tax") and received in return: a 40 percent pay raise for minimum-wage workers over three years. Or they could reject the compromise and, perhaps more significantly, keep minimum wage alive as an issue for the upcoming midterm election. They chose the latter. The tragedy, of course, is that the people, for whom they "care so much," are left out in the cold. Instead of immediate relief, the action of the party is meant to force the "poorest among us" to hope for complete Democratic domination of Congress and the Executive. That may be a powerful weapon to get out the vote--but it is also a cruel calculation, which subordinates policy and humanity to electioneering. Because of this self-interested decision, we may be years away from another opportunity to raise the minimum wage.

The Republicans have a similar dilemma on immigration. They have left themselves an extremely brief window to craft an imperfect solution to a very complicated problem (and most likely face a damaging firestorm on their rightwing). Or they can bury the immigration legislation, run as hardliners on immigration in volatile districts (portraying Democrats as soft-headed multiculturalists, who advocate an open-border policy). The problem with that strategy, as in the case of the Democrats and the minimum wage, is that no one can predict what the future holds. This may be the last Congress in which a GOP majority rules both Houses and a Republican president resides at the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue. Eschewing a thorny compromise in favor of short-term boost of political adrenaline may mean that nothing gets done on immigration, for a long time. For all of those who worry about amnesty, no policy means de facto amnesty. For all of those who think there is a problem, doing nothing insures that the problem will not be addressed in the foreseeable future.

Both of these decisions may make for good politics (although I am not convinced that is true; we'll see), but that kind of election-driven legislative strategy makes for horrible policy.

I don't always agree with Dick Morris, but he has it right in his column today: "Neither Side Deserves to be Reelected."
Category: Immigration
Posted by: A Waco Farmer
I appeared on local TV Tuesday morning to discuss the President’s speech on immigration. I was not especially enlightening, but I did correctly predict that the President’s message would not help him with his conservative base.

Although numerous commentators have taken the President to task for his “comprehensive” approach, asserting that comprehensive is a code word for doing nothing, I offer my kudos to the President for his five-pronged plan. And I agree with his assertion that a wall and mass deportations will not solve the problem.

» Read More

Category: Immigration
Posted by: A Waco Farmer
President Bush has repeatedly cautioned us that immigration is a very emotional issue; it speaks to our core values and national identity. He is right to remind us that we are at our best as a self-governing people when we engage in a “civil and dignified” debate, eschewing “scare tactics” and not looking to make partisan points out of serious problems.

The immigration issue cuts across party lines (or, more accurately, divides the parties internally). Democrats are beholden to labor interests who rightly warn that immigration from Mexico drives down wages, but party leaders are also sensitive to Latinos as an enormous and potentially crucial constituency.

Republicans are also divided. The opposition coalition consists of traditional, nativistic, law and order conservatives--wary of the power of Mexican immigrants to change American culture--and post-911 security-minded conservatives, who worry that porous borders invite terrorism. The proponents of a "compromise" bill are generally free-market conservatives, who see immigrants as a necessary and positive component of the labor force, as well as an enormous potential constituency.

Cultural Identity.
However, the issue that is actually driving the debate, but rarely sees the light of day (outside of the conservative blogosphere), is cultural identity. Shall we be a multi-ethnic, multicultural society celebrating diversity and embracing sustained difference? Or shall we advocate assimilation and a unifying culture and be the “Great American Melting Pot”? Aren't we a nation of immigrants? Yes, we are a “nation of nations,” but can we survive as a nation of multiple sovereign and independent nationalities? This is the key question that places this particular debate squarely in the realm of the Culture Wars? Again, who are we going to be as a people?

For this reason, many Americans felt revulsion when they watched immigrants and citizens marching through the streets of Los Angeles carrying Mexican flags, which Michelle Malkin brilliantly dubbed the “reconquista.” Enter now the "Nuestro Himno," a Latino National Anthem in Spanish. The problem with a Latino National Anthem, of course, is Latino nationalism. Citizens of Mexican descent are good Americans (and good Marines). Immigrants from Mexico and other nations south of the border can be great Americans, just like immigrants from Germany and Ireland and Poland and Czechoslovakia made great Americans, but it takes effort and finesse.

Many of the people subsumed in this movement have a lot to offer us, and we should listen to them with respect and patience. Having said that, this movement must be sensitive to the troubling perception of Latino nationalism. President Bush was exactly right in his comments Friday. Citizens of the United States ought to speak English, sing the national anthem in English and salute the American flag. Mexican flags, Latino National Anthems and May Day protests are not helpful.

Please stay tuned for a post on why Mexican immigration is a unique problem along with a solution-oriented (or compromise-oriented) analysis.