Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Not Even a Single

President Bush didn’t quite strike out with his speech last night, it seems to me. What he did was, arguably, worse. He tried to bunt--but it got caught. See, if you haven’t already heard, Hugh Hewitt’s interview with I.C.E. Asst. Secretary, Julie Myers. It’s titled "How to undo the impact of a Presidential address in one easy lesson" by Radioblogger, but I’m not sure there was much impact to undo. There is a basic problem of trust in politics. When you haven’t got it there isn’t much you can say to earn it. You certainly cannot go around saying things that attempt to appeal across the wide spectrum of opinion that the President tried to attract last night. When no one believes you to begin with, you look even more vacuous and pathetic.

Let me try to be more clear: I do not doubt that the President is sincere in his wish to deal with a problem that is--largely--inherited and certainly messy. But his thought on the matter continues to display--to my way of thinking--a kind of soft-headed compassion that just is not useful. If you cannot wrap your mind around the importance of the fence and securing the southern border, period, whatever it takes--and continue to muddy the waters with perepheral questions of "guest workers" etc., there is something huge missing from your sense of priority. If it were me, I would simply drop all talk of what to do about the illegals who are here--for now. Fix this problem and then pick that up again when it is reasonable to discuss it.

By way of segue to the question of what to do about illegals who are here--he needs to begin talking in a serious way about what it means to be a citizen of this country. What are our rights and what obligations do we have if we mean to protect them? What ought we to expect from our fellow Americans? How ought we to think about questions of patriotism and love of country? We cannot begin to address the problem of assimilating some 12 million or more immigrants--legal or otherwise--unless and until we seal the border and understand what citizenship in America means.

Discussions - 41 Comments

Julie, I think you are much too hard on the President here. Moreover if the Pres. has no credibility, it means he cannot address the question at all, from any point of view.

It makes more sense to understand it as an attempt to lay down the parameters of a comprehensive policy reform of a very difficult issue. There cannot be a one-sided "victory" here -- the middle ground has to be the prudent basis for any solution that has a chance of passage.

However: your last paragraph is exactly right. I think a more positive way of looking at the President’s speech would be as the beginning point for that national discussion of the questions you raise. I would add that few Americans, native or legal immigrants, understand those questions regarding the nature of US citizenship any better than the illegals...perhaps even less since few of us have had any reason even to think about them.

The key question, as VD Hanson stresses in "Mexifornia," is how to educate immigrants in American principles and indeed into any solid course of learning. The greatest barrier right now to absorbing immigrants is "multiculturalism" which parades as ethnic studies but in fact teaches hatred of the country these people risked their lives and jail to enter illegally. That seems to me to present an opportunity we conservatives must grasp. It is clearly related to the hope of attaining citizenship somehow. Something like this is what I think President Bush envisions. Those of us who take our bearings by Lincoln (esp. the 7/10/58 Chicago speech) and the Founders need to elaborate and develop that dimension of his proposal rather than simply attack him for soft-headed compassion.

Dennis, last night my every hope turned on finding some straw to grasp that would prevent the kind of reaction I had to the President’s speech. I do not like kicking the man--a man for whom I have enormous respect--particularly when I know he means well and when I know he’s down. On the other hand, I do not see any serious attempt to address assimilation as it should be understood by Bush. Talk of "learning English" etc. is not really on point. I’m all for learning English, but more as a practical matter. As you pointed out, even native born Americans often don’t get citizenship. English didn’t help them--and it is naive to assume that we can teach Mexican immigrants to speak English and send them off on their merry way to citizenship. Worse, all this talk of English only tends to play into the hands of the nativists on our side and the fringe on the other side waiting to condemn us as racists. This is, again, a perepheral issue. We need to focus the mind on what it means to be an American and what that requires of us. We can’t do that when the borders are wide open, we’re distracted by questions of national security, and the wackos of the left and the right are all riled up over perepheral issues.

Bush’s problem last night was that he was not focused and he did not come at the thing from a position of strength. He acted like he had something to lose--he doesn’t. As Mark Steyn argued yesterday, his popularity is somewhere between the Janjaweed and the Eubola virus! He could have made real gains and done some real good for the country last night. He didn’t. Nothing has changed as a result of his effort except that he gave legitimacy to the issue with no guidance. It will continue to be tossed about between the extremes now without any moderation. His moderation doomed this issue to the fringes.

I have an idea--let’s send all the immigrants to Patrick Henry College! That’ll teach them to be real Americans.

Julie - something that you and I agree on. I too think citizenship deserves more attention. I cringe when I hear a teenager say that Government or History class is boring or say "when will I ever need this"... It is so important to be an informed participant in our society, to understand civic duty, and to be active in one’s community.

I hear far too many people complain about a local City ordinance or Township or School Board decision, yet they cannot name their City Council members or Township Trustees or School Board Members. Some do not even vote.

Julie...I agree with you completely. I think I’m done with Bush (and, unless things change) perhaps even with the GOP. They keep putting business interests and their own ahead of the country’s interests (in that regard, I see less and less difference between them and the Democrats).

I’ve always been ambivalent about the Bush family, but now I hope I never see another one in national office. Whatever their strong points on national defense, the Bushes are utterly tone-deaf when in comes other priorities.

My question, for what it’s worth:

Why can’t we drain the swamp?

As in:

Create an easy to access data base for employability verification.

Change the tax code so that only wages paid to persons legally in the U.S. are deductible on tax returns.

Add provisions which punish the party signing the tax return if they claim unqualified wages as deductions.

Undertake an audit & cross-check program so we start going after those who employ illegals & seek to deduct what they pay them as business expenses.

If wages to illegals cannot be deducted their employment no longer gives the employer an economic advantage.

If employers who attempt to deduct those wages anyway are caught, drawn & quartered, the message will soon get out that it’s a very bad idea.

And they’ll soon stop doing it - at least, they’ll stop in numbers that are noticeable.

BD:

There is no need to enact new tax legislation to do what you want to do. Employers that do what you are speaking of are committing tax fraud. It is clear they could not get a 162(a) deduction because it violates the clearly established public policy against hiring illegals, and is therefore not "necessary" (See Tank Truck. Furthermore, employers are required to withhold income taxes and social security and medicare/medicaid taxes on all employees. Employers of illegals are not doing that either. Another instance of tax fraud. The tax code already has civil and criminal penalties for those that engage in tax fraud.

Finally, the Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA) makes it illegal for employers to hire illegals without doing a good faith inspection of social security cards, driver’s ids, etc. IRCA imposes penalties of $1,000 to $3,000 per illegal hired in violation of IRCA.

Immigration used to notify employers when they hired suspicious employees (this opened them up to liability per IRCA if they did not take action). Employers complained to Bush II and the administration told the agency to stop tell employers they were violating the law. There are plenty of laws that could be used to stem illegal employment already on the books (although IRCA’s penalties are smaller than I would like). There is just not a will to enforce them, which is shameful.

It should be noted that IRCA was enacted in 1986, the last time Congress dealt with the problem of illegal immigration. IRCA was part of the "deal" that was struck in granting amensty to the illegals back then. The bargain has not held up.

One final point: employers often foolishly believe that if they hire illegal workers as "independent contractors" that they will not be liable for violation of tax laws and IRCA. As plenty of cases have made clear though, just because you call someone an independent contractor does not mean they are. Employers also use temp agencies so temp agencies bear the liability. Employers use temp agencies as laundrying organizations (like the mob with money laundrying). Government attorneys should go after both, employers should not be able to hide behind temp agencies to avoid liability.

As I see it, here are where the 2 extremes stand:

On the right: Secure the borders and deport all illegal aliens;

On the left: Open the borders and give amnesty to all.

Here’s where I stand:

Secure the border and deport only the felons? Fine;

Secure the border and do the guest worker thingy? O.K.;

Secure the border and give a path to citizenship? Whatever;

Secure the border and give amnesty? Do what you’ve gotta do.

Secure the border and prosecute employers of illegal aliens? Uh huh, sure.

Bahb wahr? National Guard? drones? fences? walls? trenches? moats with allegators? I don’t care how, just do it!

Bahb wahr? National Guard? drones? fences? walls? trenches? moats with allegators? I don’t care how, just do it!


Eeeek, can you imagine what that would cost?


There is an easy, way to deal with this. Convince Mexico, or even better the entire world, to enact labour legislation that approaches 60 to 80% of the american norm. Shouldn’t be that hard given US control of international economic institutions.


Mexico because of proximity might even do better in terms of outsourced jobs than now!! A decade of that would have the positive effect of damping down the urge to move from mexico to the US, as well as keeping more US jobs at home.


Globalisation is a force for good, if it raises living standards in the majority world, without reducing them in the minority world. Otherwise ... it’s not so good. It’s in US self interest to improve the lot of labour globally, because it stems the flood of jobs out of the US economy, while allowing those jobs that do move to provide a living wage.

Re: Comment 9 by Brian Coughlan:

Jesus (pronounced heyzoose)! Agreed! It’s all Vicente’s fault. If he made the lure of pursuit of the almighty peso irresistable to Jankee investors so that businesses and employment opportunities sprang up down there faster than coyotes could run them up here, there’d be no reason for them to leave their families behind and suffer the wrath of us U.S. In fact, I heard on the radio today that the "conservative" candidate for Presidente of Mexico has proposed programs to achieve those aims and that the "liberal" candidate has seen the conservative’s poll numbers shoot up and has jumped on the band wagon.

Globalisation is a force for good

I’m all for globalization. As long as it’s done our way and our Republican capitalist way alone.

It’s all Vicente’s fault


I must confess a significant degree of ignorance about him.


The problem lies though more with us than them. The US and EU are willing to export jobs to low wage nations, and that is all fine, up to a certain point.


If we are to have any hope of raising, and eventually homogenising global living standards, this is inevitable, and largely welcome.


If we are talking about a living wage, and the whole process doesn’t tip, where instead of exporting wealth, we simply import poverty.


We need to keep a very close eye on our politicians, because those most able to influence them (massive corporations with the GDP of small countries), are the ones with a short term interest in the replacement of global wages, with slave wages.


It’s the "invisible hand", only working in a malignant,retrograde way.

I just lost a lot of respect for this blog by this article. The lack of memory or intelligence of some of you is appalling.

There is a basic problem of trust in politics. When you haven’t got it there isn’t much you can say to earn it. You certainly cannot go around saying things that attempt to appeal across the wide spectrum of opinion that the President tried to attract last night. When no one believes you to begin with, you look even more vacuous and pathetic.

He used this as part of his campaign in 2000 and 2004 so why do you now not trust him. HE DID WHAT HE SAID.

It should be noted that IRCA was enacted in 1986, the last time Congress dealt with the problem of illegal immigration. IRCA was part of the "deal" that was struck in granting amensty to the illegals back then. The bargain has not held up.

That actually caused more illegal immigration. JUST LOOK AT THE STATISTICS AND NUMBERS!!!!!!!!! It was part of the problem as guest workers were still allowed on a de facto standard until then.

I have been writing about the idea of equality this week and hit this. I think it might become a very sticky thing:


Amendment XIV Section 1 in the Constitution says:
All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.


It is in the wording of those last two clauses that we are liable to find problems with deportations of illegals already here. How much protection does this bit of the Constitution offer "persons"? If a "person" has these protections so enumerated, especially equal protection of the law, what is the difference between being a person in and a citizen of, the US?


Which makes Julie’s point about sealing the borders first and dealing with the rest after a very good point and LONG past due.

The effect of Bush’s speech is to endorse the 641-page Hagel-Martinez Senate Bill, which I am confident none of the Senators has read through.
Based on the Heritage Foundation’s analysis, this Bill will allow migration of up to 190 million into the US over the next 20 years. Since the washed and the educated are given zero priority over the ignorant and the wretched, if Hagel-Martinez passes(it will)and prevails in conference committee, this is the suicide knell of the good ol’ USA.
We’re trying to help the Iraqis and simultaneously doing this to ourselves? THIS IS CRAZY.

One more thing: Brian,

There is an easy, way to deal with this. Convince Mexico, or even better the entire world, to enact labour legislation that approaches 60 to 80% of the american norm. Shouldn’t be that hard given US control of international economic institutions.

How do we force that, exactly? And if their economies are having trouble sustaining employment already, how will this help the stituation, giving employers even more hurdels to leap? One of the only competitive advantages those economies have is lower standards for employment. Remove that and there is only the low wage advantage, which reflects poor education and living standards in those nations.

Which leads to another issue, that people come here not just for jobs but for the higher standard of living the US offers. How do we level that?

Kate:

The Supreme Court defers to Congress’ exercise of its immigration powers given to it by the Constitution. I am pretty sure that anytime a 14th amendment problem has come up in the context of immigration the Court has held that the 14th amendment does not limit the exercise of that power.

The immigration case concerning the 14th amendment that comes to my mind is this one, though I forget its name. An American citizen who was a male had a child with a noncitizen female in a foreign country. The child tried to immigrate into the US, but was not allowed because the law or regulations treated children born of citizen males less favorably than those born of citizen females. The child raised a 14th amendment sex discrimination claim. The Court held that Congress could pretty do what it wanted in exercising its immigration powers.

Immigrants would probably have to have a hearing before being deported though in order to comply with due process requirements, though I am uncertain of this.

this Bill will allow migration of up to 190 million into the US over the next 20

There aren’t even 190 million people living in Mexico or even central America for that matter. Is there? I can’t believe once again that you don’t see the absurdity in that statement.

Steve,
It seems a funny question, but do we have enough, well, nationalists for lack of a better word, on the Court to sustain that tradition? What I am worried about is the liberal bent of that court. Are we probably covered given the last two appointments?


Immigrants would probably have to have a hearing before being deported though in order to comply with due process requirements is another worry in terms of expense. Also, given the liberal bent of some on the bench in lower courts, how evenly will the law be applied in those cases? I will tell my son doing the pre-law thing that he should study immigration law as it will keep him busy for years to come.

One more thing: How do we force that, exactly? And if their economies are having trouble sustaining employment already, how will this help the stituation, giving employers even more hurdels to leap?


Now see, there is your problem right there, that unhappy word force. Convincing, massaging and making the case is what we are after, not forcing.


As long as the wages are lower, multinationals will still outsource, but they will keep more, and better jobs in the "core" countries for want of a better term.


The key thing is that the jobs that are outsourced deliver a living wage, the money of course has to come from somewhere, and it is likely to come from companies. Assuming they want to continue to grow their markets, they will be left with little choice.


It’s inevitable, that if left to pure market forces, the cost of labour in a completely networked world will be driven down very low indeed. I already work from home, and have done so for 4 years. How long before some Indian can do what I do for 50% of the cost? Not long, in fact odds are some of them are doing it already.


The problem with some outsourcing is that it beggars the "core" while doing little to improve the lot of those on the outside. That kind of outsourcing could be devastating for practically anyone who isn’t independently wealthy, certainly in the long term, and I hope our political overlords wake up to that particular danger in time.

Dain--You may agree with me in my analysis of the speech, but I certainly don’t agree with you and the conclusions you draw from it. What you are exhibiting here is pure petulance and it is even less useful than this "compassionate conservative" stuff. It is the kind of thing that will doom our side to failure in ’08 and beyond. If you really think it doesn’t matter that the Dems could take the majority in the Senate and then take the Presidency (with Hillary!) then I know not what to say. I’ll take even pathetic Republicans every time over Dems. But Bush is still very far from pathetic overall. He is wrong on this one--but he means business on the war. The Democrats will get us killed, or worse--and that kinda matters to me.

Brian, the people leaving Mexico aren’t running away from jobs with American and European firms--the immigrants are the ones that haven’t been lucky enough to get those jobs. Although none of us would want to try to live on what Mexicans who work for those firms are paid, the wages are quite reasonable given the circumstances (otherwise who would work for them?). If what you propose actually were to become law, you would see a dramatic reduction of jobs in Mexico. This would increase the flood of immigrants, not decrease it.

Julie, I’ve mostly taken the same attitude, but immigration really is the whole enchilada...excuse the pun. Demography is destiny...really. We simply can’t afford RINO nonsense on this issue. At some point the base is forced to discipline its politicians...if we never did such things we would have Hariet Miers on the Supreme Court today.

I can take backsliding and pandering on economics, the environment, even the war...but not on immigration. It is the single most important cultural topic of our day, and the nonsense simply must end. If we have to tear down the GOP edifice to gain their attention,so be it. It is that important.

Brian’s comment 9 on "what that would cost?" The Minutemen already have plans to build a heavy duty fence costing $150/foot (easily affordable by the US government). Here’s a link. They’re already building on private property.

We just got the fence today Dain. What do you think you would have gotten from Pres. Hillary and Speaker of the House Pelosi and Majority Leader Reid? Honestly, I don’t know if I get more angry talking with conservatives like you who revel in their "purity" or with liberals who, insisting on their own form of purity advance all the ideas we must fight. But you go ahead with that line of argument and see where it gets you, Dain. You and your three friends will be able to console yourselves with the knowledge that you did not compromise as the country falls apart.

Feel free to browbeat me all you like. I will compromise on a number of issues, but not on this one. The will of the people has been ignored for decades, and it will continue to be ignored so long as the "leadership" scares people like you into supporting cultural suicide.

And I might add that sometimes it has to get worse before it gets better. Electing Ronald Reagan required a Carter. Taking the House required HillaryCare. And electing George Bush required Slick Willie and his antics. It often takes really stark actions to make sea changes in the polity. Voting for an ever more watered down political philosophy out of fear just makes you a slave over time (kind of like black folks and their relationship to the Democrat party).

sometimes it has to get worse before it gets better. Electing Ronald Reagan required a Carter. Taking the House required HillaryCare. And electing George Bush required Slick Willie and his antics. Comment 26 by Dain

What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger.

Problem is, if we don’t compromise, the dems are going to take over and give 12 million amnestias, allow mamas, papas, aunts and uncles, brothers and sisters, cousins, nieces and nephews all to come over on one condition: They’ll have to register and vote democrat. And don’t think they won’t.

There won’t be a Ronald Reagan or a GWB to follow a democrat president because he/she will be voted down by the nuevo democrat party.

Dain, if we can’t convince you to hold your nose and vote for the least bad (Republican) candidate, maybe we can convince others who tend to agree with you but haven’t closed their minds just yet.

On the other hand, Dain, if this is a poker game between conservatives and rinos, if you’re saying to rinos "we may be bluffing, we may not be." If you’re trying to force rinos to make concessions to conservatives, it’s working and keep it up.

What is the GOP excuse for not acting? If you look at the polls, it is clear that restricting immigration is a political winner. What the GOP is doing is living up to its reputation...pandering to the business base and screwing the rest of the country. I suppose it is also (vainly) pandering to Hispanics...no better in my view.

Taking positions like Bush’s on immigration is inherently dangerous. People will begin to suspect that Democrat rhetoric about "the rich man’s party" is really true. When you combine it with Libertarian "free trade" at all costs...this is an electoral loser in the long term.

Maybe the GOP is "the stupid party." Breaking faith with millions of middle class voters so that WalMart can hire illegals is STOOPID. Bluffing? Don’t bet on it...it’s hardball time.

It was so nice when you were gone. At least then we didn’t have to listen to your bigoted garbage about demography and destiny and culture and slavery. How does helping poor people prove that Bush is owned by the rich? You logic skills are just as backward as your ideas.

Then there’s this

"The real debate isn’t about what to do with the illegal aliens who are already here," Rasmussen said. "It’s about what to do to keep more from coming here."

It seems we’re getting enforcement first, or at least simultaneously.

Dan, you’re a name-calling punk, and you couldn’t find your ass with both hands in broad daylight. And, by the way, words like ’bigot’ are generally used by liberals (and increasingly, neo-cons) in the attempt to shame people into betraying their own best interests (and the interests of the country). Drop dead, creepface.

Drop dead, creepface

A little childish for a college professor. don’t you think so Dain.

Sorry Dain but not everyone hates immigrants as much as you do. Funny though how we are a nation that has had SEVERAL MASS MIGRATIONS before the the country propsered during those times. The gloom and doom stories cooked up against the Irish and Italians turned out not to be true. Your arguement is the same bunch of racial-phobic crap recycled for the 21st century.

Some of my friends say that the President has done the wrong thing on immigration. They say that illegal immigrants keep down minimum wages and contribute to crime. They also claim building a fence would help solve the problem.

How can they be so wrong? Why does no one understand that the President hasn’t been wrong yet on any issue. He deserves more credit. In fact, I think he is anointed by God. He is like a Lincoln, only so much better. Just like the issue of slavery, the President is willing to compromise on an issue that has torn this country apart. Never mind the fact that by compromising on slavery America was destined to only prolong the ideological conflict and fight a brutal civil war. I love George W. Bush and pray every night for God to continue to send messages directly to him. You should all pray too. Don’t forget to pray for all your friends who don’t believe that Bush is correct on every issue,too.

Lincoln Hawk,
I dislike any immigrant who enters our country illegally, be they Canadian, Mexican, or Irish. By allowing this activity to occur, Americans show their disrespect for the rule of law, which is a fundamental cornerstone of our society. Unfortunately, both political parties don’t seem to care about the problem because they risk losing votes.

Unlike the Irish and Italians, however, many Mexicans are illegally immigrating to land that once belonged to Mexico. I think this makes it dangerous because a small (or maybe more?) section of these immigrants truly believe they are helping to reclaim Mexico’s lost land. They have no desire to assimilate, learn the language, or even support the constitution. Rather they wish to reconquer, albeit without military means, lost land.

Well Lincoln Hawk...a college professor? Ewwwwww. What an insult! Why don’t you e-mail me (just click) and tell me who you think I am (and, for my entertainment), what leads you to that conclusion?

I dislike any immigrant who enters our country illegally, be they Canadian, Mexican, or Irish.


Hey!!!! Leave the Irish out of it, we’re the good guys!


Besides it is’nt emigration you (and I) need to worry about, it’s the networked world bringing a vast pool of slave labour into the global work force.


A couple of million physical illegal immigrants is peanuts compared to several billion virtually projected legal job seekers.


Thats where I get all right wing and scarified.

He is wrong on this one Comment 21 by Julie Ponzi

I don’t think so. I heard him mention enforcement first in his speech. There was a reason he mentioned enforcement first. Then there’s the Rasmussen poll, mentioned in post 31 above that says 60% of the people polled say they want enforcement first. Now, there’s this.

What the GOP is doing is living up to its reputation Comment 29 by Dain

Perhaps we could all learn from the GOP of Pennsylvania. From Captain’s Quarters Even The Gray Lady Gets The Message In PA:

A revolt among Pennsylvania conservatives gained national attention on Wednesday after challengers toppled at least 12 state lawmakers they deemed insufficiently committed to small government and fiscal restraint.

Among those losing their positions in a Republican primary....

The place to cut the dead wood is at the primary, not the general election.

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