Since everyone else is weighing in on the issue of DACA, I figure I might as well, too.
First, although I am opposed to illegal immigration in general, I think this particular class (children raised in the US, although not born here or granted legal immigration status) merits special consideration. For the most part, these are people who didn’t choose to come to the United States. That decision was made for them while they were minors. When we’re talking about DACA, we’re talking about people who have been raised here and are American in every sense of the word – except legally. Moreover, there are at least 800,000 of them. There could be as many as 1.7 million.
Some have become high achievers in their chosen fields, some have served in the military with distinction, others are just ordinary folk, trying to find their way in this world. Yes, some are bad apples – as you can find in every demographic group. But it is a small minority, and they can be dealt with as any nation deals with crappy immigrants.
All that being said, I applaud President Trump’s decision to terminate the existing DACA program, and for one reason: our Constitution says immigration decisions are the responsibility of Congress, not the Executive. Before President Obama created the DACA program, he acknowledged (often) that any such executive action was unconstitutional. When he issued that executive order in June 2012, it was not his intention to make it a permanent fixture. The EO included a sunset period, since renewed twice. Obama had dual intentions; first, he wanted to try to force Congress to tackle immigration reform. Secondly (and cravenly), was his intent to shore up his support in the Latino community prior to the 2012 election. He failed on the first count, but succeeded on the second.
President Trump is, in large measure, copying the Obama administration’s playbook. By announcing that he is ending the program, but delaying enforcement for six months, he is attempting to force Congress to act and giving them a window of opportunity. At the same time, he is trying to reinforce his standing among his base by at least appearing tough on immigration.
So, are Trump’s chances of getting Congress to act any better than Obama’s were? First, there is the House leadership, which so far has demonstrated that it is extremely consistent in running from their own shadows. If they can be forced to address the issue, the chances of something happening are pretty good.
In fact, something could conceivably pass this week. Rep. Mike Coffman (R-CO) has had HR 496 pending for nearly 8 months, and it specifically addresses the DACA situation. Had the leadership scheduled it for a vote in the Spring or Summer, this issue would already be behind us. But, again, leadership is afraid of doing anything that might possibly bring about a challenge from the right, even if they personally support it. (Where I come from, we call that cowardice – but whatever). However, Coffman has about had it with the cowards in his party and is filing a discharge petition to force a floor vote. He might just get it, too. As of this writing, he was only 3 votes shy of forcing Speaker Paul Ryan’s hand.
That would be half of the equation, because as we all learned on Schoolhouse Rock, a bill has to pass both houses of Congress before it can be sent to the President’s desk. There is a companion bill pending in the Senate, S128. Unfortunately, the Senate leadership is as afraid of their shadows as their House counterparts (see: Obamacare repeal). So how could the bill make it’s way to the floor if Mitch McConnell decides to go into a corner and cower? Believe it or not, this is where the filibuster can be useful. Any senator who supports passage can tie the Senate in knots until S128 is voted on. This is the perfect time to engage in such tactics, too. In case you’ve missed it, virtually every fiscal matter facing the country needs to be addressed over the next 3 1/2 weeks. Even losing a day to a filibuster would seriously crimp on Mitch’s ability to get out and fundraise.
So yes, there is a better than 50/50 chance something finally gets done. In fact, if Congress wanted put the President on the spot, they could pass the BRIDGE Act, as is, ignoring the White House’s request to include border wall funding. But again, I doubt that happens. Congressional leadership is too cowardly to even consider it..
Bor•der [bawr-der] (n): The part or edge of a surface or area that forms its outer boundary; the line that separates one country, province, state, etc. from another, the frontier of civilization (courtesy Random House Dictionary).
It’s funny how “border,” a seemingly simple word with a clear definition, can rile up so many people. This isn’t one of George Carlin’s Seven Dirty Words either, although the reaction it generates in certain quarters would make you think it was. Sometimes, when I’m bored and need some entertainment, I’ll seek one of that crowd out and ask them why they refuse to recognize our national borders. The apoplectic rage with which the question is met, the incoherence of the replies and the visceral hatred exposed by the body language is almost humorous.
Mind you, I can understand why some groups find borders detestable. I can see why an illegal alien would rather chain himself to a bus rather than cross back over the border. The Catholic Church has never believed in national sovereignty. International businesses dislike tariffs almost as much as payroll taxes and unions are desperately in need of new members. Liberals hate anything that might actually be good for the country. Barack Obama needs a new distraction; after all, both Obamacare and the national economy remain unmitigated disasters.
But what perplexes me is the seeming disinterest the general public has regarding borders. I’m talking about the 70% or so of people who don’t generally pay attention to politics. If there was one issue that they should be interested in 100% of the time, you would think borders – and their security – would be it. After all, everyone is extremely interested in protecting their personal borders, right? We lock the doors to our houses, apartments and cars, we build fences and hedges around our property. Those of us who commute by mass transit quickly learn the unwritten rules regarding personal space and what happens when somebody crosses that border. We alarm our property, install security gates around communities and staff them with armed guards. We install expensive camera systems so we can watch for others crossing the borders around our property. As a society, we even have legal penalties for those who penetrate our personal borders, ranging from trespassing to breaking and entering. In most communities, if the legal resident kills a person who crossed their border, they are applauded as courageous.
Yet if anyone suggests those same measures be used to secure the national borders, they are met with scorn and ridicule. We’re told we should just accept illegal immigrants as new residents – even though if somebody just simply camped out in your front yard, you would do everything possible to get them off the lawn. We’re told the border can’t possibly be secured, although I bet ADT is just salivating at the chance to try it. We’re told posting armed guards along the border with shoot-to-kill orders is impractical, yet we use thousands of American troops to enforce that same standard along the North-South Korean border.
As a nation, we already spend over $34 billion to secure our personal borders. To secure the national borders in a similar fashion, the Congress has already approved $46 billion. But for some reason, most of the country remains blase when it comes border security. So, I have a solution. Make it illegal to provide any greater security for your person and property, than is in effect along the border.
After the general public gets tired of hosting a few dozen people for dinner every night, I suspect attitudes might change.
ONLY IN THE CONGRESS would as daft a piece of legislation as S.770 be called immigration reform.
This is not to say that our current immigration system isn’t in dire need of reform. Anyone who knows anyone who has tried to legally enter the country is well aware that our current system tends to be discriminatory and slow. It is full of arbitrary limits with neither rhyme nor reason. Capricious rulings from faceless bureaucrats rule the day.
Unrelated to the immigration system is the issue of border security. Everyone seems to recognize that our borders are as porous as cheesecloth. The Mexican border, in particular, has become a dangerous and unruly place. Mexican drug cartels have more control over the expanse of desert than our government, with numerous deaths to both US and Mexican citizens resulting from the insecurity. In the meantime, millions of Mexican citizens routinely cross over to the US without permission. Some return. Most do not.
These are not new problems. In 1986, we had our first go-round with “comprehensive immigration reform.” We granted immunity from prosecution or deportation to some 3 million illegal immigrants and we changed the criteria for obtaining visas, green cards and eventual citizenship for future immigrants. Included in the “comprehensive” solution was supposedly upgraded border security. I supported that effort, partly because I couldn’t see anyway to round up and deport 3 million people, partly because the border would be secured and partly because the path to legal immigration was made simpler for future immigrants. I felt it better to have those illegals legalized and paying taxes than using government services from governments they had no real stake in.
Yet, here we are some 27 years later and the same problems that existed before the 1986 legislation not only still exist, but are worse than before. We now have somewhere around 11 million illegal immigrants living in the US, the border is hardly secure, and the path for legal immigration is more cumbersome and frustrating than ever. The legislative response this time? A repeat of the 1986 legislative failure. For the life of me, I can’t see how anyone with more than three working brain cells can think this is appropriate.
And since the colloquial definition of insanity is doing the same thing over again and expecting a different result, I can’t see how anyone could look at the current legislation and not come away convinced that our Senators are insane.
As I mentioned at the top, I still believe our immigration system is in need of a serious overhaul. Not just a reform of the current immigration laws, but an all-out overhaul. If the Congress wants to strip down the current system and start from scratch, I’m fine with that. Heck, I would be really, really happy if they did that.
We also need border security. It should be a top priority and it shouldn’t be something that takes Congressional action to accomplish. After all, the Executive branch is responsible for maintaining border security. Yesterday, Sen. Lindsey Graham (a man quickly approaching Sen. John McCain for the “Most Senile Senator” award) told Chris Wallace that the border is “virtually militarized.” Well, that approach obviously isn’t working. I’m certain if the administration actually did militarize the border, there would be howls from the left. But I’m also certain that an infantry division patrolling the Rio Grande and another patrolling the Desert Southwest would be far more effective in maintaining border security than anything else we’ve tried thus far.
And we need to decide what to do with the 11 million people here without visas. I don’t think we’re any more capable of rounding up 11 million criminals today than we were capable of rounding up 3 million criminals 27 years ago. I don’t think they should be allowed to stay, either. I do think there is a very simple and cost effective way to have them return to their country of origin, though: deny them the means to live here. Make it impossible for them to work. Deny them the ability to rent a house or apartment. Deny them government services of any type. Give local governments the ability to turn over those here illegally to federal officials, and make it mandatory that anyone here illegally be immediately sent back home. Not all will “self-deport,” but more than the vast majority will. Human nature is human nature – once deprived of the means to support themselves or their families, they’ll move on to greener pastures.
What is certain that a repeat of the 1986 “comprehensive reform” package will get us, well, a repeat of 1986. Which means in 2040 another bunch of Senators will be discussing what to do about the fact there are more Mexican citizens residing in the US than than in Mexico, why the borders have become deadlier than ever and why the US cannot find (and keep) highly qualified people to emigrate here.
On Friday, President Obama shocked most of the country with his latest Executive Order. You know, the one that lit up the blogoshpere – his unilateral decision to stop deporting illegal immigrants who are attending school or served in the military. I figured as long as everyone else was chiming in on the topic, I might as well, too.
Let me begin by admitting that my thoughts on the illegal immigration issue run counter to most people on my side of the political fence. I think it is impractical and probably impossible to deport every single person who migrated to the US outside of the approved immigration policy. Did they break a book full of laws by settling here in that fashion? Sure, and for that I cannot see how any form of reward is proper. I certainly think that anyone who emigrated to the US (legally or otherwise) who engages in unlawful activity should be deported. I’m all for strengthening our border security, up to and including deploying the Army and Air Force with orders to shoot first.
What we do with those who are already here, though, is a much trickier proposition. A big part of the problem is that there really isn’t a way of finding them all: they live mostly in the shadows. There isn’t even reliable data on how many immigrants are here illegally; news reports I’ve read over the past few days use numbers anywhere from 600,000 to 4 million. It’s as much a crap shoot as any statistic you will ever come across. I’ve decided that, essentially, the status quo is probably the best that can be done in their case. Unless they run afoul of the law or ask for social services, we can’t find them. Of course, if they do they should simply be sent packing. But otherwise, I’m content to allow them to stay in their shadow communities.
Often, when thinking in terms of immigration policy and standards, I look at things through my mother and grandmother’s eyes. They arrived here in1959, fresh from the Soviet bloc. As immigrants, they fully understood the challenges faced by other immigrants, regardless of origin, native tongues or anything else. They were both adamantly against illegal immigration, and understandably so. Even as political refugees, they had to go through a battery of tests and pre-qualifications before being allowed into the country. They thought it eminently unfair that anyone should just walk across the border and set up camp, without any need to prove they were willing to fully assimilate into American culture – or even demonstrate they had the skills to contribute to society.
What did they think about the children of illegal immigrants? They both felt that the Constitution should be amended or clarified to ensure that the children of illegals, even if born in the US, should not be granted citizenship. They and their parents should be returned to their home nations and sent to the back of the line, so to speak, and await their turn.
So, extrapolating (there’s your big word for the day, folks!) from that premise, I cannot abide allowing those children to stay here on any sort of amnesty program. I realize the people the President’s order targets didn’t arrive here of their own accord. I’m even willing to let them return to their home countries with a preference on the waiting list. But if anyone thinks this is the beginning of meaningful immigration reform, they are seriously deluded. After all, even under the executive order those illegals affected won’t be granted residency status – only an act of Congress can do that.
We need to recognize this for what it is: an act of political pandering from the President Who Perfected Pandering. The EO signed on Friday only remains in effect until rescinded, either by a new President in 2013 or by the current one when he realizes it costs him more votes than it gains. It wasn’t a grand statement on the mess our immigration policy turned into after Ronald Reagan’s own bit of pandering in 1986 (the Immigration Reform and Control Act). Had Obama actually wanted to enact some type of meaningful reform, he would have combined the EO with a legislative proposal – not a Rose Garden speech asking Congress to do something. You’ll also note that in that speech, the President didn’t outline what he wanted as a result of the reform he demanded, a curious lack of leadership that is in keeping with his style.
What should be of greater concern to all, regardless of where you live, is this fits a pattern of flaunting the Constitution in order to score a cheap political point. In addition to this latest EO, we have other extra-constitutional power grabs that seem derived of partisan political maneuvering. Things like indefinite detention, refusing to support DOMA, international assassinations – the list is growing daily. The President, any President, does not have the prerogative of deciding which laws to enforce. His job is to enforce the law of the land and if he finds one unacceptable, he can request Congress rescind it. This latest EO actually requires a variety of law enforcement agencies, from the FBI and INS to Homeland Security, to willfully ignore the law. Such a situation should never be tolerated by the citizens of our republic.
After sounding for all the world as if he were dropping out of the Republican primary race Wednesday morning, Rick Perry tweeted he wasn’t less than 12 hours later (said tweet included the picture to the left).
It’s yet another mystifying twist for the Texas governor, who has managed to parlay what was once strong conservative support into a mere 10% finish in the Iowa caucuses. This is despite the fact that he is telegenic, has an immense campaign war chest, the Super PAC “Make us Great Again” is in his corner and has a history of job creation in his home state that should play well in this year’s campaign cycle. Despite these advantages, Perry’s poll numbers continue to drop precipitously. For the past month, he has basically tracked at around 6% nationally; suggesting his relatively good showing in Iowa may be an outlier and portend even worse electoral showings in the future.
There are several reasons that the more the country has gotten the chance to know Rick Perry, the more his numbers drop.
- Public speaking isn’t a strong suit: For most of us, this would be problematic. For a politician, it’s failing at their bread and butter. Perry often comes across in public speaking engagements as befuddled. That may actually be a kind way of expressing his speaking abilities. The reality is he is cringe-inducing when on stage, whether reading from prepared statements or trying to speak “off-the-cuff.” Anyone who watched his bumbling attempts at reading a campaign activist’s letter the other night couldn’t have been impressed. It’s a continuation of a theme that began in earnest with his debate performances (or rather, non-performances). Perry supporters continually dismiss his speaking ability is irrelevant, but the American people have a different opinion. Why? Anyone who has ever taken a public speaking course knows the answer. How you speak in public conveys hidden information regarding your confidence and intelligence. If you want to be seriously considered as Presidential material, it’s fine to be an average speaker. But turning in performances that wouldn’t be suitable for kindergarten won’t win you many votes.
- Illegal Immigration: Perry actually has strong record on attempting to get the Federal government to live up to its responsibility in maintaining border security. That includes urging the current administration to assign National Guard units to patrol the border between Texas and Mexico. Unfortunately for him, he was side-swiped by a decision he made to offer in-state tuition rates to the children of illegal immigrants in Texas. For immigration hard-liners (for whom, nothing short of execution will seem satisfy them), this was a couple of steps too far. Having a moderate position regarding immigration isn’t really anathema to Republican rank-and-file (Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush both shared similar values), but there is a hard core movement on the right that absolutely refuses to address immigration pragmatically. Rather than take time to fully outline his immigration policy (a sensible plan, that actually reinforces the American ideals of fairness while adopting a tough stance on border security), Perry has vacillated on the issue under the heat of public scrutiny.
- The HPV Mess and privacy rights: In 2007, Governor Perry mandated that underage girls be given the HPV vaccine. His motives sound reasonable. After all, cancer is a terrible disease and a vaccine that can help prevent a form should be lauded. But the mandate runs afoul of several long-standing conservative principles. First is that conservatives (and most liberals, as well) have an aversion to the idea the government can determine what is best for our children. Second is the idea that the government can enforce rules regarding our personal health. Finally, while not particularly vocalized but certainly an affront to religious conservatives, is that the vaccine is used to prevent a sexually transmitted disease in underage girls. It certainly didn’t help Perry’s case when Merck, the maker of the vaccine, was found to have made significant contributions to the Perry campaign. He has attempted to disavow the mandate since, but it’s a bit like closing the barn door long after the horse left.
There are other issues that Perry has found himself fending off, such as his supposed Islamic leanings. (Personally, those seem to be fabricated). Undoubtedly, he never counted on facing such intense scrutiny from his right flank but his inability to properly counter says something about his fitness for office. So does his inability to properly staff his campaign, leading to his not being on the Virginia primary ballot. Can Perry overcome the numerous gaffes he and his campaign have made thus far and still win the nomination? If this were any other candidate possessing the campaign money he does, I would say certainly. But I can’t see it happening here. Perry has yet to demonstrate a feel for the national political stage and worse, seems to be slow on the uptake. I suspect more than a belief he can win the nomination is his personal animosity towards Mitt Romney. If preventing Romney from winning the nomination is the overriding reason Perry is staying in the race, I suggest he drop out sooner than later. I don’t see a way this version can sell his candidacy outside of Texas and his staying in the race will only serve to fracture the conservative base of the party. In case anyone else remembers, it was Fred Thompson’s misguided attempt at reviving his campaign in South Carolina that led to John McCain’s coasting to the Republican nomination in 2008. We all should remember how that turned out.
In light of these failings, I urge Governor Perry to exit the race and support the one true conservative left in the race, Senator Rick Santorum.