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LIVE BLOG on State of Union 2011 -- If JOBS Are Priority, Will Anybody Connect Immigration Policy?

 

10:10 p.m. -- FINAL COMMENTS FROM ME FOR TONIGHT

Pres. Obama spent most of the speech talking about preventing U.S. jobs from going overseas to be done by foreign workers there, and then incongruously argued for increasing the number of foreign workers to take the scarce jobs we keep in the U.S. 
 
Though mostly ambiguous, his statements on immigration seemed to put illegal foreign workers and foreign students first while keeping unemployed Americans in the shadows. 
 
On trade, he said he would "only sign deals that keep faith with American workers, and promote American jobs" and yet on immigration policy he failed American workers, declining to ask for reductions in immigration even though 24 million American and legal immigrants can't find a full-time job. And he declined to ask for mandatory E-Verify to put millions of them back to work by opening up 7 million jobs held by illegal foreign workers.  Instead, he vaguely asked for work permits for illegal aliens and an increase in foreign workers.
 
The disappointment over his comments was tempered by the lukewarm response from Members of Congress who seemed in no mood to follow his unpopular suggestions.
 

9:39 p.m. -- Well, now he's made the immigration statement and it was not a crowd pleaser.  Very good sign.

It felt like there were a couple of major applause lines in these paragraphs, but there was no or very little response.

Here is what he said and how the folks reacted: 

One last point about education. Today, there are hundreds of thousands of students excelling in our schools who are not American citizens. Some are the children of undocumented workers, who had nothing to do with the actions of their parents. They grew up as Americans and pledge allegiance to our flag, and yet live every day with the threat of deportation. Others come here from abroad to study in our colleges and universities. But as soon as they obtain advanced degrees, we send them back home to compete against us. It makes no sense.

I feared we'd get a standing ovation on the "It makes no sense."  But there was absolute silence in the Chamber!

In fact, "It makes no sense" was one of his repetitive lines through the speech and it usually got applause.  But not this one.  Maybe Congress has a little more interest in our American kids graduating from college than does the White House.,

Now, I strongly believe that we should take on, once and for all, the issue of illegal immigration. I am prepared to work with Republicans and Democrats to protect our borders, enforce our laws and address the millions of undocumented workers who are now living in the shadows.

Finally, some response.  It was one of those slow rolling applauses that lasted a little while and then got quite a few people to stand.  But a very short ovation.

So what were they applauding?  Protect our borders?  Enforce our laws?  I hope so.  If they were applauding "address the millions of undocumented workers who are now living in the shadows," they were applauding a very ambiguous generalization.  

It is a very good sign that Obama KNOWS how extremely unpopular "amnesty" is.  So, he didn't dare use the word.  But note that he also didn't dare use the words "DREAM Act" or "legalization" or "comprehensive immigration reform."

He seemed afraid to even use the word "REFORM."

I find all that pretty delicious.

I know that debate will be difficult and take time. But tonight, let’s agree to make that effort. And let’s stop expelling talented, responsible young people who can staff our research labs, start new businesses, and further enrich this nation.

 Well, here was the crazy talk that all those American kids who have graduated recently and are unemployed or underemployed don't deserve protection but instead should be forced to compete with tens of thousands of foreign students for these jobs.

There was a smattering of applause, but I saw NO standing.  Nice!

As bad as the language of the President's text -- and as disappointing that he would not put unemployed Americans first by reducing immigration -- I am reassured that this section of the speech basically bombed. 

9:28 p.m. -- What is the point of innovatiojn to produce jobs IN AMERICA and not OVERSEAS if we give many of those jobs to workers who we allow into our country from overseas?

Here's what he just said: 

Maintaining our leadership in research and technology is crucial to America’s success. But if we want to win the future – if we want innovation to produce jobs in America and not overseas – then we also have to win the race to educate our kids.

It is hard to take this statement seriously when we know that later in this speech he will call for us to keep foreign students when they graduate in our universities so they can compete with our own American grads for the jobs that he admits we are going to really have to struggle to keep in the U.S. vs. them being in other countries. 

9:19 p.m. -- He's talking about the fact that Americans have to compete with workers all over the world because of the internet and global trade.

He believes that the federal government should help Americans compete with workers in other countries.

And now he's talking about our great universities. But we know he will later in the speech say that our universities should be turning out foreign students to stay in the United States and compete with our own kids who are graduating.

9:13 p.m. --  Note that the President has no reluctance to remind us that we are a NATION.

He talks of how we are bound together as a people. 

Yet, when the talk turns to immigration, it is deemed to be selfish to have a policy that is based on our responsibilities to each other in this NATION.

Nonetheless, I celebrate Obama's reminders that the purpose of the U.S. federal government is to serve the interests of the American people -- not all the people in the world, but the American people. 

8:09 p.m. -- PRELIMINARY IMMIGRATION TEXT FROM OBAMA'S SPEECH

Our sources on the Hill have just provided this text that they say will be in the President's speech tonight:

One last point about education. Today, there are hundreds of thousands of students excelling in our schools who are not American citizens. Some are the children of undocumented workers, who had nothing to do with the actions of their parents. They grew up as Americans and pledge allegiance to our flag, and yet live every day with the threat of deportation. Others come here from abroad to study in our colleges and universities. But as soon as they obtain advanced degrees, we send them back home to compete against us. It makes no sense.

Now, I strongly believe that we should take on, once and for all, the issue of illegal immigration. I am prepared to work with Republicans and Democrats to protect our borders, enforce our laws and address the millions of undocumented workers who are now living in the shadows. I know that debate will be difficult and take time. But tonight, let’s agree to make that effort. And let’s stop expelling talented, responsible young people who can staff our research labs, start new businesses, and further enrich this nation.

So, I refer you to my post below (earlier today) under the heading about high-tech immigration.

If Pres. Obama says the text above, he will be saying that tens of thousands of American kids who have graduated the last couple of years in science and technology but who haven't found jobs in their field yet don't deserve help from their federal government. Instead, he is saying that he wants to continue to bloat the labor pool that is already overflowing with recent American college grads who are unemployed or underemployed.

8:00 p.m. -- OBAMA TO SAY TIME TO DEAL WITH ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION ONCE AND FOR ALL? 

CNN just reported that this is part of the speech.  

7:37 p.m. -- OBAMA WILL ASK FOR DREAM AMNESTY . . . probably

We're getting a lot of indications from Democratic staffers that the President is going to talk about the need for the DREAM amnesty.

So, the outrage would be calling for an amnesty that would give about 2 million illegal aliens long-term work permits  without calling for mandatory E-Verify to at least move the rest of the illegal aliens out of their jobs.

I hope our sources are wrong.

7:05 p.m. -- LATINO LEADERS NOTE TOP THINGS THEY WANT TO HEAR 

LULAC (the League of United Latin American Citizens) just issued their wish list for what they want Pres. Obama to promise to give permanent work permits to 7 million illegal foreign workers and to greatly increase new foreign workers in the future.

What!!!!!!?????

You might wonder if they heard how terrible economic conditions are for Latino-American citizens. In fact, they do.  They just want to insist that 8 minus 3 equals 12.

Despite calling for more foreign workers, the Latino leaders say this:

The recession and ongoing recovery has emaciated the economic security of the Latino community and widened economic gaps. Jobless rates increased faster for Latinos than for whites, while homeownership decreased faster. Between 2009 and 2012, 1.3 million Latino families are expected to lose their homes to foreclosure. . . .

Latinos hold lower-quality jobs and earn less money per week relative to white and Asian-American workers and 25.3 percent of our community lives below the poverty line. To improve the economic wellbeing of the Latino community, alleviate poverty and reduce unemployment, Congress and the President must commit to target socially and economically disadvantaged communities in any plan for job creation.

To protect the Latino workforce, it is critical that the Administration ensures adequate enforcement of workplace laws to reduce workplace safety, health and wage violations that disproportionately affect the welfare and economic advancement of Latino and immigrant workers.  

Everything they say screams for a moratorium on immigration and mandatory verify to open up 7 million jobs currently held by illegal aliens.  If there ever was a case of a group allowing political correctness to strangle itself, this must be it. 

4:54 p.m. -- LAST YEAR'S IMMIGRATION MENTION

Will Obama exceed last year's word count on the immigration issue?  He gave 36 words to the issue and then spoke a sentence of nice things about immigrants in general.

Here's what he said:

We should continue the work of fixing our broken immigration system — to secure our borders, enforce our laws and ensure that everyone who plays by the rules can contribute to our economy and enrich our nation.

In the end, it is our ideals, our values, that built America — values that allowed us to forge a nation made up of immigrants from every corner of the globe, values that drive our citizens still. 

Of course, we liked "secure our borders" and "enforce our laws."  But we felt therest of that first sentence was OK, too, even if the President didn't mean it the way he said it.  Illegal aliens don't play by the rules, so we would not expect that they be allowed to "contribute to our economy and enrich our nation."

Since he said over Christmas that failure to pass the DREAM Act amnesty was his biggest disappointment, some commentators think he may say something like that tonight. I can't imagine why. We'll soon find out.

4:22 p.m. -- HIGH TECH IMMIGRATION

In all the talk about competitiveness and innovation tonight, watch for signs that the President doesn't think Americans are smart enough to do the high skill jobs.

The trendy way of thinking for most elites of all ideologies is to say that, of course, the U.S. must bring in a lot more high-skill foreigners if we are to be able to compete with the rest of the world.  It never seems to occur to these politicians and commentators that their statement means that a population of 310 million Americans can't produce enough smart and highly trained workers to take the top-paying jobs.

Gene of Virginia reminded me of this while noting that mandatory E-Verify isn't just about helping Americans on the lower rungs get jobs but also about helping highly educated Americans who are either unemployed or underemployed because of the high level of visa overstayers among the ranks of foreign students and temporary workers.

1:21 p.m. -- ONE SIMPLE ACTION CREATES 7 MILLION JOBS 

--  Dana of California posted  a great message below about immediately having the effect of creating 7 million jobs.

Dana writes us:

The website called Ask The President may send items straight to the digital round file. Nevertheless, I did send a suggestion: "It would EASY to create SEVEN MILLION JOBS tomorrow. Simply require universal workplace E-verify to liberate the millions of jobs unlawfully held by illegal aliens and nearly half of the unemployment problem would be solved."

11:01 a.m. -- LABOR UNION LEADERS

 Labor leaders are claiming this week that Obama should push amnesty again because if 7 million illegal workers got work permits, U.S. workers suppopsedly would be a lot better off.

If you are thinking, "This is not my father's labor movement," you would be right.

For a hundred years, labor unions fought for tight labor markets to increase the value (and thus the pay and benefits) of U.S. workers. One of their key means of tightening the labor market was to help shut off mass immigration through congressional action in 1917, 1921 and 1924 and successfully keep immigration at or below the traditional level until the 1970s.  The unions always fought against high illegal AND legal immigration numbers.  But they especially fought against illegal labor in the 1980s and 1990s until the open-borders ideologues took over the unions in the late 1990s and switched them into pro-amnesty political organs in 2000.

Here's the way labor union leaders talk and think now:

WASHINGTON – Leaders of top labor groups on Monday (cited) a new report by the pro-immigration America's Voice that says the legalization of undocumented immigrants would be a boon to the US working class.

On a conference call with reporters, labor leaders from the AFL-CIO and SEIU joined forces with pro-immigration groups to argue that the "anti-worker" stance of key Republicans on the (House) judiciary committee would put US labor at a disadvantage by offering amoral employers the opportunity to hire undocumented workers without legal rights, who they can exploit with low wages and poor conditions.

"Offering citizenship is going to bring them out of the shadows," said AFL-CIO executive vice president Arlene Holt-Baker, in response to a question from Raw Story. "Then the unscrupulous employers would no longer be able to discriminate against them in the way that they do -- paying them unfair wages, making them contract workers when they are not, stealing their wages."

-- "Labor leaders insist GOP immigration agenda is ‘anti-worker" by  Sahil Kapur
http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2011/01/labor-leaders-decry-gop-immigration-agenda-antiworker/

In a vacuum, the labor leaders might be a little bit right in that, all other things being equal, pay for some occupations would go up slightly if the illegal workers were legal. 

But that ignores the fact that there are millions of unemployed Americans who would be far better off if they had the jobs that the illegal aliens now hold.

Notice that the unions don't show a bit of concern for the 24 million American and legal immigrant workers who currently want a full-time job but can't find one.

How in Gomper's Name is giving 7 million illegal aliens permanent work permits to keep their jobs going to help put those unemployed Americans back to work?

The "Republican" proposals the unions are decrying are proposals to bar unscrupulous employers from continuing to HIRE illegal aliens and forcing them to hire unemployed Americans and legal immigrants who already are here.  The idea is to stop them from paying under the table at all.

Thankfully, even on the union leaders' phone call, they acknowledged that they don't think there is much chance that Obama will be saying anything as foolish as the union leaders propose. 

10:32 a.m. -- NO ADVANCE IMMIGRATION BUZZ

Immigration as a topic of pre-speech discussion has been almost nowhere to be seen over the weekend through today.  Given Pres. Obama's strong inclinations toward amnesty and more foreign workers, that should give reason for some relief, I suppose.

We held our breath before his first two SOTU speeches, expecting the worst but happy that he barely mentioned immigration, a signal that he was not going to invest too much political capital in pushing his unpopular amnesty positions.

But this year, amnesty has no chance.  So, I can't help but fantasize about a President who would make putting Americans back to work his top priority and propose adjusting immigration policies so they would serve the unemployed U.S. worker first and foremost.

Any chance?

ROY BECK is Founder & CEO of NumbersUSA

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