We know from a flurry of news stories the last 24 hours that the Republican leaders of the House think that most illegal aliens under a certain age (22? 25? 30?) have a compelling case for being granted an amnesty.
What we don't know is whether either leader has given any thought to:
- What and who are responsible for putting the "kids" into a predicament that makes their amnesty case compelling?
- How do you keep another generation of illegal-alien parents from putting their children in the same predicament?
- Who might be harmed if an amnesty is granted?
- How do you minimize the harm to U.S. citizens if an amnesty is granted?
WHO PUT THESE 'KIDS' INTO THIS PREDICAMENT OF LONG-TERM ILLEGAL RESIDENCY?
I would feel a lot better about the compassion of Speaker Boehner and Majority Leader Cantor if they would acknowledge that they are trying to clean up a mess made by:
- the illegal-alien parents who knowingly violated their visitors visas or illegally crossed the borders and kept their children here long enough for it to be a hardship to go back to their home country,
- tens of thousands of employers who broke the law and provided jobs to the parents of these young illegal residents,
- Presidents Bush One, Clinton, Bush Two and Obama who refused to aggressively enforce laws to punish the illegal employers and allowed the illegal-alien parents to hold jobs for years that provided the ability to sink their children's roots into this country and diminish roots with their home country,
- the 1995-96 Congress that was persuaded by corporate lobbyists to turn down legislation containing the recommendations of the bi-partisan U.S. Commission on Immigration Reform that would have prevented most of the illegal immigration that has since brought the "kids" into this country,
- every Congress since 1996 that has refused to enact a robust and comprehensive E-Verify workplace verification system to keep illegal-alien parents from being able to earn a living to plant their kids long enough for them to forget their home countries.
- All the religious, business, media, academic and rights organization voices that have fought nearly every enforcement effort the last 20 years to halt illegal immigration and to keep foreign citizens from illegally putting down roots here. All of them have passively or actively encouraged millions of foreign citizens not only to break our immigration laws but often to risk their and their kids' lives in doing so.
Speaker Boehner and Leader Cantor, I urge you to acknowledge that those are the culprits who created the compelling victims that have captured your compassion this week. If you don't acknowledge their complicity, the American people have no reason to believe that you won't push an action that will create more of the very thing you say you are trying to solve.
The kids may be innocent, but there are a lot of guilty people in their stories.
HOW DO YOU KEEP ANOTHER GENERATION OF ILLEGAL-ALIEN PARENTS FROM PUTTING THEIR CHILDREN IN THE SAME PREDICAMENT?
You don't repeat the mistakes that created the current predicament. You halt rewards and incentives for people to live illegally in this country for long periods. You make it much more difficult to get into this country illegally and much easier for the government to track you if you do.
- No more jobs for unauthorized foreign citizens: Mandatory E-Verify for every employer. Robust programs by the Social Security Administration to use no-match letters and multiple-use notifications to combat identity fraud and legacy illegal employment.
- No more benefits for unauthorized foreign citizens: An end to Earned Income Tax Credits and other public non-emergency benefits for people illegally in this county.
- Know who is in the country illegally: Fully implemented entry/exit system for every visitor at every land crossing, airport and seaport. This won't mean every visa over-stayer will be immediately located, but they will be known and then identified as soon as they try to engage any number of financial, government, transportation computer systems.
- A truly secure border: The exact criteria can be worked out. If all of the above are met, I'm willing to be satisfied when the ranchers along the border say they and their property now feel safe.
After 27 years of broken promises in seven amnesties, two other major immigration bills and dozens of pronouncements during presidential and congressional floor speeches, the American people don't deserve to keep their country if they are willing to trust even one more promise about enforcement.
We have learned that the only way to trust that the government will implement enforcement is when it is already implemented.
No amnesty involving work permits and benefits can be considered for the "kids" as long as any of the above has not been fully implemented. We know from a quarter-century of experience that the minute the kids get their amnesty the chief promoters of that amnesty will turn their energies to blocking all additional enforcement.
To grant amnesty before all the enforcement is implemented would be to entice a giant new wave of illegal immigration of parents from all over the world to get their own kids ready for the next amnesty.
WHO MIGHT BE HARMED IF AN AMNESTY IS GRANTED?
I'm not going to bother much with the nonsense that nobody gets hurt when amnesties are granted.
The one or two million younger illegal aliens who might get an amnesty would be competing directly with under-30-age Americans who many economists fear will be a Lost Generation economically because of their incredibly low labor participation rates. Every indication is that most of the younger illegal aliens are less educated and will remain less-educated whether or not they are legalized. That means they will be competing for jobs with less-educated Americans who already suffer the worst unemployment in the country and they will be seeking jobs in occupations where real wages have been declining for three decades.
It is quite possible to argue -- as I have for several years -- that large numbers of young illegal aliens do indeed have compelling cases for some kind of amnesty.
Those Americans whose philosophy is one of radical individualism can argue that these compelling cases deserve an amnesty regardless of the consequences to the members of our national community.
I argue, however, from a community-oriented ethic that the compelling cases of the younger illegal aliens are still secondary to the compelling cases of members of our national community who also suffer in this economy and whose suffering would be made worse by an amnesty.
At this point of the debate, large numbers of Americans can find no reason to go any further in considering an amnesty; there simply is no justification for inflicting harm on one's fellow citizens.
Others, though, are interested to see if there is a way to minimize the harm so that both kinds of compelling cases can receive relief.
HOW DO YOU MINIMIZE THE HARM THAT A 'KIDS AMNESTY' WOULD INFLICT ON VULNERABLE U.S. CITIZENS?
The main harm of such an amnesty would be in the numbers. How many extra potential laborers are being added to the legal labor pool?
Thus, the key way to minimize harm is to reduce the net additions to the labor pool.
Fortunately, the bi-partisan U.S. Commission on Immigration Reform identified two easy categories of immigration to eliminate:
- Chain migration of relatives who are not a spouse or a minor child.
- The Visa Lottery that raffles off permanent work permits and path to citizenship to people in countries that have the weakest ties to the American people.
Chain Migration was established in the late 1950s and opened to the entire world in 1965, while the Lottery was established in 1990 in the bill that created the Immigration Surge that continues to this day.
Neither serves any national interest. Both fill the labor pools with foreign citizens with almost no regard to education or skill.
At the point that any amnesty might be implemented, there would at the least need to be a reduction in green card categories to lessen the future in-flow of foreign workers as an off-set to all the additional foreign workers added through the amnesty.
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These are MY thoughts and not official positions of NumbersUSA. Our membership is divided about whether the situation for many younger illegal aliens is ever compelling enough -- and the guaranteed enforcement and offsets ever great enough -- to justify a restricted amnesty. These are the questions that I'm sure are running through the minds of many House Republicans in whose hands the fate of a "kids amnesty" bill lies.
At the very least, we should make sure that every House member -- Republican and Democrat -- deals in detail with the two great requirements (1) of ensuring that parents never again put hundreds of thousands of kids into this situation, and (2) of minimizing the harm to vulnerable Americans as much as possible.
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None of these ideas may be of any consequence at all this year, given the signals from the Gang of Eight that they would not honor them even if included in a House-passed amnesty.
Sen. Schumer and his Gang of Eight made clear earlier this week in their widely reported meeting with corporate lobbyists and religious leaders what one of their top strategies for August is: Persuade House Republicans to allow a "kids amnesty" to come to the floor for a vote so the Senate Gang can have it put into a Conference Committee where the Senate Gang promised they would stuff it with most of the elements of S. 744.
Not only does S. 744 grant amnesty to some 9 million more illegal aliens who are not kids, but it has no offsets and, in fact, doubles the level of immigration of foreign labor competitors for the American workers who would be harmed by the amnesty. While it does make a few efforts at stopping future illegal immigration of parents bringing their children, most of the enforcement provisions have major loopholes and weaknesses.
Having been warned by Sen. Schumer (D-New York), why would House leaders Boehner (R-Ohio) and Cantor (R-Va.) play directly into the Gang's strategy if they sincerely only want to amnesty the "kids?"
ROY BECK is Founder & President of NumbersUSA whose policy is set by a Board of Directors