The Tar Pit

Monday, April 10, 2006

Hugh Hewitt comes out of the Amnesty closet

Hugh Hewitt has publicly embraced his inner elitist and called for an amnesty for illegal aliens, in so many words last Friday:

...if you look at the "compromise" that collapsed today, it said begin the process of exploring the initiation of a potential fence sort of stuff. Why not just do what the House said, mark the 700 miles, and say we'll make the amnesty effective the day the 700 miles are finished?

Hewitt's hardly surprising remarks came during a radio interview with WaPo columnist Charles Krauthammer, after years of denying he was in favor of amnesty, and denying that President Bush was in favor of amnesty.

Hugh's been spending a lot of time recently promoting his new book, "Painting the Map Red," in which he warns of a potential GOP civil war over immigration, and that such a rift might cost the Republicans their majorities in Congress in the 2006 mid-term elections.

What Hugh fails to understand is that the rift isn't over immigration, it's over illegal aliens and amnesty, and any plan that legalizes illegals in any way would be an amnesty. Pro-amnesty folks are prone to marvelous equivocations about how their particular plan to reward illegal aliens wouldn't be amnesty, and they succeed remarkably well at kidding themselves, but none of them fool any of the angry Republican voters that Hewitt is warning might stay home this November.

Hewitt's time would be better spent, if he really wants to motivate these voters and paint the map red, in opposing amnesty in all its forms, but it's unclear how he'll do that now.

Hugh might start by backing off his pro-"regularization," pro-amnesty position on illegals. It would also be constructive if he gave up the Beltway/Wall Street Journal epithets such as "restrictionist," "anti-immigrant," and "nativist," which unfairly smear the vast majority of Americans and particularly Republicans who oppose illegals as knuckle dragging bigots. Paul Gigot, William Kristol, Tamar Jacoby, etc. are as much on the fringe of this debate as the moonbats barking about the NWO or the reconquista are.

Getting back to Krauthammer, we know he wants amnesty for illegals. He said so in his response to Hugh:

It seems to me the solution is so obvious. You do the enforcement, you do the shutting of the border, and then you do the amnesty, in that sequence. It's pretty simple. But it looks as if maybe it's political pressure, maybe it's simply a pollyannish idea that if you had employer sanctions, somehow that's going to stop the flow. But we know that's not so. Employer sanctions were at the heart of the last reform in 1986, the Simpson-Mazzoli law. And it legalized 3 million illegals, and here we are, 20 years later, with 11 million new illegals. So obviously it's not going to work.

Actually, the heart of Simpson-Mazzoli (aka: the Reagan Amnesty) was the legalization of most of the illegal aliens then in the country.

Employer sanctions weren't enforced to any significant degree. According to a June, 2005 GAO report:

...the number of notices of intent to fine issued to employers for knowingly hiring unauthorized workers or improperly completing employment verification forms decreased from 417 in fiscal year 1999 to 3 in fiscal year 2004.

Saying that Clinton and Bush's toothless employer sanctions didn't work is like saying that a never-imposed death penalty isn't a deterrent. Krauthammer should know better, but like most elitist illegal alien apologists he hasn't done his homework.

Nevertheless, Krauthammer wants another "very last, very final, never-again, we're-not-kidding-this-time amnesty," even as he admits it's a phony solution.

The "solution," Hewitt and Krauthammer tell us, the thing that makes their amnesty really a good idea--this time--is... the fence!


Of course, no barrier will be foolproof. But it doesn't have to be. It simply has to reduce the river of illegals to a manageable trickle. Once we can do that, everything becomes possible -- most especially, humanizing the situation of our 11 million existing illegals.

The reason a fence with amnesty is no solution is that about 40% of illegals didn't enter the country by illegally crossing our Southern border with Mexico. A 40% failure rate is not a "manageable trickle." A fence would not be a deterrent at all to illegals who get around the border or enter legally and overstay, which millions have done.

All amnesties for illegal aliens are always incentives for more people to become illegal aliens, but never you mind: Hugh Hewitt, Charles Krauthammer, John McCain, Ted Kennedy, William Kristol, Karl Rove and President George Walker Bush would legalize them anyway.

Without question, a fence with amnesty will simply provoke a market adjustment by illegals, their enablers, their employers, and their smugglers.

The opportunities for would-be illegals to overstay a lawful entry would be vastly increased if there's a temporary guest worker program, and the incentive to overstay would be provided by the amnesty currently being supported by Hewitt and others. A guest worker program is desirable, but is only workable if there is zero prospect of amnesty.

It's time to move this debate beyond the false dilemma of "do nothing, deport 'em all, or amnesty." Doing nothing is unacceptable to everyone. Amnesty isn't the answer, it's the problem; 2.7 million illegal aliens were "regularized" under the Reagan Amnesty, and over a million amnesties under Clinton via Section 245(i) of the Immigration and Naturalization Code. These amnesties and the refusal by the last four Administrations to enforce our immigration laws in the American interior have attracted at least 11 million new illegals. A Bush Amnesty or any other amnesty, especially if Trojan horsed through a guest worker program would only result in more illegals in the future. However, if amnesty proponents are right about little else, they are at least correct when observing that "we can't deport them all."

What Hewitt, Bush, etc. fail to realize is that we don't need to deport all 11 million illegals. Illegal aliens got here on their own and they're capable of leaving in the same way. A shrewd reform of our immigration laws would create a market environment that would encourage illegals to willingly self-deport.

Self-deportation is the overlooked solution to America's illegal alien problem. Here's a sketch of how such a market would work:

1. No more amnesties for illegals. Ever.

2. On January 1, 2007 and every year thereafter, one to two million temporary guest worker slots would be made available to applicants who are physically present in their countries of origin.

3. On July 1, 2007 employer compliance with the voluntary PILOT Act (federal verification of an individual's eligibility for employment) would become mandatory, as proposed by House Rules Chair David Dreier (R-CA). Employers who fail to comply would actually be prosecuted, with stiff fines and jail time if they hire illegals.

4. Also on July 1, 2007 Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) would begin conducting targeted sweeps of day laborer sites, removing the illegals they find there and conducting stings against those who would hire them. All illegals apprehended after this date would be biometrically scanned and made permanently ineligible for lawful entry into the United States. Such sites would be vacated in short order.

The dates and numbers of guest workers are negotiable. #1 is essential or everything else fails. However, if implemented in the sequence above, such a plan would prevent a disruption in the labor supply by giving employers a window to determine if they have illegals currently on their rolls and to find replacements either among citizens and lawful immigrants, or by way of the guest worker program.

This plan would dry up much of the employment and hope for amnesty that currently motivates many illegals to come here and stay, while offering them an opportunity to apply for legal entry if they return to their home countries and get in line with their countrymen who haven't broken our laws. Unlike the Bush Amnesty or any of the phony guest worker Trojan horses for amnesty, under the self deportation plan illegals would have no advantage over others who've played by the rules.

"Waitaminnit," you say. President Bush likes to claim:

One thing the temporary worker program should not do is provide amnesty for people who are in our country illegally. I believe granting amnesty would be unfair, because it would allow those who break the law to jump ahead of people like you all, people who play by the rules and have waited in the line for citizenship.

Amnesty would also be unwise, because it would encourage future waves of illegal immigration, it would increase pressure on the border and make it difficult for law enforcement to focus on those who mean us harm. For the sake of justice and border security, I firmly oppose amnesty.

President Bush needs deprogramming; he's read far too many focus group summaries from Darth Rove. It's nice that he's willing to inconvenience illegals sufficiently that they wouldn't have an advantage over lawfully admitted immigrants, but his plan most certainly would give illegals a huge advantage over foreign nationals who have applied for and not yet received permission to enter the United States. Under the Bush Amnesty, those who haven't broken our laws would not be able to compete for the jobs that the illegals have taken illegally: those jobs would be reserved for those illegals.

So, the President's plan is unfair, gives advantages to illegals, would encourage future waves of illegal aliens, and would make it difficult for law enforcement to focus on those who do us harm. For the sake of justice and security, as well as for a continued Republican majority, President Bush, Hugh Hewitt, and every patriotic American ought to firmly oppose the Bush Amnesty and every other amnesty.