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Caution on Immigration Bill


We were cautiously optimistic on the immigration bill wending its way through the Senate as of last Friday. We thought, and continue to think, that the general move is in a more positive direction—that the core political dynamic of trading better border enforcement for addressing the problems of current illegals is a sound one.

But a post by Yuval Levin over at National Review gives us some pause. Levin argues that at 1,200 pages, the amendment being put forward is more akin to being a whole new bill, and as such deserves more scrutiny than it will be afforded:

There is almost no way any of the senators voting on it could have read it all, and it’s unlikely even their staff members could do so in a thorough and responsible way in that time. Only the people who wrote it will know what it says, and I imagine it was written in parts by numerous people from several Senate offices. That means there is probably no one who really knows what it says. It also seems likely that, if the amendment is adopted on Monday, the vote on the final bill would come too soon thereafter to allow CBO to re-score the much-amended bill, and so to offer some sense of how things have changed in terms of costs, economic effects, future immigration flows (legal and illegal) and other key issues.

Something has gone seriously wrong with the way important bills are written, and artificial deadlines and the rush to vote aren’t helping. We would like to see some kind of mandatory cooling off/reflection period to allow bills to be analyzed and scored. In practice, we suppose all this can happen when the House takes up the Senate bill. But it’s not in keeping with the dignity or the role of the US Senate to pass such a poorly-understood mish-mash of a bill on such a vital issue in this way.

[Statue of Liberty photo courtesy of Shutterstock.]

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  • Midge

    It would seem indefensible, no?

  • Lance Sjogren

    The power of the US Senate, the world’s most powerful legislative body, is rendered much weaker by the idiocy of the US Senate.

  • Andrew Allison

    Obamacare Redux!

  • Boritz

    ***We would like to see some kind of mandatory cooling off/reflection period to allow bills to be analyzed and scored***
    There is no substitute for a chief executive who would kill bad legislation with a veto or a Supreme Court that would kill bad legislation by declaring it unconstitutional when it is. But in their absence it is easy to begin to wish for the tooth fairy or for the Senate to stifle itself a la Edith Bunker.

  • NoNewt

    It’s shocking to me that we would be undertaking a remaking of the US immigration system in 2013 – with the best practices of Canada and Australia, where immigrants are valued, high-earning professionals, in hand – and rather than move toward high-skilled immigration we are actually doubling down on *low-skilled* immigration.

    The Rubio-Schumer “gang” refuse to give any numbers on how many immigrants, and what type, their plan calls for. The CBO seems to be expecting a doubling of the existing numbers, adding that the immigrants will be “lower-skilled than Americans” and result in a modest lowering of wages overall (i.e., the average American will be poorer).

    Sen. Jeff Sessions alone has produced detailed breakdowns of future flows, and nobody has denied his numbers. His analysis shows 5 million skilled immigrants in the next 10 years under the “Gang” bill … and 25-55 million low-skilled immigrants coming via chain migration through newly legalized illegals, the new low-skilled “W” visa, and the new low-skilled guest-worker programs.

    Given everything we know about education, skills and income – namely, that high-skilled immigrants will be high-income individuals and lead to tech companies, new businesses, economic expansion, etc., why on earth would we not be focusing our new immigration system around these people? Are landscapers, dishwashers, and bedmakers (and there doesn’t seem to be a huge shortage of people in the landscaping, restaurants or hotel trades these days, for that matter) really the new Americans we want? Do we need tens of millions of low-skilled people? Where is the source of demand? What will the impacts be on median income, education level, and quality of life? Why even spend money on education at all if we just keep sucking in uneducated people and if uneducated workers are (one would think given the Rubio-Schumer bill) the most in-demand source of workers?

    This is insane, and terrible for America. Let this bill perish.

  • Thirdsyphon

    For better or worse, very few legislators can be bothered to read much of anything that they’re voting on these days. Their time is consumed, for better or worse, with the demands of fundraising and campaigning. They have staffers to do the gruntwork of actually drafting and reading this stuff, and at the end of the day the principals are forced to put their trust in them. The Senate is slow enough already. The last thing we need is to lose yet more time to a pious fiction like “giving them time to read the bill”

  • wigwag

    The United States desperately needs two reasonably functional political parties because when they are not faced with significant competition each political party feels compelled to cater to their most extreme elements. Unfortunately, the far left of the Democratic Party and the far right of the Republican Party share one thing in common; they are both certifiably insane. Not only are the policies they each recommends right out of some bizarre alternative universe, but they both contribute to an atmosphere that is profoundly antithetical to what makes America great; they not only work against civic comity, they are actually hostile to the idea that comity is important. To them, “e pluribus unim” is a four letter word.

    This is what makes the GOP’s behavior on the immigration bill so disturbing. The GOP is self-immolating. They are ruining Republican chances to compete for the Latino vote not only two years from and four years from now, but a century from now. Irish, Italian and Jewish voters are still deeply suspicious of the GOP because of the nativism of Republican politicians in the 1920s. The same thing will almost surely happen to Republicans today, but the problem is even bigger; as a share of the total electorate, Latino voters are skyrocketing.

    In the next eight years 4.5 million American born citizens who are the children of Latino parents who came to America illegally will reach voting age. How many of them will vote for a Party that is hostile to their parents desire to come out of the shadows? Obama beat Romney by 5 million votes; if only 50 percent of these newly eligible Latino voters go to the polls and 70 percent vote Democratic, can a Republican President ever be elected again?

    Colorado and Nevada were once swing states; now thanks to Latinos, they are reliably “blue.” The same thing is happening in Florida and Arizona; within a generation it will happen in Texas. What will the GOP’s prospects be then?

    What is the GOP thinking? With a built in gender gap of 5 to 10 percent and an advantage of anywhere between 40-50 percent with Latinos, the fastest growing electoral group in the nation, does the GOP really think that they can secure enough of the white male vote to win the presidency? If they think this, they can’t count.

    Those of us who believe that two political parties that compete over reasonably intelligent ideas is critical to a successful future for America had better hope that the GOP does an about face on the immigration bill very quickly.

    If it doesn’t, we are watching a political party commit suicide.

  • ojfl

    The best approach seems to be the House approach. They are proposing in committee bills that address different components and passing them. They have already introduced bills in committee for high skilled immigration (HR 2131) and low skilled immigration (HR 1773) . That is a much better approach to the monstrous way the Senate has been doing this. And the media has been paying too little attention to those other efforts. That is a shame. It seems the media only cares about the Senate.

  • wigwag

    The white population as a percentage of the total electorate is in free fall while 50,000 Latinos turn 18 years old every month; a substantial percentage of those newly eligible voters are the American born children of illegal immigrants; the implication of this for the GOP is catastrophic. To his credit, Lindsey Graham recognizes this and has begged his fellow GOP colleagues to demonstrate a little common sense. See,

    In 2016, 21 percent of the electorate is likely to be Latino, 12 percent African American, 6 percent Asian and 2 percent Jewish. In 2012, Obama captured 93 percent of the African American vote, 71 percent of the Latino vote, 73 percent of the Asian vote and 70 percent of the Jewish vote. The Latino vote as a percentage of the entire voting age population is growing very quickly while the black, Asian and Jewish vote is relatively stable. In 2012, the white turn out collapsed and the African American turnout actually exceed the white turn out. If the white turn out in 2012 had approached what it had been in 2008, Romney might have had a fighting chance. Unfortunately for the GOP, whether it likes it or not, the percentage of white Americans will never again be what it was.

    Superimpose on all of these statistics a Democratic leaning gender gap that was about 18 percent in 2012 and it becomes clear how much trouble Republicans are in. If Hillary Clinton runs in 2016 that 18 percent gender gap could easily increase to 25 percent as Republican women vote for Hillary in droves. With a gender gap this big and this persistent and with Latinos developing a persistent animosity to the Republican Party, its hard to see how the GOP can win a Presidential election anytime in the next few decades; Lindsey Graham is right-at the Presidential level its a death spiral.

    By the way, Obama also won the Italian and the Irish vote but by a smaller amount; he beat Romney in both groups by about 3 percent.

    Americans of Jewish, Italian and Irish heritage are predisposed to vote for Democrats because their parents and grandparents voted Democratic. Their parents and grandparents voted Democratic because when they landed at Ellis Island they were greeted by Democratic operatives who helped them find housing and jobs while at the same time they read in the newspapers about how repulsive Republican politicians thought they were.

    This history is now repeating itself all over again with Latino and Asian immigrants; the Republicans are turning a major new American voting block into a new enemy and it could take decades for the GOP to correct that mistake.

    That’s if they ever can.

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