It’s as bad as the Tea Party thinks it is. It’s worse. In some ways, it’s a pig in a poke: it’s not about immigration as much as it is about changing the way government business is done in the United States.
A couple of points up front.
Legal immigration is good
First, I am a pro-immigration voter. Not only am I pro-immigration, I am happy to accept immigrants who aren’t Ph.D.s, IT professionals, and bioengineers. I have nothing against credentialed professionals, but the truth is that they are not the economic accelerators that small business entrepreneurs are. America has had tremendous success with legal immigration; we should do more of it than we do today, and we should not seek to admit only those who come laden with wealth and credentials. That is not the path to national prosperity.
America does need to repair other failures, such as our too-prevalent policy of discouraging assimilation for immigrants, and our unsustainable policies on public benefits. There are enough citizens at home already who have been encouraged to drape themselves over a package of public benefits – people whose work and ingenuity we have lost to a soul-killing way of life. We don’t need to import more from abroad. Nor should we allow special-interest groups to latch on to immigrants and try to radicalize them and make them enemies of our American culture.
But the fix for these problems lies in domestic politics, or more fundamentally in social renewal. We can’t prevent the growth of an alienated underclass by rejecting immigration. We have to address the problems of welfarism and radicalization head-on. As we’ll see, of course, that matters intrinsically to the immigration debate.
The marketing of the Gang of 8 bill is deceptive
The next point is this: we have learned that George Soros and his associates have been funding a purportedly Christian evangelical effort to promote the Senate immigration bill, or the “Gang of 8” bill, as it is called, after its eight co-authors in the Senate. The “Evangelical Immigration Table” (EIT) is running an ad campaign in favor of the Gang of 8 bill – but EIT doesn’t actually exist as an incorporated political entity or a non-profit. Its funding comes from the National Immigration Forum (NIF), which is funded by Soros’s Open Society Institute.
Soros, of course, funds numerous radical-left causes, and through the Open Society Institute has been connected with a number of “czars” in the Obama administration. The politically informed among Christian evangelicals may be largely aware that Jim Wallis of Sojourners, a key leader of EIT, embraces radical-left politics and places meanings on Christian concepts that are quite different from the meanings understood by the much larger body of conservative evangelicals in America. (In fact, a movement now exists called Evangelicals for Biblical Immigration, which explicitly rejects the EIT stance on the Gang of 8 bill. Kelly Monroe Kullberg’s open letter to Congress on this matter – see link – is zooming around the web as we speak.)
But EIT’s message seems to target those who do not understand – or don’t care to point out – the difference between left-wing evangelicals and conservative evangelicals. A number of headlines have obediently characterized EIT’s message as simply an “evangelical” one that invokes Christian principles in endorsing the Gang of 8 bill. (See here, here, and of course here, as well.) As outlined in these news stories, EIT is organizing a campaign to pressure pastors and councils of elders to support the Gang of 8 bill.
You have to have some detailed knowledge of evangelicalism and the people involved to recognize that EIT and its acolytes represent a fringe element of political activism, and not the duly adopted positions of thousands of evangelical congregations and their local leadership. American evangelicals haven’t changed their views on Congress’s approach to immigration; rather, a small group of left-wing activists has been funded by Soros to urge evangelicals to act in a certain way – and to advertise its agenda as an evangelical one.
This is the typical pattern for a Soros-funded organization, of course. But it is important to take note of the method, and understand from it the deceptive approach that can justly be associated with proponency for this bill. Pretending that evangelical Christians, as a body, have gotten behind the Gang of 8 bill is just one of the ways in which it is being misrepresented. More common are obfuscation and misdirection about what is actually in the bill. In that regard, the run-up to voting on the Gang of 8 bill is very much like the run-up to the Obamacare vote in 2010.
The bill is bad
This brings us to the video interview of Betsey McCaughey posted at the Daily Caller on 9 June. McCaughey served as lieutenant governor of New York from 1995 to 1998, under George Pataki. As a John M. Olin fellow at the Manhattan Institute in 1993, she was instrumental in revealing the features of the ill-fated “Hillarycare” bill. She unearthed similar revelations about the “Affordable Care Act” of 2010. In the video, she lays out six key problems with the Gang of 8 bill, including a section that would “radically transform” America – pointing out along the way how the bill’s proponents are misrepresenting some of its important features.
I don’t know about you, but I don’t have time to watch a lot of 19-minute videos every day. I can glean the information much faster if it’s written down somewhere. So here’s your TOC Service of the Day: McCaughey’s six points in written form. I take them in the order she presents them. The full text of the bill is here.
1. The bill loosens current controls on processing asylum seekers – a contingent which has included the parents of the Tsarnaev brothers bombing team. Currently, immigrants have one year to declare themselves as asylum seekers, and to thus invoke the favorable treatment accorded asylum seekers by U.S. law. The Gang of 8 bill eliminates that deadline. It will also allow those whose applications for asylum are rejected to stay longer and have a lengthier appeal process. The U.S. attorney general will have, moreover, the discretion to pay the legal bills of asylum seekers, something the law prohibits today.
2. The bill outsources the amnesty process to non-governmental community organizations. It provides for community organizations to receive federal funding to manage the steps in converting undocumented status to a green card and eligibility for citizenship. This will include every aspect of the process, from screening an applicant’s identification and work history to verifying employment when the green card is applied for.
It also entails setting up a federally funded 501(c)(3) organization called the U.S. Citizenship Foundation, which will be run by a consortium of the community groups. The community organizations in question will be those that are national in scope, such as certain reliably left-wing labor unions, along with La Raza and whatever new incarnation Acorn has assumed. They will all be radical-left organizations, in other words. The U.S. Citizenship Foundation will supervise “citizenship preparation programs”; i.e., the programs that teach prospective citizens American history and civics, and teach them practical things like how to vote, and retain the services of a lawyer to invoke their rights.
This is by far the worst provision of the bill, in my view. McCaughey points out that it is identical to a provision in the Obamacare bill which confers on community groups a supervisory role in administering the state health-care exchanges. On the “Navigators” being funded by Obamacare, Michelle Malkin lays this out:
U.S. Health and Human Services secretary Kathleen Sebelius controls a $54 million slush fund to hire thousands of “navigators,” “in-person assisters,” and counselors who will propagandize and enroll Obamacare recipients in government-run health-insurance exchanges. This nanny-state navigator corps is the Mother of all Community Organizing Boondoggles. …
Obamacare navigators will have access to highly personal data from potential “customers” to assess their “needs.” That means income levels, birth dates, addresses, eligibility for government assistance, Social Security numbers, and sensitive medical information. They’ll be targeting both individuals and small businesses. … Who’s getting the navigator grants and training? “Community groups” in 33 states that naturally include socialized-medicine-supporting unions and Saul Alinsky–steeped activist outfits.
The Gang of 8 bill sets up a similar funding line for the same community organizations, to manage aspects of immigration and naturalization that should never be handled by a private group.
McCaughey compares this incipient network to the creation of local “soviets” by Lenin and his henchmen in provinces and towns across Russia, during the communist takeover after 1917. “Soviets” were not entities of the government; they were putative worker collectives. But they were wholly owned by Lenin’s
loyalists, and they brokered access to ordinary government services as well as to political power. Eventually, they had the power not only to confer or deny employment and access to food, but to change the face of local society and politics, by means ranging from relatively benign to vile and terrible.
If you want Bill Ayers and Wade Rathke to set policy for immigration and immigrant assimilation as well as for your access to health care, congratulations. The Gang of 8 bill will do that for you.
3. The bill will have to double the number of legal immigrants in each of the next ten years if it is to meet the goal of the path to citizenship for today’s illegal aliens. The existing backlog of people waiting to immigrate legally will take 19 years to work off, at the current rate of 484,000 immigrants per year. That rate will have to be doubled – at least; or more than doubled, as more and more people will inevitably keep joining the line – if the federal government intends to make good on its promise of a ten-year wait for the illegals going to the back of the line.
As McCaughey points out, the legal immigrants will be entitled to benefits, including Obamacare benefits. The projected additional cost, just for Obamacare, is $100 billion. And that’s not counting other federal costs like food stamps, SSI, and TANF, nor does it consider at all the additional cost to states.
4. The requirement that illegals who apply for citizenship be employed is basically a mirage. Section 245.C.d of the Gang of 8 bill says that the back-of-the-line applicants will have to be employed – unless they are in college, in high school, or pursing a GED; unless they are caretakers of minors, seniors, or the disabled; or unless they are unemployed but not by their own fault.
In other words, they won’t have to be employed.
5. The bill characterizes the immigration problem as an “emergency,” and thus exempts itself from the 2010 Pay as You Go law signed by President Obama. This hand-wave is politically annoying, of course, but it has the material effect of releasing Congress from any obligation to lay out how to pay for the bill’s provisions.
6. The Gang of 8 bill will specifically subject the U.S. Border Patrol to supervision by the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice. (The relevant sections of the bill are 1111 through 1113.)
This is the same Civil Rights Division in which an inspector general recently found extensive evidence of politically motivated bias, in numerous department actions starting with the remarkable dismissal of the case against armed voter intimidation by the New Black Panthers in the 2008 election. The record of current incumbent Thomas Perez as head of the Civil Rights Division has been so radical that Senate Republicans have had real concerns about his nomination for secretary of labor.
A similar finding from early 2009 about political bias in the same division of the George W. Bush Justice Department leads to one obvious conclusion: we would be very stupid to let the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Justice Department oversee how our Border Patrol functions.
The provision in the Gang of 8 bill is not mere boilerplate; it comes off as quite pointed. As the lead executive arm of law enforcement, DOJ can already inquire into any aspect of the Border Patrol’s compliance with federal statutes. That includes whatever is in the purview of the Civil Rights Division. Meanwhile, there is no lack of lawsuits to engage DOJ and affect Border Patrol policies.
But these measures don’t enable activists to place preemptive restraints on Border Patrol operations. The relationship codified in the Gang of 8 bill does. Creating this relationship will effectively remove Congress from the loop, and allow whoever holds positions in the DOJ Civil Rights Division to levy requirements on the Border Patrol. It will substitute regulatory fiat for legislative intent when it comes to our national policies on the use of the Border Patrol.
The Gang of 8 bill is thus, in fact, pretty bad. The good news is that it is expected to face lethal opposition in the House of Representatives. Voters should keep up pressure on the House to prevent this bill from going anywhere. Congress should also keep a watchful eye out for Obama’s habit of issuing executive orders when he can’t get legislation passed.
The Supreme Court’s latest ruling, which overturned Arizona’s voter identification law – as an encroachment on the federal powers outlined in the National Voter Registration Act – is guaranteed to galvanize opponents of the Gang of 8 bill. The SCOTUS ruling appears to have interpreted the law correctly – but the political signal it sent, also a correct one, is that existing law does not prioritize keeping the vote clean. The Heritage Foundation has a good summary of the issues, but although the summary is reassuring in tone, the underlying reality remains that in their efforts to keep the vote clean, the American people are being continually thrown back by legal obstacles. This is the exact opposite of how things should be.
Under such conditions, the last thing we need to do is enlarge the problem of lawlessness and non-accountability with the Gang of 8 bill.