The GOP proposal on immigration: Long on sentimentality, short on national interests

The GOP proposal on immigration: Long on sentimentality, short on national interests

Those who have considered the consequences of amnesty, legalization, or a path to citizenship for America’s 11 million illegal immigrants usually come to a few simple conclusions:

—Politically, we’d have “an electorate containing tens of millions of additional low-skilled, low-wage voters,” writes Powerline’s Paul Mirengoff. As Byron York has shown using election models of the Hispanic vote, Mitt Romney would have needed 73% of the Hispanic vote to win the 2012 election.

—Ideologically, we know that “[t]hree-quarters of U.S. Hispanics prefer a big government which provides more services to a small one providing fewer services,” as recent Pew Research polling found.

—Economically, the influx would drive down the wages of working-class Americans, a point made by Harvard economist George Borjas, among others.

—Culturally, we’re now well over two decades into “The Disuniting of America” — the process described by Arthur Schlesinger whereby multiculturalism “opposes the idea of a common culture, rejects the goals of assimilation and integration, and celebrates the immutability of diverse and separate racial and ethnic communities.”

So the critics of amnesty/legalization can point to overwhelming evidence of predictably harmful consequences. On the other side, the Republicans who support some form of legalization depend on a different form of argumentation. In short, they rely on sentimentality and racial pandering.

For example, if the disastrous consequences of legalization occur, we’ll have this type of nonsense to blame:

One of the great founding principles of our country was that children would not be punished for the mistakes of their parents.

Those are the words of Congressman Eric Cantor of Virginia, and they are included in the statement of immigration “principles” to be released by GOP leaders soon.

John Jay’s Federalist No. 2 is a much better authority for the founder’s principles:

With equal pleasure I have as often taken notice, that Providence has been pleased to give this one connected country, to one united people, a people descended from the same ancestors, speaking the same language, professing the same religion, attached to the same principles of government, very similar in their manners and customs, and who, by their joint counsels, arms, and efforts, fighting side by side throughout a long and bloody war, have nobly established their general liberty and independence.

Illegal immigration probably would not please Jay. Nor would affirmative action, or La Raza, or foreign-language interpreters at polling stations, or calls for sharia censorship, or the fact that 65% of Hispanics want racial preferences in colleges and employment.

Supporting a bloated welfare state, especially one that doles out blatant racial spoils, is completely inconsistent with the “principles of government” that Jay had in mind.

Speaking of principles, it would be very surprising if the GOP leadership produced any actual ones in their forthcoming statement of “principles.” If repeated prior conduct is any indication, and it almost always is, the upcoming GOP “principles” will consist of manipulative sentimentality.

Take Cantor’s remark about “the great founding principles of our country.” It doesn’t take an analysis of original intent to recognize that the actual founders would not have sought to undermine our immigration laws for the sake of political pandering to an ethnic group. Of course children should not be punished for the mistakes of their parents, but illegal immigration is not a “mistake.” It is illegal and often criminal conduct.

Only a PC, pandering mentality would convert illegal or criminal conduct into a “mistake.” That is precisely the type of conceptual chicanery that the far left engages in, and Cantor is echoing it.

The same sappy chicanery is found in the rhetorical “America is a nation of immigrants.” Being a “nation of immigrants” is a historical fact, not a moral imperative. There is nothing about the historical existence of immigration that legally or ethically necessitates the abandonment of our immigration laws.

The phrase “nation of immigrants” is a factoid that explains nothing about our national interests or about good policy. Yet that notion constitutes part of the justification for a massive cultural, economic, political, and demographic shift that could significantly alter American society.

Even when they pretend to be talking about tangible things, GOP amnesty supporters are still playing word games. House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-Bakersfield, CA) says legalization would allow illegals to “work and pay taxes.” He knows that these buzzwords poll well. However, when we focus on outcomes rather than rhetoric, it becomes clear that McCarthy is being disingenuous.

As Stanford professors Michael Boskin and John Cogan have shown, the taxes immigrants pay in California do not even begin to cover their increased welfare costs. Consider the demographic meltdown described by Boskin and Cogan:

From the mid-1980s to 2005, California’s population grew by 10 million, while Medicaid recipients soared by seven million; tax filers paying income taxes rose by just 150,000; and the prison population swelled by 115,000.

This is a social catastrophe. Through a combination of inflowing dependents and outflowing taxpayers, California has managed to decimate its tax base while broadening the welfare state. The idea that immigration will be fixed when illegals can “work and pay taxes” is belied by California’s ordeal.

How is it that — given all the proof — politicians are so blinded by sentimentality, when they are supposed to be representing their constituents’ interests? Racial pandering is the key.

Notice that pro-amnesty Republicans are not pushing amnesty primarily to benefit Italians or Nigerians. They’ve chosen to adjust immigration policy for the sake of one group whose votes they want. To see that they are pandering to one group alone, simply look at the three Republican co-sponsors of Democrat amnesty: Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R- CA), Jeff Denham (R-CA), and David Valadao (R-CA).

Denham’s district is 40% Hispanic72% of residents in Valadao’s district are Hispanic, and Ros-Lehtinen’s district is 73% Hispanic. (McCarthy’s district is 35% Hispanic.) They’re all under political pressure; Valadao is facing off against a Latina Democrat in a district where Democrats hold a 15% lead in voter registration.

For his part, Cantor is simply unprincipled. He supported the construction of a fence that was supposed to prevent “all unlawful U.S. entries, including entries by terrorists, other unlawful aliens, narcotics, and other contraband.” That hasn’t happened; the Secure Fence Act hasn’t been enforced.

Since Cantor and the rest of the GOP haven’t sealed the border, they’re now stuck with all of the people who snuck across. Instead of upholding the law, now his idea is to reward the people who broke the law, and their children. If that becomes our national policy, we will begin a never-ending cycle of illegal entry and amnesty. This absurdity is almost natural when sentimentality and pandering combine.

Originally posted at American Thinker.

John Bennett

John Bennett

John Bennett has written for The Daily Caller, American Thinker,, Human Events, Accuracy in Media, FrontPage Magazine, and WND. He has been a featured guest on the Laura Ingraham, Lars Larson, and Rusty Humphries programs. He holds a Master's degree from the University of Chicago.


For your convenience, you may leave commments below using Disqus. If Disqus is not appearing for you, please disable AdBlock to leave a comment.