Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Too Big to Assimilate

In the most recent GOP Presidential debate on foreign policy, immigration policy created the biggest hubbub. The Republican candidates, now in their 11th debate, failed to properly clarify and scrutinize America’s immigration dilemma. To the overwhelming majority of Republicans as well as the majority of Americans, both parties have failed on the crisis of immigration reform. The doctrine of both parties professed that Wall Street was too big to fail, yet neither party is willing to forfeit praise to the elitists’ golden calf of diversity and admit that our immigration policy - both legal and illegal - is now too big to assimilate.

In the same asinine fashion that the GOP has donned on itself for a quarter of a century, Republican candidates berated the American people on why more immigration is always good, as long as it’s legal. In typical style of someone who’s been fooled more than once, Newt Gingrich, who voted for amnesty back in 1986 after promises of border control and workplace enforcement never materialized, harangued viewers that it is impossible to deport millions of illegal aliens. Gingrich stated that an illegal alien should be allowed to stay if he “pays taxes, has three children and two grandchildren and belongs to a church…”. It is ironic that Gingrich gives conservative WASP attributes of a small church-going family that pays taxes to millions of illegal immigrants who have broken into the country and through abuse of the welfare policy has ransacked billions of dollars in taxpayer assistance for education, healthcare, food, and living assistance. In the real world, the average illegal alien that has three children and two grandchildren is under 50 years of age, has avoided most taxes, and received hundreds of thousands of dollars in public education and welfare benefits. The church they belong to preaches asylum for millions of law breakers as does the US Catholic Bishops Conference and if had the power of the vote would almost surely be a Democrat.

Back in Gingrich’s home state of Georgia, Governor Nathan Deal had an illegal alien crisis. More than 425,000 illegal aliens resided in the state, a 123% increase from 2000 to 2006, at a cost of $2.4 billion annually according to Federation for American Immigration Reform. Governor Deal, unlike most Washington politicians, took the issue head on by signing into law HB87, “The Illegal Immigration Enforcement and Reform Act.” The law amongst other provisions mandates E-Verify to all Georgia businesses, has a stricter punishment for people who fake identification to get a job, new ID regulations in order to obtain welfare, and punishes businesses who knowingly hire illegals with a $10,000 fine. The result of this new tough enforcement has been that many illegal aliens have self-deported either back to their native country or to states that offer better safe havens. This may result in hundreds of millions of dollars saved for taxpayers per year in welfare and education costs saved to the taxpayers. Some call such laws effective, but Republican candidates call them heartless, as did Rick Perry when defending his decision to give in-state college tuition to illegal aliens in Texas.

None of the candidates on the stage in last week’s debate has been more tone deaf to the political realities of our immigration problem than Mitt Romney. Henceforth Governor Romney stated, “This is a party that loves legal immigration.” Governor Romney and most of the other GOP candidates for President may love legal immigration, especially for their business allies who depend on cheap labor, but legal immigration does not love the GOP. Between 1980 and 2008, Los Angeles County, the nation’s largest, had its immigrant share of the population increase from 22% to 41%. The Republican share of the votes fell from 50% to 29%. In Cook County, Chicago, the nation’s second largest county, the immigrant share of the population has doubled while the GOP share of the votes fell from 40% to 23%. In Manhattan, New York the immigrant share grew by 10% to 34% total from 1980 to 2008, but the GOP share of the vote fell from 26% to just 13.5%. The same is true for states like Colorado, New Mexico and Virginia which has seen a diminishing state GOP as the immigrant population aggrandized. If these trends hold true, which they have for three decades and Mitt Romney is the GOP candidate for President, every state will start to be as blue as the Governor’s home state of Massachusetts. But don’t expect Romney to go soft on supporting diversity and mass immigration; to paraphrase the governor, he can’t afford to because he’s “running for president for crying out loud.”

The issue of immigration goes far beyond the GOP. According to Gallup, a plurality of Americans and at times a majority have favored reducing the amount of legal immigration since 1987. Most recently in 2011, 43% of Americans said we should reduce the amount of legal immigration while only 18% said we should increase legal immigration. It calls into question, then, why almost all GOP candidates for president have declared that we need to make immigration easier and take in more immigrants. It might pay for a Republican to take note from the Bill Clinton playbook and at least say that until unemployment goes down we need to make immigration “safe, rare, and legal.”

When the citizens have had to vote on issues of immigration, they have mostly stood pro-enforcement. From Proposition 187 in California to voting for the re-election of Governor Jan Brewer who saw her poll numbers increase from 42% to 56% after signing SB 1070 into law. SB 1070, which was tepidly accepted by some Republicans and rejected by almost all Democrats, has been responsible for 100,000 illegal immigrants leaving Arizona in the two months that followed the bill’s passage. The Mexican government acknowledged the massive migration, in the month that followed SB 1070 becoming law, the Mexican government stated 23,000 illegal aliens returned home from Arizona. SB1070 while scorned by the political class was supported overwhelmingly by both the people of Arizona and Americans as a whole.

All GOP candidates are missing one vital element to modern immigration, that being assimilation. Assimilation is the process that took nearly 12 million German, Italian and Irish immigrants from 1865 to 1924 and turned them into the greatest generation of Americans. This process is lost today; immigrants are encouraged to keep their heritage, language, faiths, and tribal laws. Discrimination against women, anti-American bigotry, hatred of “old white men”, and refusal to become American have been well documented across the country; from Somali cab drivers in Minnesota, to a UCLA professors, to students who hang the American flag under the Mexican flag in a California high school.

ESL classes, ethnic balkanization, and anti-American sentiment have driven much of the uneasiness amongst most Americans. Yet this vital key of American immigration policy for 200 years has not only been abandoned, it is completely ignored by one party and viewed as racist white supremacy by the other. Assimilation is treason in the multicultural tower of Babel. To quote Congressman Allen West (R-FL), “ I think that anytime someone is coming across your border and they haven’t been invited, that can be considered what the founding fathers wrote as an invasion into your country.” By Congressman West standards, America is under mass invasion.

Robert Putnam, Harvard Professor and author of Bowling Alone, The Collapse and Revival of American Community stated in an interview at Harvard, “New unfamiliar diversity is to make everyone uncomfortable… We get less involved with our community and we trust everyone less." Putnam states the way to counter this is to "create a sense of shared identity."

However the question remains: When a nation is taking in two million legal and illegal immigrants per year, mostly from the third world, how can we create a common shared identity?

The breakdown of our common civic society and the evaporation of our social capital have caused trust of our community and our government to go into free fall. Take into account a Gallup poll in 1964 on the question of “Can most people can be trusted?” in which 77% responded yes. By 1996, only 8% of Americans said that “the honesty and integrity of the average American” were improving, and 50% thought we were becoming less trustworthy.

The United States may very well be balkanizing. Black self-segregation and white flight have been well documented throughout the country. The United States is turning into a high school cafeteria, where the jocks sit amongst themselves, as do the cheerleaders, as do the nerds, as do the dungeons and dragons fans. Not because they hate one another, but they prefer to be amongst their own based on “positive feelings” as described by Professor Robert DeFina of Villanova University on his study of African Americans’ self-segregating.

And as this crisis of confidence and cohesion engulf main street Americans, the ivory towers of Washington are immune. The Democratic Party is the party of “multiculturalism, mass immigration and the mortgage crisis”. It would just be in the interest of diversity if the Republican Party could offer a different solution. If amnesty for 11 million illegal immigrants is the solution, then is it still the solution for 20 million or 50 million or 100 million? To paraphrase Ronald Reagan, “if you want more of something, have the government subsidize it.”

In 1924, Calvin Coolidge signed an immigration act that decreased the flow of immigrants to 2% of the population until it was overturned in 1965 by Lyndon Johnson. This 41 year gap on mass immigration allowed the unity of the American people; “out of many, one.” Such boldness is rare in modern political life. The only possible solution appears to be drafting Calvin Coolidge in 2012.


Immigration: An Artificial Stimulus For Homeownership

The phrase “jobs Americans won’t do” all too often serves as a rationale for maintaining high levels of immigration. Get set for an equally dubious idea to justify mass immigration: “housing Americans can’t buy.” Senators Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., and Mike Lee, R-Utah, among others, are believers. And they’re offering a sweet deal.

This October, the two lawmakers unveiled the Visa Improvements to Stimulate International Tourism to the United States of America Act, or VISIT-USA Act (S.1746). A key element of the bill would provide renewable three-year resident visas to foreign nationals who invest at least $500,000 in residential real estate here. The plan, they argue, would turbo-charge our flagging housing industry and without incurring a subsidy. Supporters seem not to have pondered the downsides.

Since the virtual collapse of home mortgage lending during 2007-08, boosting homeownership has become a growth industry in its own right, especially in Washington. Among key steps, the Bush administration created a temporary first-time homebuyer tax credit, which Congress and the Obama administration promptly expanded the following year. And the Obama White House, only a couple months in office, created the Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP), which enables distressed mortgage borrowers to renegotiate loans at favorable rates. And several weeks ago President Obama revealed the “We Can’t Wait” phase of his anti-foreclosure campaign. Building on HAMP, it would reduce monthly payments for homeowners who currently owe more than their properties are worth, a phenomenon known as being “underwater.” The program would allow distressed borrowers to refinance their mortgages at rates as low as 4 percent. Some 10 million households – about one in four with a mortgage – are in this situation.

Before Congress gets on the bandwagon, it is important to remember that the first-time homebuyer tax credit and HAMP programs also enjoyed a “too good to fail” aura, yet experienced major unexpected roadblocks. Let’s have a brief look at each.

The tax credit, hurriedly created in the summer of 2008 during the Bush administration, provided a temporary credit of up to $7,500 to first-time homebuyers. In 2009, at the strong urging of President Obama, Congress twice extended and expanded the program as part of separate economic stimulus packages. The first renewal raised the ceiling to $8,000, repealed the repayment requirement, and broadened the definition of new buyers to include those who haven’t owned a home within the last three years. The second expansion raised the already-high income ceilings of $75,000 (singles) and $150,000 (married couples) to a respective $125,000 and $225,000, and also created a separate credit of up to $6,500 for existing homeowners.

The subsidy would prove unnecessary. A 2009 Brookings Institution study estimated that 85 percent of the (by then) nearly two million program participants would have bought a home anyway. Fraud also was extensive. IRS Inspector General J. Russell George testified before a House subcommittee in October 2009 that nearly 20,000 applicants falsely claimed a combined $139 million on their 2008 tax returns before (rather than after) purchase; another 74,000, contrary to program rules, had owned a home within the previous three years. More than 50 IRS employees, he added, had filed “illegal or inappropriate” claims. The program expired on April 30, 2010.

The HAMP program, in the process of being phased out, cuts monthly payments for potentially millions of at-risk borrowers, giving them a chance to rebuild their credit. Launched by the Obama administration in April 2009, it draws upon as much as $50 billion of Bush-era Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) funds and another $25 billion from secondary mortgage lending giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which were placed under emergency federal conservatorship in September 2008. Yet only about $2.4 billion of that $75 billion had been spent by October. Think of that as a plus. Data collected by the Treasury Department, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, and the Office of Thrift Supervision show unusually high rates of default in the program’s trial and permanent loan modification phases. This past March, the House of Representatives voted 252-170 for early termination (H.R. 839); the expiration date originally had been set at December 31, 2012. The Senate has yet to take action on an identical bill (S.527).

That brings us to the VISIT-USA bill. The mechanism is different, but the goal is the same: boosting homeownership demand. And it ostensibly would do so without imposing any taxpayer burden – at least not directly. Yet it’s important to read between the lines to see some likely unwanted consequences.

First, consider buyer composition. Who has $500,000 on hand to invest in American housing – be it a single-family detached, condominium or townhouse – and is willing to live in it for at least half the year? There are only so many legitimate businessmen, retirees and heirs from around the world to go around. Common sense dictates that any number of disreputable investors will participate to acquire a coveted resident visa. As the blogsite Diplopundit puts it: “Wanna guess who has that much cash floating around? Well, for starters, dictators, drug lords, drug traffickers and their girlfriends/boyfriends always have that much cash around, in case.”

Supporters of the bill respond that visa holders would include people who come here for legitimate work. But aside from the dubious wisdom of displacing native-born workers, we already provide work visas, E1 through E5, ranked according to priority. The VISIT-USA bill’s housing visa, at bottom, would function as the standard B-2 visitor’s visa all but in name. The people who have $500,000 to spend on American real estate would qualify for a B-2 anyway. Moreover, a B-2 carries no restrictions on home purchases. This program would be entirely redundant.

Much more here

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