Monday, August 5, 2013

No Amnesty – None, Nada – Until Enforcement is Here to Stay

The United States enjoys and is benefitted by a wonderful attraction to immigrants, people who lawfully come here from other lands to live and be a part of this exceptional nation.

Unfortunately, it also attracts migrants who either cross our borders or enter our ports illegally, or illegally overstay visas. No one knows how many migrants are illegally in the United States today, but the low estimate is 12 million. That's about the population of Illinois or Pennsylvania, and more than the population of any other state except California, Florida, New York and Texas.

In 1986, President Reagan signed a law, the Simpson Mazzoli Act, advertised as if it were the be-all-and-end-all of amnesties for migrants illegally in the United States. Clean it up just this one last time and we'll hereafter strictly enforce our nation's laws!

The estimate was that about 1.8 million persons would "come out of the shadows" to become legal residents. In the event, some three million persons came out of the shadows. A scant four years later, Wyoming Republican U.S. Senator Alan Simpson - the Simpson of Simpson-Mazzoli - said, "Uncontrolled immigration is one of the greatest threats to the future of this country." So much for the enforcement so grandly promised by its supporters in Congress at the time his bill was signed by the president.

They're at it again. President Obama and the Democrat leadership in Congress are hell-bent on converting illegal migrants into legal residents. They have some Republican help. New rhetoric and new statutory language to be sure but, boiled down, it's the same old same old with a craftily created new twist, the Registered Provisional Immigrant (RPI).

I'll dispense with details of RPI status and let the interested reader check it out on the Internet. Despite protestation to the contrary one might expect from, say, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., RPI status equals amnesty. This time the usual guesstimate is that 12 million migrants are illegally in our country; applying the Simpson-Mazzoli experience, 3-to-1.8, leads one to believe 20 million could be the reality. Perhaps more. Exceeding the population of every state except California and Texas.

McCain and three other senators (Jeff Flake of Arizona, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Marco Rubio of Florida) were the Republican half of the Gang of Eight who wrote this year's amnesty bill in the Senate, the euphemism-loaded Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act.

Note that "border security" appears first. Most, reportedly including Spanish-surnamed citizens, believe it must be first in fact, not just in the bill title. Just like Simpson-Mazzoli, though, amnesty (the crafty new RPI arrangement) doesn't await evidence of enforcement; it's concurrent with the president's signature on the bill. It is inconceivable to me that migrants illegally here today and granted RPI status tomorrow would not immediately enjoy (or, with the inevitable amendments and court decisions, soon enjoy) substantially all privileges of any other legal resident except a citizen's right to vote. There will be no going back, so "provisional" is a snare and a delusion; crafty, no? RPI status would be tantamount to holding a green card.

On July 21, the Denver Post published Colorado U.S. Representative Mike Coffman's column in which he said, "First, we must secure our borders and enforce our laws." Right on! But three days later, on July 24, a Denver Post story included the reporter's understanding that Rep. Coffman "believes comprehensive immigration reform - increased border security and a provisional legal status for the millions of undocumented people living in the United States now - needs to happen mostly simultaneously." (Bolding mine.)

Wouldn't that take us back to Simpson-Mazzoli? But maybe 20 million instead of 3 million, their illegal entry rewarded through amnesty with legal permanent residence?

George Santayana famously observed, "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it."

In that same July 24 article, President Obama was quoted, "... there's a tendency, I think, to put off the hard stuff until the end. And if you've eaten your dessert before you've eaten your meal, at least with my children, sometimes they don't end up eating their vegetables." This was in support of one comprehensive reform bill, say the Senate's, in contrast to the step-by-step approach the article reported to be supported by another Colorado Republican in the U.S. House, Cory Gardner.

True to form, the president has a confused interpretation of his own adage. The vegetables needing to be eaten first are called "Enforcement." The various stages of amnesty being proposed (e.g., "temporary provisional" residency, green cards, pathway to citizenship) are dessert that shouldn't even come out of refrigeration in the kitchen 'til the veggies are eaten.

My research indicates that Colorado's other two Republican U.S. representatives, Doug Lamborn and Scott Tipton, aren't close to supporting amnesty, let alone in the absence of crystal clear evidence that enforcement has come first. Colorado's Democrats in Congress - Sens. Mark Udall and Gang-of-Eighter Michael Bennet, and Reps. Diana DeGette, Jared Polis and Ed Perlmutter - have apparently supported amnesty from the get-go.

The promise of low-wage workers and immunity from prosecution for ubiquitous illegal employment apparently has U.S. Chamber of Commerce members salivating for another amnesty. Quaking fear of alienating Hispanic voters has Republican consultants timorously clamoring for amnesty.

The Republic should not be compromised for the U.S. Chamber's interests.

I believe the amnesty-supporting political consultants are wrong. Sixty or so years of living in New Mexico, including more than eight as chairman of the state GOP there, leave me with the conviction that Republicans cannot out-pander the Democrats to secure support from Hispanics. Some despise the presence of illegal migrants, so the GOP could actually lose support among those. Others have a variety of (mostly big-government) reasons for supporting Democrats. Sen. McCain has been pandering to voters with Spanish surnames for the nearly three decades I have known him, yet McCain's electoral support among them is, at best, only marginally better than some other Republicans and worse than a few.

Republican obeisance to demands for comprehensive immigration reform is neither owed to the Spanish-surnamed segment of the population nor likely to win or lose its support. Republicans must earn these votes, just like others' votes, by steadfast pursuit of the conservative principles they claim to hold dear.

I concur that the immigration-migration situation of the United States is in disarray and desperately in need of overhaul. Step-by-step is the correct approach. The hard lesson of history teaches that enforcement must be the first of those steps


Immigration spot checks not racist, says Home Office

The Home Office has denied that officials broke the law by carrying out "racist" spot checks on suspected illegal immigrants on the basis of their skin colour.

The denial by immigration minister Mark Harper came after the Equality and Human Rights Commission launched an investigation into the immigration checks for possible discrimination, and anti-racism campaigner Doreen Lawrence also questioned the apparent focus on non-white people in operations being carried out in and around train stations.

Harper said the choice of London tube stations for spot checks was driven by intelligence, and that individuals were targeted on the basis of their behaviour rather than their physical appearance.

The UK Borders Agency's enforcement instructions and guidance reveal that immigration officers have broad discretion to carry out spot checks, with behaviour deemed to be suspicious including: hanging back from a station barrier, avoiding eye contact, a sudden change in walking direction or pace, and seeking to avoid confrontation with someone perceived to be a threat.

The minister revealed that no details of the ethnicity of those questioned were recorded, with officers noting only the nationality, name and date of birth of those they spoke to. Some 17 people were arrested on suspicion of immigration offences at two tube stations where operations were carried out. Data on the numbers stopped for questioning will be released in due course, he added.

"We are not carrying out random checks of people in the street and asking people to show their papers," he told the BBC's Radio 4 Today programme. "That's absolutely not what we are doing. We wouldn't have the lawful authority to do that.

"The operations carried out at two tube stations were based on specific intelligence about concerns that we had about those particular locations and about the times when we conducted the operations. We weren't stopping people based on their race or their ethnicity. We were only stopping people and questioning them where we had a reasonable suspicion that they were an immigration offender."

Harper said the operations were targetting people who "behaved in a very suspicious way". This appears to be a reference to section 31.19.5: basis to stop individuals, which states a person could be justifiably targeted if they seek to avoid immigration officers at a train or tube station as this could be classied as "having an adverse reaction to an immigration presence".

Labour's shadow immigration minister, Chris Bryant, told the Today programme that the recent immigration crackdown had led to a climate of moral panic. He has written to the home secretary, Theresa May, demanding details of the number and ethnic background of people stopped for questioning.

"If it feels as if what is basically happening is that they are going to some parts of the country and stopping every person with a black face, then that is totally unacceptable," he said.

"What we really need from Theresa May – and I think this is a matter of urgency now, because we have had a sort of moral panic that's been created by all of this over the last 10 days and I have a hateful fear that this is what the general election is going to be like – is precise numbers of where these stops and searches were being done, what the percentage was of people who were arrested."

Almost 140 suspected illegal immigrants were arrested on Thursday, in raids that the Home Office controversially publicised on Twitter and condemned by users of the microblooging site as "dystopian" and likened to "UK Hunger Games".

The EHRC, which is responsible for policing the Equalities Act, to which all public bodies are bound, is also investigating the controversial anti-immigration advertising campaign targeting racially mixed areas of London. The government campaign has used mobile billboards warning illegal immigrants to "go home or face arrest".

An EHRC spokesman said on Friday: "The commission is writing to the Home Office about these reported operations, confirming that it will be examining the powers used and the justification for them, in order to assess whether unlawful discrimination took place.

"The letter will also ask questions about the extent to which the Home Office complied with its public sector equality duty when planning the recent advertising campaign targeted at illegal migration.


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