December 7, 2012
Add former President George W. Bush’s name to the list of Republicans who want the GOP to commit political suicide by passing amnesty. During his recent Dallas speech hosted by the Federal Reserve Bank and held at the George W. Bush Institute, Bush pushed for comprehensive immigration reform saying that immigrants come with “new skills” and fill a “critical part” in our labor market. The only thing Bush knows about immigration is that during his two terms in the White House and despite his heroic efforts with both Democratic and Republican-controlled Congresses, he couldn’t push amnesty through. Bush’s current argument is the same one he unsuccessfully advanced for eight years.
Bush failed for two related reasons, both of which still apply today. First, only some immigrants arrive with “new skills.” According to the Center for Immigration Studies research which used Census Bureau data collected in 2010, 57 percent of immigrant-headed households (legal and illegal) with children under age 18 used at least one welfare program. Within the last several weeks, Senate Republicans have demanded to know why so many legal immigrants who immediately apply for benefits have been allowed to enter. As for that part of the immigrant population that might have skills, where would they apply and at whose expense would they be employed? With the U-6 unemployment rate hovering around 15 percent and with more than 20 million Americans unable to find a full time job, the last thing the nation needs to do is expand the labor pool. Each legal immigrant is immediately work authorized.
Second, as Bush painfully learned, Americans think that rewarding lawbreakers, no matter how hard working they may be, is wrong. On the other hand, those who want amnesty include vote-grubbing and ethnic identity politicians, cheap labor shills like the Chamber of Commerce, the Hispanic lobby and subversive Hispanic groups whose noise exceeds their numbers and, lest I forget, journalists who cannot bring themselves to write a fair and balanced story that presents both sides of the immigration debate. Tax-paying, law abiding Americans don’t want illegal immigrants legalized and they don’t want more immigration. If they did, Bush’s amnesty would have sailed through Congress in 2002.
Predictably, Bush played immigration advocates’ trump card by calling for the sure-to-come 2013 amnesty debate to be conducted in a “benevolent spirit.” In other words if, like Bush, you support amnesty, you’re traveling the high road. But if you oppose, then you’re of suspect character and will be subject to nasty name calling. In 2006, Bush’s Republican allies called anti-amnesty Americans “bigots,” (South Carolina Senator Lindsay Graham) who wanted illegal immigrants “killed” (Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff) as part of their “national chauvinism” phobia (presidential speech writer Michael Gerson).
Nothing rubs Americans the wrong way more than the suggestion that they’re not “benevolent,” especially when the subject is immigration. Not only does the United States have the world’s most generous legal immigration policy, about one million admitted annually, the federal government has also looked the other way at illegal immigration for decades. Illegal immigrants are allowed to enroll in public schools, get jobs and avail themselves of some social services.
Finger pointing at Americans who exercise their Constitutional First Amendment right to free speech to criticize federal immigration policy will only raise their ire and increase their already high likelihood of resisting having amnesty forced on them.
Joe Guzzardi is a Californians for Population Stabilization Senior Writing Fellow whose columns have been syndicated since 1986, Contact him at email@example.com