I’ll Give Them a Goddamned Hearing if They Want It

by Mark Krikorian

Lindsey Graham generously conceded yesterday, with regard to the amnesty/open-borders push, that “we held one hearing in 2006,” to it “makes sense to me we hold at least one hearing” this time around. This is in the spirit of his pal’s “I’ll build the goddamned fence if they want it” outburst and inspires about as much confidence. Graham implied that the push for hearings was just a political tactic to try to kill the Schumer-Rubio amnesty bill, and it is no doubt that in part.

But there really are new issues that need to be aired, and not after the bill is written in secret or is debated among a handful of senators. Mickey Kaus has listed some of them, I’ve added some of my own elaborations:

  • The demographic changes in Mexico. The pro-amnesty folks have been claiming for a while now that Mexico’s falling birth rate and the emptying out of certain parts of the countryside mean there’s no danger that this latest amnesty would be followed by a new wave of illegal immigration. Maybe, maybe not, but it’s not an issue that was discussed last time and warrants some investigation. And what about the countries of Central America? Honduras and Guatemala make Mexico look like Norway. And they’re disproportionately responsible for the surge in illegal crossings in south Texas — seems like a good topic for hearings.
  • The guest-worker scheme cooked up by Big Labor and Big Business is a departure from anything we’ve tried before, with a commission, similar to the U.K.’s Migration Advisory Commission, determining how many “temporary” workers to admit annually. Despite the novelty, there’s never been a congressional hearing on this idea. What’s more, the bill is likely to contain yet another farmworker-importation program — isn’t that worth exploring?
  • The Bush administration didn’t claim last time that the border had already been secured, but this bunch claims just that. This bill is also expected to have certain border security triggers. But with a 50 percent increase in illegal-alien apprehensions in south Texas, new evidence from drone-mounted radar showing that half the people infiltrating from Mexico get away from the Border Patrol, DHS’s admission that it has no way to measure whether the border is secure, and the likelihood that DHS is cooking the books on its enforcement statistics, it seems like a Republican senator who was genuinely interested in securing the border would want to have some hearings to look more deeply into this topic.
  • The triggers in this bill are supposed to be for moving the amnestied former illegals from green-card-lite to full green-card status, which is envisioned to take more than a decade. This, too, is different from the 2006–2007 bills, and warrants inquiry: For instance, if the benchmarks aren’t met, will the provisional status of the amnestied illegals be withdrawn?
  • There have been lots of hearings over the years on immigrant’s welfare-benefit issues, but Obamacare is a new and, according to both its supporters and detractors, transformative development. Rubio insists that the provisionally legalized illegals will not be eligible for Obamacare, but the Senate soundly defeated an amendment that would have provided for just that. The impact of amnesty and the huge planned increases in legal immigration on our new health-care system also warrant open exploration.

The amnesty-pushers’s resistance to hearings is only partly driven by fear that, the longer it takes to ram the bill through Congress, the more public opposition will build. More deeply, these guys have the sense that they already know all they need to know about the subject — illegals should all get to stay, everyone else in the world who wants to come here should be admitted, and that’s that. Epistemic closure, to use the pretentious formulation.

Now, I obviously have my own strong opinions, but even I would want to hear more about demographic changes in Mexico and Central America, for instance, or how the commission they foresee would differ from the U.K.’s Migration Advisory Board. And I actually support amnesty, now, for certain illegals who came at very young ages, but it would come at a high price, both to taxpayers and unemployed workers. Thus, we need a real assessment of the costs so we can find ways to offset them, something that’s even more important for those who want broader amnesty.

In short, the resistance to hearings by the Gang of Eight (and Leahy) is a sign that amnesty-pushers both fear defeat and are uninterested in evidence.

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