Politics & Policy

Republicans’ Comprehensive Immigration Folly

The GOP is handing Democrats a lifeline with its immigration-reform campaign.

Some supporters of President Obama may be worried about how he and the Democrats are going to fare politically as the problems of Obamacare continue to escalate, and it looks like the Republicans have a chance to win a majority in the Senate.

But Democrats may not need to worry so much. Republicans may once again come to the rescue of the Democrats, by discrediting themselves and snatching defeat from the very jaws of victory.

#ad#The latest bright idea among Republicans inside the Beltway is a new version of amnesty that is virtually certain to lose votes among the Republican base and is unlikely to gain many votes among the Hispanics that the Republican leadership is courting.

One of the enduring political mysteries is how the Republicans can be so successful in winning governorships and control of state legislatures while failing to make much headway in Washington. Maybe there are just too many clever GOP consultants inside the Beltway.

When it comes to national elections, just what principles do the Republicans stand for? It is hard to think of any other than their hoping to win elections by converting themselves into Democrats lite. But voters who want what the Democrats offer can vote for the real thing, rather than Johnny-come-lately imitations.

Listening to discussions of immigration laws and proposals to reform them is like listening to something out of Alice in Wonderland.

Immigration laws are the only laws that are discussed in terms of how to help people who break them. One of the big problems that those who are pushing “comprehensive immigration reform” want solved is how to help people who came here illegally and are now “living in the shadows” as a result.

What about embezzlers or burglars who are “living in the shadows” in fear that someone will discover their crimes? Why not “reform” the laws against embezzlement or burglary so that such people can also come out of the shadows?

Almost everyone seems to think that we need to solve the problem of the children of illegal immigrants because these children are here “through no fault of their own.” Do people who say that have any idea how many millions of children are living in dire poverty in India, Africa, or other places “through no fault of their own” and would be better off living in the United States?

Do all children have some inherent right to live in America if they have done nothing wrong? If not, then why should the children of illegal immigrants have such a right?

More fundamentally, why do the American people not have a right to the protection that immigration laws provide people in other countries around the world — including Mexico, where illegal immigrants from other countries do not get the special treatment that Mexico and its American supporters are demanding for illegal immigrants in the United States?

The very phrase “comprehensive” immigration reform is part of the bad faith that has surrounded immigration issues for decades. What “comprehensive” reform means is that border control and amnesty should be voted on together in Congress.

Why? Because that would be politically convenient for members of Congress, who like to be on both sides of issues, so as to minimize the backlash from the voting public. But what comprehensive immigration reform has always meant in practice is amnesty up front and a promise to control the border later — promises that have never been kept.

The new Republican proposal is to have some border-control criteria whose fulfillment will automatically serve as a “trigger” to let the legalizing of illegal immigrants proceed. But why set up some automatic triggering device to signal that the borders are secure, when the Obama administration is virtually guaranteed to game the system, so that amnesty can proceed?

What in the world is wrong with Congress taking up border security first, as a separate issue, and later taking responsibility in a congressional vote on whether the border has become secure? Congress at least should come out of the shadows.

The Republican plan for granting legalization up front, while withholding citizenship, is too clever by half. It is like saying that you can slide halfway down a slippery slope.

Republicans may yet rescue the Democrats, while demoralizing their own supporters and utterly failing the country.

Thomas Sowell is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution. © 2014 Creators Syndicate Inc.

Thomas Sowell — Thomas Sowell is an American economist, social theorist, political philosopher, and author, whose books include Basic Economics. He is currently senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University.

Most Popular

Education

Is Journalism School Worth It?

Clarence Darrow dropped out of law school after just a year, figuring that he would learn what he needed to know about legal practice faster if he were actually doing it than sitting in classrooms. (Today, that wouldn't be possible, thanks to licensing requirements.) The same thing is true in other fields -- ... Read More
Culture

Wednesday Links

Today is ANZAC Day, the anniversary of the Battle of Gallipoli: Here's some history, a documentary, and a Lego re-enactment. How DNA Can Lead to Wrongful Convictions: Labs today can identify people with DNA from just a handful of cells, but a handful of cells can easily migrate. The 19th-century art of ... Read More
World

Microscopic Dots. Let’s Look at Them.

Stuart E. Eizenstat has written a big book on the Carter presidency. (Eizenstat was Carter’s chief domestic-policy adviser. He also had a substantial hand in foreign affairs.) I have reviewed the book for the forthcoming NR. Eizenstat tells the story of a meeting between President Carter and Andrei Gromyko, the ... Read More
Law & the Courts

Alfie and Haleigh and Charlie and Jahi

When British hospital officials tried to pull the plug on 23-month-old toddler Alfie Evans on Monday night in arrogant defiance of his parents' wishes, many Americans took to Twitter to count their blessings that they live in a country that would not allow such tyranny. "Stories like Alfie Evans make me ... Read More