Politics & Policy

Yes, Amnesty Encourages More Illegal Immigration

To claim that this is mere “speculation” is to defy common sense.

To the disappointment of immigration-enforcement advocates, Judge Andrew S. Hanen last week rejected a key argument that Texas raised in its attempt to establish legal standing. Texas tried to show that Obama’s amnesty policies would lead to an increase of illegal aliens in the state and would strain state coffers as a consequence.

To most Americans, amnesty leading to more illegal immigration is simple cause-and-effect logic (much like “increasing the labor supply leads to lower wages”). Our court system, however, doesn’t treat so-called speculative harms very well, no matter how inevitable they seem. Still, the open-borders lobby no doubt breathed a big sigh of relief at Hanen’s rejection, considering the mass of evidence that Texas put forward.

Although it doesn’t take a doctorate to understand that amnesty encourages illegal immigration, Texas had submitted written testimony from Harvard Ph.D. Karl Eschbach, a former demographer for the state and an expert in racial demographic trends, ethnic health disparities, and illegal immigration. With Texas paying out nearly $1.7 billion over the last two years in uncompensated health care linked to illegal aliens, the state needs this kind of expertise.

Unsurprisingly, Eschbach told the court that amnesty policies “encourage those eligible [for it] to stay in the United States and incentivize other ineligible unauthorized immigrants to remain in the United States with the hope that they will be the beneficiaries of a future adjustment of status.” Further, he said, “the effect of DACA and DAPA is to incentivize residents of other countries to come to the United States.” 

Judge Hanen in response noted that attorneys for Obama did “not deny that some of [the Department of Homeland Security’s] action has had this effect.” How could they have denied it? We’ve been experiencing “this effect” for decades. In 1986, Congress passed the Immigration Reform and Control Act providing amnesty for 3 million illegal aliens and prohibiting employers from hiring them. We ended up getting the former but not the latter. Since then, our illegal-alien population has quadrupled.

Obama’s stealth amnesty in 2012 and his later promises to go “bigger and bolder” led to Texas’s getting swamped with unaccompanied alien minors (UAMs) last summer. Citing the federal government’s own analysis, Texas stated in its complaint that interviews with apprehended UAMs “showed overwhelmingly” that they were “motivated by the belief that they would be allowed to stay in the United States.” Still, courts call this mere “speculative damage.”

Strangely underutilized by Texas was UAM-surge data from Customs and Border Patrol. From 2012, when DACA was announced, to last year, UAM apprehensions increased 490 percent, 444 percent, and 610 percent for El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras, respectively. In the final three months of last year alone, apprehension figures for Guatemalan and El Salvadorian UAMs eclipsed their entire annual average for fiscal years 2009 through 2011 — 2,746 versus 1,399 for Guatemala, and 1,564 versus 1,508 for El Salvador. Even the Congressional Research Service, the Washington Post, and the Soros-funded Migration Policy Institute have made the link between ending the threat of deportation and the rise in illegal immigration.

Further, the federal government itself predicts an ever-bigger surge this year. Officials have stated that apprehensions for 2015 will rise to 127,000, a giant increase from the figures of recent years: 90,000 in 2014, and an average of 7,000 in 2003–11.

For taxpayers, this will be costly. From the Department of Health and Human Services — specifically, from its Office of Refugee Resettlement, just one of the agencies tasked with management of the crisis — come data showing federal grants to states and non-profit organizations rising from the already lofty $136 million in 2011 to over $800 million last year. The Immigration Law Reform Institute (which I work for) has requested, through the Freedom of Information Act, accounting records that will show the whole price tag of the amnesty-induced UAM crisis. By demonstrating that amnesty is more expensive than deportations (and far more expensive than self-deportation), we hope to confirm that the “limited resources” excuse for not enforcing our immigration laws is 100 percent false.

Other countries apparently understand motivating factors better than we do. Japan has one of the highest standards of living in the world and a very selective immigration system. They know that if they told the 300 million living below the poverty line in the Philippines, Indonesia, and Vietnam that they were switching to an open-borders system, Japan wouldn’t be Japan for very long.

It’s hoped Judge Hanen wasn’t pressured by politics when deciding on this issue. The Left’s increasing moralization of immigration policy is pushing out all common sense from its discussion. Given the harms of mass immigration, we need to be as right-minded as possible. Without common sense, it’s the future of the country that’ll become “speculative.”

Ian Smith — Ian Smith is an attorney in Washington, D.C., and a contributing blogger with immigration enforcement advocate, the Immigration Reform Law Institute.

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