The Republican convention platform committee will begin work soon and there’s talk that it might incorporate an amnesty provision that was written into the Texas state GOP platform (see p. 21). It’s called the “Texas Solution” and is the creation of Texans for Sensible Immigration Policy, a project of the state’s construction industry.
The absurdity of it is palpable. Is construction now a job that Americans in Texas, or Americans willing to move to Texas, won’t do? The number of Americans who are unemployed or underemployed is more than triple the entire illegal-alien workforce, and that’s not including people who’ve dropped out of the labor market altogether.
As usual with such proposals, it presents itself as a “conservative, market- and law-based” temporary worker program to legalize the illegal alien population, a sensible third way between the straw men of “mass deportation” and “blanket amnesty.” It would require the usual things: a background check, fines, proof of health insurance. But perhaps most important, the preconditions for the program are unachievable any time soon, suggesting that they’re just included as window dressing.
For instance, the first prerequisite is: “The U.S. Border must be secured immediately!” Isn’t that nice? The exclamation point is particularly precious. The GAO reports that only about 7 percent of the border with Mexico is classified by the Border Patrol as “controlled” — I’m all for increasing that to 100 percent, but are the building contractors who paid to include this amnesty plank in the platform willing to wait for that to happen? And what about the 30–40 percent of the illegal population that didn’t jump the border, overstaying a visa instead? Are the amnesty advocates willing to wait until we have a functional exit-control system in place (which this administration opposes)?
The second precondition is modernizing the Social Security card. Immigration hawks have been pushing this for years, but even if the Social Security Administration rolled over (they fight it at every turn), it would take years to roll out — are the employers of illegal aliens who wrote this willing to wait?
The third requirement is limiting automatic citizenship at birth to the children of U.S. citizens (apparently not even children born to legal immigrants). I’m not really a hawk on this issue (I think it’s a symptom of too much illegal immigration, not a cause), but amending the Constitution would take years (and amendment would be needed, because the Supreme Court ruled more than a century ago that children born to legal immigrants are citizens). Even if they realized the sloppiness of their proposal, and included children born to lawful permanent residents, changing our practices through legislation would take years too, since it would immediately be challenged in court and have to be decided by the Supremes.
This level of engagement with the details of the “Texas Solution” is probably unnecessary because these preconditions are just rhetorical flourishes to make the proposed illegal-alien amnesty appear to be something else. One of the leaders of this amnesty push, Houston businessman Norm Adams, gave the game away in a celebratory comment after victory in the Texas state convention: “We no longer call it ‘illegal immigration.’” Really? Because the rest of us still do.
All that said, I’m not sure how much to worry about the Texas Solution amnesty being included in the national GOP platform. Virginia governor Bob McDonnell is chairman of the platform committee, with Senator John Hoeven of North Dakota and Representative Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee as co-chairmen. Hoeven is new and has no immigration record, but McDonnell and Blackburn have been consistently reliable. It would be a shame for them to undermine their credibility by permitting an amnesty — however it might be dressed up with exclamation points — into the 2012 platform.