The Corner

Immigration in the Platform

I wrote the other day about an attempt by cheap-labor interests to get a guestworker program inserted into the immigration plank of the Republican platform. The bad news is that a guestworker provision did get added. I don’t have the whole text, but the relevant part says “a Republican administration and Congress . . . will consider, in light of both current needs and historic practice, the utility of a legal and reliable source of foreign labor where needed through a new guestworker program.”

The better news is that this is small beer compared to what the business lobbyists wanted. The panel rejected an amendment that read: “Such a new program will be funded with user fees not taxpayer money, and implemented using smart-card technology and the expertise of private employment firms, which will link specific workers to specific jobs and thus eliminate any incentive for illegal border crossings by drying up the market for illegal labor.”

Kris Kobach, Kansas Secretary of State (and future president) was taking the lead on immigration and he didn’t object to adopted the language. His role overall in crafting the immigration plank was significant; as The Hill noted:

“Of the amendments that Chris [sic] either made or spoke in favor of, each and every one was adopted,” Indiana RNC Committeeman James Bopp, a constitutional scholar who chaired one of the party’s platform subcommittees. “He had a significant impact on the formulation of the platform. People respect his views and listen to him carefully on these issues.”

The meaning of the guestworker provision is even less worrisome when you consider this from Kobach, as reported by Politico:

“We recognize that if you really want to create a job tomorrow, you can remove an illegal alien today,” he told the 100-plus representatives to the committee. “That is the way to open up jobs very quickly for U.S. citizen workers and lawfully admitted alien workers.”

The best news is that, other than the guestworker burp, the platform is still hawkish. Politico’s headline says “GOP platform gets tougher on immigration,” but it really just seems to include the elements that were in the 2008 version — phased-in E-Verify for all hires, real fencing, no funds for sanctuary cities. A new element is the demand that “state efforts to reduce illegal immigration must be encouraged, not attacked,” and a call for DOJ to drop its lawsuits against state immigration laws.

What Politico seems to have meant by the “gets tougher” reference was that the RNC had preemptively tried to weaken the document:

The committee agreed to restore 2008 platform planks that didn’t appear in a draft prepared by Republican National Committee staff, who worked in close consultation with Mitt Romney’s campaign.

That’s why you shouldn’t let headquarters staff run the party.

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