Cantor Intent on Using Military as Pathway to Amnesty

army_bootsHouse Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s (R-Va.), latest legislative gambit is to sneak an amnesty provision into the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that would reward an illegal alien with a green card for simply enlisting in the military. While Cantor is a somewhat abashed supporter of amnesty, he is resolutely committed to it, which only makes his conniving all the more seamy. Apparently Cantor believes that he can sell enough of his fellow Republicans on this vote, since it exchanges amnesty in return for military service, because what could be controversial about allowing illegal aliens to swear an oath to faithfully serve the country whose laws they have demonstrated contempt for?

Is this the first piece of the puzzle of immigration legislation (re: amnesty and massive increases in legal and guest worker admissions) that Cantor alluded to on the House floor last November? Clearly, his corporate bosses are growing desperate for action. Attaching an amnesty rider to a must-pass piece of legislation only invites more mischief, including giving Harry Reid the opportunity to attach the Senate Gang of Eight immigration bill to the NDAA and sending it back to the House, where it could pass with Cantor and his allies voting with the Democrats.

Cantor has been pegged as one of the “young gun” candidates to challenge for the Speaker’s gavel when Boehner steps down. Clearly, Cantor believes that solidifying his donor base is key to securing the Speaker’s chair. However, he risks alienating his fellow Republicans, as well as voters in his district, where Cantor’s immigration stance has won him a primary challenger, Randolph-Macon College economics professor, David Brat.

Cantor’s stance on immigration isn’t any different than that of the old guard, which is likely how he has climbed the leadership ladder. The establishment of both parties has worked to undermine any serious border security or interior enforcement efforts for the past thirty years. Today, illegal aliens can get driver’s licenses, in-state tuition at public universities, teach in public schools, practice law, and even attend the State of the Union address as guests of the President. If Cantor gets his way, illegal aliens will soon be enlisting in the military.

When Ronald Reagan signed legislation in 1986 granting amnesty to 3 million illegal aliens, he said, “Future generations of Americans will be thankful for our efforts to humanely regain control of our borders and thereby preserve the value of one of the most sacred possessions of our people: American citizenship.” Will using the U.S. military to process green cards for illegal aliens preserve that sacred value?

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Cesar Chavez Dedicated his Life to Fighting for American Workers

Cesar_chavezThere is a new biopic of Cesar Chavez that was screened at the White House on March 19.  Some of us were wondering if it would honestly deal with Chavez’s vehement opposition to illegal immigration.  Not really. No one for a moment believed that Chavez’s fight to prevent illegal immigration from Mexico would make it onto the screen.  Not now that his legacy has been co-opted by the open-borders crowd. The concealment of Chavez’s unambiguous support for a secure and well-regulated immigration system betrays over a century of struggle by the labor movement to protect American workers from excessive immigration – a struggle that current leaders of national labor unions have abandoned.

As the head of the United Food Workers, Chavez used union workers to set up a “wet line” to prevent illegal aliens from crossing the border to break strikes by UFW farm laborers. Chavez unabashedly insisted that the rights and well-being of American workers, no matter their ethnic or racial background, were his first priority, and much of what he said directly contradicts those who pretend who speak in his name. Specifically, he wanted nothing to do with ethnic pandering:

…when you say ‘la raza,’ you are saying an anti-gringo thing, and it won’t stop there. Today it’s anti-gringo, tomorrow it will be anti-Negro, and the day after it will be anti-Filipino, anti-Puerto Rican. And then it will be anti-poor-Mexican, and anti-darker-skinned Mexican….La raza is a very dangerous concept.

Cesar Chavez did support the 1986 amnesty because, like Ronald Reagan who signed it into law, he believed that it would solve the problem once and for all, because that’s what politicians promised. It is impossible to know what Chavez would say now about our porous borders and the plight of working-class Americans. But what Chavez did say and what he did do as head of the UFW is not, as Ruben Navarrette Jr points out, a matter of interpretation:

Chavez earned many titles in his life, but “champion of immigrants” was not one of them. He was primarily a labor leader who was concerned about illegal immigrants undercutting union members, either by accepting lower wages or crossing picket lines. He never pretended to be anything else, and he resisted attempts by others to widen his agenda. When he pulled workers out of the field during a strike, the last thing he wanted was to see a crew of illegal immigrant workers take away his leverage.

When Chavez coined the phrase Sí, se puede, you can be assured it wasn’t a pro-amnesty slogan.  

Proving a Labor Shortage in Agriculture: A Job American Researchers Can’t Do

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The Partnership for a New American Economy, a group that unites former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg and media mogul Rupert Murdoch in a push for amnesty and open- border immigration policies, and the Agriculture Coalition For Immigration Reform, a trade group that represent nursery, landscape, and horticultural professionals, published a report on labor shortages in the agricultural sector.  Not surprisingly, the report claimed that “America’s broken immigration system has made it particularly difficult for U.S. growers to find the labor they need.”  This conclusion substitutes a “need” for a “want,” a fundamental error when examining labor markets, while it obscures the fact that what agribusiness wants is to pay farm laborers in the United States below-poverty wages.

There are a lot of problems with the report’s methodology, which was designed to achieve a particular outcome favorable to the agribusiness lobby.  Among them, inadequate citations (a scrupulous researcher does not make it difficult for a reader to track down the data cited as evidence), erroneous wage comparisons (comparing median and mean wages), and imprecise definitions (do the labor share of produce costs contain only direct labor costs, or do they incorporate transportation and processing costs? Who knows?).  

The report claims that because large commercial growers in the U.S. can’t find workers, more produce is being imported from abroad. The report’s author acknowledges that “experts often cite growing international trade and free trade agreements as the key cause for the recent domestic market share decline,” but why pay attention to experts when those who have a vested interest in driving down wages and condition for farm laborers are paying you to support that objective?  Of course trade agreements have increased imports of produce, as have greater consumption and consumption patterns, which have outpaced domestic production (the U.S. imports a lot of kiwi fruit). 

And yes, a labor shortage is a problem for farmers, but not because Americans are lazy and the H-2A program is “not feasible.” The reason farmers can’t find enough workers is that they offer such poor pay that it is no longer worthwhile for many Central Americans to immigrate to the United States illegally to take farm work. Amnestying illegal aliens in the United States, most of whom are not working in agriculture, will not cause workers to flock to the fields.  But agribusiness knows that an amnesty will cause a new cohort of illegal aliens to enter the U.S. who are willing to endure a few years of indentured servitude in exchange for permanent residency in the United States.

Commercial asparagus farmers in Washington State are the perfect illustration of this phenomenon.  When NAFTA was implemented in 1994, it gradually phased out a tariff on Mexican asparagus over a period of 14 years.  As the tariff decreased, asparagus imports from Mexico increased (Peruvian asparagus has been exempt from tariffs since 1991).  As imports increased, Washington growers convinced the state and federal legislatures to subsidize their operations. Now that these subsidies are under threat as battles rage over budget cuts, growers in the Evergreen State are raising holy heck about the prospect of competing in the market place, which now provides better jobs for farm laborers outside the United States.  Asparagus growers in Washington State could pay more to attract domestic workers, they could participate in the H-2A program (which would require them to pay higher wages), or they could lobby the U.S. government to open the immigration floodgates.–which is what they have chosen to do. 

Those pushing for amnesty and mass immigration have so much money to throw around that they seem to have gotten lazy. In the good old days they would have at least put some effort into their work so that their claims weren’t so transparently specious. This new report is not designed to be taken seriously as a piece of legitimate research but to provide cover for politicians who cannot properly explain why the free market should be circumvented to benefit moneyed interests (re: Renee Elmers). Then again, one can’t really blame the agribusiness lobby for believing that they don’t have to present any real evidence to support their claims, but that U.S. immigration policy is made on a pay-for-play basis. That’s been standard practice for the last 30 years.

Oh, the Irony

Paul Ryan |Credit: NBC ChicagoPaul Ryan told the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce in San Antonio, Texas that Republicans “have a hard time trusting this president in enforcing the laws.”  The question to ask Ryan is: Why then is the Republican leadership falling all over itself to pass amnesty and reward the President for the abrogation of his constitutional duty.  (Hint: the answer has something to do with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.)

A recent Washington Post/ABC News poll question designed to elicit a favorable response in support of amnesty found that a majority of registered voters oppose any legislation that would allow “undocumented immigrants currently living in the United States…the right to live and work here legally.” Another question found that registered voters were much more likely to vote against a candidate that supported amnesty than to vote for that candidate.  (See non-push polls here and here.)  The argument that amnesty would attract more Hispanic voters to the Republican party has been thoroughly dismantled, and all polls find that opposition to amnesty is much stronger among Republicans, so why would the Republican leadership want to alienate voters heading into a crucial midterm election at the same time they hand Democrats a monumental political victory (Hint: see above.)

Ryan gave full-throated support to the Gang of Eight bill which would give the Executive Branch enormous discretion on how to (or how not to) enforce its provisions.  Now Ryan is saying that “we have to find a way to write these laws so that they are actually enforced.”  However, he “[wouldn't] get into all the details on how to do that, but we have strong opinions on how to do that.”  That the immigration laws passed by Congress are being openly flouted by the Obama Administration demands immediate action, not a strong opinion that it should stop.

Instead of standing up to the President on immigration, Ryan has been working with Rep. Luis Gutierrez to formulate immigration legislation.  Gutierrez has unabashedly said that “I have only one loyalty and that’s to the immigrant community,” and he called ICE agents who uphold immigration law the “Gestapo.” Are Ryan and Gutierrez in agreement on what U.S. immigration policy should be?  It would seem so.  Gutierrez says that Ryan is his “guiding light” and Ryan promotes those comments on his website.

When the National Review, The Weekly Standard, and Joe Scarborough are all urging the Republican leadership to back away from their attempt to sabotage the Republican Party through “piecemeal immigration reform,” it’s clear that Ryan and his fellow traveler are out of touch not just with the Tea Party but with party. Why would the Republican leadership alienate their base, traduce public opinion, and act against the best interest of their country? (Hint: you get the picture by now.)

Yes, Paul Ryan, it is true that the President can’t be trusted to do the right thing on immigration, and it has become obvious that neither can you.

Chertoff, Cisneros, and Rice Give a Ringing Endorsement to Immigration Ponzi Scheme

Touting a new report by the Bipartisan Policy Center (aka, the unofficial mouthpiece for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce), three former members of the George W. Bush administration, Michael Chertoff (former Secretary, Department of Homeland Security), Henry Cisneros (former Secretary, Department of Housing and Urban Development), and Condoleezza Rice (former Secretary of State) endorsed migration policies that would make Bernie Madoff blush.

Disregarding the economic and foreign policy disasters they left in their wake, which was probably made easy by their plush accommodations at the Four Seasons Silicon Valley where the event took place, the three panelists argued that current immigration levels were just not high enough and only blanket amnesty and open borders would allow America to retain its “demographic edge.”

The main contention of the BPC Immigration Task Force, or the “SWAT team” as Chertoff termed them, is that sufficient economic growth is not happening because there are too few workers in the United States to fill all of jobs vacated by aging Baby Boomers.  Only if we import tens of millions of more immigrants can we ever hope to maintain a functioning economy and keep the Medicaid and Social Security programs solvent.

Of course, this is nonsense.  There are already three workers for every available job, and for some occupations that ratio is much higher.  And it is further nonsense to assert, as the BPC does, that an aging population is resulting in a decrease in the labor participation rate.  The truth is that the labor participation for workers 65 years and over increased by 61 percent between 1992-2012 –some older workers choose to continue to work, some can’t afford to retire.  By 2022, the labor rate for workers over 65 is predicted to increase another 24 percent.  Meanwhile, the labor participation rate for all workers under 55 declined over that same time.  The labor participation rate for teenagers is at an all-time low, and in December 2012 there were over 8 million 18-34 years olds not in the labor force, on top of 5.7 unemployed workers in that age range.  

Another argument the BPC “all-stars” make is that immigration is vital to the future of Social Security and Medicaid.  Using creative accounting, the BPC counts the money immigrants are paying in now, while ignoring the money they will take out later.  Curiously, the BPC does not seem to understand that immigrants age at the same rate as the native-born and will put more of a stain on the these programs as they start to collect.  And while high levels of immigration have reduced the average age in the United States, that change is negligible.  Sooner or later the pyramid collapses, and sooner rather than later if Chertoff, Cisneros, and Rice get their way on immigration. 

More immigration won’t put Americans back to work, or save Social Security and Medicaid, but it does, however, enrich the corporations that support the BPC.  The collapse of the U.S. economy and fiscal insolvency apparently is a small price to pay in return.  Bernie Madoff is a piker in comparison.