As President Obama concluded his prime-time speech last Thursday, Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson released ten immigration policy memoranda that are sweeping in the number of aliens they cover and the relief they provide. Combined, the policy memos apply to approximately 5 million illegal aliens in the U.S. and an untold number of aliens outside the U.S. who will be allowed to enter the U.S. under new policies designed just for them. In terms of relief, the policy memos offer illegal aliens relief spanning from deferral of deportation and work authorization to a pathway to citizenship. They also create special exceptions for certain workers seeking to enter the U.S.
President Obama addressed the nation this past Thursday to talk about his Deferred Action Program for Illegal Aliens. Numerous analyses have emerged since, including a quick fact checking of his speech or a point by point refutation. I am adding here a couple thoughts:
The President highlighted the American “tradition of welcoming immigrants from around the world”, adding: “we are and always will be a nation of immigrants”.
As I noted in a previous blog, immigration successes and failures are not static just as past immigration flows differ from today’s, if only in size and origin. Also, in an increasingly interconnected world (cheap and fast travel, modern tools of connection like internet, phone, television, etc.), immigrants can and usually do retain contact with their homeland on regular basis. This affects migratory experiences and encourages cultural preservation while slowing down integration processes. We should keep this in mind when faced with the ‘melting pot’ justification for maintaining our doors and borders open. In the past, a land was thirsty for people; today, people are thirsty for the land.
The President also claimed that immigration helps the economy: “Our history and the facts show that immigrants are a net plus for our economy and our society…Independent experts said that it would help grow our economy and shrink our deficits.”
I don’t know about these “independent” experts but one Harvard economist, George Borjas, questions such conclusions. In his book, Immigration Economics, he argues that today’s immigration generates losers and winners. The losers are the American workers; the winners are both the immigrants and the employers of immigrants. What immigration does, in short, is transfer wealth: it takes from U.S. workers to give to U.S. employers of immigrants. Look at it from a supply and demand perspective says Borjas: immigration’s supply of workers leads to the price of labor going down. When immigrants come in, the wage of competing workers goes down. Conversely, for a particular group of labor that does not include immigrants, the price of labor goes up.
So, unlike what President Obama is asserting, American workers are the big losers today while American employers of immigrants share the winning stand with the immigrants.
Knowing that the type of immigration the U.S. witnesses today is mainly low-skill immigration, is it wise to give work authorization to five million more unskilled immigrants? If we truly cared about the well-being of low-skilled American workers who are being hurt by additional competition, our immigration policy would be geared towards minimizing or stopping the entry of low-skilled immigrants, definitely not adding to it.
Finally, President Obama talked about the “American identity”, asking people not to worry about a “change in the very fabric of who we are”, and claiming that the immigration debate was “about who we are as a country and who we want to be for future generations”. According to him, welcoming immigrants is the right, “American” thing to do.
The President is right to talk about the American identity because it is at risk. When people migrate, they carry with them their own moral codes, skills, attitudes toward work etc. The reproduction of cultural capital and notions of identity and belonging – or ‘cultural transplants’, as labeled by Thomas Sowell – are in fact inherent to migratory processes. Many immigrants feel strongly about retaining much of the culture they left behind. This applies even more to large-scale immigration, the kind we witness today. If previous immigrant flows successfully assimilated to the American culture, it does not mean this outcome will apply to today’s flows. As I stated above, conditions, needs, aspirations…not to mention the world in general have changed.
What is true today is that large and constant immigration flows to the United States throughout the 20th Century led to the creation of numerous “ethnic enclaves” where integration (not to mention assimilation) is hard to achieve. With this in mind, The American identity and legacy are in real danger.
On a personal note, but since we are in an era of storytelling (the President shared with us the hardship and courage of Astrid Silva), I recall my father’s words: “There is so much misery out there, I cannot alleviate all of it even if I wanted to. But what I try to do is take care of my family the best I can. It is my duty, my moral duty”. We heard the President the other night, but, is he listening to us? As the elected head of this nation, is he doing everything he can to take care of this nation’s children, ahead of any other nation? Or is he failing his moral duty?
There hasn’t been much attention paid to the guest worker provisions included in Obama’s executive amnesty. Aside from the Optional Practical Training (OPT) program being expanded in as yet unexplained ways, DHS is going to maximize the use of the “national interest waiver”* to allow a foreign national with “an advanced degree or exceptional ability” to apply for a green card without an employer sponsor. Much worse, DHS will use its “significant public benefit ‘parole authority’ to:
…propose a program that will permit DHS to grant parole status, on a case-by-case basis, to inventors, researchers, and founders of start-up enterprises who may not yet qualify for a national interest waiver, but who have been awarded substantial U.S. investor financing or otherwise hold the promise of innovation and job creation through the development of new technologies or the pursuit of cutting edge research. Parole in this type of circumstance would allow these individuals to temporarily pursue research and development of promising new ideas and businesses in the United States, rather than abroad.
This is a sop to tech executives in Silicon Valley who will claim, as they do with the H-1B program, that the foreign workers (unlimited under Obama’s directive) they are now going to be able to bring in to displace Americans are the world’s “best and brightest” who have “exceptional ability” and/or are of “significant public benefit.” Not only are the meager workers protections now in place to protect Americans in skilled occupations circumvented, but there is no ceiling on how many foreign workers will be able to enter the U.S. job market.
Worst of all, the L-1B visa program, which has been used to circumvent caps on H-1Bs workers, is going to be ramped up. The L-1 “Intracompany Transferee” visa allows a company to bring an employee who has worked for that company abroad for one year to the United States. The L-1B visa is for employees with “specialized knowledge,” though the specialization of the knowledge is determined wholly by the employer. An L-1B visa is valid for five years. There is no labor market test or wage requirement for employers who sponsor an L-1 guest worker, and the spouses of L visa holders get work authorization.
The “Worker Portability” policy is more ambiguous. It will allow guest workers more bargaining power, in theory, since they can change employers, but the number of guest workers allowed in under these provisions (unlimited) is going to mean more displacement for native workers in all “skilled” occupations.
*8 U.S. Code § 1153
(B) Waiver of job offer
(i) National interest waiver Subject to clause (ii), the Attorney General may, when the Attorney General deems it to be in the national interest, waive the requirements of subparagraph (A) that an alien’s services in the sciences, arts, professions, or business be sought by an employer in the United States.
**8 U.S. Code § 1182
(A) The Attorney General may, except as provided in subparagraph (B) or in section 1184 of this title, in his discretion parole into the United States temporarily under such conditions as he may prescribe only on a case-by-case basis for urgent humanitarian reasons or significant public benefit any alien applying for admission to the United States, but such parole of such alien shall not be regarded as an admission of the alien and when the purposes of such parole shall, in the opinion of the Attorney General, have been served the alien shall forthwith return or be returned to the custody from which he was paroled and thereafter his case shall continue to be dealt with in the same manner as that of any other applicant for admission to the United States.
Obama Announces Sweeping Executive Amnesty; Congress Must De-Fund Now!
Last night, President Obama announced an unprecedented rewriting of immigration laws by executive decree! And despite the President’s claim that his actions are not an amnesty, they will result in green cards and citizenship for many of the 5 million illegal aliens covered by his orders. Congress must act immediately to stop these lawless executive actions. Your voice is critical.
The core of the President’s plan is to allow approximately 5 million illegal aliens to stay and work in the United States — and receive taxpayer funded benefits — despite federal statutes that require the government to deport them. First, the President has ordered an expansion for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) Program. Second, he has ordered the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to create a new deferred action program for illegal alien parents of citizens and green card holders. Third, the President has ordered DHS to waive the three and ten-year bars to spouses and children of green card holders, meaning these illegal aliens can say in the U.S. and apply for green cards instead of going home.
But not only do the President’s orders allow illegal aliens to stay, they gut future enforcement of our immigration laws. Through policy memos issued last night, the President has unilaterally scrapped Secure Communities, the program that uses fingerprints to identify and remove criminal aliens from state and local jails. He has also — through the rescission of certain Morton Memos — further narrowed Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s enforcement “priorities.” And, his orders clarify that ICE agents will be strictly bound by these new rules.
Finally, like other changes he has made to our immigration system, President Obama has made all these changes to U.S. immigration law through policy memoranda, completely circumventing Congress and the American people. The President justifies his actions by saying he has given Congress time to pass “comprehensive” immigration reform and now it’s time to act. However, the Constitution gives CONGRESS the authority over immigration, not the President. Simply because Congress refuses to pass his agenda, does not mean he gets to unilaterally re-write the law. Even Obama has repeatedly said he does not have the power to act alone on immigration.
We need your help NOW! Congress plans to pass a new government spending bill by December 11th and it must include language that stops the President’s executive amnesty. Call your Members of Congress right now and tell them:
- You oppose President Obama’s executive actions.
- Congress must defund all of Obama’s executive actions now.
There is no time to waste!! Most members of Congress are already returning to their districts for Thanksgiving recess, and supporters of the President’s plan hope Americans will be too distracted by the holidays to get involved. That’s why we’re encouraging you to call your members in their home offices. That way, they know you are their constituents and that you care.
To find the contact information for your Member of Congress, click here.
To find the home office(s), check out your Member’s official webpage:
President Obama will announce his 10-point immigration plan Thursday night before immediately traveling to Las Vegas, Nev. What may appear to be a random trip to an even more arbitrary location is a highly orchestrated maneuver by the White House to knock out four birds with one stone.
Obama will flee for Sin City in order to promote the widely unpopular executive amnesty in a state that is not coincidentally home to the nation’s highest percentage of illegal aliens – 7.6 percent, according to an analysis by the Pew Research Center. There it will be easy for the president to rally the crowds since more than 10 percent of the state’s workforce are illegal aliens, details the Associated Press. Obama may even high-five a few grateful kindergarteners during his appearance – 17.7 percent of whom are the offspring of at least one parent who is an illegal alien.
It will have been two years since the president visited Vegas’ Del Sol High School. In 2012, he addressed the student body and laid out his principles for the White House calls “commonsense, comprehensive immigration reform.” Friday’s midday visit back to the school grounds will signal the completion of his long-anticipated amnesty (even though true immigration reform has yet to be introduced by Congress or the executive branch).
In addition to a large illegal alien population, Nevada is also home to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, an incumbent who barely slipped by in the 2010 election. In 2010, Reid ran for reelection against Republican Sharron Angle and won in one of the year’s closest races. The polls had jumped back and forth between the two but gave Angle the final edge by 4 percent in the final month of the race, but Reid stunned the nation with his solid 5-point win Nov. 2, 2010.
While Angle had picked up the majority of Nevada counties, Reid only won three, including Clark County, home to Las Vegas. Thus, Obama’s trip to Reid’s home state will be the first unofficial 2016 campaign event and certainly a nod to the state’s Democratic voters.
But the Vegas stunt will also supply the president with a “get out of jail free card.” Obama will get to skip out of standard press briefings in Washington, D.C. that typically follow any major executive announcement. Instead of receiving pushback and detail requests from the media, he (or his spokesman Josh Earnest) will only have to answer to the 10 print and television reporters the White House Press Corps allow to follow the president, as is standard practice.
On Friday, Obama will feel a little more liberated from the press and may even consider the staff’s visit to Vegas a fitting celebration of their big announcement. But with two years left before he’s out of office and a Republican Congress prepping to take over January 6, the White House might not want to claim victory just yet. They may believe their dismantling of our nation’s immigration policies is irreversible, but for every open borders advocate celebrating, there many more voters and activists who will be demanding that Congress act to truly reform the mess Obama has made of our nation’s most important policies.