Friday, November 25, 2011

How Could We Be So Cruel?

Most of the millions (or perhaps dozens) of the readers of this blog no doubt will agree with the post (below) of the liberal, pro-Democratic establishment Center for American Progress criticizing the immigration policies of Mitt Romney.

And perhaps someone will explain to me why because the position expressed by the candidate's spokesman (aside from whatever else Romney has said on the subject, or believes) seems to make perfect sense. Amanda Peterson Beadle, in what very likely reflects CAP's position, blogged on

During last night’s national security debate, emerging GOP presidential frontrunner Newt Gingrich explained that he would support giving undocumented immigrantslegal status without offering citizenship. “If you’ve been here 25 years and you got three kids and two grandkids, you’ve been paying taxes and obeying the law, you belong to a local church, I don’t think we’re going to separate you from your family, uproot you forcefully and kick you out,” he said.

Former frontrunner Mitt Romney’s campaign immediately saw a chance to present their candidate as the anti-immigrant candidate to an increasingly nativist GOP electorate. After the debate, Romney advisor Eric Fehrnstrom said Gingrich was setting up a plan to offer amnesty to undocumented immigrants like the 1986 amnesty act. But while attacking Gingrich for supposedly supporting amnesty, Fehrnstrom couldn’t explain what Romney’s plan would be— beyond creating a hostile environment, that is:

I followed up by asking Fehrnstrom whether Romney believed in deporting those immigrants who are already here illegally.

“He doesn’t believe in granting them amnesty,” Fehrnstrom responded. [...]

Finally, after I asked the question for a seventh time, Fehrnstrom responded by emphasizing employer enforcement as a way to get illegal immigrants to leave through attrition.

“Well, if you cut off their employment, if they can’t get work, if they can’t get benefits like in state tuition, they will leave,” he said. [...]

Just to be clear, I wanted to know about those that still could remain under such a scenario.

“I just answered your question Phil, and you keep hectoring me about it,” he snapped. “You turn off the magnets, no in state tuition, no benefits of any kind, no employment. You put in place an employment verification system with penalties for employers that hire illegals, that will shut off access to the job market, and they will self retreat. They will go to their native countries.”

Surprisingly, this is actually a significant move to the left for Romney. In 2008, Romney actually suggested that he could support mass deportations so long as undocumented immigrants with deep roots in this United States are given “enough time to organize their affairs and go home.” Nevertheless, Romney’s newest position still aligns him very closely with the far right. At the end of the day, Romney’s immigration plan boils down to the Alabama plan under HB 56: create conditions so terrible that they’d have to leave.

Fehrnstrom says his employer supports "no in state tuition, no benefits of any kind, no employment." I have no clue what "benefits of any kind" refers to. (There was, significantly, no reference to the DREAM Act.)

But let's consider in-state tuition. Texas, in 2001, was the first state to extend this privilege to the children of legal and illegal immigrants and between fall of 2004 and summer 2008 granted $33.6 million in state and institutional financial aid to those students.

Suppose you are were born in Mexico and are a citizen of Texarkana, Arkansas, living on the east side of State Line Avenue, and work in Texarkana, Texas. Your daughter wants to be an engineer, has decided to attend Texas A&M University in Texarkana, and is not qualified for a scholarship or student loan. She (or you) will have to pay $12,304.26 in tuition and fees annually. If, however, your family had crossed into the U.S.A. illegally and now live across the street, on the west side of State Line Avenue, you would be residing in Texarkana, Texas. With tuition and fees, your daughter would be paying $4,609.26 per year.

Congratulations! You now are paying 267% more per year because you are an American citizen and living on the wrong side of the street.

At least you still have your job a few miles away, or perhaps even across the street. But your employer has the opportunity to lay you off and hire the illegal immigrant on the right side of the street, elsewhere in Texas, in Arkansas, or anywhere, and humanely pay him or her the minimum wage. Of course, the employer risks being the subject of a raid by Immigration and Customs Enforcement, an occurrence increasingly rare and which never would occur were it up to CAP.

Alternatively, we could be "humane" and give the illegal immigrant, who probably has come to the U.S.A. to find employment, your job. This would be advisable because we have so many jobs available in the nation now, a surplus of jobs to individuals looking for work.

Oops! We don't- rather, there has been approximately 4.7 unemployed workers for every job available. According to the St. Louis Fed (chart, from Business Insider, below), combine unemployed individuals, individuals working part-time who would like to work full-time, and persons who have given up looking for a job, and the unemployment rate would be calculated at 17%. But denying illegal immigrants employment? Inhumane, racist, and unconscionable!

While the Occupy Wall Street movement has brought attention to unemployment, underemployment, and a decline in mobility among Americans, issues the left has championed, some on the left are fond of encouraging what they believe is a right of illegal immigrants to employment. Still others believe taxpayers should pay for tuition for illegal immigrants (and/or their children) while American citizens continue to pay high tuition because they live in the wrong state. It is an impulse not without effect, however; it gives conservatives and moderates additional reason (or excuse) to believe that government is out-of-control and does not work for them.

A great, liberal triumph, that.

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