To James Pethokoukis and Matt Vespa’s work here, I reply with two numbers: 2 million and 11 million.
Those of us who were around for the 1986 immigration reform remember two things about it distinctly. We remember the promise, and we remember what actually happened.
At the time, there were an estimated 2 million illegal aliens living “in the shadows” in the United States. Simpson-Mazzoli, aka the 1986 reform, was supposed to end illegal immigration. In exchange for amnestying the 2 million who were in the US at the time, the border would finally be secured. The issue would have been dealt with for all time.
The latter was always a dubious promise, but it was a promise nevertheless, and enough politicians and Americans believed it that the bill ultimately passed and President Ronald Reagan signed it.
Then, the promise to secure the border evaporated. Magic! Reagan’s attorney general, Ed Meese, later admitted that signing that bill was one of the biggest mistakes Reagan ever made.
The result of Simson-Mazzoli’s great effort to end illegal immigration for all time: Masses of illegal aliens crossed the border both before and after Simpson-Mazzoli passed and as it was being implemented. We went from 2 million illegal aliens living in the United States, to an estimated 11 million living here now. That 11 million is probably a low estimate, and the real number may be as high as 20 million.
20 million. That’s more than the population of most whole states. In fact, it’s more than the population of all but the two most populous states, California and Texas. Surely, 20 million or even 11 million will have a profound impact on many things including the electorate if they are granted legal status and citizenship. For one thing, legalizing them will turn the magnet on to attract even more. 20 million will become 30 million. Legalizing them and granting citizenship will undermine the legitimate immigration system, and insult those who really do dream of becoming Americans and are willing to work for it and respect our laws every step of the way.
So given this history, why should anyone trust the politicians now to get it right? Suffice it to say that Barack Obama is not Ronald Reagan. Reagan’s intentions with the 1986 reform were not primarily political, he wanted real security and was willing to trade to get it. Congress snookered him and the American people, who wanted security first then and want security first now. Obama doesn’t even want real security. He mocks people who want real security. This time around, Obama’s top homeland security chief uses bogus statistics to declare that “the border is as secure as it has ever been.” Both Sen. Marco Rubio and Sen. Chuck Schumer aren’t even promising to secure the border before granting legal status to millions who have broken the law. Last time around, at least we were given the courtesy of being treated like adults. This time around, Rubio tells one audience one thing, one another, and deploys platoons of straw men to march his arguments forward. At some point, Lindsey Graham will step up again and “tell the bigots to shut up.” The “bigots” in his mind are people who want security before legalization.
One reason that I oppose the Gang of Eight’s bill now is because I do not believe what the politicians are telling me about it when they tell me that it will be good for us. Another reason I oppose that bill is that I do believe some of what they’re saying when they think no one will connect the dots.
Listen to what the Democrats in my state, Texas, keep saying. They keep saying that they are sticking with the Obama Democrat far left agenda because they are waiting for the demographic changes already underway in Texas to just hand them power here. It’s an openly racist strategy, but it’s their strategy. Will the latest immigration reform, which won’t even secure the border, hurt or help their strategy of importing enough voters to change this border state and flip it to Democrat control? Legalization before a hollow promise of security means we will get more illegal immigration, not less. We will be guilt tripped into granting citizenship to more of Obama’s “dreamers,” not less. The Democrats’ refusal to secure our elections from voter fraud means we will have more illegal aliens illegally voting. It all adds up.
But let’s rise above petty electoral concerns. Our government’s most basic duty is to protect citizens and guard the nation’s sovereignty. It’s failing in both every time anyone crosses the border illegally, or overstays their visa, or gets into the US by other illegal means. Every coyote who charges illegal aliens exorbitant sums to sneak them into the US, and every drug cartel shipment that gets to Austin on its way to points east and north, is a violation of our sovereignty. Every aviation student who overstays their visa, obtains the documents necessary to board a plane, and hijacks that plane to kill thousands of Americans and trigger a world war, violates our sovereignty. This same government that fails to stop these things spends billions spying on all Americans for the sake of safety against terrorists. But it is leaving several back doors wide open, allowing the coyotes and the cartels and everyone else through. Shouldn’t we close those doors before we snoop on the owners who live in the house? Shouldn’t we close the doors before we decide what to do with people who have already snuck in?
Secure the border first. Demonstrate it. Commit to it. Then we can talk about legal status for those some of those who violated our sovereignty.