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Just in time for his trip to Mexico, President Bush has proposed amnesty on the installment plan.

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No to Bush Amnesty

Just in time for his trip to Mexico, President Bush has proposed amnesty on the installment plan.

Just in time for his trip to Mexico, President Bush has proposed another mass amnesty of millions of illegal aliens. The White House is willing to overlook Mexico’s opposition to us on Iraq, in the United Nations, on communist Cuba, on returning Mexican fugitives to face justice in America, on policing the border against illegal immigration, on opening its socialist oil company to private investment and its aggressive lobbying in American domestic affairs. The Bush amnesty-guestworker proposal would do a lot more than connect “willing workers” with “willing employers.” It would fundamentally, harmfully change America’s economic system, carry countless unintended consequences and undermine the nation’s existence as a nation. The President proposes amnesty on the installment plan. Illegal aliens unlawfully holding a U.S. job would be rewarded with a perpetually renewable “temporary” work visa. Legalized lawbreakers could eventually get a “green card” for permanent residency and even naturalized citizenship – that is, full rights of law-abiding immigrants. This amounts to letting a bank robber go free and keep the money he stole! The entire illegal alien population of some 8-12 million could potentially qualify for legalization. Then, each of them would be able to sponsor more immigrants, starting new “chain migration” in spades. Plus, their children born here, before and after amnesty, will automatically be U.S. citizens – and many of them dual nationals of Mexico or another country. And unlimited numbers of aliens not yet here could sign up! The White House proposal would also give millions of illegal aliens U.S. Social Security benefits, raise the number of green cards issued each year (already over a million annually) and throw open the door to any foreign worker who can land a U.S. job. Oh, the President doesn’t call it an amnesty and claims to oppose “blanket amnesty.” But if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it’s a duck. And the President’s immigration proposal is flat out an amnesty. The White House proposal falls flat on many levels. It rewards lawbreakers for breaking the law. It slaps legal immigrants in the face. It puts every American job at risk of wage depression – the equivalent of predatory pricing strategies that break antitrust laws because they are anticompetitive. Economically, there’s no need for more foreign workers, especially when you have as many as 18 million Americans who can’t find a full-time job. And it’s wrong to claim that foreign workers do jobs Americans won’t do. The truth is, Americans can’t afford to do those jobs for slave wages, crummy benefits, and poor working conditions. But Americans already make a living in construction, hotels, agriculture, restaurants, and other low-skill jobs in places where the labor market is allowed to work. A mega-guestworker program is corporate welfare and massive government micromanagement of the market. It lets Big Business, corporate farms and multinationals manipulate labor costs downward, while receiving a government subsidy for sticking it to Americans in the labor force. It disrupts the ability of the market to regulate actual supply and actual demand. And it penalizes businesses that don’t use foreign workers, particularly small businesses. America’s Main Street employers oppose guestworker programs. National Federation of Independent Business members poll 3-to-1 opposition to “temporary guest worker programs to ease worker shortages.” Even more NFIB members oppose amnesty. Also, the proposal would risk Social Security’s solvency. It would let untold millions of Mexican illegal aliens collect American Social Security benefits. That pushes Social Security toward bankruptcy sooner than the current 2038 projection. The taxpayer exposure of Social Security for Mexicans alone would exceed $345 billion, at a minimum. If the White House thinks this proposal will gain them votes, they’re mistaken. White House amnesty talk already is alienating senior citizens, conservatives who make up the Republican base, Reagan Democrats and swing voters. For every Hispanic vote it gets for Bush, it will lose two or more other votes. The nation with the most generous legal immigration system in the world shouldn’t apologize for requiring that immigrants come lawfully. And we don’t have to apologize for what majorities of Americans want, reducing immigration flows to more traditional levels. We’ve already tried seven amnesties, and they not only didn’t stem illegal immigration, they fostered it exponentially. We don’t need an eighth amnesty experiment to prove what we already know by experience.

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James Edwards is coauthor of "The Congressional Politics of Immigration Reform."

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