The Obama administration has pledged to pursue immigration legislation early in 2010. The administration’s renewed commitment to action was teed up in a recent speech by Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, who declared victory on securing our Southern border.
White House liaison to DHS Jake Braun assured open-borders activists of this in a conference call with the pro-amnesty coalition, Immigration Works. Braun reprised the Napolitano assertions about enforcement and border security, as well as affirming the White House’s commitment to amnesty legislation.
At the Soros-funded Center for American Progress (CAP), Secretary Napolitano crowed that border security has been virtually achieved. She implied that the enforcement victory clears the deck for legalization. She announced the administration’s support for pushing a so-called “comprehensive immigration reform” bill early next year.
A group of 12 GOP senators immediately took issue with the secretary’s claims. In a letter to Napolitano, they noted, “Unfortunately, we have seen a dilution of enforcement initiatives in the last several months that make us question your commitment to this endeavor [immigration enforcement and border security].”
The letter cited Obama’s retreat on the enforcement front: rescinding the “no-match” letter to employers when a worker’s name and Social Security number don’t match, weakening of the government contractor requirement to verify that workers on federal contract jobs are legal, hampering the state and local police program known as 287(g), ending worksite enforcement efforts to merely meek paperwork audits, for instance.
Obama’s “change” to softer immigration enforcement includes steep drops in important immigration policing over the past year. Administrative arrests have fallen 68%, criminal arrests 60%, criminal indictments 58% and convictions 62%, the Washington Times reported.
The administration has been tight-lipped about the contents of a “comprehensive immigration reform” bill. But the obvious keystone item will be mass amnesty for virtually all illegal aliens.
Secretary Napolitano advocated mass legalization in her CAP speech. But her assertions drew fire from the GOP senators. “We take exception to your argument,” they wrote.
“With all due respect, legalizing those who have no legal right to be in the United States will not be a ‘boon’ to American workers. Rather, it would only exacerbate the unfair competition American workers currently face as they struggle to find jobs.”
And with employer lobbies in the cheap-foreign-labor sectors trolling the halls of Congress, they continue to assert that they can’t find Americans to hire, then push for expanded guestworker programs.
Democratic Rep. Luis Gutierrez (Ill.) is leading the House effort to craft an amnesty bill. Reuters recently reported him as saying legislation will be introduced in December. He and others express optimism that an immigration bill can be passed.
But an aide to House Democratic leadership was less sanguine. “I think it is pretty unlikely,” the unnamed aide told Reuters. “Our members had to take a lot of tough votes this year — on health care and energy — that they are getting beat up on.”
“The aide, who asked not to be identified, added: ‘My sense is that there isn’t going to be much enthusiasm in the rank and file to take up another issue that is going to require more tough votes.’”
Besides that reality check within Congress, there’s the tough economy. Official unemployment has risen above 10%. That’s the highest unemployment rate in more than a quarter century. By broader measure, joblessness is closer to 20%.
Except for the hard-core employers of low-skilled workers, there’s no support for importing more foreign workers. Rather, many Americans believe employers should do the decent and patriotic thing and hire Americans. Period.
Legalizing 10-12 million illegal aliens would only make the situation worse. The estimated 8 million illegal foreign workers in the U.S. workforce would be rewarded for their law-breaking. They could keep the American jobs they came here to steal.
How will amnesty sit with hard-pressed Americans? The first round of mortgage foreclosures occurred largely among unqualified people, including illegal aliens, who were credit risks to begin with.
Now, a fresh round of foreclosures is hitting. It’s the more conventional type, associated with people getting behind on their loans because of layoffs. Amnesty would only make it harder on these Americans to find a job and get back in front on their mortgages.
The latest Rasmussen poll shows public job approval of President Obama has fallen below 50%. Only 45% approve, while 54% disapprove.
The combination of a tough political year, the bitterly divisive fight over a government takeover of health care, very high unemployment and tenuous economic circumstances for most Americans regardless of whether they have a job, plus the faltering public support for President Obama and utter lawlessness of illegal immigration are likely to make amnesty and expanded immigration a tough sell.