President Obama’s El Paso speech delivered the predictable: a call for the same old mass amnesty mix (“comprehensive immigration reform,” to open-borders types). And at least for a time, he’s put immigration front and center.
First, look at Obama’s “solution.”
Government’s “threshold responsibility” is “to secure the borders and enforce the law.” Obama asserted that his administration has done that. In fact, the Government Accountability Office reports that only 129 of the 2,000 miles of the southern border are under control.
The President said that “businesses have to be held accountable if they exploit undocumented workers.” House Immigration Subcommittee Chairman Elton Gallegly points out that Obama’s work-site enforcement has fallen more than 70%. Obama has switched to civil fines and dropped filing criminal charges against companies employing illegal aliens. The administration has stopped holding illegal alien workers accountable in job-related enforcement.
And then there’s my personal favorite: Obama’s lame requirements purporting to hold illegals themselves accountable. He said, “They have to admit that they broke the law, pay their taxes, pay a fine, and learn English. And they have to undergo background checks and a lengthy process before they can get in line for legalization.”
These things are pretty much what current law requires, what the 1986 amnesty required, and comprise the same old Bush-era garbage circa 2006 and 2007. They reward all 11 million illegal aliens with eventual U.S. citizenship and access to taxpayer subsidy through welfare and other government benefits, along with the privilege of sponsoring even distant relatives for visas ad infinitum.
The supposed penalty ensures lack of assimilation. Legalized aliens gain the right to vote here and can keep dual citizenship, so they can also vote in their home country. The fine print in all recent amnesty bills proves that “learn English” doesn’t mean legalized aliens gain command of the English language.
The bottom line remains the same, though. Eleven million illegals get legal status. The President threw in a farm worker amnesty and the DREAM (Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors) Act amnesty for good measure.
Obama also called for “reforming our outdated system of legal immigration.” Here, it gets interesting.
The President endorsed giving foreign students green cards so they can stay here permanently. This apparently is part of what makes “immigration reform” an “economic imperative.”
Having invoked company names such as Google and eBay, and foreign-born assets including Einstein and Andrew Carnegie, Obama implied that immigrants are overwhelmingly brainiacs, innovators, and job creators. He also implied that these are the world’s most talented people—“the best and the brightest,” Obama called them.
The President paints a false image, if you consider the facts.
Obama’s own supporting “facts” illustrate a dearth of immigrant innovative genius. He claimed, “In recent years, a full 25% of high-tech start-ups in the U.S. were founded by immigrants, leading to more than 200,000 jobs in America.” Not very impressive as a proportion of the total 5.9 million U.S. high-tech jobs in 2009, and below the 245,600 jobs that industry lost in 2009.
Prof. Norm Matloff of the University of California, Davis, has calculated a Talent Measure, the ratio of salary to the prevailing wage. By that measure (which assumes talented people will command higher pay), he found H-1B visa holders (skilled foreign temporary workers, many in high-tech) are just average. That holds true for foreign workers at leading tech companies.
The Small Business Administration reported in 2009 that only around 16% of U.S. tech firms have at least one founder who was an immigrant entrepreneur. Less than 13% of tech entrepreneurs are foreign-born. While these immigrant business founders hold more doctorates, they also twice as often have links to foreign companies.
These are the “smart guys” among immigrants. Not especially distinguished as a group.
Moreover, most immigrants are less skilled, less educated and more likely to take welfare and other taxpayer subsidies, lack health insurance, are more likely to be a net fiscal drain, and lag on other socioeconomic measures than native-born Americans.
Among immigrants in general, 11% are entrepreneurs, compared with 13% of American natives.
In addition to selling the same snake oil that stands little chance on Capitol Hill, Obama showed a cynical, partisan attitude hardly likely to win friends and influence people.
He insulted everyone who supports the urgent need to secure the border. He charged opponents of amnesty with “mov[ing] the goalposts one more time. … Maybe they’ll say we need a moat. Or alligators in the moat.”
Obama took a condescending, preachy attitude: “I know some here wish that I could just bypass Congress and change the law myself. But that’s not how a democracy works.”
In fact, Obama has attempted to end-run Congress on immigration. His administration plotted a number of options for abusing administrative discretionary policies to achieve wholesale amnesty—or, in the words of a leaked memo, “result in meaningful immigration reform absent legislative action.”
The Obama speech showed little originality, no flexibility on approaching the problem, and an animosity toward those who disagree with him on immigration issues. All in all, a wasted opportunity.