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David Frum gets it right on amnesty

David Frum gets it right on amnesty

I’ve been a pretty harsh critic of David Frum, but when he gets something right, I’m willing to acknowledge it.

And he’s right about the pro-amnesty wave taking over the Republican Party, which mistakenly thinks rewarding lawlessness is a good thing.

Frum writes, Immigration Amnesty: The Path to Poverty:

The United States is already evolving into a society much harsher and less hospitable for the less-skilled. Yet American elites seem determined to enlarge and perpetuate a problem they already don’t know how to solve: how to create economic opportunities for the least economically competitive half of the population.

Yesterday, the Center for American Progress released a study of the projected economic effects of the president’s immigration proposals. It asserted that immediate full amnesty – residency plus citizenship – would raise immigrant incomes and thereby government revenues.

Over 10 years, that additional tax revenue would sum to $184 billion—$116 billion to the federal government and $68 billion to state and local governments.

CAP gets its impressive number with a crummy trick: omitting the increased costs of legalization. Previously illegal immigrants will become eligible for Medicaid, Earned Income Tax Credits, unemployment insurance, food stamps, and other federal and state programs. Because the illegals are predominantly very low-income, their demand on such programs will be heavy – and not only long-term, but likely multigenerational.

Why on earth would we deliberately expand the ranks of the least skilled by tens of millions more people imported from abroad, whose grandchildren and great-grandchildren will still require government aid into the 22nd century? That’s the question to keep in mind as the American elite tumbles its way to unthinking consensus in favor of a second large immigration amnesty in 30 years.

Needless to say, the commenters to the article at The Daily Beast are unhappy.

Frum is not alone.  Is it any wonder that unions are fighting below the radar to torpedo immigration “reform”?

Immigration amnesty simply will add to the employment gloom:

If the FOMC members are right, then the economy is never going to return to its previous full-employment potential.

There are other, more political, reasons not to succumb to the amnesty narrative being fed us, as Ann Coulter points out:

Perplexingly, some Republicans seem determined to turn the whole nation into California, in the foolish hope of winning one last election.

Frum and Coulter agree on the foolishness of amnesty, although for different reasons.

Maybe there is hope yet.


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I am not surprised unions are opposing amnesty. It does undercut their position significantly.

I am all for greater legal immigration, but as they do it in Canada, Australia, and New Zealand–by encouraging the best, brightest and most educated young to come. People who will be productive from when they come, pay into social programs, and not take benefits immediately.

The defacto quasi legal-illegal system just uses illegals to supply cheap labor undercutting legal workers here. It promotes unemployment. Want to end illegal immigration? Start fining employers civil penalties for hiring illegals (just have to be high enough so hiring illegals is not worth it). And give that enforcement some teeth. No one wants to do that and that would be more effective than any border fence.

I am glad David Frum is not completely over the edge. But give him time, it is still early.

Unless, of course, one removed regulations and taxes, so that companies would be willing to add jobs (carrot) and cut benefits-to-the-poor so that they would go get jobs (stick). That would be the only way that adding millions of low-skilled legal workers would not hurt the state/federal budgets.

But I don’t see either prerequisite happening.

And I agree with EBL – give visas first to those who would pay the highest taxes.

As far as Republicans and immigrants, it is true immigrants have always been drawn to the Democrats (at least from Boss Tweed days). Hence the reason Dems do better with Latinos but also Asians (about 3:1). But Republicans would be better off trying to woo professionals over time than poor uneducated immigrants. What we do not need is more under-educated voters.

1. I keep saying it. A nation which refuses to control its borders does not deserve to survive and won’t. Sooner or later its luck, like the dodo’s, will run out.

2. A Republican President, Dwight Eisenhower, launched Operation Wetback to clear the Southwest of illegal intruders, and he sent troops to Little Rock to enforce the Supreme Court’s school integration order.

3. From Frum:

Why on earth would we deliberately expand the ranks of the least skilled by tens of millions more people imported from abroad, whose grandchildren and great-grandchildren will still require government aid into the 22nd century?

Because the American ruling class are power-hungry cowards. Next question.

    walls in reply to gs. | March 22, 2013 at 11:56 am

    I’ve commented on other sites about Operation Wetback, but their political correctness filter won’t allow a duly authorized government operation to be factually listed.

    How far we’ve fallen since the days of DDE; if anyone could effectively deal with an invasion, it was DDE.

One simple think I think we can do is modify the 1965 immigration law to exempt people born in the US from “family reunification” priority for immigration. This would remove the “anchor baby” concept from “chain immigration”.

Because the illegals are predominantly very low-income, their demand on such programs will be heavy – and not only long-term, but likely multigenerational.

Why on earth would we deliberately expand the ranks of the least skilled by tens of millions more people imported from abroad, whose grandchildren and great-grandchildren will still require government aid into the 22nd century?

That is a feature, not a bug. Having more people dependent on programs is a good thing for the Democrats politically. They are the party of “programs”. If this is multigenerational, then they have the opportunity to trap millions of people into a life of poverty dependent on Democrat programs for generations.

Does this actually surprise anyone? Does Frum really not understand that this is actually a key part of the Democrat political strategy? The idea is to trap people in poverty across generations by making sure they are uneducated, the men are incarcerated, the women made dependent on government, and every incentive is given to have single mother families by making the government the breadwinner for the family rather than a man. Frum can’t be that naive.

“crosspatch”, expanding upon the comment by “gs”, is 100% correct.

The ultimate goal of this project is to reach the point where more than 50% of the population is dependent on the State. Period. It’s behind “immigration reform”, the massive increase in food stamps, Obamacare, and many other policies. Once the Democrats reach the point where more than half of the population is dependent upon the state — and we are very close to that number, the only way for these people to improve their lives is to go to the polls and vote themselves rich. Elections will turn into a bizarre farce where both parties offer the dependent class a better benefits. The Democrats will always win, because they will always offer more, and they will paint the Republicans as uncaring, unfeeling monsters who are trying to take away all the free stuff.

End of story. End of country.

Yeah, we all know how well that amnesty worked the last time. It did nothing but give us more illegals. Giving away citizenship to law breakers cheapens my citizenship. Maybe we can’t deport them all and maybe we shouldn’t, that doesn’t mean that they should ever get a path to citizenship. If they want citizenship, go home and do it the right way or stay and never be a citizen. Make that the choice and then FIX the current LEGAL system! Many of the illegals come for big gov programs. They are big gov immigrants. If the GOP caves then they are done as a party. Politicians are such chumps and we suffer the consequences of their bad decisions.

You know, one thing I agreed with Ron Paul in the last few years was that the border is not the problem. The benefits are. We give so many free benefits to these people just for being poor and when we threaten to cut them off, democrats squeal like a stuck pig.

People will find a way across that border regardless of whether we police it or not. But take away the incentives for them to even come here in the first place, you won’t have a huge problem like we do now.

If we decided to remove the eligibility of people to work here with e-verify and removed the benefits for non citizens, you will not have to deport a SINGLE individual who is here because of work. They will go home and be poor in Mexico.

This will be a temporary problem though. Mexico has seen the largest birth rate drop over the central and south american nations in recent years. With that and our ongoing (structural) funemployment and “economic recovery” (wink), they will be flooding back into Mexico.

Henry Hawkins | March 22, 2013 at 1:22 pm

I’m sure a $22 minimum wage would get libs over the necessary ‘voters bought and paid for’ hump.

    Midwest Rhino in reply to Henry Hawkins. | March 22, 2013 at 6:49 pm

    Right .. and if we just taxed everyone five times more, all funding would be settled? Would all this cheap and bureaucracy free labor be dominant if it was burdened down with the regulatory and tax burdened hell with which “Free America” is being strangled?

    They never consider that the elites love their obedient cheap nannies and lawn care that are subsidized for health care and taxes, so want to ignore ALL regulation the common employer must obey.

    As with my “doctor corrupted by free sandwiches” story, the “rich” love to get cheap nannies and lawn care, and will subvert all law to keep it.

    Beyond that, even now, the illegals are counted in the census, so Chicago illegals get their own representative in the House. Will Democrats lie and fight like hell to keep the illegal alien rep’? Of course they will.

    And at the core perhaps, Paul McKinley exposes the charade, that compassionate sanctuary cities are places that extend an invitation to gun and drug running illegals, where they can take up residence in the Chicago Machine.

    We are in a war … the enemy is within.

Amnesty leads to dependency, get it? More dependency means more votes for the dispensers of ‘free’ money.

Coupla thangs…

1. I know of NO INSTANCE in history…world-wide…where amnesty has worked

2. There IS “a pathway to citizenship” under current law. It is a hard, kludge-choked, too constrained pathway. That could be changed.

3. “Comprehensive reform” means nothing. You have to get into the details.

4. There really is…IMNHO…a thorny problem WRT the kids of illegals who were brought here by their parents as children. This will need to be dealt with, as just treating them as illegals will undermine the moral authority of any reform I would favor.

5. We have to reverse the incentives (that ol’ “gradient” thingy) we perversely provide to illegally come here and stay. That we provide EBT benefits to illegals is beyond madness. That nobody pays a penalty for employing illegal aliens is simply stoooOOOOOOooooopid.

This may well be the first thing David Frum has ever gotten right in his entire life.

Mexico is using the U.S. as the dumping ground for its uneducated and unskilled undesirables. It would be like the U.S. encouraging people in Detroit, Gary, South Chicago or Newark to become illegal aliens in Frum’s native Canada for the free goodies.

    Ragspierre in reply to bw222. | March 22, 2013 at 3:34 pm

    That was a bridge too far.

    Most people who have come here from Mexico (and other parts) would, under better conditions, be an entrepreneurial middle-class.

    They are, generally, none of “uneducated”, “unskilled” (most have several skills), or “undesirable” in Mexico (or other parts). They ARE undesirable here, but only because of their illegal entry.

Not A Member of Any Organized Political | March 22, 2013 at 3:15 pm


So in short?

Today’s Democrats = Intent on bringing back Slavery!

…Cause it’s so good for our Party!

Henry Hawkins | March 22, 2013 at 3:23 pm

Prediction: Frum will realize what he’s done and reverse himself by Monday.

I think that it comes down to the rule of law.

Failure to enforce current statutes is a path to weakening the Republic and that is unacceptable to me.

We all know that the rule of law means nothing to democrats but the Republicans should maintain the high road regarding this and every other matter.

Do do otherwise is to simply pander to votes and that is NOT what we are all about…

I too am willing to give Frum credit when he is right.

I am however unwilling to waste the many hours of time which would be necessary to spend reading his inconsequent blatherings in order to find that rare nugget.

ps. I would have “thumbs up”-ed EBL’s post #1, had the feature been available.

Sí, se puede – a path to citizenship repatriation

The folly of rewarding lawbreakers while expecting people not to break the law.. A pox on any in Congress who support this horrible Amnesty, however it is wrapped up. If supporting Amnesty meant getting Hispanic votes, McCain would have carried Hispanics in 2008.

Henry Hawkins | March 22, 2013 at 8:43 pm

US to illegals: “Well, you’ve all disregarded our immigration laws, so we’re gonna set up easier immigration laws for you to ignore.”

I’m fairly sure the majority of illegals will not be interested in pursuing 5-10-15 year plans to citizenship, especially when there is great pay-off and little consequence to ignoring the laws whatever they happen to be.

stevewhitemd | March 22, 2013 at 9:24 pm

I am a descendant of immigrants. My ancestors are English, French, Scot, Welsh, German, French, and a little Native American way, way back. Some of my ancestors arrived 300 years ago, some more recently.

Most of us are in, pardon the pun, the same boat.

Now then: if I were a poor Mexican rural schmo trying to feed me, my wife and children on the equivalent of seven dollars a day, and someone told me that I could make nine dollars an hour chopping up chickens or mowing lawns if I went north, I would —

— head north.

All of us would. Of course we would.

Ragspierre up above correctly points out that the ‘poor’ in Mexico are not poor in the way poor Americans are. We made our people poor by blighting our culture and morals. Mexico made their poor the old fashioned way, by having all the rich folk gobble up the money and resources (Carlos Slim, for example). The average Mexican knows how to work and survive.

It’s no surprise then that when poor Mexicans come north the large majority of them go to work quietly, make money, send some of it home, live on the rest and try to stay out of trouble. That’s what I would do.

So you’ll pardon me if I can’t get too worked up over the many, many ‘illegal aliens’ who are just trying to have a life.

My own solutions to this mess, not that I’m any immigration expert at all, would involve —

— managing the border (stop the two-legged coyotes)
— end eVerify, it doesn’t work anyway
— expand the work permitting program substantially
— if they work, they get taxed
— if they get taxed, they get basic benefits and legal protection
— incarcerate and deport the violent illegals who commit felonies

In my system work permits and green cards are easy to get while citizenship is hard and takes a long time. Job markets will sort themselves out. A Mexico that improves politically and economically provides hope to Mexicans and takes pressure off of us (so find ways to put the onus back on the Mexican government; that’s why we have these people called ‘diplomats’). Having all immigrants in our country working at a legal reported job, paying taxes, promotes transparency and prevents abuse.

People will come to the United States because we are one of the very, very best places in the world. Don’t fight that, honor it. Work with the people, teach them how to be Americans, and watch as the next century becomes our best one yet.

    Ragspierre in reply to stevewhitemd. | March 23, 2013 at 12:23 pm

    I disagree with you, steve.

    IF you start from the predicate that they come here illegally, and move on to grant them green cards, etc., you essentially have open borders.

    I DO support the idea of making our LEGAL immigration process a LOT more accessible, and for the reasons you recite.

    Mexico, btw, is experiencing FAR better economic growth and a lower unemployment rate than is the U.S. under Pres. Freakout.

    IF we imposed a means by which employers were penalized for hiring illegals, refused benefits, AND simply policed our visa system effectively, a great many of our problems would be resolved.