Skip to comments.View from the Left: Immigration Should be a Liberal Issue
Posted on 05/16/2005 5:47:01 AM PDT by SJackson
Hillary gets it. Hillary Clinton says she's against illegal immigration. And she would fine employers who hire illegal aliens.
Pundits say the New York Democrat is using this hot-button issue to position herself for the 2008 presidential election. It's a way to hit Republicans from the right. Polls show huge majorities of both Republicans and Democrats oppose illegal immigration -- and are frustrated that President Bush won't do a thing to stop it.
But this issue does not belong to the right. Or it shouldn't. Illegal immigration hurts most liberal causes. It depresses wages, crushes unions and kills all hope for universal health coverage. Progressives have to understand that there can be little social justice in an unregulated labor market.
"Liberals are so confused on this issue," says Vernon Briggs, a labor economist at Cornell University and self-described liberal. "Immigration policy has got to be held accountable for its economic consequences."
Many Democrats used to get it. In 1964, President Johnson abolished the Bracero program, which brought in "temporary" farm workers from Mexico. Its demise let Cesar Chavez organize U.S. farm workers. His union won some battles early on, but a new wave of illegal immigrants in the mid-1970s reversed that progress. The union barely exists today.
It's long been a felony offense for a foreign national to enter the United States illegally. And until 1952, it was also a felony to harbor an illegal alien. That's when farm interests had the law changed to take employers off the hook: Employing an illegal alien no longer constituted "harboring" one. This came to be known as the "Texas Proviso."
As factory jobs vanished and illegal immigration swelled in the 1970s, Jimmy Carter, a Democrat, sensed a growing crisis. Then came the flood of refugees from Cuba and Haiti -- most claiming political asylum. Carter refused to give blanket amnesty. The refugees were taken care of in 1986, when Republican Ronald Reagan granted a blanket amnesty for 3 million illegals.
Carter also tried to repeal the Texas Proviso. Congress stalled and instead set up a commission to study the matter. It was chaired by the Rev. Theodore Hesburgh, then president of the University of Notre Dame.
U.S. immigration policy was "out of control," the panel announced. It minced no words: "The commission has rejected the argument of many economists, ethnic groups and religious leaders for a great expansion in number of immigrants and refugees."
Shortly thereafter, Carter lost his bid for re-election. Reagan became too busy cutting taxes for the rich to bother with the commission's recommendations. (Besides, isn't cheap labor another kind of tax cut?)
The cause was taken up by Sen. Alan Simpson, R-Wyo., and Rep. Romano Mazzoli, D-Ky. In 1986, they pushed through legislation that repealed the Texas Proviso. It established fines for employers who knowingly hire illegals. But there was a titanic loophole: Employers did not have to check whether the documents presented by job applicants were valid or fake.
By 1991, America was in a recession. The economy had lost a million jobs. That year, the current president's father, George H.W. Bush, signed a law that raised annual legal immigration by 35 percent to 700,000. And it did nothing about illegal entrants.
Congress in 1990 had established another commission to study the problem. This one was headed by Barbara Jordan, a Democrat who had represented Texas in the House of Representatives. The Jordan Commission made excellent recommendations, which went nowhere. One would have required employers to make a single phone call to verify a job applicant's Social Security number. Even that was too much.
The rationale for the 1986 amnesty (we've had seven since then) is that we had been sending illegal immigrants mixed messages. After all, it had been previously legal for employers to hire them.
Nowadays, the messages aren't even mixed anymore. A cheap-labor Republican, George Bush won't enforce the employer penalties. He has a new amnesty program. And he vows to "match any willing worker with any willing employer." Hence, the latest stampede at the southern border.
Sounds like the Democrats have an issue. And if Clinton can seriously address the problem in non-racial terms, she could march straight to the White House. Go for it, Hillary.
Hillary sucks! She can march right off a pier.
Long walk-short pier BUMP!
I believe Bubba gave not only amnesty but made citizens of thousands in Florida...just before his election.
This article should be in breaking news, where more "conservatives" would see it. Ain't likely to show up where most will see it with the sentiment around here.
(Denny Crane: "Sometimes you can only look for answers from God and failing that... and Fox News".)
No offense, but if they are working, then they are going back to Mexico with THEIR money.
My issue with illegal immigration is the cost in terms of crime, healthcare, cultural warfare, vote fraud, etc. But the money they earn working is all theirs...
What confuses liberals is that they are so quick to race bait that they just assume anyone complaining about illegals MUST be a racist. This confusion is a product of the liberal's own making.
Say what you want, illegal immigration is an issue that is driving many people through the F'ing roof. I am against Hillary as much as anyone, but this issue will kill the GOP if they think we are going to go along with some BS worker program that is really amnesty.
GWB has me so disgusted with his nonsense that this is not amensty. In all his talk about his program, I have not heard one bit about sending criminal aliens home, sending home these "willing workers" home if they don't register, and on and on.
Just as in 1965, this bill, if passed, will leave a huge stain on our country the likes of which we now cannot even imagine.
Her and my liberal friend have the solutuion for illegal immigration, nail businesses.
And I told him, fine, beef up enforcement of the employment laws but also beef up border patrols, don't reimburse hopsitals for treating illegals, kick illegals out of schools and no drivers licences for illegals.
BUT NO all you gotta do is crack down on businesses. Look for this to be the leftist mantra.
Oh really?????? What about your money and your 50% partner, Uncle Sam???? These people do not pay FICA, do not pay Federal Income Taxes, etc etc. If these people could no longer be able to work for cash and be forced to endure that which everyone else does, they will be out of here so fast. They do not want to be legal. They want to work for cash to send home to "their country."
They are criminals. Under our system of law what a criminal makes plying his crime is not his, but is confiscatable by the state. It has always been this way, albeit nowadays it is being applied to actions that are not "crimes".
However, breaking and entering the US and violating its borders has always been and remains a malum in se offense.
If you want to come here, please come and settle here...come in legally and WORK for and with your family and contribute to the American Melting Pot not the Mexican Poverty Pit.
I agree with you. I am fed up with it also.
But if it is illegal for them to enter the country and work here, then the money they earn is the result of a crime.
Therefore, it would be logical for it to be forfeit to the government.
Since the illegal immigrants have probably already spent it, I suggest the businesses that hired them be fined an amount equal to the wages distributed.
Hillary will win on the immigration issue. She is being given a gift-wrapped issue that 90%+ of the American people support, and one that NO other major politician is willing to tackle.
It's almost as if the GOP wants her to win, they are setting her up so well. It's not as if she is a particularly skillful politician, she's just a dime-store panderer with heavy MSM support.
These people do pay FICA taxes but many file "exempt" and pay no income taxes. In addition, they flood hospitals with demands for free care, and have bankrupted many health care facilities.
Many Americans as well as illegals drive without insurance on stolen tags.
Having said that, even illegals with personal and work virtues are a pain in the butt; don't forget, however, about those refugees from Bosnia that we still subsidize.
This article assumes (incorrectly) that so-called liberals actually care about the blue collar American worker.
What neoliberals (and neocons) really care about is expanding the number of people in this country dependent on the federal government.
And keeping the borders open helps to do that
I have been around these people, they do not want to be legal and be registered and be required to pay taxes like everyone else. They want to work for cash and send it home.