Skip to comments.Immigration and Usurpation: Elites, Power, and the People’s Will
Posted on 07/19/2006 9:28:43 AM PDT by AppleButter
Americans are aware that their political class may not always act in their best interest. This belief is enshrined in the American character, its laws, and the very philosophy underpinning the U.S. Constitution. The Founding Fathers crafted things so that the "knaves" will be forced to abide by the will of the people, but they warned that their "natural progress" is to find ways to remain in power and increase that power at the peoples expense. They therefore also urged eternal vigilance, spiritedness, and the occasional revolt of the people.
Thomas Jefferson, James Madison and others got it rightthe knaves have, by and large, behaved, and their actions largely reflect in some way the will of the American people. Americans do not need to engage their politicians in an uncivil wayas happens most elsewheresince the ballot box, the media, and other constitutional tools largely suffice. Indeed, the American political system works remarkably well. However, there are a handful of topics where the elites do not act in the interests of those they govern. Of these, the most notorious is the contentious issue of immigration. Why are politicians so keen on mass immigration while the common American is not? This has perplexed analysts.
When I aided the foreign relations of presidential candidate and president-elect Vicente Fox back in 1999 and 2000, I met with almost 80 U.S. congressmen and senators during numerous trips and at several events. With just over 50 of them, my colleagues and I spoke about immigration in some depth, as it is one of the important bilateral topics. My findings were reported in a Backgrounder published by the Center for Immigration Studies called "Politics by Other Means."1 It is a dense and academic paper, but the basic finding was: Indeed, American politicians are overwhelmingly pro-immigration, for a variety of reasons, and they do not always admit this to their constituents. Of those 50 legislators, 45 were unambiguously pro-immigration, even asking us at times to "send more." This was true of both Democrats and Republicans.
These empirical findings seemed to confirm what some analysts without that level of access termed as a political "perfect storm" of widespread political-elite support for immigration despite its general unpopularity with the average American. The paradox is that immigration is the only issue (perhaps besides trade policy) that represents a notorious discrepancy between elite and popular opinion in the United States.2 But this contradicts the established conventional wisdom of a representative democracy such as the United States. If mass immigration from Latin America has debatable benefits for the United States as a whole, if a majority of the American people is against it, and if immigrants cannot vote until they become naturalized (which can take years after their arrival), why would nine-tenths of the legislators we spoke with be so keen on increasing immigration?
Before these encounters, I believed that it was a problem of either diffusion of responsibility, "creeping non-decision," or collective rationalization with those legislators, but that was dispelled the more of them we met. Most of them seemed to be aware of the negative or at least doubtful consequences of mass immigration from Latin America, while still advocating mass immigration.3
The familiar reasons usually discussed by the critics were there: Democrats wanted increased immigration because Latin American immigrants tend to vote Democrat once naturalized (we did not meet a single Democrat that was openly against mass immigration); and Republicans like immigration because their sponsors (businesses and churches) do. But there were other, more nuanced reasons that we came upon, usually not discussed by the critics, and probably more difficult to detect without the type of access that we, as a Mexican delegation, had.
Their "Natural Progress"
Of a handful of motivations, one of the main ones (even if unconscious) of many of these legislators can be found in what the U.S. Founding Fathers called "usurpation." Madison, Jefferson, Alexander Hamilton, John Jay and others devised a system and embedded the Constitution with mechanisms to thwart the "natural" tendency of the political class to usurp powerto become a permanent elite lording over pauperized subjects, as was the norm in Europe at the time. However, the Founding Fathers seem to have based the logic of their entire model on the independent character of the American folk. After reviewing the different mechanisms and how they would work in theory, they wrote in the Federalist Papers that in the end, "If it be asked, what is to restrain the House of Representatives from making legal discriminations in favor of themselves and a particular class of the society? I answer: the genius of the whole system; the nature of just and constitutional laws; and above all, the vigilant and manly spirit which actuates the people of America "4 With all his emphasis on reason and civic virtue as the basis of a functioning and decentralized democratic polity, Jefferson speculated whether Latin American societies could be governed thus.5
While Democratic legislators we spoke with welcomed the Latino vote, they seemed more interested in those immigrants and their offspring as a tool to increase the role of the government in society and the economy. Several of them tended to see Latin American immigrants and even Latino constituents as both more dependent on and accepting of active government programs and the political class guaranteeing those programs, a point they emphasized more than the voting per se. Moreover, they saw Latinos as more loyal and "dependable" in supporting a patron-client system and in building reliable patronage networks to circumvent the exigencies of political life as devised by the Founding Fathers and expected daily by the average American.
Republican lawmakers we spoke with knew that naturalized Latin American immigrants and their offspring vote mostly for the Democratic Party, but still most of them (all except five) were unambiguously in favor of amnesty and of continued mass immigration (at least from Mexico). This seemed paradoxical, and explaining their motivations was more challenging. However, while acknowledging that they may not now receive their votes, they believed that these immigrants are more malleable than the existing American: That with enough care, convincing, and "teaching," they could be converted, be grateful, and become dependent on them. Republicans seemed to idealize the patron-client relation with Hispanics as much as their Democratic competitors did. Curiously, three out of the five lawmakers that declared their opposition to amnesty and increased immigration (all Republicans), were from border states.
Also curiously, the Republican enthusiasm for increased immigration also was not so much about voting in the end, even with "converted" Latinos. Instead, these legislators seemingly believed that they could weaken the restraining and frustrating straightjacket devised by the Founding Fathers and abetted by American norms. In that idealized "new" United States, political uncertainty, demanding constituents, difficult elections, and accountability in general would "go away" after tinkering with the People, who have given lawmakers their privileges but who, like a Sword of Damocles, can also "unfairly" take them away. Hispanics would acquiesce and assist in the "natural progress" of these legislators to remain in power and increase the scope of that power. In this sense, Republicans and Democrats were similar.
While I can recall many accolades for the Mexican immigrants and for Mexican-Americans (one white congressman even gave me a "high five" when recalling that Californian Hispanics were headed for majority status), I remember few instances when a legislator spoke well of his or her white constituents. One even called them "rednecks," and apologized to us on their behalf for their incorrect attitude on immigration. Most of them seemed to advocate changing the ethnic composition of the United States as an end in itself. Jefferson and Madison would have perhaps understood why this is soenthusiasm for mass immigration seems to be correlated with examples of undermining the "just and constitutional laws" they devised.
One leading Republican senator over a period of months was advising us, through a mutual acquaintance, about which mechanisms to follow and which other legislators to lobby in order to ensure passage of the amnesty proposal. In the meantime, he would speak on television about the need to "militarize" the border. This senator was recently singled out by a taxpayers advocacy group as a leader in "pork"-related politics.
Bill Richardson, who had served in Clintons cabinet and later became governor of New Mexico, kindly stopped to speak to our delegation at the Democratic National Convention in Los Angeles. He commented favorably to us: "What do Hispanics want? Fully funded government programs!" The Economist mentioned about his state:
New Mexico is a poor place, with one of the highest proportion of people living on food stamps Its political tradition also long had a Latin American feel, based around a padrón system of clients and bosses. The bosses ran grocery stores, gave you credit, helped you if you needed a job. And all you had to do was vote for the Democrats New Mexican politics is still about jobs, contracts and personal loyalty, not ideology. And Mr. Richardson personifies this.6
Trailer-park poverty combined with a cult of personality, where government initiatives regularly bear the governors name, as they would with some Latin American potentate (the governor is half Mexican himself), prevails in a state that is 40 percent Hispanic, including Hispanics already many generations in the United States.
Those that have come out supporting amnesty are also associated with other attempts to undermine the Jeffersonian and Madisonian model of democracy. Sen. Arlen Specter, for instance, a leading supporter of amnesty, years ago proposed another bill that would have changed the outcome of elections based on quotas, whereby electoral outcomes could be changed by a federal judge.7
Good read! Thanks and BumP It Up!
......."These scofflaws and criminals do not only want American jobs, they also want all the rights of American Citizens with the intent to inflict upon us the failed customs, politics, and ignorance that frame the foundation of Mexicos class-conscious tyranny, universal lawlessness and eternal poverty"........
I would add that Mexico is a satrap ruled by a despotic government-of-the-wealthy that tosses citizens it considers useless over the US border, to become wards of American taxpayers, and the US welfare system. Now they demand veto power over US immigration policy. And some in Congress are prepared to ignore the US Constitution and have signed on to the Mexican agenda. Americans are defending our citizenship from those who would devalue it, who are dragging our country down into anarchy.
Globalism begins in your home district.
This affinity is so blatant that sometimes I wonder if they are motivated by "mordida" sharing.
"The priority date the government gives to those waiting to immigrate legally is simply to keep them from phoning us all the time. They simply have little meaning."
Are you trying to tell me the government is lying to the people? Do you think they're secretly trying to achieve a union between the US and Mexico?
I don't understand people who still defend the government. They are almost totally corrupt in every area.
Elites like the Bush family don't mingle with common people, so it really doesn't matter to them whether the common people in America speak English or Spanish. If the balance of power permanently shifts to the Democrats, I'm sure George P. Bush will just switch parties when he runs for Presidente of Norte America in 2024!
You're way more idealistic than I. ;-)
After the uprising of 17 June
The Secretary of the Writers' Union
Had leaflets distributed in the Stalinallee
Stating that the People
Had forfeited the confidence of the government
And could win it back only
By redoubled efforts. Would it not be easier
In that case for the government
To dissolve the people
And elect another?
Does anyone doubt still that we are long past Claire Wolfe's "awkward age?
"I wonder if they are motivated by "mordida" sharing."
Most people not only haven't heard of it and those that have very few understand it.
As an example, on an IFR flight into Mexico I was weather delayed and arrived at the destination airport 20 minutes after it closed at 7:00 PM. They knew I was coming but promotly shut off all the lights at 7.
When I landed and half way through the rollout all the lights came back on and all the officials were lined up on the taxiway, omandante, imigration, airport managerm, etc.
The comasndante took me into his office and demanded a $375 fine in cash and wouldn't give me a reciept, which I paid.
2 weeks later I had a meeting with the Secretary of Transortation in Mexico City and told her about it and her only coment was, o really!
When I got back to Loretto the next day the comandante was in jail.
Any mordita is supposed to be split half to his superior and that half to his superior until it reaches Mexico City.
"forced to abide by the will of the people"
Totally misunderstands our founding fathers. They trusted neither the elite, nor the mob. Power corrupts in the hands of the mob, just as much as in the hands of the elite.
Out system of government is not intended to implement the activist agenda of anyone. It was to be small government where people had personal responsibility for their situation.
That is why a BIG GOVERNMENT response to (illegal) immigration is not conservative of conserving the constitution. No. A BIG GOVERNMENT response is a usurpation of my tax money by the mob. Of course, illegals receiving welfare is also a usurpation of my tax money.
Transferring my tax money from one Big government program to a different big government program is not conservative either.
I don't know that this is true, but someone told me the police chief of Tijuana paid more than $1 million for the post. Wonder what the ROI was? Maybe someone should tell the hedge fund industry about this -- next hottest thing since collateralized debt obligations.
"I don't know that this is true"
I do having been told that by the Sec. of Transportation and the fact that she had the comandante arrested and jailed.
Also, the amount of mordita is proportional to the cost of living in the area.
In the 70s, the loss or missplaced visa was a $10 cost in San Jose and $20 in La Paz.
On a trip down to Cabo 2 of the guests on the boat wanted to leave a couple of days after we arrived. I had given all the bost papers and visas to an "agent" to process and get our fuel permit.
I took to the imigration officer and the muy grande problema was $10 each for new visas.
2 others rented a car and drove to La Paz and since the cost of living is much higher there it cost them $20 each for new visas.
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