Pro-reform GOP Senate aide: Don't blame our immigration system for the Tsarnaevs, blame "our society"

Via Michael Goldfarb, a complement to Erick Erickson’s post today at Red State about Republican aides turning desperate, shrill, and repulsive as the Gang of Eight bill runs into stumbling blocks. Quote:

MORNING MINDMELD, from GOP Senate aide whose boss favors immigration reform: “The … analysis that the Boston attacks are a setback for immigration reform appears wrongheaded, as we learn more about the story. The fault here wasn’t our immigration system, since the suspects immigrated legally a decade ago as kids and apparently were radicalized here. If anything, the fault lies with our society and domestic intelligence services. Given the facts, the events in Boston seem unlikely to stoke nativist sentiments that may derail immigration reform. To the contrary, to the extent it renews fears of terrorism, it will strengthen the case for reform, since the bipartisan proposal fixes major gaps in our national security posture (by implementing a visa-exit system, registering and background-checking undocumented immigrants, gaining 100% awareness of our southern border, etc.).”

I want to know how a “society” that granted the family asylum and then gave Dzhokhar money to go to school is culpable in the bombing. Dzhokhar, at least, seemed well assimilated given the number of classmates who’ve been babbling to the media about how nice and normal and chill he was. Maybe the problem has more to do with him being a sociopath than with “society”?

Nice job, though, by the GOP aide in throwing the word “nativist” in there even though most amnesty opponents on the right support legal immigration. How does a left-wing buzzword like that end up in a Republican aide’s statement? Very easily, actually: Turns out it’s not the first time conservative staffers have resorted to liberal smears lately in defense of the bill. Conn Carroll:

Yesterday, Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., spokesman Alex Conant caused a bit of a stir when he argued against granting permanent legal residence to illegal immigrants by claiming, “We haven’t had a cohort of people living permanently in US without full rights of citizenship since slavery.”

Not only is Rubio’s permanent-residents-are-slaves argument a leftist talking point, but it is also dead wrong.

For starters, Rubio’s bill doesn’t even solve the problem. Only 40 percent of the illegal immigrants who received permanent legal resident status through the 1986 amnesty went on to obtain citizenship. That means, by Rubio’s leftist logic, 60 percent of those who took advantage of the 86 amnesty are still suffering as slaves in the United States today. And Rubio has repeatedly bragged that his path to citizenship will be tougher than the 1986 path. That means even fewer currently illegal immigrants will go on to become citizens under Rubio’s plan. How dare Rubio propose a plan that creates millions of new legal-resident slaves!

More importantly, there just is no comparison between slaves, who were brought and kept here against their will, with immigrants who came here and stay here by choice.

Read his post for examples of leftists using the “slavery” analogy to browbeat amnesty opponents. There’s nothing new about this sort of demagoguery on the GOP side. Lindsey Graham famously reassured his audience in a speech to the National Council of La Raza in 2007 that pro-amnesty forces in the Senate were going to tell “the bigots” to shut up, by which he meant “those opposed to Ted Kennedy’s immigration plan.” McCain once compared opponents of tax breaks for amnestied illegals to supporters of Jim Crow laws on the Senate floor. These are the people who are masterminding the Gang of Eight bill today; go figure that Rubio and his staff would fall into the same habits. And the punchline is, the “slavery” argument being used by Republicans against the right here will be used by the left against Republicans to speed up the path to citizenship if/when this bill finally passes. I’ve seen a dozen news stories over the past week emphasizing that the process in its proposed form will take 15-20 years for the average illegal, but by Team Rubio’s own logic, that’s 15-20 of quasi-slavery. When Schumer et al. turn around three years from now and demand an expedited process in the name of not replicating some immigration version of Jim Crow, what will be the reply?

Says Erickson:

I want an immigration reform plan that will solve the problems we now have with unskilled workers who come here illegally. I am not sure that the proposed plan will do that. What I do know is that conservatives should be deeply skeptical of Republicans who call upstanding conservatives racists and baby killers while allying themselves with the race baiters and baby killers of the left on this issue.

The damage Lindsey Graham, John McCain, and Bush staffers did in 2005-2006 has not been undone. They called many Republicans bigots and racists who were not, but who stood in the way of their comprehensive approach to immigration. That created a great deal of distrust and animosity on this issue. Instead of trying to understand the legitimate concerns of those who opposed their plan, they tarred and feathered them all.

Free advice to Rubio and the Gang of Eight: The quickest way to light a fire under the asses of amnesty opponents, who’ve done little more than mutter under their breaths so far (like me), is to keep up this sort of demagoguery. Rubio’s done a nifty job defanging the opposition with his charm offensive on talk radio. Once the charm disappears, all that’s left is a guy defending a bill that’s not much better on the merits than the McCain/Kennedy immigration bills of five years ago. Seriously, read Byron York on how feeble the bill’s border enforcement provisions are. If DHS can’t secure the border in five years, the “border commission” will issue a report recommending next steps and … that’s it. That’s the end of enforcement requirements. No wonder Democrats can’t help chirping excitedly to reporters about all the concessions they received in the bill. Obama, whom people like Ted Cruz have accused of wanting to sabotage the bill, is actually going to have OFA campaign on its behalf. Not only are we getting demagogued, we’re being steamrolled on top of it.

Update: Presented without comment, Peter Kirsanow’s take on the bill:

On Friday I was one of only two witnesses (the other being Douglas Holtz-Eakin) to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee on the comprehensive immigration-reform bill. My comments here are not about the substance of my testimony, but about process.

The proposed measure is poised to profoundly reorder our society, both economically and sociologically, and the Gang of Eight drops a bewilderingly complex 844-page bill with innumerable moving parts — a bill drafted behind closed doors on the rest of the Senate only 48 hours before the hearing. There was hardly time to absorb more than the title and preamble before the hearing, at a time when most of the nation and Congress were rightly occupied with the hunt for the surviving Boston Marathon bomber (indeed, the only other witness scheduled to testify was DHS secretary Janet Napolitano, who had to cancel due to the developments involving the imminent capture of the suspect)…

Not to put too fine a point on it, but this process is an abomination. I’ve testified numerous times before the judiciary committee, including the confirmation hearings of the last four nominees to the Supreme Court. Never has the committee treated a matter of such magnitude so cavalierly. One member of the World’s Greatest Deliberative Body used his limited time on Friday to ask me just one urgent question — about my Wikipedia page.

Update: Almost forgot: How many Senate votes is our ostensibly anti-pork GOP prepared to buy by sticking political favors into the bill? Turns out there’s already stuff in there for Rubio (help for Florida’s cruise-ship industry) and Democratic “Gang” member Michael Bennet.

Update: Rubio spokesman Alex Conant e-mails:

I regret evoking slavery in the context of the current debate because obviously there’s no comparison between the plight of slaves and today’s illegal immigrants. The point I was trying to make (in 140 characters) is that allowing immigrants to apply for permanent residence, but not eventually be able to apply for the full benefits of citizenship, has been tried and failed, and has had disastrous social consequences in Europe today.

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