Kaus keeps touting “leftist” objections that might derail the amnesty, “e.g., that the bill, by encouraging another flood of illegals, will drive down the wages of unskilled Americans.” Really? Which “leftists” are touting this except for centrists like himself and Ben Nelson, whom the left regularly deride as Republicans in Democrats’ clothing? Suppressed wages for unskilled workers might have bothered them 50 years ago, but it doesn’t anymore. Not only because multiculturalism has supplanted labor as a core leftist principle, but because they’re about to climb on board a political gravy train here and they damned well know it.
First and foremost, most Hispanics are Democrats. True, George W. Bush tied a record for winning Hispanics in the 37-40 percent range. (Don’t believe the nonsense that he got 44 percent of Hispanics. Those were the same exit polls that gave us “President Kerry.” The figures were revised down in 2005.) W received about the same level of Hispanic support as Presidents Eisenhower, Nixon, and Reagan did in their re-elections. But even if we are generous and grant that he got the 44 percent the Republican National Committee is claiming, that means a solid majority of Hispanics still voted for a lackluster Democrat against an incumbent Republican president who bent over backwards to court them in a time of war and low unemployment…
When did white conservative intellectuals become such experts on Latin culture? Don’t they know that every Spanish-speaking country in the world has a strong labor party abounding in machine politics? (Of course, the same neocons so enthusiastic about immigration reform are also the geniuses who gave us the “cakewalk” in Iraq!) Mexicans in Chicago are hooked into the Daley Machine, and it’s only a matter of time before the newly replenished barrios of the cities of the southwest send forth their own versions of Richard Daley (or “Ricardo Diaz” perhaps?). The past is prologue, so more immigrants probably means more future Democrats. Happy Days are here again!
Note what he says about labor. If the left is looking to soothe its conscience, they can justify this to themselves as a compromise by which they’ve hurt unskilled Americans now to help them later. A huge new population of legalized unskilled workers means not only new Democratic voters but unionization, possibly on a grand enough scale to bring about a reawakening of the labor movement. If so, that’ll encompass unskilled Americans too. Granted, it’ll be a cold comfort to those Americans that the jobs they would have gotten if not for the immigrant labor glut now pay a lot more than they did before, but like I say, we’re talking rationalizations here. As for the percentage of the Latino vote Dems can expect to grab in the future, the NRO piece lowballs it:
[A] reform package may be a feather in W’s cap, but that’s all. Sure President Bush will get credit from Hispanics for helping them, but he’s not eligible to run for another term. In all likelihood, he’ll get some marginal kudos while editorialists will beat the brains out of the “racist, nativist Republicans” who always screw over minorities. The likely end result of this will be a nasty fight in the Republican primaries of 2008, an alienated business community, very few Hispanic Republicans, more Democrats, and a depressed GOP base. The textbook definition of a disaster is getting the worst of all worlds.
Indeed, and it won’t just be editorialists. The reason the nutroots has started to reframe racial politics as Republicans versus “brown people” (which Ace, for one, writes about regularly) instead of relying on the traditional Republicans-versus-blacks paradigm is because (a) they’ve already got 90+% of the black vote, so returns are diminishing, and (b) with immigration front and center after 9/11, there’s a whole new minority group affected by key policies that they can demagogue the hell out of for votes. Hence the new, expansive “brown person” formulation, which pits most racial minorities against conservatives in one fell swoop by suggesting that “brownness” itself is somehow frightening or intolerable to us and thus the real cause of all this hand-wringing over open borders. That term of art hasn’t trickled up to the party establishment yet, so far as I know, but it surely will have by the time illegals are legalized and begin to unionize and register in numbers. If the rhetoric is deployed skillfully enough (and the left is very, very good at this sort of thing), it could raise what they’d doubtless call “brown consciousness” to the point where it’s worth another 10-20% of the already large and growing Latino vote.
So this is a big Democratic win, all of which makes Democratic support for the bill understandable and Republican support for it completely baffling, except as a weak hedge against future racial demagoguery by the left (“hey, we supported the amnesty too! we love ‘brown people!'”). And the beauty of it all is that the more control Democrats have over the government, the more likely it is that the current weak enforcement provisions will be rolled back and future amnesties will be granted. With medical advances being what they are, Teddy might be there to announce the next one too — which would make it the fourth amnesty he’s pronounced as the solution to the nation’s immigration problems.
Pelosi’s got a problem with her Blue Dogs, whose opposition to the bill given what it does for their party is mystifying unless they’re toeing the Kaus line about not throwing unskilled Americans under the bus. Either way, she claims that unless Bush can deliver 70 Republican votes in the House, she won’t even send the bill to the floor. In the meantime, Kaus has suggestions for what Republican opponents of the bill can do to stir up opposition on the left:
Perhaps House Democrats could be subtly encouraged to hold a large hearing, attended by activists from the undocumented community, at which spokespeople loudly demanded not just instant legalization but free instant legalization! (Speaker suggestion: Nativo Lopez.) They’ll be making these demands soon enough. Why not now? … They might also emphasize that they do not think they are immigrants at all–this is their homeland! We stole it from them. … Not only would these hearings mobilize Latino opposition to the compromise, they might also turn off the rest of the country (much as some famous hearings featuring George Wiley’s welfare rights activists soured the country on the guaranteed income). …
The takeaway there being, “They’ll be making these demands soon enough.” Oh, and as far as Kaus can tell, our suspicions yesterday were correct: there doesn’t seem to be any requirement that the enforcement provisions in the bill actually produce any enforcement, merely that certain resources be allocated to the task. Which is exactly what’s happened to the border fence, isn’t it?
There may be updates here later. Depends on how much fire and brimstone there is on the wires.
Update: Then again, illegals already vote in some cities. What’s the big deal?
Update: Here’s the White House fact sheet. Clearly they’re going to grant amnesty before the fence — even the partial fence they have in mind — is finished, otherwise it wouldn’t be keyed to miles. And yeah, Kaus is absolutely right: these aren’t results benchmarks (except for the fence, arguably), they’re resource benchmarks. To borrow an analogy he used in his own post, it’d be like pronouncing the surge a success based on the fact that all new forces have now been deployed.
Border Security And Worksite Enforcement Benchmarks Must Be Met Before A Temporary Worker Program Is Implemented. These benchmarks include:
Miles of fence constructed.
Number of Border Patrol Agents hired.
“Catch and Return” continues at the border.
Employment Eligibility Verification System ready to process all new hires.
The amnesty provisions:
Illegal Immigrants Who Come Out Of The Shadows Will Be Given Probationary Status. To maintain their probationary status, they must pass a background check, remain employed, and maintain a clean criminal record.
Illegal Immigrants Who Fulfill Their Probationary Requirements Can Apply For A Z Card, Which Will Enable Them To Live, Work, And Travel Freely. Z card holders will be required to pay a $1,000 fine, meet accelerated English and civics requirements, remain employed, and renew their visa every four years.
Z Card Holders Will Have An Opportunity To Apply For A Green Card, But Only After:
Paying an additional $4,000 fine,
Applying at the back of the line and waiting until the current backlog is cleared,
Returning to their home country to file their green card application, and
Demonstrating merit under the merit-based system.
So Lowry was wrong, I guess: they’re not legal as soon as the bill is signed, they’re legal once they “come out of the shadows” and claim their probationary status, which presumably means registration of some kind. My question, given the various hoops illegals are expected to jump through here, is how much incentive there is for any of them to actually comply with the system instead of just staying outside out and what the plan is to deal with those who don’t. Because I’ve got to tell you: given the touchback requirement and the merit-based “points system,” I don’t see a lot of unskilled illegals taking their chances by leaving the country with no reason to think they’ll be allowed back in. In which case — what do we do? Deport them? I thought our poor deportation capacity is what necessitated this deal in the first place.
Update: Wouldn’t you know it, pro-illegal groups are greeting the bill with a “warm, if qualified, embrace.” Meanwhile, DHS honcho Mike Chertoff gushes about his new schoolboy crush, Ted Kennedy: “He’s awesome!”
Update: AP has a projected timeline of the legislative process. The Senate will vote by Memorial Day but Bush isn’t expecting to sign it — assuming the bill survives — until August.
Update: There’s still no actual bill yet, by the way.
Update: Kate O’Beirne says there is indeed an actual bill (although it’s in flux) and that the Heritage Foundation has a copy of the latest version. Among the pearls:
They point out that once the bill is signed its language appears to create a “cease and desist” order on law enforcement given what looks like a prima facie assumption that any illegal alien is eligible for amnesty and can therefore be given preliminary legal status. Under the “Treatment of Application” section, once an application for the new “Z” visa has been filed, it appears that the government has only “one business day” to identity a disqualifying factor or the visa must be issued. And lots of provisions are apparently able to be waived by Cabinet secretaries so there’s plenty of discretion for the next Clinton administration.
Update: The president of the National Border Patrol Council lowers the boom:
“Every person who has ever risked their life securing our borders is extremely disheartened to see some of our elected representatives once again waving the white flag on the issues of illegal immigration and border security,” National Border Patrol Council President T.J. Bonner said…
“Rather than meaningless triggers of additional personnel and barriers outlined in the compromise, Americans must insist that border security be measured in absolute terms,” Mr. Bonner said. “Sadly, the plan that the Senate is proposing falls woefully short by that yardstick and needlessly jeopardizes the security of this nation.”