Ben Carson has been getting a lot more love from the Sunday shows with his now solidified second place status heading into the debates and he was invited to sit down on Face the Nation this morning. Much of the interview was fairly nondescript, but when the host offered him the chance to not only comment on The Donald’s immigration plan but offer one of his own, well… things got a bit interesting. (via Ian Tuttle at National Review)
But let’s say we get [the borders] sealed, because certainly in a Carson administration that would be done within the first year. You also turn off the spigot that dispenses the goodies, so that people don’t have any incentive to come here. Then those who are here, we have to recognize that we can’t just round them up, but we can give them an opportunity to register. I would give them a six-month period. If they register, and if they have a pristine record, they haven’t been causing problems, I would give them an opportunity to become guest workers — not citizens, not voting people, not people who get goodies. I think that would be a fair way to do it. In terms of them becoming citizens later on down the road if they’ve done things the right way, we the American people will decide what the criteria for that ought to be.
Let’s go to the video just to make sure that we’re not missing any subtle nuances in his delivery.
As Tuttle notes in his piece, there are some serious holes in Carson’s logic here, and even if there weren’t he should be aware that this just isn’t going to fly.
With respect to “cutting off the goodies,” there are a number of “goodies” that are all but impossible to cut off. As I’ve noted, many illegal immigrant households receive welfare benefits through American-born children. There is no realistic way to withhold those entitlements.
With respect to the illegal immigrant population residing in the U.S., Carson’s plan does seem far more practicable than Trump’s (which, it is worth noting, was not in the immigration plan released by his campaign). But it’s not clear whether Carson’s alternative will be amenable to conservative voters.
Saying this may not be amenable to conservative voters is probably being more than charitable. But even if you happen to be in favor of what the mainstream typically refers to as “comprehensive immigration reform” there are still massive problems with this approach. First of all, as Tuttle points out, you’re never going to cut off some of the goodies he’s talking about, at least for many illegal immigrants. As to giving everyone six months to “sign up” and essentially come out of the shadows, previous efforts along those lines have failed. Let’s say you get a million of them to sign up. What do you do with the other 11, 12 or 24 million? (Depending who you ask.) There is nothing of substance offered.
And for the people who “sign up” in whatever this unspecified new program is, you’ve essentially conveyed legitimate guest worker status on them. That’s not a temporary thing… they’re here forever. If you put an expiration date on this tolerant opportunity to work and it comes and goes, are we to assume they would just leave? You’re talking about giving it to people who were flouting the rules already when you came along. They’ll just go back undercover.
One hates to invoke the dreaded Mitt Romney concept of “self-deportation” but Carson makes no mention to the idea of making life here in the United States as an illegal alien less appealing. Where is the crackdown on employers who hire them? Where is the path to ending sanctuary cities and ramping up immediate deportations or severe criminal penalties for violent offenders in the illegal immigrant community? Where is the citizenship testing for every benefit that can possibly be withheld?
This just sounds like a barely less than 100% general amnesty plan for those who want to fall into some new classification of “dreamers” and no real plan for what to do with the rest. The “seal the borders” part always sounds good but you need to provide some details as to how you plan to do that. This was not Carson’s finest moment of the campaign and will cost him with the conservative base.