The White House has leaked immigration legislation it’s preparing in case Congress fails to craft its own. According to USA Today, 11 million illegal aliens could apply for a “Lawful Prospective Immigrant” visa and after 8 years could get a green card. Criminals would be excluded––unless they served less than a year for their crime, or were convicted of 3 different crimes resulting in 90 days in jail. That will hearten the hit-and-run drivers and welfare cheats. Once they get a visa, their families will be in line for visas too. In other words, the president’s plan amounts to an amnesty that vaults lawbreakers, including some convicts, to the head of the immigration line.
The Republicans are squawking, but any plan they would sign off on will end up doing the same thing. Too many have drunk the electoral kool-aid and believe that caving on illegal immigrants will get them more Latino votes. But even if the Republicans’ share of Latino voters reached the 40% George W. Bush got, the Dems would still net 1.5 million more votes if illegal aliens became citizens. That’s not much of a payoff for betraying principle. And reaching that 40% appears increasingly unlikely, given that 75% of Hispanics want bigger government and more services, according to a Pew Hispanic Center poll last April, while a 2011 poll from Moore Information found that 29% think the Republican party “favors only the rich” and Republicans are “selfish and out for themselves.” They are already Democrats no matter what happens with illegal immigrants.
More important, the public discourse about illegal immigration is filled with incoherence, duplicity, and wishful thinking. One problem is the constant confusion of legal and illegal immigration. People justifiably worried about the latter are constantly chided for being “anti-immigrant” and forgetting that America is “a nation of immigrants.” But these are two separate complex problems, and trying to fix both with some “comprehensive reform” will end up with new policies that likely will make both worse. Today legal immigration is marred by “family reunification” preferences that count not just spouses and minor children but parents and siblings as “family.” Two-thirds of legal immigrants have come under these provisions, which take no account of whether or not these “family” members have skills beneficial to this country or are likely to become public charges.