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Gary Endelman on Immigration Policy and Law

Civil War Within The GOP

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We tend to forget it now, and so do they, but the Republican Party was born in protest. The political expression of the Northern revulsion against the Dred Scott decision, the GOP embodied an aggressive nationalism that helped to usher America into the modern era.  For some time now, there has been a civil war within the GOP over immigration between those who viewed immigrants as an asset to be maximized versus those who saw it as a problem to be controlled. There are historical antecents for both camps. The pro-side can look back to Theodore Roosevelt, the first modern Republican president who was an outspoken advocate for the immigrant masses of the early 20th century while the nativist wing finds their ancestral justification in 1924 Immigration Act whose purpose and effect was to go back to the America of 1890 before the tsunami of Jewish and Catholic migration. 

More recently,  it seemed as if the "compassionate conservative" advocates would win. President Ronald Reagan signed the IRCA amnesty into law; President George H.W.Bush signed the Immigration Act of 1990 that tripled the number of employment-based immigrant visas; President George W. Bush was the first President to speak in favor of immigration reform in a nationally televised address from the Oval Office.  Wait, there is more. Remember Senator Orrin Hatch who introduced an earlier version of the Dream Act or Senator John McCain who crossed the aisle to work with the late Senator Edward Kennedy to bring about comprehensive immigration change ?

No longer. As the economy deteriorated, the housing market collapsed, unemployment soared, banks stopped lending, and Wall Street stood on the precipice of ruin, the vision, compassion and courage necessary to embrace an enlightened immigration policy vanished. In its place came cries to "take our country back!" . Now that is an odd phrase- back from whom?  Fear and loathing stalked the halls of Congress- defund the USCIS; safeguard the border; resist any attempt to bring the undocumented in from the shadows. These are the rallying cries of America in the age of the Tea Party uprising.  Only those who go hard right can survive. The same McCain who once proudly claimed pride of authorship for CIR made television commercials in his desperate and successful effort to turn back the primary challenge of radio talk show host J.D.Hayworth that featured the repentant reformer telling his law enforcement buddies that Uncle Sam had to hurry up and "build the dang  fence!"  Robert Bennett who had been known for decades as one of Utah's most celebrated conservatives did not go hard right enough and he paid for his moderation by losing a primary challenge to the insurgent Mike Lee who coasted to a general election win. How about Orrin Hatch?The passionate avatar of the Dream Act now votes against his own creation.

Whatever the merits of any immigration proposal might be, the political realities now in the ascendancy are such that few, if any, Republican legislators in Congress will be foolhardy enough to vote for it, knowing that, if they do, a Tea Party primary challenge will most certainly await them at the next election cycle. Senator Lindsey Graham who sought to cobble together a bipartisan Senate consensus in favor of CIR faces precisely this uncertain fate in 2012; conscience on Capitol Hill may be precusor to a long winter in South Carolina.

In the short run, the victors in this internecine party warfare , may reap a political dividend but, over time, this is a formula for impotence and minority status. Just as the GOP won during the Roaring Twenties by closing the Golden Door through a national origins quota,   the children and grandchildren of these despised immigrant newcomers turned against the Party of Lincoln and formed the bulwark of a New Deal coalition that won 5 straight presidential elections. The GOP is now repeating their historic mistake by alienating the fastest growing voting bloc in the nation. Will they pay a cost for their folly? Yes, but only if President Obama and the Democratic Party realize that forthright advocacy of immigration reform is not only good policy but winning politics  Whoever captures the allegiance of the Spanish-speaking electorate will become the majority governing party for decades to come.  If you doubt this, ask Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid whose unlikely survival was made possible through union ground troops and Hispanic voters.  Joe the Plumber may sing the siren song of nativism, but America is becoming less male and less white. If the Republicans want to win,they cannot afford to throw away the electoral votes of California, Arizona,  Florida,New Mexico,Colorado and Nevada. Do that and you are no longer a national party, limited to a regional redoubt in the South and inner mountain West.  Even Texas, a solidly Red state where, save for isolated pockets of Democratic resistance, has now joined California as a majority-minority status. Write this down neighbor: Texas goes Democratic in two generations as more voters in the Rio Grande Valley exercise the franchise.

You know the funny thing? The Republicans do not know they have a problem and the Democrats  do not see their opportunity.  Stay tuned.


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  1. Francis's Avatar
    Attention! Utah is open for illegal immigrant occupation

    More important in this intense illegal immigration issue, is corporate determination to keep employing cheap labor. We just cannot afford to subsidize the illegal immigrant occupation with over a hundred billion dollars annually anymore. We can discuss this major problem forever, still keep challenging the real border fence and should even identifying tourists who are coming here to settle. Other than a few American patriotic lawmakers the Leftist Czars governing refuse to enforce severe laws on this priority. Consequently--we must contact our senators and Congressman to revise the E-Verify; a Senate bill nearly killed by Sen. Harry Reid of Nevada. TODAY--NOT TOMORROW we must demand that both sides of the aisle enact a mandatory E-Verify program that verifies who is allowed to be hired and whose not? Every worker of long term employment or just hired must be inspected, with emphasis on Contractors and sub-contractors; they are principle violators. There should be no limit to numbers who have been hired. Even if a firm or enterprise has one illegal worker, thats less one job for a citizen or legalized citizen.

    Utah and other malleable states as the Sanctuary States of California, Nevada, Colorado are in for a giant surprise. As hundreds of thousands who illegally settled in the State of Arizona and throughout America that are brandishing policing provisions, will be fleeing and turning up in your communities; Michigan as with Arizona will be ignored and given a wide berth. With limited safeguards on the border or at airports, countless numbers of economic searching people will head to those States with less immigration restrictions. These soft States will be screaming their heads off, when the education, health care and incarceration bills become due. But, Hey! They can now make rush to Washington State, as they are giving out Drivers Licenses.

    There should be a free Whistle-Blowers site to inform the federal authorities, with a reward mechanism. Business owners who -are--THE--problem along with those politicians who are in collusion with owners, should suffer heavy penalties included being unseated by voters. That means we need a 100% security proof voting system to stop the fraud by illegal aliens, from using absentee balloting or polling station abuses. Using more than one illegal worker should draw a fine of $25.000 on a business property. Second offense guarantees a fine of $100.000 dollars and 2 years in prison.This should be a zero-tolerance policy with no exemptions. Otherwise the US government and all the comedians who supposedly work for us, will keep walking on our faces. None of this is happening on a grand scale. This is stealing jobs from US born American, naturalized citizens and green card holders. The Tea Party knows full well that Unions have swollen their ranks with illegal labor, which must be also inspected by auditors.

    All TEA Party members have heavy influence amongst the House Republicans and should use their influence to inspire their representatives to mandate E-Verify nationwide If you are apposed to any kind of amnesty, including the Dream Act or Guest Worker programs, associate yourself with these organizations. Thousands of members of the TEA Party are also adjoined to pro-sovereignty organizations, which includes NumbersUSA. From there website you have opportunity shaping who is working for you in Washington and where you can fax freely your government Representative. Assuming there are about 8.5 million illegal workers in the labor force, these jobs, should be in the hands of Americans. More funding for the E-Verify operating system, along with constant updates and new identification modules, such as a connection with countrywide drivers licenses, would become the greatest asset in the war on illegal immigration. The TEA Party is waiting for--YOU!

    SAVE JOBS. Buy American, if you can find it?
  2. SW  McFadden's Avatar
    Thank you, Gary, for being a voice of reason in the over-hearted debate on immigration policy. Your historical perspective is valuable and unfortunately rare among those commenting on the subject.
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