Innis: Comprehensive Immigration Reform: Latino Pandering or Sound Policy?

(L-R) U.S. Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY), Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ), and Senate Majority Whip Sen. Richard Durbin (D-IL) listen during a news conference on a comprehensive immigration reform framework January 28, 2013. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Last week there were 85 May Day demonstrations led by Latinos in cities like New York, Phoenix, Las Vegas, Los Angeles. Latinos rallied for “immigration reform”, as if it was a civil rights entitlement, not generosity extended. The naïve and innocent protesters’ cause was not helped by the infiltration by the Occupy Wall Street anarchists.

The fact is “Immigration Reform” was moving quite fast through this congress well before these far from constructive demonstrations. The bipartisan “Gang of Eight” has been the catalyst for this endeavor. But the unasked obvious question for this massive legislative lift is this, why are we doing it? Are we attempting to truly fix a broken immigration system or engaging in a massive bipartisan pander fest for the fastest growing demographic group, Latinos. I fear it’s more of the latter, not the former.

The politics of the exercise is crystal clear. Democrats want more raw votes, as Jay Leno brilliantly revealed with his joking jab at AP for ceasing to use the term, “Illegal Alien” with the new term, “Undocumented Democrats”.

Innis: Comprehensive Immigration Reform: Latino Pandering or Sound Policy?

Republican Presidential Candidate Romney speaking to Latino voters in Florida.
(Mary Altaffer/AP Photo)

Senator John McCain far more serious and as revealing said on ABC’s This Week, “Well, I’ll give you a little straight talk. Look at the last election…We are losing, dramatically, the Hispanic vote, which we think should be ours, for a variety of reasons.”

So the brazen political motivations are clear.

What is far less clear are the policy benefits of this exercise in its current form.

According to a recent report by the Heritage Foundation, we could be looking at a permanent problem rather than a permanent solution. According to the report the new citizens would cost taxpayers $6.3 trillion over the next 50 years in federal services and benefits (far beyond what they would pay in taxes or generate in GDP growth).

This is the critical debate to have before any votes are cast. Sadly it is a debate that is occurring almost entirely within the conservative movement. On one end you have groups like the aforementioned Heritage Foundation on the other pro-business US Chamber of Commerce and stalwart libertarians, the Cato institute.

Democrats are almost universally embracing this 844 page, Obamacare-like, bill for politics, not policy.

Worse, some are starting to engage in Sharptonesque racial intimidation tactics to ram this policy through, like Obamacare.

Earlier this week former Gov. Bill Richardson charged Sen. Ted Cruz with “he should not be defined as a Hispanic” because he is anti-immigration.

There are compelling reasons to implement a true America First immigration plan, starting with border security. We are a land of immigrants. Immigration, with assimilation, has generally been good for America. We need to be certain that this is the focus as we analyze this bill. Our politicians must not lose these ideals in the rush do good politics.

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