Thursday, May 27, 2010

Defending Felipe Calderón

Felipe Calderón is the George W. Bush of Mexico
Conservatives are roundly denouncing the words of the Mexican President, spoken in the well of the House of Representatives to the standing applause of the Speaker, the Vice President and other Democrats, that he strongly disagrees with the recently adopted immigration law in Arizona.
We can debate whether we agree with this position, or whether it is appropriate for a foreign head of state to criticize legislation duly and constitutionally enacted by the citizens of a state, particularly a law that does little beyond affirm federal law and express a determination to enforce it (what exactly were those leaders of the federal government applauding? Criticism of a state law that acknowledges the letter of the statute of which they are the guardians?).
Even so, there is a bigger picture that conservatives who sincerely wish to be seen by the electorate as the mature grown-ups in politics (as opposed to the irresponsible teenagers now driving the family car drunk over the cliff) should be mindful of.
Felipe Calderón is the George W. Bush of Mexico; the center-right leader whom the Left lampoons mercilessly and the Right finds plenty of room to criticize, but who will be sorely missed once he gone and his rivals take over.  Recall that in 2006, Calderón won election in a squeaker that made the 2000 Bush-Gore fiasco look like a Boy Scout jamboree. To this day, Andres Manuel López-Obrador, or AMLO as he is affectionately known, has not recognized Calderón’s legitimacy and openly agitates as the shadow government of Mexico. Moreover, for years now Mexico has been besieged by civil war that is far more bloody for Mexico in proportion to Iraq for the United States; a war which has as its driving force the economic demand for illegal drugs in the United States. If collective guilt is legitimate in the debate over illegal immigration, it is equally a two-way street for other purposes. 
Mexico deals very harshly with illegal immigrants into its own territory from places like Guatemala and El Salvador, so Calderón’s words smack of more than a bit of hypocrisy. But conservatives can have a gentleman’s disagreement while still recognizing that Calderón is a priceless partner in our common destiny, a decent and rational man with whom we can work for the common good. To do less would be irresponsible and self-defeating.

Saturday, May 08, 2010

Republicans and the Immigration Trap

The next 2 elections are too important to sacrifice over illegal gardeners.
Americans are understandably upset by the failure of the federal government to implement and enforce an unambiguous legal standard with respect to the border and unlawful immigration, especially where this has permitted violent crimes to occur and go unpunished. Republicans in particular are incensed by Democrat’s pandering to hispanics for votes by handing out taxpayer-financed goodies to their favored groups, including illegal aliens. ObamaCare has poured gasoline on the fire by acting as a giant magnet for fraud in addition to the merely destructive but still ‘legal’ aspects of socialized health care.
Fairly or unfairly, it falls to Republicans to deal with this challenge intelligently and objectively, and not fall over themselves in their eagerness to step into the political traps so obviously set for them by Democrats.
There are at least two major threats to Republican’s hopes of success this November and in 2012, failing which ObamaCare and other nationalizations will take permanent root in our society, and America’s decline into a European-style socialist has-been nation, governed from Belgium and the UN, may be irreversible. The first is that in spite of an abysmal economic record, ObamaReidPelosi will succeed in getting so many more people dependent upon government for whatever they have, that not enough free Americans will remain with the courage to rock the boat back to liberty. This strategy was brilliantly successful for FDR, delivering to him 3 re-elections during this nation’s Great Depression. The second is that Democrats will successfully (note I didn’t say fairly) paint Republicans as reactionary, bigoted racists, and take from them what little share they have left of the Hispanic vote. At the very least, we must not make this easy for them.
It is fitting and proper for Republicans to stand on principle and oppose bad policy. But we cannot win if we are perceived as being against people; in opposition to a huge cross-section of our society, simply for being who they are. Illegal immigrants didn’t cause the Great Recession. Immigration as a proportion of population is about a third of what it was in the peak years of the early 20th century. Contrary to public perception and anecdotal outrages, increased immigration is associated with lower, not higher crime rates overall. The greatest threats to our liberty and prosperity come from Washington itself (and Sacramento … and City Hall in the case of my beloved Los Angeles), followed by Academia, the mainstream media and Hollywood. Republicans need to contain their anger, refrain from foaming at the mouth whenever the subject of illegal immigration comes up, and go on positive offense.
That positive offense can take the form of a series of small legislative proposals – not everything has to be done by sensational, sweeping, grandiose, corrupt, pork-laden omnibus comprehensive bills that make headlines for years on end – to fix the most acute problems in the system. Each bill can stand alone, that is, be proposed, debated and voted on on its own merits; it doesn’t have to be bundled with a hundred others. The good news is that even as we alternate restrictions with concessions, the latter should permit more effective use of law enforcement resources while making it harder for the criminal element to hide among the innocent population.
For example:
• Focus law enforcement on felony criminal activity like murder, rape, assault, grand theft auto, arms and drug trafficking. Stop pursuing illegals whose only crime is being here without permission.
• Build and patrol the border fence.
• Deny (or delay for 10 years) citizenship to anyone who cannot prove that they entered the country through legal channels.
• Stop printing official government election materials in foreign languages at taxpayer expense. We are an English-speaking nation.
• Offer a relatively painless path to legal residency status (not citizenship) to people already here.
• Strengthen standards for knowledge of the English language and American civic institutions, including the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, as a requirement for citizenship.
• Offer accelerated citizenship to persons who serve honorably in the US armed services.
• Amend the US Constitution such that babies born in the US to foreign parents do not automatically become American citizens. No more ‘anchor babies’ (news flash: slavery was abolished 150 years ago).
• Increase or abolish H1-B visa quotas. It makes no sense to educate foreigners in our universities and then chase them away when they are ready to produce wealth and jobs in the USA.
• Relax restrictions on immigrants who come through proper border crossings who openly state their intention to seek work, whether permanently or seasonally. Photograph them, fingerprint them, register them in a nationwide database and test them for infectious disease as necessary, but let them through with legal residency (not citizen) status. Collect from each a payment for catastrophic health insurance coverage that is substantially less than illegal ‘coyote’ smuggling fees. By making it easier for honest workers to come through the front door, law enforcement can focus limited resources on criminal activity coming through the back door.
• Allow/require state and local law enforcement to investigate the legal or immigration status of all criminal suspects, persons of interest or defendants. No ‘sanctuary city’ or any other policies should be permitted to serve as cover for criminals and their activities.
• Stop conducting raids on commercial businesses which are intended to root out illegal workers, unless there is specific, probable cause of felony criminal activity. The drug traffickers are not cutting up chickens for $4/hour. Offering and accepting employment at mutually agreeable terms is not fundamentally a crime (if it were, it would still be the least of any immigration problems).

I’m sure you can think of more of you own. Even if not a single one of these gets a hearing in Nancy Pelosi’s Congress, if Republicans introduce one per week from here to November, Americans will recognize who the grown-ups are who are serious, responsible and really trying to help. We can take the political advantage away from the Democrats and make them play defense.
Even if you think some of these proposals are too lenient, liberal, or slouching toward ‘amnesty’, that judgment has to be balanced against the larger picture of what’s at stake. Do you want to win the argument or the war?
Don’t take the bait; take the initiative.