[T]here are those in the immigrants’ rights community who have argued passionately that we should simply provide those who are [here] illegally with legal status, or at least ignore the laws on the books and put an end to deportation until we have better laws. … I believe such an indiscriminate approach would be both unwise and unfair. It would suggest to those thinking about coming here illegally that there will be no repercussions for such a decision. And this could lead to a surge in more illegal immigration. And it would also ignore the millions of people around the world who are waiting in line to come here legally. Ultimately, our nation, like all nations, has the right and obligation to control its borders and set laws for residency and citizenship. And no matter how decent they are, no matter their reasons, the 11 million who broke these laws should be held accountable. [emphasis added]
No, this wasn’t a quote taken from Attorney General Sessions’ statement Tuesday rescinding Obama’s executive DACA amnesty (although it certainly is in line with the principles he espoused). It was a part of Barack Obama’s seminal speech on immigration on July 1, 2010, two years before he decided to act contrarily to his own speech.
Watching one elected Republican after another trip over themselves to declare their allegiance to Obama’s executive amnesty, one can’t help but observe how far to the left our entire body politic has shifted, whereby Republicans are now to the left of where Obama was just seven years ago.
Even Obama understood that amnesty was not only unconstitutional but that it would spawn another border surge. The cruel irony is that when Obama violated his own words and implemented amnesty, we had a 610 percent increase in illegal border crossings from Central America.
This was the essence of Sessions’ message Tuesday — that lawlessness is not compassion and that focusing on illegals ahead of Americans is not proper immigration reform.
There was a time when even Democrats understood “justice and fairness” in immigration. On Aug. 4, 1993, Harry Reid introduced a bill that would end birthright citizenship (an idea he called “insane”), clamp down on asylum seekers (very pertinent to the World Trade Center bombing), expand deportation of criminal aliens, increase penalties on reentries and visa fraud, and exclude all legal immigrants from admission who “cannot demonstrably support themselves without public or private assistance.”
What did Harry Reid say at the time? In an epic speech on the Senate floor a month later, Reid spoke with more conviction than even Jeff Sessions. Here are some highlights:
I wish the statements I have been making were some kind of a nightmare or dream, an aberration. But they are true. But they do not stop. Not only do we admit more than these 100,000 people each year without knowing who they are or why they came, we actually give them all the documents they need to simply disappear into our society.
Reid was worried about anchor babies. Now even Republicans support anchor teenagers.
If making it easy to be an illegal alien is not enough, how about offering a reward for being an illegal immigrant? No sane country would do that, right? Guess again. If you break our laws by entering this country without permission and give birth to a child, we reward that child with U.S. citizenship and guarantee full access to all public and social services this society provides. And that is a lot of services. Is it any wonder that two-thirds of the babies born at taxpayer expense in county-run hospitals in Los Angeles are born to illegal alien mothers?
What about the cost to Americans that Paul Ryan and Orrin Hatch seem to ignore? Reid didn’t ignore the problem:
Our federal wallet is stretched to the limit by illegal aliens getting welfare, food stamps, medical care and other benefits often without paying any taxes. Safeguards like welfare and free medical care are in place to boost Americans in need of short-term assistance. These programs were not meant to entice freeloaders and scam artists from around the world.
Compassion? What about compassion for American victims?
“Even worse, Americans have seen heinous crimes committed by individuals who are here illegally,” Reid said.
This is particularly important in light of recent comments from the ICE director stating that 10,000 illegals released by sanctuary cities have committed more crimes after being released.
To get a greater sense of how far to the left the elites have moved on illegal immigration, watch this clip of Bill Clinton during the 1995 State of the Union address.
Citizenship without consent!
Just how bad was Obama’s executive amnesty that most prominent Republicans are now championing? Not only did it unilaterally grant work permits and Social Security cards to illegals, it created a pathway to citizenship.
Late last week, Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley announced that preliminary government data show that 39,514 DACA beneficiaries have been given green cards, 2,181 have applied for U.S. citizenship, and 1,056 have become U.S. citizens.
Obama abused another loophole that the people never approved in a democratic way, called “advanced parole.” This allowed illegals to go home to their country of origin and return with a guarantee of a work permit, except this time, their status of illegality was cleansed and they could apply for a green card.
As we noted last month, there were hundreds of thousands of illegals who went home and returned only to reclaim the executive amnesty work permits. This means that had Trump not shut off the program, there could have been a massive pipeline of those waiting for green cards. Isn’t it interesting how we are told that we can’t deport those “who knew no country other than America” were able to “self deport” and discover their home country in order to utilize a path to citizenship?
What we have seen over the last number of years with the endless amnesties and backdoor exploitations of statutory loopholes, making discretionary exceptions to statute the rule, is the elimination of the American people from the process of determining who becomes part of the society. From direct amnesty, to parole, temporary protected status, and the abuse of asylum, millions of people are in the country and have been given mini-amnesty without consent.
This violates the most foundational premise of the social contract. James Madison used naturalization as the quintessential example of how a major decision must flow from the people’s representatives: In 1835, he wrote, “[I]n the case of naturalization a new member is added to the Social compact …by a majority of the governing body deriving its powers from a majority of the individual parties to the social compact.”
This is why our Constitution vested Congress with plenary power over immigration policy, and why the courts — before they became autocratic. like in recent years — conceded that they have absolutely no jurisdiction to second-guess the legislature or executive officials on any immigration decision not involving U.S. citizens.
This is also why the criterion for admission must be with the consent of the whole people as expressed through unambiguous statutes, not through executive actions.
Time for Congress to act … for Americans first
Congress needs to act. No, there is no urgency to focus first and only on the needs or desires of the illegal immigrants, but on the needs of Americans. Before Congress debates amnesty, they have an obligation to pass many of these 20 ideas on immigration and homeland security I laid out at the beginning of the year. Most importantly, there is a need to:
In other words, Congress acting on immigration is not about amnesty; it’s about following the social compact of nation-states. President Trump understood this well when he delivered his famous immigration speech in Phoenix last summer. Here is how he framed the priorities:
When politicians talk about immigration reform, they usually mean the following, amnesty, open borders, lower wages. Immigration reform should mean something else entirely. It should mean improvements to our laws and policies to make life better for American citizens. […]
The truth is, the central issue is not the needs of the 11 million illegal immigrants… Anyone who tells you that the core issue is the needs of those living here illegally has simply spent too much time in Washington… There is only one core issue in the immigration debate, and that issue is the well-being of the American people.
Now, the president needs to stay on message, keep his cabinet from undermining him, immediately suspend all renewals of amnesty (don’t wait for later), and demand Ryan and McConnell speak for American dreamers first.
That is where there should be a sense of urgency from Congress. Just ask Harry Reid and Bill Clinton what happens when we fail to put Americans first.
Daniel Horowitz is a senior editor of Conservative Review. Follow him on Twitter @RMConservative.