Thursday, October 19, 2006

The Secretary of Commerce on Immigration

This is something I wrote on July 10, 2006.

So, I'm riding into work, and when Imus isn't interviewing someone interesting, I usually listen to C-Span. This morning they had
Secretary of Commerce Gutierrez talking about immigration reform and after listening to him I am totally disgusted.

Mostly, he spoke in vague generalities, dodged practically every question and all but said that they weren't going to do anything about the immigration problem. I never heard so many straw-man arguments in a row in my life.

Among his points:

1. The government needs to make it easier for businesses to "enforce the law". He repeated that phrase in the context of "businesses" more than once. How blatant can you be? Here's a Bush representative openly abdicating on law enforcement with respect to immigration. I thought that was his job. Thanks a lot.

2. He claimed that the new biometric cards that are supposed to replace the many different legal forms of identification would be "unforgeable". I give them 10 years to get this in place, if ever, and counterfeit cards will be out in a month. There's too much money involved for it not to be.

3. He admitted that most immigrants are poorly educated, low-wage earners that wouldn't contribute to the government as much as they would consume, but if we let millions more of these folks in, through the "magic" (his word) of the American Melting Pot, they and their kids would become contributing members of society. No doubt this is true for many people, but when you are invoking "magic" to sell your point, you are looking pretty weak, regardless of what you are arguing.

4. He had no specific proposals and only insisted that Congress has to come up with something good. He kept insisting that everyone who thinks the administration is not addressing this correctly is wrong, but didn't really explain why. He insisted multiple times that while the Administration hasn't enforced existing laws, they would enforce the new ones, if they were "workable".

5. He invoked "Jobs Americans won't do", which is the worst straw man argument of all. First off, the vast majority of "jobs Americans won't do" are being done by legal Americans. Second, of course the illegals are going to have an upper hand. Employers don't have to pay taxes, they can skirt OSHA and other regulations, they don't have to worry about Labor laws (how many times do you hear about garment sweatshops being busted up in California)... of course Americans aren't going to want to do the job and employers can undercut them by 50% and lost very little because everything's off the books.

While I generally support the President's foreign policies (even though the "war" isn't being run very well), I can't think of one thing that Republicans have done domestically besides the tax cut (which made their grotesque overspending 10 times worse) that is positive. To make things worse, the Supreme Court, including the guys I support, have basically said it's OK to ignore the "exclusionary rule" for evidence if the crime is serious enough (i.e., "terror"-related), once again throwing Rule of Law in the toilet, which is about the only thing definitive the U.S. Government has achieved in the past 15 years.

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