Category Archives: Borders
What did you hear in TV and radio reports on Monday? That Arizona’s Prop 200 was struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court. But you didn’t hear the full story … not even on so-called conservative media in Arizona! The Left lost bigtime in that decision!
By J. Christian Adams, PJ Media: http://pjmedia.com/jchristianadams/2013/06/17/left-loses-big-in-arizona-supreme-court-case/
June 17, 2013
Something perverse happened after the Supreme Court’s decision today invalidating citizenship-verification requirements in Arizona for registrants who use the federal voter registration form. The Left knows they lost most of the battle, but are still claiming victory. That’s what they do. Election-integrity proponents and the states are saying they lost, but don’t realize they really won.
The Left wins even when they lose, and conservatives are often bewildered and outfoxed in the election-process game.
Earlier today, I called the decision a nothingburger. After re-reading the case and reflecting a bit more, it’s clear that the decision was a disaster for the Left and their victory cackles are hollow — and they know it.
Worse, conservatives dooms-dayers who have never litigated a single National Voter Registration Act case have taken to the airwaves, describing the case as a disaster which invites illegal-alien voting.
In the last year, I’ve litigated five NVRA cases and worked on the preemption issues for years, and there is more to cheer in today’s opinion than there is to bemoan. Those complaining about the opinion don’t understand what the Left’s goal was in this case: total federal preemption. On that score, Justice Scalia foiled them; indeed, the decision today was a huge war won, even if the small Arizona battle was lost.
From my time in the Justice Department Voting Section, I can remember intimately the wars over some of the preemption issues decided today.
The Left essentially believes that anyone who fills out a federal Election Assistance Commission registration form should be allowed on the rolls, no questions asked. There were complex fights over the “citizen check-off box” issues, with the Left wanting the box rendered meaningless, and conservatives and election-integrity proponents believing a registration cannot be processed until a registrant affirms on the box that he or she is a citizen.
Before the decision today, here is what the Left wanted:
● Invalidation of Arizona’s requirement that those submitting a federal form provide proof of citizenship with their federal form. Mind you, the citizenship-proof requirement is NOT part of federal law and the Election Assistance Commission does NOT require it in the form they drafted.
● Invalidation of state citizenship-verification requirements when a state voter registration form is used (yes, such forms exist separate from the federal requirement) on the basis of federal preemption. They wanted the Arizona case to invalidate all state citizenship-verification requirements.
● Automatic registration if a registrant submits a completed federal EAC approved registration form, no questions asked.
● Federal preemption on the ability for states to have customized federal EAC-approved forms that differed from the default EAC form.
● Federal preemption over states, like Florida and Kansas, looking for independent information on citizenship to root out noncitizens from the voter rolls. Again, the Left wanted the federal EAC form to be the no-questions-asked ticket to the voter rolls.
So what is the score on these five goals after Justice Scalia’s opinion today? Election-integrity advocates are batting .800; left wing groups, .200. And the most insignificant issue of the five is the one issue the Left won. Justice Scalia foiled 4 of 5 of their goals, and the 4 biggest ones.
How does it work? The decision today uncorks state power. The Left wanted state power stripped and they lost.
First, Arizona can simply push the state forms in all state offices and online, and keep those federal forms in the back room gathering dust. When you submit a state form, you have to prove citizenship. Thanks to Justice Scalia, that option is perfectly acceptable. Loss for the Left. Victory for election integrity.
You might say, “That’s a small victory.” Nonsense. This was the whole ballgame to the groups pushing the Arizona lawsuit. They lost, period.
Next, when voters use a state, as opposed to a federal, form, they can still be required to prove citizenship. The federal form is irrelevant in that circumstance.
After the decision today, states have a green light to do double- and triple-checking even if a registrant uses the federal form. The Left wanted the submission of a federal form to mean automatic no-questions-asked registration. This is a big loss for the Left because now states can put suspect forms in limbo while they run checks against non-citizen databases and jury-response forms. Another significant victory in today’s decision. The Left wanted to strip them of that double-checking power.
The decision today is a great example of how conservatives can be distracted by squirrels running past. It is understandable and forgivable because they aren’t daily immersed in the long-term election-process agenda of the left-wing groups. Nor do they daily involve themselves with the details of election process. But having been in the “preemption wars” for nearly a decade, I can assure you this case is a big win, even if it doesn’t appear so at first glance.
By The Associated Press
An Arizona sheriff who led the way for local police across the country to take up immigration enforcement is reconsidering his crackdowns – and other law enforcement officials who followed his lead are expected to eventually back away, too.
Joe Arpaio, the sheriff for metropolitan Phoenix, has temporarily suspended all his immigration efforts after a federal judge concluded two weeks ago that the sheriff’s office had racially profiled Latinos in its patrols, Arpaio spokesman Brandon Jones told The Associated Press.
Arpaio critics, including the federal government, are gaining ground in their fight to get the sheriff out of immigration enforcement. Even before the ruling, Washington had stripped Arpaio’s office of its special federal immigration arrest powers and started to phase out the program across the country amid complaints that it led to abuses by local officers. The Arpaio ruling is expected to impact state immigration laws in Arizona, Alabama, Georgia and South Carolina, where local officers question people’s immigration status in certain instances.
The national mood on immigration also has changed dramatically. Fewer states are seeking their own immigration laws, and proponents for Congress to overhaul the nation’s immigration system have public opinion on their side.
Peter Spiro, a Temple University law professor who specializes in immigration law, said the May 24 ruling marks a big blow for Arpaio and the movement for more local immigration enforcement. “It’s a cautionary tale for any other would-be Joe Arpaios out there,” Spiro said. “This is an example that others can hardly afford to ignore.”
The temporary suspension of Arpaio’s immigration enforcement efforts marked the first pause since the lawman launched his crackdowns more than seven years ago and made combatting the nation’s border woes a central part of his political identity.
His immigration work will remain on hold until at least June 14, when lawyers will attend a hearing and discuss possible remedies to the constitutional violations found by U.S. District Judge Murray Snow. It’s not known whether Arpaio will resume immigration enforcement after the hearing. The ruling doesn’t altogether bar Arpaio from enforcing the state’s immigration laws, but imposes a long list of restrictions on his immigration patrols, such as a prohibition on using race as a factor in deciding whether to stop a vehicle with a Latino occupant.
The sheriff won’t face jail time or fines as a result of the ruling. But lawyers opposing the sheriff are expected to seek more training for officers, better record-keeping of arrests and a court-appointed official to monitor the agency’s operations to make sure the sheriff’s office isn’t making unconstitutional arrests.
“We are out of the immigration business until that hearing,” Jones said. “Until that hearing, better safe than sorry.”
After Arpaio lost his federal immigration arrest powers in October 2009, he cited state immigration laws as he continued to carry out enforcement efforts.
It has been almost two years since Arpaio conducted his last signature sweep, in which deputies flood an area of a city – in some cases, heavily Latino areas – over several days to seek out traffic violators and arrest other offenders. Even so, he continued enforcing Arizona’s immigrant smuggling law and another state law that bans employers from hiring immigrants living in the country without permission. The sheriff’s office put both enforcement approaches on hold after Snow’s ruling.
Cecillia Wang, a lawyer who pressed the profiling case on behalf of a group of Latinos and the leader of the American Civil Liberties Union’s immigrant rights project, said the Arizona sheriff isn’t the only local official that has violated the rights of Latinos in immigration enforcement, but he’s the most vocal about it. “There are other agencies out there that have been doing similar things more quietly,” Wang said.
The ACLU pointed to several counties in North Carolina, for instance. The U.S. Justice Department filed a lawsuit in December alleging that Alamance County Sheriff Terry S. Johnson and his deputies made unwarranted arrests with the goal of maximizing deportations. Federal authorities accuse Johnson of ordering his deputies to arrest motorists who appeared Latino – even for minor traffic infractions – while letting white drivers off with warnings. They also allege Johnson ordered special roadblocks in neighborhoods where Latinos live.
Chuck Kitchen, an attorney representing Johnson’s office, vigorously denied the allegations and said he didn’t see any similarities between the cases. “I don’t think the ruling has any effect on Alamance,” Kitchen said.
Jessica M. Vaughan, a local immigration enforcement expert for the Center for Immigration Studies, which advocates for stricter immigration laws, disputed the notion that Arpaio’s racial profiling ruling will have a chilling effect on local immigration efforts. Vaughan said the prevailing view within local agencies is that it’s their responsibility to work with the federal government on immigration. “They would be derelict in their duty if they did not,” Vaughan said.
In an interview earlier this week, Arpaio said he was surprised by Snow’s ruling, but declined to talk about the decision’s effects on his immigration enforcement. “I respect the courts, but they have a job to do. We have a job to do,” Arpaio said. “The federal justice system also gives you the opportunity to appeal.”
Tim Casey, Arpaio’s lead attorney, said the decision against Arpaio’s office is historic in the world of immigration law. “It will invariably impact individual rights and law enforcement operations throughout the United States,” Casey said. “It’s going to be cited and relied upon for many others for a long time.”
By Tom Blumer, Newsbusters
Maricopa County, Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio won’t be subject to a recall election. It wasn’t even close, though two press reports, one at the Associated Press and another at the Los Angeles Times, failed to accurately convey how seriously organizers failed. Both reports also trotted out an “if only” excuse which doesn’t pass the stench test, let alone the smell test.
Neither outlet gave an accurate impression of how seriously the recall drive failed. Organizers needed 335,317 valid signatures, but Stephen Lemons at the Phoenix New Times (in a “Featured Bastard” report, no less) reported earlier in the week that the recall movement’s manager “estimates that the recall now needs 90,000 more signatures to have a cushion in addition to the 335,317 necessary to force a recall.” In other words, the magic turn-in number, unreported by both the AP and the Times, was really 425,000 and change.
The AP’s Jacques Billeaud at least stuck to only what the recall movement itself claimed, and even allowed the full effect of Sheriff Joe’s gloating statement into his dispatch:
“It is a sad day,” recall campaign manager Lilia Alvarez said. “It is a disappointment.”
Recall organizers won’t reveal the number of signatures they gathered. In their last update, given five weeks ago, organizers said they had gathered 200,000 signatures.
“The count at this point doesn’t matter,” Alvarez said in deciding not to reveal the number of signatures gathered.
Arpaio issued a statement suggesting that recall organizers aren’t revealing the number of signatures they gathered because they are embarrassed by the level of their failure. “This effort failed because the good people of Maricopa County, whom I’m honored to serve, rejected the wrong-headed idea of overturning an election,” Arpaio said.
But in moves ordinarily expected of AP, the wire service kept Arpaio’s name out of the headline (“GROUP FAILS IN BID TO RECALL ARIZ. SHERIFF”) and used what is likely the most unflattering photo it has in its files to accompany the story. Oh, and Billeaud made sure to call Arpaio “polarizing” in his opening paragraph — a tage the press almost never applies to a Democrat or liberal.
At the Times, Cindy Carcamo allowed someone besides Ms. Alvarez, the campaign’s director, to throw out a vague number, clipped the gloating element from Arpaio’s statment, and went into excuse-making mode:
Activists behind the recall effort would not say how many signatures they were short. Randy Parraz, president of Citizens for Better Arizona, only said the two groups had collected close to 300,000 signatures.
Arpaio, reelected in November, blasted the group in a prepared statement.
“After months of name calling, after the disparaging effigies and theatrics … this latest recall effort has failed,” Arpaio said. “This effort failed because the good people of Maricopa County, whom I’m honored to serve, rejected the wrongheaded idea of overturning an election.”
The groups had struggled to raise funds necessary to hire paid signature gatherers — key to these sort of efforts. Instead, the groups relied heavily on volunteers to gather signatures against the six-term sheriff who is something of an institution in Arizona’s largest county.
… The groups gained momentum after a federal judge ruled Friday that the immigration enforcement policies employed by Arpaio violated the Constitution.
What momentum? Giving Parraz’s apparently unauthorized estimate a huge benefit of the doubt and calling it 275,000 the recall fell short by at least 37% ([435,000 minus 275,000] divided by 435,000) of what they needed.
The AP’s Billeaud also allowed an excuse-maker into his report:
“I wish from the bottom of my heart that this ruling would have come out a month earlier. Had this ruling come out a month earlier, who knows how many signatures we would have gotten,” Democratic state Rep. Martin Quezada of Avondale, a supporter of the Arpaio recall effort, said.
Maybe a few thousand? Big deal.
Breitbart reports yet another Obama/Holder scandal — with direct Arizona ties …
The Department of Justice (DOJ) Inspector General published a new report Monday
that confirms former U.S. Attorney for Arizona Dennis Burke leaked a document
intended to smear Operation Fast and Furious scandal whistleblower John Dodson.
The DOJ IG said it found “Burke’s conduct in disclosing the Dodson memorandum to
be inappropriate for a Department employee and wholly unbefitting a U.S.
“We are referring to OPR our finding that Burke violated Department policy in
disclosing the Dodson memorandum to a member of the media for a determination of
whether Burke’s conduct violated the Rules of Professional Conduct for the state
bars in which Burke is a member,” the IG wrote.
Burke resigned from his post as U.S. Attorney over the incident in August 2011,
the first major Department of Justice official to leave his or her post in the
Fast and Furious scandal. He said after the fact, in interviews with
congressional investigators, that he now views leaking the document as a
In addition to Burke’s involvement in leaking the document, emails the IG
uncovered show senior officials at the Department of Justice discussed smearing
One of those was Tracy Schmaler, the Director of the Department’s Office of
Public Affairs, who resigned her position at the DOJ after emails uncovered
through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request showed that she worked with
leftwing advocacy group Media Matters for America to smear whistleblowers and
members of Congress and the media who sought to investigate DOJ scandals under
Attorney General Eric Holder.
U.S. District Judge David Campbell handed both sides a partial victory at the
first stage in a case challenging Arizona Governor Jan Brewer’s executive order
that her state will not issue driver’s licenses to illegal aliens allowed to
stay in this country temporarily under President Barack Obama’s amnesty program
of not pursuing deportation for many illegal aliens. But the judge also signaled
that Brewer was likely to lose this case in the end, and these illegal aliens
will end up with Arizona licenses.
In 2012 Obama issued an executive order creating his temporary amnesty program.
After Congress refused to pass Obama’s proposed DREAM Act on enact an
immigration bill granting amnesty to millions of foreigners who entered this
country illegally, the president violated his constitutional duty to take care
to faithfully execute the law by announcing that he would not deport large
groups of illegals that he thinks should receive amnesty. A federal judge is
Texas recently held the administration’s actions illegal, but that issue has not
yet been resolved on appeal.
In response to Obama’s executive order and Homeland Security Secretary Janet
Napolitano’s subsequent halting of deportations, Brewer issued an order to the
Arizona Department of Motor Vehicles ordering them to stop accepting federal
documents from those illegal aliens granted temporary amnesty for purposes of
issuing driver’s licenses. An advocacy group for illegal aliens filed a lawsuit
challenging Brewer’s actions in Arizona Dream Act Coalition v. Brewer.
Brewer filed a motion to dismiss the suit, and the plaintiffs filed a motion for
a preliminary injunction to block Brewer’s actions while the lawsuit proceeds.
On May 16, Judge Campbell denied both motions.
Campbell rejected the plaintiffs’ argument that Brewer’s order violates the
Supremacy Clause by conflicting with federal law. He correctly reasoned that
Obama’s order and Napolitano’s follow-up actions carry no force of law under the
Constitution, and therefore do not amount to a federal law that would trump
However, Campbell held it was very likely that the plaintiffs’ alternative
argument that Brewer’s order violates the Equal Protection Clause of the
Fourteenth Amendment will ultimately succeed. Although he correctly held that
the lowest form of judicial scrutiny—called rational-basis review—is the legal
standard for a case like this, he then reasoned that Brewer’s order was likely
to fail under even that deferential standard when he issues a final ruling on
the merits of this case.
“The Governor’s disagreement with the DACA [amnesty] program may be a rational political or policy view in a broad sense—reasonable people certainly can disagree on an issue as complex and difficult as immigration—but it provides no justification for saying that an Arizona’s driver’s license may be issued to one person who has been permitted to remain temporarily in the country on deferred action status—say for an individual humanitarian reason—while another person who has been permitted to remain temporarily in the country on deferred action status under the DACA program is denied a license.” The court noted that both groups of aliens have their deportation actions deferred through prosecutorial discretion, both have temporary status, both are federally eligible to work, and both have documents that have always been accepted by Arizona for driver’s licenses. Campbell noted that Arizona asserts four bases for why Brewer’s law is rational, but concluded that Brewer’s order blocking one group of illegal aliens from getting licenses, but not the other group, undermined the argument of why her order was reasonably related to advancing the public interests she asserted in court.
Campbell has the pedigree of a conservative judge. A Utah native, he clerked for
Justice William Rehnquist (before he became chief justice) on the Supreme Court.
The opinion is well-written and gives Brewer her due. It seems unlikely that he
will change his mind later in this case, or that the U.S. Court of Appeals for
the Ninth Circuit will reverse his decision.
And so the latest fight between Obama and Arizona over immigration continues.
Breitbart News legal columnist Ken Klukowski is a fellow with the American Civil
By U.S. Reps. David Schweikert, Matt Salmon and Paul Gosar
America is a nation of immigrants.
In our relatively short history, millions have left their homelands and traveled great distances to be a part of a grand experiment called America. Today, we are a melting pot of traditions, cultures and ethnicities – all united by a shared belief in the freedom and opportunity that we call the American Dream.
But we are also a nation of laws and fairness. Ours is a land where people can come, work hard and be successful regardless of where they come from, so long as they play by the rules and earn their way honestly. It is our belief in the rule of law and our belief in opportunity that makes the American Dream possible.
Both of these traditions are intertwined into our history and both must be preserved as we embark on the debate over immigration reform.
There is no question that our immigration system is not working, and debates on how to reform it spurs deep emotions for those on all sides of the issue.
But reform should not be driven by emotion alone. To successfully implement immigration reform, we must not lose sight of the ultimate goal: immigration reform must strengthen America as the flagship of freedom in the world.
Reforming our immigration system must start by streamlining and expanding legal immigration for skilled workers. American businesses are plagued by a shortage of skilled and educated workers particularly in the fields of science, math, engineering and technology.
Currently, only 13 percent of green cards are awarded based on economic considerations. This needs to change. We should be encouraging skilled workers to come to America to help grow American businesses and boost our economy.
Additionally, we need to reform and streamline our temporary work-visa program. To the extent that American businesses find themselves in need of low-skilled labor, we can and should expand this program. Not only will this help our economy, but it will also discourage illegal immigration by offering immigrants legal employment opportunities.
However, any temporary work-visa program must include enforcement mechanisms to ensure temporary workers do not overstay their visas, add to the ballooning cost of entitlements and increase the population of illegal immigrants already in the country.
Which brings us to the most contentious part of the immigration debate: what to do with the 11 million immigrants who have come here illegally? To answer this question, we must return to the two principles that have guided our nation from its inception to this day.
The desire to make a better life for oneself and one’s family is certainly admirable, but we should not reward those who have broken our laws at the expense of the millions of immigrants who have played by the rules and are patiently waiting their turn in line. Simply put, those in our country illegally should not have a unique path to citizenship not available to those who have chosen to abide by our laws and attempt to emigrate legally.
At the same time, there is no benefit to keeping 11 million illegal immigrants trapped in the shadows. In fact, it is in our country’s interest to know who they are and where they live.
Reforming our immigration system to address the status of the 11 million people in our country illegally should focus on normalizing their legal status without access to federal benefits or a special pathway to citizenship.
Finally, real and objectively verifiable border security must be a part of any legislation. If we cannot stem the tide of illegal immigration, we are destined to repeat the cycle of amnesty again and again.
In 1986, Congress passed comprehensive immigration reform, granting amnesty to 3 million illegal immigrants, while promising that it would solve our country’s illegal immigration problem. Today, we have 11 million illegal immigrants, and we are on the verge of repeating the same mistakes.
We have an opportunity to learn from those mistakes and reform our immigration system in a way that preserves America’s tradition of fairness, freedom and equality. We hope Congress will not squander that opportunity.
In the spirit of the Statue of Liberty that declares, “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,” we welcome those who want to lawfully be a part of the American Dream.
But it is up to us to protect that dream, to respect the rule of law and to make sure future immigrants and future Americans have a place to call home. It is up to us to preserve the American tradition of fairness and laws that keep us the most prosperous, strongest nation on this Earth.
Transcript of Thursday’s interview of Mark Steyn on the Hugh Hewitt radio program:
HH: I begin this Thursday as I do those in which we are lucky with Columnist To the World, Mark Steyn. You can read all that Mark writes at http://www.steynonline.com. Mark, do you think it’s possible the ball cap bombers are stupid enough to still be in the country?
MS: Well, that’s an interesting question, Hugh. I mean, in theory, they’re, four hours after the explosions, they could have driven north and crossed a sleepy Canadian border crossing and been out of the country. On the other hand, if they are foreign visitors to the United States, since 9/11, there’s been the introduction of a vast range of facial recognition stuff. Everybody who’s not a U.S. citizen has to have his eyeballs photographed, fingerprinted, and photographs taken when they enter the United States. And if that stuff’s going to work, you’ve got to believe that they’ve cross-referenced these pictures with the photographs of people who entered the country recently and have tried to leave it recently. So I suspect the FBI already know the answer to that question.
HH: Now Andrew McCarthy said on this program yesterday, former federal prosecutor of the Blind Sheik, that if you have to go public with the photos, you’re in a pretty bad spot from an investigatory position. Do you agree with that?
MS: Yeah, I think that’s true. And just to go back to what I was saying earlier, I think that means that they’ve run them all through the immense number of new databases and new security checks that have been introduced since 9/11, and they’ve come up empty. And that’s why they’re standing in a room in Boston saying does this still ring any bells with anybody?
HH: Any reaction to the video, Mark, as it was played less than an hour ago?
MS: Yeah, I mean, I think this is an interesting question. I mean, I don’t want to prejudge anything here, and I find it rather weird the way people have been desperate that the killer should fit their particular biases. This guy who wrote this article at Salon saying I hope and pray that it is a white male American. Obviously, the guys in the baseball caps didn’t look like white male Americans. It doesn’t mean anything. They could be native-born Americans of one particular ethnicity or another. They could be a foreign student studying in Boston. But here’s the point. It would be, the idea that this would be a kind of official credentialed, card-carrying member of al Qaeda terrorist attack would mark a real change in strategy for al Qaeda. I remember shortly after 9/11 standing on my town common the Saturday after 9/11, and there was a little sort of town fair and people selling this and that and all the rest of it, and saying to a neighbor of mine, you know, that if I was these guys, I’d blow up somewhere like here next, in other words, to say that nothing is safe. We can not only take out the great iconic landmarks of New York, but you can go to some nowhere town in the middle of Nowheresville, and we’ll kill couple of people there, too. And they didn’t do that, al Qaeda. They’ve gone for big iconic targets, whether it’s in the U.S. or the London Tube bombings. And to do something like this in Boston, where they just, they kill a relatively small number of people, it would mark a change, a real change if this was to be any kind of official al Qaeda act.
HH: And more, we will follow in the weeks ahead. Now I want to switch over to leadership. I wrote a column at Townhall.com today, Mark, after the President’s rant in the Rose Garden yesterday. And I’m mad at the Republicans as well, and in the House, Dave Camp, who leads Ways And Means, is blocking tax reform in order to do a deal with Max Baucus. And I just look around Washington, D.C, and I see a complete collapse of leadership. But yesterday in the Rose Garden was the worst. What did you make of the President’s fit of pique yesterday?
MS: Yeah, it was interesting to me. It reminded me a bit of, in a less dramatic way, of Bill Clinton when he’d been grilled by the Grand Jury, and made the mistake of going on national television afterwards when he was still steamed about it. And he let loose on TV for about three minutes. And for just those three minutes, for the first time, America glimpsed the real Bill Clinton, petulant, whiny, unlikable. And that was exactly the mistake that Obama made yesterday, a glimpse of a side of him that he’s held very carefully under control now for the five years he’s been on the national stage. And so in that sense, I think it was a big mistake. The other thing is I think this just reveals what happens when you elect a guy as national leader who comes from a perfect left wing bubble. The voting precinct he lives in, in Chicago, voted, I think it was 97% Democrat. He’s not used to a world where you have to take the views of your political opponents seriously. And the idea that simply be demagoguing the issue, by virtue of the fact that he demagogued it so effectively, the opposition should have caved and let him have his way, I think he illustrated why in a sense, he’s at odds with the American Constitutional order, which has a big degree of bipartisanship and compromise and reach across the aisle type stuff built into it. This is not a guy who does that kind of thing.
HH: Now the American Constitutional order also calls, regular order is the catch phrase of the day, it calls for the House passing a tax bill, being sent to the Senate, the Senate does what it does, sends it back, you have a conference, they agree or they don’t, if they do agree, it goes to the President and he signs or he doesn’t, and they come back and they have a veto override. That’s regular order. And John Boehner, the Speaker, has said he’s pledged to it. But underway in the House right now, Mark, and I know you’re sitting in for Rush tomorrow, and I hope you hammer the House Republicans, and especially Michigan’s David Camp on this, they are sitting on tax repeal. They’re not doing it because Dave Camp wants to do a big deal with Max Baucus. Why in the world do the Republicans want to do anything with Max Baucus?
MS: No, I don’t get that, and I take what you say. I have a respect for the U.S. Constitution, and I have a respect for Congressional procedure. But there’s no doubt that basically we’re living in a world where Congress and the executive are winging it. That’s what they’ve been, they’ve been doing what they want. The President never offers a budget on time, the Senate never offers a budget at all, I mean, basically, the idea…and then every so often, they’ll dredge up some bit of cobwebbed parliamentary procedure and decide that they’re going to stick to it. But essentially, the Republicans who are the majority in the House have been unable in the last two years to make that majority mean anything. And the disenchantment on the right, the disenchantment on the right is real. I mean, what would be the point? I mean, there’s a fatalism on the right that a lot of people think they’ll lose the House in 2014, but that even if they win the House, big deal. What do they get? What do they have to show for it?
HH: Well that, this comes down to the leadership of House Republicans. I think Cantor and McCarthy and Paul Ryan are doing a fine job, but I think the Speaker is old school, and he lets these committee chairmen do or do nothing as they care, and I frankly have had it with them. I don’t know why anyone gets excited about House Republicans anymore. Do you know anyone, anyone at all in our world of broadcast and commentary who is excited about the House Republicans?
MS: No, but I don’t really know anybody who’s excited about them in the…you know, the people who have to go knock on doors, the people who have to make phone calls, the people who have to ensure that there’s turnout when you don’t have a glamorous celebrity at the top of the ticket like Obama. And I remember a few years ago, Newt Gingrich came and gave a speech in New Hampshire. And this was just before 2006. And he was asked, you know, why has the Republican House been such a disappointment? This was in the Denny Hastert days. And he said well, what you have to remember is the Republicans aren’t used to being in the leadership and running the House. Now at that point, they had been running the House for over a decade.
MS: It was the time of the new Iraq Constitution. The Iraqis are supposed to get the hang of free constitutional responsible government in 20 minutes, but the Republican Party can’t be expected to get the hang of it in a decade. And it sounds pathetic. The one thing one has to admire about the Democrats, they did it when they took over here in my own state in New Hampshire, is they don’t just think it’s about occupying the corner office and having a driver, and having a fancy title on your business card. They use it. From the word go, they’re passing this and they’re passing that. Obama was obvious, the country didn’t want Obamacare. He got out his mallet, and he hammered it down the American people’s throat regardless. The Republicans never show that determination.
HH: No, they don’t, and as a result, they’re going to give up that which they do not use. Mark Steyn, look forward to hearing you tomorrow on the national, the absolutely legal immigration show tomorrow as Mark sits in for Rush. Don’t miss that, America.
By Andrew Thomas
It was, if nothing else, a fitting metaphor for the size and nature of the work before them. On March 27, 2013, four members of the “Gang of Eight,” a group of U.S. senators who have banded together to seek immigration reform, toured the Arizona-Mexico border. It was what Politico termed their “spring break” trip: Republican Senators John McCain and Jeff Flake, back in their home state of Arizona, hosting two fellow members of the Gang of Eight, Democratic Senators Chuck Schumer of New York and Michael Bennet of Colorado.
“In the last several years we have made improvements on the border,” McCain told the press later. The senators spoke of the need for more technology on the border, though they declined to say what future border security measures would be installed as part of their legislation, which was still being negotiated.
As they flew over the border near Nogales, a city that straddles both sides of the international border, they saw something that captured the magnitude of the problem. They saw a woman climb the border fence successfully. Senator McCain tweeted the event and informed the public that the Border Patrol later apprehended her.
Even as such events remind the nation of the severity of the situation, the senators remained confident a deal can be struck for new immigration legislation. One of the few known and certain components of the legislation being drafted is amnesty. The gang has agreed in advance the bill would grant probationary legal status to all illegal immigrants immediately—meaning they can remain in the country legally.
Yet as Republican establishment leaders treat this enterprise as the political salvation of the Grand Old Party, some observers are starting to question the very premise of the efforts. After all, if the political goal, accepted at its practical core, is to secure more Hispanic votes for Republicans, is this legislation truly the path to such success?
The Myth of the Romney Debacle
When we drill down below the conventional wisdom, and in particular when we examine hard polling data from Hispanic Americans, we find things are not as we have been told. The Republican Party’s challenges with Hispanics are of long standing and seemingly not connected to illegal immigration, but instead involve broader issues with the party’s platform and brand.
Consider first the much-discussed exit polls showing low Hispanic support for Mitt Romney in last year’s election. The results of a Fox News exit poll were typical. It found that 71 percent of Hispanics voted for President Obama and 27 percent for Mitt Romney. A Pew Research analysis of multiple exit polls confirmed this margin.
But grand political lessons should not be drawn from a single election. Here, we find Pew’s data much more illuminating, for they compared Romney’s showing to that of past Republican presidential nominees. This was not a one-time debacle because of GOP immigration rhetoric, but rather a long-term pattern of Republican inefficacy.
In 2008, John McCain won only 31 percent of the Hispanic vote. That too was not his fault; it is in fact a typical percentage for Republicans in the modern era. In fact, the average percentage of the Hispanic vote won by a Republican candidate for president for the past nine presidential election cycles, going back to the first Reagan victory in 1980, is just 32.9 percent.
Bob Dole fared the worst, losing to Bill Clinton among Hispanics by 51 points (72 percent to 21 percent). No serious observer would contend that Bob Dole was or appeared to be an anti-Hispanic bigot.
George W. Bush received a greater share of the Hispanic vote. In the 2000 and 2004 presidential elections, he lost the Hispanic vote by 27 and 18 points, respectively. But there were important differences. First, he received a higher share of the overall vote than McCain and Romney. Bush was the former governor of Texas, and performed especially well among Hispanics in that state who were his former constituents. And Bush was not running against Obama, a racial minority with whom Hispanic voters naturally found common ground.
In other words, Romney did not nosedive because of tough anti-immigrant GOP rhetoric swirling around him. He merely performed slightly lower than average against America’s first minority president.
Advocates of immigration reform as a brand-fixer for Republicans overlook broader issues that are at work. Hispanics favor a larger role for government than do white Americans or Republicans. And these differences are not going away.
Hispanic voters make political decisions as other Americans do. A Pew Research survey last year asked Hispanic registered voters to name the most important issues facing the country. Fifty-five percent listed education as “extremely important.” This was followed in descending order by a familiar litany of other top concerns: jobs and the economy (54 percent), health care (50 percent), federal budget deficit (36 percent) and taxes (33 percent). Immigration fell between deficits and taxes at 34 percent.
Accordingly, freshman Senator Ted Cruz, a virtual unknown at the start of his come-from-behind campaign in the Lone Star State of Texas registering just one percent in the polls, wrote in the Washington Post last January that the GOP should stand for “opportunity conservatism” by conceptualizing and articulating “every domestic policy with a single-minded focus on easing the ascent up the economic ladder.”
Further, he explained, “Under the Obama administration, the unemployment rate climbed above 10 percent among Hispanics last year and to 14 percent among African Americans. Yet Republicans never talked about this.”
However, Hispanics favor a larger role for government than the population as a whole. A 2012 survey by the Washington Post and the Kaiser Foundation found two out of three Hispanics favored a “larger federal government with many services” over a “smaller federal government with fewer services.” For all American adults, in contrast, 55 percent preferred a smaller federal government with fewer services and only 40 percent supported a larger federal government.
An Allstate/National Journal/Heartland Monitor poll in 2011, echoing Ronald Reagan, offered more confirmation. Forty-two percent of white Americans, a plurality in the poll, agreed that “in the current economic environment government is not the solution to our economic problems, government is the problem.” Only 17 percent of African Americans and 25 percent of Hispanics felt the same.
In a Latino Decisions poll in 2012, 61 percent of Hispanic voters supported Obamacare, with only 25 percent who want it repealed. This contrasts with solid, sustained opposition to the law by a majority of Americans overall and white voters in particular.
Finally, the overwhelming Hispanic vote for Obama reflected a common belief that he and his party would do a better job of addressing the whole range of issues facing the country. Hispanic voters concluded Obama would better handle the economy, the chief issue for all voters of all races in 2012. A Latino Decisions poll, taken on November 5, 2012, the eve of the election, found that, when asked which candidate and political party “do you trust more to make the right decisions and improve our economic conditions,” 73 percent of Hispanic voters chose Obama and the Democrats and only 23 percent selected Romney and the Republicans. Those results mirrored almost precisely the election returns among Hispanic voters according to exit polls.
There is, then, a broader dissonance between the Republican Party and Hispanic voters on issues well beyond immigration. Hispanics prefer bigger government, even as this is antithetical to the core tenets of the Republican Party platform. Even the most committed Republican immigration reformers in Congress are not proposing that the GOP jettison its limited-government stance and rhetoric.
A Path to Lasting Political Success
The assumption that immigration reform will improve Republican political prospects is, then, questionable at best. George Hawley, a political science professor at the University of Houston, recently published a study which further reinforced this conclusion. He found that Republican incumbents seeking reelection to Congress who had supported liberalizing immigration laws did not fare better in the 2006 elections than did Republican Congressmen who opposed such legislation. In fact, Hawley concluded that the reform-minded Congressmen averaged less than 30 percent support from Hispanics—nearly identical to the totals that Mitt Romney gained from Hispanic voters in the presidential race six years later.
Hawley argues that the Republican Party may lose some of its base voters by trying to win over Hispanic voters, who are more in line with the Democratic Party on other issues besides immigration reform.
What, then, are Republicans to do? They risk alienating the base they have, which allows them to remain competitive nationally and win and retain a majority in Congress, by going along with amnesty. Furthermore, they will always be “outbid” by Democratic leaders, presumably, when it comes to accommodating illegal immigration.
A better approach is to be true to core Republican principles and accentuate areas of commonality with Hispanic voters, of which there are many. For example, a vigorous national defense benefits all and offers fertile common ground. Hispanics understand the need for deficit reduction as a way to provide for the needs of future generations, something that accords with love of family.
A “common ground” approach presents a more likely path to long-term political success than turning the Republican Party into the “me too” amnesty party.
By Andrew Thomas
When a bipartisan group of U.S. Senators announced plans in January 2013 to push new immigration legislation, Americans learned that the leaders behind this latest effort to deal with the nation’s broken borders would cross the political aisle. But it did not take long for them to realize that bipartisanship came at a price: amnesty for all illegal immigrants.
Coming together for this purpose was the so-called Gang of Eight. The members of the group were Democratic Senators Michael Bennet of Colorado, Richard Durbin of Illinois, Robert Menendez of New Jersey, and Charles Schumer of New York, and Republican Senators Jeff Flake of Arizona, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, John McCain of Arizona, and Marco Rubio of Florida. Their proposal was the most ambitious immigration package since the 1986 reforms known as the Immigration Reform and Control Act (or Simpson-Mazzoli Act).
The Gang of Eight’s proposal would allow the estimated 11 million illegal immigrants in America to remain without fear of deportation. They would be required to register with the federal government and pay a fine and then would receive “probationary legal status.” This would allow them to remain in the country and work.
To gain permanent status, they would have to go to the “end of the line” and could qualify for long-term protected status only after the border was secured and a system put in place to track the status of immigrants who have overstayed visas. The bill also would seek to attract highly skilled immigrants.
Leaders of both parties added to this chorus of bipartisan support. Several Republican leaders in Congress and the media joined in, including Congressman Paul Ryan. To a cheering crowd in Las Vegas on January 29, President Obama threw his weight behind the efforts, stating that “the time has come to pass comprehensive immigration reform.”
Obama’s own plan, contained in a “secret” document nonetheless leaked suspiciously to the media in February 2013, was not substantively much different from the Gang of Eight’s. In fact, while Republican leaders denounce Obama’s approach as too soft on border enforcement and “dead on arrival,” the differences between his approach and the Gang of Eight’s were minor; some conservatives speculated the “leak” was a deliberate attempt to allow Republican leaders to put some distance between themselves and the president. The main distinction between the two plans was whether the federal government will allow illegal immigrants to apply for legal status as permanent residents after eight years have passed (Obama) or after a still-unnamed commission declares the border to be secure (Gang of Eight). In either case, the practical result is immediate legalization, or amnesty by another name.
There is little practical difference between the two plans for an additional reason: Latin American immigrants in the past have had a low rate of naturalization. After the 1986 amnesty law was passed by Congress and signed by President Ronald Reagan, most illegal immigrants who qualified for amnesty did not even pursue and obtain citizenship.
Sparring over the proposed reforms quickly began in expected quarters. In testimony on Capitol Hill, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano went so far as to claim the border has never been more secure.
Democratic Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont, the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, which will be a central checkpoint for the legislation, pledged to bring the reforms to a vote and push them vigorously.
But conservative Republican members of the Senate Judiciary Committee remained skeptical. Pressing their belief the borders still are not secure and that this is just the latest incarnation of amnesty, these leaders have questioned the whole premise of the legislation. Emerging as a prime leader of this opposition is Senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama. He has shared fears that the efforts will be “amnesty only” and that the promises of beefed-up border security will not materialize, while mass legal status conferred on illegal immigrants will. Sessions declared that supporters of the bill suffer from “a lot of overconfidence,” and predicted flatly, “It will not pass.”
To bolster their view, Sessions and his allies invoke both fairness and a long history of non-enforcement. Immediate legalization for illegal immigrants who would gain “probationary legal status” under the reforms would amount to preferential treatment for those who have essentially broken into the country. Those who played by the rules will not qualify for this coveted status.
Moreover, past promises to toughen enforcement measures have not led to subsequent action by federal agencies tasked with securing the border. Congress passed a law in 2006, the Secure Fence Act, requiring a border fence. Congress has authorized, multiple times, creation of an entry-exit system to monitor those coming and going from the country. Neither the fence nor the entry-exit system has been constructed.
What pressure will be brought to bear on holdout Republicans opposing the push for amnesty? Some inkling of this comes from the rough tactics being used to discredit groups that advocate tougher border security and oppose amnesty. One group aligned with the Gang of Eight, the Latino Partnership for Conservative Principles, has accused groups such as Numbers USA, the Center for lmmigration Studies and the Federation for American Immigration Reform of not being genuinely conservative groups. The latter, hardline groups are being tarred with accusations that they support population-control measures such as abortion and sterilization.
The obvious intention is to separate the hardline groups from conservative orthodoxy and make it easier for conservative members of Congress to vote in favor of amnesty. The Washington Post acknowledged recently that “establishment Republicans” were behind the effort to marginalize the border-hawk organizations, and that this “campaign . . . is another sign of how seriously” these Republican leaders are pursuing a new immigration package.
Leaders of the targeted groups complain they are being smeared by a well-organized campaign underwritten by moneyed interests that want to liberalize immigration laws and operations. Mark Krikorian, executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies, has blasted these accusations as “laughably unbelievable” and an attempt to “bork” opponents of the administration’s new plan with the Gang of Eight (“bork” being a reference to the famous smear campaign used to block Senate confirmation of the late Judge Robert H. Bork the Reagan nominee in 1987 to the United States Supreme Court).
A Republican-led House of Representatives ultimately will have to go along with the proposed immigration reforms, at least in some manner, in order for amnesty to become law. For this reason, such bare-knuckled, divide-and-conquer tactics may well be, for the Gang of Eight and its allies, their only realistic path to victory.
Andrew Thomas is a graduate of the University of Missouri and Harvard Law School. Twice elected as Maricopa County Attorney, the district attorney for greater Phoenix, Arizona, Thomas served a county of four million residents and ran one of the largest prosecutor’s offices in the nation. He established a national reputation for fighting violent crime, identity theft, drug abuse and illegal immigration. He is the author of four books, including The People v. Harvard Law: How America’s Oldest Law School Turned Its Back on Free Speech. Mr. Thomas is also a contributor to SFPPR News & Anslysis.