Friday, May 21, 2010

The shame of the Democrats' fear-mongering and pandering

Bill Bennett and Seth Liebsohn are exactly right in how they take Obama, the Democrats, and Calderon to task for all their demonizing of Arizona and its new immigration law.

Not only did Obama stand by while Calderon criticized Arizona, but then the Democrats gave him a standing ovation in Congress for making those same criticisms. That is just shameful.
Felipe Calderón has simply no business lecturing us, lecturing America, about our immigration policies. How does Mexico treat illegal immigrants? See Article 67 of Mexico’s General Population Law: “Authorities, whether federal, state or municipal . . . are required to demand that foreigners prove their legal presence in the country, before attending to any issues.” Now, the Arizona law, which we’ll get to in a moment, doesn’t even say this; there is no such language as “demand,” in Arizona.

But, first, here’s an Amnesty International press release from last month: “The Mexican authorities must act to halt the continuing abuse of migrants who are preyed on by criminal gangs while public officials turn a blind eye or even play an active part in kidnappings, rapes and murders.” Public officials — the government of Mexico — turns a blind eye. The AI report continues: “Migrants in Mexico are facing a major human rights crisis leaving them with virtually no access to justice, fearing reprisals and deportation if they complain of abuses. . . . Persistent failure by the authorities to tackle abuses carried out against irregular migrants has made their journey through Mexico one of the most dangerous in the world.”

So, illegal immigrants in Mexico face some of the most dangerous abuses in the world and they face reprisal and deportation if they complain. Further, there is “persistent failure” by the government of Mexico in stopping this. Felipe Calderón should be schooled on this, and until he is schooled on this, he should simply shut up about Arizona, about the United States — one of the safest places in the world for illegal immigrants and one of the most welcoming places in the world for legal immigrants.
Then there is the constant, repeated misstatement of what is in the law so we can get the President of the United States scaring people by saying that a man wouldn't be safe taking his kids out to get ice cream. If he had read the bill, he would know that the law specifically states that, it is only after someone has been stopped for suspicion of committing a crime and if there is a reasonable suspicion, not based on race, that the person is an illegal immigrant can the police ask for documentation. This is just what is in the federal law which the President would know if he had any interest in carrying out his responsibilities to protect the border and protect Arizona.

And Obama seems rather blithe about the situation in Arizona.
Final point, why did Arizona pass this law? Last year, as Abby Wisse Schachter put it, “the Border Patrol apprehended 241,453 people and confiscated a record 1.3 million pounds of marijuana — in the Tucson, Ariz., sector alone. Nearly a fifth of all those apprehended already had a U.S. criminal record.”

There are nearly half a million illegal immigrants in Arizona. According to the Center for Immigration Studies, while illegal immigrants make up 9 percent of the Arizona population, they are responsible for 22 percent of the felonies in Arizona and they constitute 11 percent of the state prison population. Arizona is now the kidnapping capital of the United States, and Phoenix has the second-largest kidnapping problem in the world (second to Mexico City).

According to the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office, kidnapping in Arizona increased 402 percent between 2004 and 2008, with almost 70 percent of the kidnapping cases submitted for prosecution involving illegal immigrants. Illegal immigrants account for 16.5 percent of those sentenced for violent crimes; 18.5 percent of those sentenced for property crimes; 33.5 percent of those sentenced for the manufacture, sale, or transport of drugs; and 44.4 percent of those sentenced or forgery and fraud in the Phoenix area. And, according to DOJ statistics, three Border Patrol agents are assaulted on the average day at or near the U.S. border. Someone is kidnapped every 35 hours in Phoenix, Ariz. — mostly by agents of alien-smuggling organizations. And one in five American teenagers last year used some type of illegal drug, many of which were imported across the unsecured U.S.-Mexico border. For example, most of the cocaine and meth consumed in America comes in from Mexico, and in some states, over 90 percent of the marijuana consumed is from Mexico.

Was there a compelling interest for this law? Yes. Was there a rational basis for this law? Yes. Is there any rationality in beating up on Arizona, or in the president’s allowing — even welcoming — leaders of foreign countries to do so? None, and it is a moral shame that he persists in this ugly business.
Of course, we all know what is behind the posturing of the Democrats. They want to pander for the votes of Hispanics and are trying to play ugly racial politics to lock up that vote. Rather than addressing the situation, they'll exacerbate racial fears and tensions in order to reap political gain. As Mona Charen writes,
It suits Democrats to treat immigration as an issue of “race” and discrimination, because it permits them to frighten Hispanic Americans and secure that important voting bloc. But it’s a fiction. We have an immigration problem because the U.S. is an incredibly desirable place to live and work. Immigrants continue to enrich our society, not least because they are often more appreciative of our institutions and liberties than are the native born. If it were feasible, millions of people worldwide would come here. And millions wait patiently, sometimes for decades, for the chance to do so. Democrats worry ostentatiously about the unfairness of asking people to prove their legal status. What about the unfairness of giving an advantage to line jumpers over those who abide by the law and wait their turn?

President Obama has proposed that “undocumented” workers be required to go to the “back of the line” before being considered for citizenship. But how could that work? Those waiting abroad for green cards frequently wait for a decade or more. Where exactly would the end of the line be?

The U.S. needs many different kinds of legal immigrants — particularly those who are job creators. As Ben Wildavsky outlines in The Great Brain Race, “Between 1995 and 2005, 25 percent of all American engineering and technology companies were founded by immigrants — including half of those in Silicon Valley. Nearly one-quarter of all international patent applications filed from the United States in 2006 named foreign nationals as inventors. . . . While immigrants made up just 12 percent of workforce in 2000, they accounted for fully 47 percent of scientists and engineers with PhDs. . . . Two-thirds of those who entered science and engineering fields between 1995 and 2006 were, yes, immigrants.”

But our current immigration law makes it difficult for these Ph.D.s, trained with considerable investment from U.S. taxpayers, to remain in the United States. They are returning to their countries and taking their job-creating skills with them.

These are the sorts of immigration questions that serious leaders should consider — rather than demonizing the people of Arizona.
Meanwhile, behind the scenes, the politics of pushing a comprehensive immigration bill isn't as clear as many Democrats think. They're pointing a finger at Rahm Emanuel as being the one in the White House who has been blocking bringing up such a bill. Emanuel rightly fears forcing many Democratic congressman to vote for such a bill because he recognizes that immigration has become political dynamite. He advised Clinton to stay away from the issue and many suspect that is the advice he's given Obama. They want him taken off the issue entirely. So that is why we get the President saying he wants to "begin" on such a bill this year, but not that he has any true desire to push to complete one. He doesn't feel the same necessity as he did for health care.

So all that is left is the demagoguery rather than true policy choices. The Democrats will applaud a foreign leader standing at the White House and in Congress in order to achieve their political goals. That is truly ugly and shameful politics.