Anne Coulter in a recent piece on immigration reform and the GOP has chucked any interest in bringing in the some 10 to 12 million undocumented long-term Latino immigrants into the American family at any time in the future.
“Why do Republicans want to create up to 20 million more Democratic voters, especially if it involves flouting the law?” writes Coulter.
Virginia Representative Rob Goodlatte the senior Republican on the House Judiciary Committee has come out against any immigration reform bill that would provide any kind of path to citizenship for the undocumented.
“People have a pathway to citizenship right now: It’s to abide by the immigration laws, and if they have a family relationship, if they have a job skill that allows them to do that, they can obtain citizenship,” Goodlatte told National Public Radio (NPR). “But simply someone who broke the law, came here, [to] say,’ I’ll give you citizenship now,’ that is not going to happen.
Idaho Representative Raul Labrador, another Republican in the House told NPR “the people that came here illegally knowingly—I don’t think they should have a path to citizenship. “ Labrador added, “if you knowingly violated our law, you violated our sovereignty, I think we should normalize your status but we should not give you a pathway to citizenship.”
The basic Republican objection to comprehensive immigration reform that gives a path to citizenship to the overwhelming majority of undocumented immigrants—not every one of them Latino–is based on the deep objection to the breaking of U.S. immigration law with foreknowledge and premeditation.
If this is such a deep and abiding violation of the law then the punishment must be banishment from the United States or long-term imprisonment. These people then would have to be located and deported and imprisoned in a manner that makes the U.S. commitment to human rights and democracy a standing joke and repudiation of what we profess to believe as Americans. It is the very antithesis of what it is to be an American.
There are two legal measures taken against those who have entered the United States illegally. First, it is a civil and not a criminal violation when those caught violating immigration law are not themselves possessing a criminal record. This civil violation is acknowledged in front of a Federal judge and then the violator is deported to their country of origin. Second, a fine may also be levied against undocumented persons.
But if we are going to reform our immigration law in a way that respects these long-time residents of the United States doing that or placing them in a second-class, non-citizen status on a permanent basis will shackle them and prevent the full exercise of the rights all people need to realize their dreams and fully contribute to the United States and its future strength and prosperity. It is also doubtful most of the undocumented would come forward and identify themselves, making some kind of police-state racially profiled hunt for undocumented Latinos, violating the rights of millions of documented American citizens among the Latino population here more likely.
Why come forward and receive a status that is little better than you have staying underground?
Almost no one even knows that aliens who illegally enter the United States or violate provisions of their Visas without any prior criminal record either here or in their country of origin are given punishment that does not involve criminal prosecution. A civil violation cannot be a permanent bar to improving their status in the United States. We reserve life without parole and the death penalty and outright deportation for people who are not those that immigration reform would touch.
What President Obama and the Democrats have suggested allows for the undocumented to come forward and admit before a court of law that they violated our immigration law at some point in the past and to pay a suitable fine for what is at present and ought remain a civil violation. It is not a death sentence. By admitting before our courts that they violated the law and paying a civil fine the law breaking is on their record and they have made restitution to all American citizens and the United States Government and they show respect for the rule of law.
Thus the undocumented would have paid their full debt to our society and ought to be welcomed in as full citizens subject to the prescribed immigration and naturalization process as prescribed in our Supreme Law the Constitution of the United States. How can Republicans fail to grasp this? Well let’s see.
Everybody agrees that any path to citizenship must place the undocumented who would come forward under a new immigration law at the back of the line for citizenship—behind all those who up to that moment have come to the United States legally.
Oddly, the President’s own plan has them wait for eight years before even beginning to get to the back of the line. Why not put them there as soon as their case is adjudicated in a court of law? The record would not bar them from employment or be a stain on their citizen status and full restitution is their admission to breaking the law and the fine they pay, which would be according to their ability to pay.
President Obama has correctly pointed out, most recently in his State of the Union message earlier this month that our five-year immigration path to American citizenship as spelled out in the United States Constitution does not provide it to legal immigrants within five years due to the back up in the system as it is: it is broken here too.
Republicans often characterize Latinos or Hispanics as “lazy and dependent” people who overuse Federal welfare, Food stamps, and both Federal and State services such as police, fire, healthcare, and especially the public education of their children.
The truth is just the opposite. Republicans, outside of President George W. Bush in his 2000 campaign and previously as Governor of Texas, don’t know that Latinos are extremely hard-working and often do work the rest of us would never consider and certainly not at the below minimum wage people who are undocumented and off the charts are forced to accept. Those millions of Latinos who are citizens are like the newcomers– extremely entrepreneurial and overwhelmingly Catholic and conservative on at least some social questions—presumably a pro-life anti-abortion stance of their church.
This makes hash of Anne Coulter’s suggestion that a path to citizenship will create twenty million new Democrats. These people are more likely to be most comfortable with the Republican Party and its strong pro-business, hard work get-ahead ideology and respect for human life. All that prevents Republicans from once again getting forty percent of the Latino vote like Bush did in 2000 or that Reagan did when he ran for President (specifically 37%) and even more is to get out in front of the immigration issue and be more liberal in getting the some 11.1 million undocumented Latinos in this nation onto a quick path to citizenship. With that removed, and with a true welcoming stance to these people, the Democratic Party advantage of gaining seventy percent and more of the Latino vote would even up quickly.
But that would be smart and the Republican Party in 2013 is as Republican Governor of Louisiana and 2016 Presidential Hopeful Bobby Jindal remains solidly entrenched as “The Party of Stupid.”
White people accounted for almost 64 percent of the population in 2010 and received 69 percent of entitlement benefits. Latinos are 16 percent of the population yet receive 12 percent of entitlement benefits. This is hardly over dependent. On that basis it raises questions about the dominant white citizen population that should be even more troubling to Republicans but which is not.
Lazy is a characterization that has no scientific measurement index that is reliable. It is a measure of the opinion of those who watch others work and strive to succeed in our nation over their lifetimes.
It has to be said that professional American historians of immigration have long noted the common label of laziness and shiftlessness applied to both new immigrants from the Irish to the Italians and to the people from the Caribbean and most prominantly African-Americans.
Somehow the Germans escaped this label but they were thought to be overly clannish, keeping to themselves, obtaining citizenship and voting rights in the Republican Party during the Civil War Era and Reconstruction much too quickly for Democrats, and drinking entirely too much beer; Scandinavians too.
But Gilded Age immigrants of all backgrounds were routinely exploited for their low-wage labor under horrendous conditions—something the undocumented of our own time are all too well acquainted with.
And it is a commonplace of our history and of white prejudice against African-Americans that they remain lazy and shiftless and awaiting gifts from Obama if re-elected as Mitt Romney has recently charged and that they are all poor, and over dependent on Federal support. That is racial prejudice plainly visible to anyone who cares to look.This view of Latinos is rooted in racial and ethnic prejudice and bigotry too, and it suggests strongly that the Republican Party base has a great hostility for Latinos in general due to this racial and ethnic stereotype so magnified and so out of line with reality.
Republicans view of the undocumented as lawbreakers who have committed such a serious breach of the law to never be given a chance at citizenship is so harsh as to suggest that it too is rooted in the Republican’s own view that these people of color and who speak a different language to start with are the permanent “stranger” “other” and are dangerous to public order.
Anne Coulter’s assumption embedded deeply in what she has just written is that Republicans, overwhelmingly white and older and with a male tilt will never accept Latinos as their full equals. And they will never be comfortable with people of color becoming in aggregate as numerous as white people in the demographic future of America somewhere around 2040 according to the latest projection of the U.S. Bureau of the Census.
Why not instead make as many of these people full American citizens as soon as possible? That would be five to six years from the moment immigration reform takes effect. Then we would add 11.1 million new payers of Federal Income Taxes and State Income Taxes and not just sales taxes. Paying for what we need and balancing the budget becomes easier. And we unleash the full potential of these people and can better harness them to the full American economy and the civic life of the nation. Their children will fill out the ranks of our military, they will go to college and be some of the people who provide the innovation and edge we always want for the United States.
Dare we say, this is an ass-backward and stupid stance on the part of Republicans on this issue of immigration reform?
Of course any comprehensive immigration reform bill will include penalizing employers that hire undocumented people and mercilessly exploit them in the process and thus spurring more illegal immigration. Many of the undocumented are that desperate to find any kind of employment and freedom to support themselves and their families.
And we will maintain even heavier border patrols using all of the available technology to secure our borders.
Even George W. Bush was wise enough to seek agreement with Mexican and Central-American leaders on economic development that would make the very dangerous migration of desperate people from those countries less likely and less necessary.
So Anne Coulter and so many key leaders in the House of Representatives on the Republican side of the aisle: your immigration reform plans are a path to nowhere. And your sobriquet as “The Party of Stupid” is in no danger of being eclipsed by any more flattering characterization of what it means to be a Republican Conservative in the United States in the Twenty-first century.
Dr. Thomas Martin Sobottke
For Struggles for Justice