The conventional wisdom on immigration crumbles.

A mostly political Weblog.
May 30 2006 5:42 AM

Special Premature Gloating Edition

The bogus CW on immigration crumbles.

(Continued from Page 9)

Thirty-nine percent (39%) of Americans agree with President Bush's approach on the immigration issue. An equal number disagree, while 22% are not sure.

Just 60% of Republicans agree with the President on this issue. [Ital added]

But a) some of those who disagree may disagree because they believe Bush's plan is too harsh on illegals, and b) of all those polled, "[s]ixty-one percent (61%) favor an earned citizenship policy" for illegals who share a list of impressive attributes (paid a fine, speak English, etc.). ... Still, as Rasmussen notes, this support for "earned citizenship" isn't incompatible with the seeming popularity of an "enforcement first" approach. You could quite rationally be for enforcement first, "citizenship" later. You would especially take that position if you doubted Bush's border enforcement measures would work--as Rasmussen's respondents did:

[J]ust 35% believe the President's approach will reduce illegal immigration. Forty-seven percent (47%) do not.

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Update:Mystery Pollster has looked up the reaction to other presidential addresses. The numbers show why JPod--who called the speech a "grand slam for President Bush"-- was so very, very wrong!

The positive reaction to the Bush speech (79%) was lower than what President's Bush and Clinton received in all but two of their last eight SOTU addresses, and the "very positive" (40%) score was lower than all eight.

Plus: Rasmussen's latest Bush approval numbers--the first to be based mostly on post-speech interviews--will be released at noon and will show Bush at 36%, his lowest robo-rating ever. Grand slam! 3:15 A.M. link

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Tony's Deal: Tony Blankley makes the (inevitable) pitch to House conservatives that they should cut an immigration deal now. He argues for "trading an otherwise inevitable de facto guest worker condition for a genuinely secure border and employer sanction regimen."

I agree that this is the deal that can be cut--in part because there seems to be nothing all that terrible about a legal guest worker program, as long as it draws its workers from those waiting in line outside the country (and not those who've jumped the queue and already snuck in). Guest workers aren't illegal immigrants, after all--and one way to discourage illegals is to give opportunities to legals. A flexible guest worker program could offer some insurance against a labor shortage, just in case border security measures actually work.

But on every other level, Blankley's analysis seems deeply flawed:

1) It's not at all clear Blankley's deal, which pointedly excludes a path to citizenship for existing illegals, would satisfy either the Senate, or President Bush's dream of being the Lincoln-like liberator of Aztlan. Blankley's compromise isn't really a compromise. It's a conservative victory, no?** That's fine with me (on this issue) but Blankley's being a bit deceptive in portraying it as the tough, bite-the-bullet outcome for his side.  A much more likely deal is one that involves some limited promise of earned citizenship, plus a lot of lawyer-written loopholes designed to make it a near-unlimited promise. Update: Certainly it would involve legalization, if not outright citizenship, for millions of current illegals-- a form of semi-amnesty.

2) Blankley foresees a trade that achieves a "genuinely secure border." But we don't know what will produce a genuinely secure border. Why not try the various methods--fence, high-technology, more guards, employer sanctions--and see if they work, rather than assuming they'll work (which they never have before). The "magnet" effect of any sort of promise of citizenship, however, can be counted on to increase the flow of illegals, and to produce that effect almost immediately. Doing nothing for a few years might well be preferable.

3) Arguing for a deal now, Blankley notes that "it is inconceivable that the November election will elect a congress more amenable to our cause. The next congress will have, if anything, more Democrats." It's true the next Congress will probably be more Democratic. But the next president will definitely not be George Bush, with his idee fixe of creating a path to citizenship on his watch. The question for conservatives isn't whether to wait until the next Congress. It's whether to wait until the next president. (Plus, if the House hangs tough this year, a lame duck legacy-poor president may be more amenable to an enforcement-only bill next year.)

If Blankley really thinks a "path to citizenship" is "reprehensible," the way to avoid it isn't to now encourage House conservatives to cut a deal. It's to encourage House conservatives to stop the Beltway momentum behind the citizenship idea by hanging tough. Once the semi-amnesty citizenship provision is dead, other deals might be possible.

**--Nearer to the election, maybe, senators might be afraid to vote against this deal--if no immigration bill has passed the Congress. But not now. Now no "earned citizenship" means no bill.

Update: Alert reader C.F. asks

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