As con­ser­va­tives yield, push im­mi­gra­tion re­form

Austin American-Statesman - - BALANCED VIEWS - From the left Mon­day Tues­day Wed­nes­day Thurs­day Long­time Texas news­pa­per­man John Young lives in Colorado. jy­oung­col­umn@ Fri­day Satur­day Sun­day


now, the last clear man­date coming out of a pres­i­den­tial elec­tion was in 1932 when vot­ers de­manded of Roo­sevelt: End this De­pres­sion. And make it rain while you’re at it.

No­tice I said “un­til now,” and that should raise eye­brows. In this di­vi­sive po­lit­i­cal land­scape, how could any­one at­tach a clear man­date to any na­tional elec­tion?

Well, we can make such a pro­jec­tion now. All we have to do is lis­ten to what con­ser­va­tive com­men­ta­tors are say­ing about im­mi­gra­tion.

Ge­orge Will: “Most vot­ers al­ready fa­vor less puni­tive im­mi­gra­tion poli­cies.”

Charles Krautham­mer: “Prom­ise amnesty right up front. Se­cu­rity at the bor­der with guar­an­teed le­gal­iza­tion.”

Sean Han­nity (Sean Han­nity?!): “You con­trol the bor­der first. You cre­ate a path­way for those peo­ple that are here — you don’t say you’ve got to go home.”

Wel­come, guys, to a sane na­tional im­mi­gra­tion strat­egy.

Let’s un­der­stand: By and large Repub­li­cans wouldn’t be say­ing this if the can­di­date of “self-de­por­ta­tion” had won the White House. It would be all sys­tems go for hard­lin­ers and for­eigner loathers.

What th­ese com­men­ta­tors ac­knowl­edge is that the cur­rent GOP strat­egy un­der­mines ef­forts to gain Latino votes. It is not clear that any of them ac­tu­ally be­lieves the na­tion should do as they sug­gest sim­ply be­cause it is right.

GOP strate­gist Mike Murphy ex­presses it in a Time mag­a­zine com­men­tary: “We re­pel Lati­nos, the fastest-grow­ing vot­ing group in the coun­try, with our na­tivist op­po­si­tion to im­mi­gra­tion re­form that in­cludes of­fer­ing a path to cit­i­zen­ship.”

Yep, says Krautham­mer. Mitt Rom­ney made a big po­lit­i­cal mis­take, gen­eral elec­tion-wise, when he chose to “go to the right of Rick Perry” on im­mi­gra­tion to win the love of right wingers, tea partiers and pri­mary vot­ers.

Yes, but what about of­fer­ing amnesty to hard­work­ing in­di­vid­u­als and their fam­i­lies be­cause it is right?

Leave that up to Barack Obama to say it in June, when he put a hold on de­por­ta­tion for chil­dren of un­doc­u­mented in­di­vid­u­als of long stand­ing.

“It’s not amnesty. It’s not im­mu­nity. It’s not a path­way to cit­i­zen­ship. It’s not a per­ma­nent fix,” said the pres­i­dent. What it was un­der the cir­cum­stances, with Congress ob­struct­ing all else, was

Scot Le­high

Paul Krug­man

Dana Milbank

Mau­reen Dowd “the right thing to do.”

Krautham­mer sneer­ingly called it the “per­fect pan­der.” Yeah, it’s all about pol­i­tics, not at all about logic, lo­gis­tics, or any whiff of so­cial jus­tice.

What­ever the rea­son for Repub­li­cans’ post-Nov. 6 con­ces­sions on im­mi­gra­tion, let’s use it.

Use a broad of­fer of amnesty as a ful­crum to­ward fun­da­men­tally com­pre­hen­sive im­mi­gra­tion re­form, Mr. Pres­i­dent.

Use your 70 per­cent sup­port from His­pan­ics Nov. 6 to push Congress to re­visit the DREAM Act. Get Sen. Marco Ru­bio to the White House kitchen ta­ble, and with him ar­range for the GOP votes it would take to make it hap­pen.

It’s a new day on the im­mi­gra­tion front.

Con­sider what’s hap­pen­ing in Colorado, In­di­ana, Utah and Idaho. Each has a bi­par­ti­san coali­tion that has is­sued com­pact urg­ing Congress to in­clude a path­way to cit­i­zen­ship as part of the so­lu­tion to a seem­ingly in­tractable po­lit­i­cal prob­lem.

Can’t sup­port th­ese ini­tia­tives be­cause they are right and proper? Well, then, do it sim­ply on the ba­sis that they would be good for the econ­omy.

A re­cent study re­jects the as­ser­tion that im­mi­grants take Amer­i­cans’ jobs and de­press the econ­omy.

“Im­mi­gra­tion is not a zero-sum game when it comes to jobs,” writes re­searcher Matthew Den­hart.

With th­ese peo­ple’s skills, their am­bi­tion, their buy­ing power, “im­mi­grants help grow the econ­omy; they cre­ate more jobs for all of us, rather than steal­ing jobs that na­tives oth­er­wise could fill.”

This mir­rors Will’s nod to the al­lAmer­i­can no­tion that im­mi­grat­ing — “risk­ing un­cer­tainty for per­sonal and fam­ily bet­ter­ment — is an en­tre­pre­neur­ial act.”

What bleed­ing-heart or­ga­ni­za­tion is this Den­hart fel­low flack­ing for any­way? What pie-in-the-sky, an­tibusi­ness, anti-Amer­i­can think tank has him on its pay­roll?

That would be a re­cent en­try into Amer­i­can think-tank arena: the Ge­orge W. Bush In­sti­tute.

Repub­li­cans are coming out of the wood­work to sup­port the right thing, Mr. Pres­i­dent. Nov. 6 was your day. Seize this one.

Gail Collins

John Young

Leonard Pitts

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