Stanley Renshon's blog

The Border Surge Is Much More than a Humanitarian Issue

By Stanley Renshon, July 22, 2014

The president's framing of the unprecedented surge of illegal aliens turning themselves into border officials in the expectation of being allowed to stay in the United States, as an "urgent humanitarian situation", is only partially correct. The phase is designed to misdirect public attention away from the more damming truths of the surge; it is equally, if not more so, a crisis of enforcement, governing, and the president's responsibility carry out his oath of office. It is an ethical issue for the public as well as the president.

None of these considerations are captured or even suggested by the administration's preferred phasing. Nor are they meant to do so. Read more...

The Damaging Civic Consequences of Illegal Migration, Pt. 4: Rhetorical Slights of Hand

By Stanley Renshon, July 18, 2014

American politics, and immigration debates are certainly no exception, has become riddled with "narratives", "framing", and "optics" designed to convey an impression that doesn't really exist — at least in the way it is presented.

A narrative is the construction of a set of "facts", specifically designed to advance the interests of those who construct it. Or as a Democratic political operative put it recently to journalist Ron Fournier of the National Journal, "Every political cause has a narrative. And every narrative has a plot." Read more...

The Damaging Civic Consequences of Illegal Migration, Pt. 3: Sowing Deliberate Euphemistic Confusion

By Stanley Renshon, July 16, 2014

Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.

       — Attributed to Sigmund Freud

Language is the key to human insight, but also a key culprit in undermining it. Read more...

The Damaging Civic Consequences of Illegal Migration, Pt. 2: The 'Better Lives' Argument

By Stanley Renshon, July 15, 2014

The essential core of real immigration reform is enforcement.

That is not because of some harsh "anti-immigrant" sentiment. Rather, it is because real enforcement is very pro-immigration. Why? Because the wholesale violation of immigration laws and procedures and the failure of federal, state, and local authorities to be consistent in their efforts to enforce the law undermine public support for immigration. Read more...

The Damaging Civic Consequences of Illegal Migration, Pt. 1

By Stanley Renshon, July 14, 2014

Illegal migration is at the core of America's immigration problems. And it is likely to become an even more divisive issue as the surge of Central American children, adolescents, and women continue to turn themselves in at the border and are dispersed throughout the United States without much fear of being sent back to their home countries. Read more...

The Myth of Political Cost-Free Immigration, Pt. 3

By Stanley Renshon, July 11, 2014

One of the reasons that the American immigration system needs reform so badly is that it has been changed part-by-part over time without great attention to its overall design or consequences. And when the obvious unintended problems crop up, or the intended fixes worsen other problems, calls are heard for "comprehensive reform" that attempts to fix every problem by giving more of what every connected group favors. Such was the rationale of the failed 2007 "comprehensive reform" and the stalled and almost certainly dead 2013 Senate bill. Read more...

The Myth of Political Cost-Free Immigration, Pt. 2

By Stanley Renshon, July 9, 2014

America has always placed a large bet on immigration. It is clear that immigrants migrate to the United States for freedom and opportunity and in doing so they pursue their self-interest.

The bet we have placed, largely successfully in the past, is that we could leverage that self-interest into genuine attachment over time. That meant that they would not only work to improve their educational and economic circumstances, but would develop a real emotional attachment and identification with the their new home. In short, the bet was that immigrants would become, over time, Americans. Read more...

The Myth of Political Cost-Free Immigration, Pt. 1

By Stanley Renshon, July 8, 2014

The myth of economic cost-free immigration has its political counterpart.

It is the view that massively increasing immigration by tens of millions of new legal immigrants, as proposed in the Senate bill and by its advocates, is simply and unequivocally positive for the United States, its culture, and democracy. To assume or suggest anything less is to immediately open yourself to the charge that you are "anti-immigrant" or worse. Read more...

The Myth of Economic Cost-Free Immigration, Pt. 2

By Stanley Renshon, July 7, 2014

The hope that more and more immigration will solve America's economic problems is doomed to disappoint those who tout it and those who believe that is possible. It may add dollars to our GNP, but it comes with substantial costs, both economic and political.

It is simply untrue that there are enormous numbers of Steve Jobs out there waiting to get their green cards. Jobs was quite unique in many ways. Read more...

The Myth of Economic Cost-Free Immigration, Pt. 1

By Stanley Renshon, July 4, 2014

A lie is usually defined as a willful misrepresentation made with the intent to deceive. Read more...

Avoiding GOP Immigration Reform Self-Sabotage, Pt. 9: The Lure of $$$

By Stanley Renshon, June 30, 2014

If there's one thing that Democrats, Beltway Republicans, and their supporters agree on it is that immigration is good for America's bottom line.

Larry Kudlow makes that case in National Review as follows: "The dynamic idea is that immigration significantly increases the size of the U.S. labor force, and that more workers mean more growth." Read more...

Avoiding GOP Immigration Reform Self-Sabotage, Pt. 8: The Gateway Issue Redux

By Stanley Renshon, June 10, 2014

There may be some truth to Jeb Bush's view that immigration is a "gateway issue for Hispanics". He is quoted as saying, "If you can get past that, then you have to make a case on a broader set of issues." This point was seconded in a Sunday news show appearance by Matthew Dowd, chief strategist for the Bush-Cheney 2004 presidential campaign, "The problem for Republicans is that immigration reform is a gateway issue and basically says you have to do something about that in order for those voters to listen to you on all those other issues."

The question is: What is that "something" you "have to do"? Read more...

Avoiding GOP Immigration Reform Self-Sabotage, Pt. 7: The Gateway Issue

By Stanley Renshon, June 3, 2014

Even those Republicans interested in real immigration reform who are not panicked by wild, non-contextualized Democratic analysis face a difficult question: What difference will it make to Republican attempts to woo Hispanics?

Answers range from not much to possibly some.

This is the so-called "gateway" question and it asks: Can the GOP successfully get Hispanics to listen to, and support, their policy pitches if they don't first pass immigration legislation? Read more...

Avoiding GOP Immigration Reform Self-Sabotage, Pt. 6: Fellow Republicans

By Stanley Renshon, June 2, 2014

Of all the groups and ideas that are most dangerous to real immigration reform, there is none in a better position to do terrible damage than Republicans themselves. And among Republicans there are no groups or leaders more poised at the precipice of a historic mistake than those who are panicked by demographic projections or those who want some concrete marker to demonstrate their policy empathy with Hispanics by signing on to the massive changes in immigration numbers and procedures contained in the Democratic Party's legislation. Read more...

Avoiding GOP Immigration Reform Self-Sabotage, Pt. 5: High-Tech Visas

By Stanley Renshon, May 28, 2014

It is doubtlessly naïve to expect, or get, some degree of basic substantive honesty in the immigration debate from those whose who are wholly taken up with their organization or group's self interest. Still, it would be refreshing if groups like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce at least acknowledged that their circumstances really are not as dire as their rhetoric. Read more...

Avoiding GOP Immigration Reform Self-Sabotage, Pt. 4: The Chamber of Commerce

By Stanley Renshon, May 27, 2014

It's hard to think of a more important member of the Republican establishment than the Chamber of Commerce. The very name conjures up Republican cultural values and economic goals — business, the free enterprise system, industriousness, delay of gratification, risk taking, resilience — even profit and economic mobility. Read more...

Avoiding GOP Immigration Reform Self-Sabotage, Pt. 3: "Conservatives for Comprehensive Immigration Reform"

By Stanley Renshon, May 23, 2014

The Republican establishment, as it might be called, consists of its "professional class" — past and present political office holders, consultants, pundits, heads of various Republican constituency groups, and associated think tanks and personnel. Collectively, they might be considered the Republican Washington establishment (even if not all its members are physically in the capital). They are, generally, in favor of immigration reform, and have endorsed Republican support for the 2013 Senate Democratic bill, some vociferously. Read more...

Avoiding GOP Immigration Self-Sabotage, Pt. 2: Tea Party vs. Establishment

By Stanley Renshon, May 21, 2014

One of the most basic forms of self-sabotage is unnecessary warfare among parties that essentially agree with each other. However, another form of self-sabotage is denying that important differences exist among like-minded parties and not clarifying them so the differences can receive a fair hearing. Read more...

Avoiding GOP Immigration Reform Self-Sabotage, Pt. 1: The Primaries Trap!

By Stanley Renshon, May 20, 2014

Rushing to pass a Republican immigration bill in the House before August makes no policy or political sense for a number of reasons. There is little time left to reach agreement among Republicans. The congressional elections are only four months away and Republicans will be a much better position to pass real immigration reform should they win majorities in both the House and the Senate. And even if they fail to win the Senate, delaying an immigration bill until after the new House convenes in January 2015 means that the 2013 Senate Democratic bill is essentially dead and is very unlikely to be revived in its present form. Read more...

A Republican Immigration Reform Bill: The Politics of Timing, Pt. 2

By Stanley Renshon, May 19, 2014

Republicans have three basic choices regarding an immigration reform bill; they can support the Democrat's Senate (and House) bill, do nothing, or forge their own.

The most obvious best choice for Republicans is to write their own bill. But when?

The choices are these: Read more...

A Republican Immigration Reform Bill: The Politics of Timing, Pt. 1

By Stanley Renshon, May 16, 2014

If Republicans gain control of the Senate, they will have a great many important agenda items to consider, and not much time to do something about them. The 114th Congress, elected in November 2014 will officially be in session from January 3, 2015, to January 3, 2017. Read more...

Passing Immigration Reform: Republican and Democratic Dilemmas, Pt. 2

By Stanley Renshon, May 15, 2014

If Republicans in the Senate or the House pass immigration bills, Democrats will be in a tough spot. They could, and many would be tempted, to turn away from a Republican bill because: Read more...

Passing Immigration Reform: Republican and Democratic Dilemmas, Pt. 1

By Stanley Renshon, May 13, 2014

The president may well be suffering the pangs of a legacy hunger, but Republicans won't be able to help him satisfy it with real immigration reform if they don't act. And, the immigration clock is ticking whether the Republicans act or not. Read more...

The House-Senate Conference Committee Dilemma, Pt. 2

By Stanley Renshon, May 12, 2014

There are no formal rules that outline how House-Senate conference meetings are required to be organized. However, the procedures that have developed over time are quite complex.

What follows here are some general considerations, with their major implications for passing a real immigration reform bill. Read more...

The House-Senate Conference Committee Dilemma, Pt. 1

By Stanley Renshon, May 9, 2014

The chances of a Republican Senate as a result of the 2014 congressional elections are increasing. One respected academic analyst puts the chances at 82 percent! As a result, pundits and commentators are beginning to pay attention to the possible implications of that possible switch, of which there are many. Read more...

Immigration Reform in a Republican Controlled Senate, Pt. 8

By Stanley Renshon, May 1, 2014

Perhaps the most basic reason why it is important for a Republican Senate majority to pass their version of an immigration reform bill is contained in the following sentence from an article in the Washington Post describing House Speaker John Boehner's message on immigration: "That the House may one day act independently of the Senate but won't seriously engage on the subject until his colleagues reach a level of trust with Obama, who they say has openly disregarded federal law in an attempt to advance his political agenda."

The key part of that sentence is the reference to "the House acting independently of the Senate". Read more...

Immigration Reform in a Republican Controlled Senate, Pt. 7

By Stanley Renshon, April 28, 2014

Why would 13 Republican senators who voted for the massive, complex, and largely unread Senate immigration bill in 2013 vote for a much more focused set of immigration bills covering enforcement, followed by selective legalization for those qualified, and recasting the balance between more circumscribed family unification and increased opportunities for higher skilled and educated immigrants? Read more...

Immigration Reform in a Republican-Controlled Senate, Pt. 6

By Stanley Renshon, April 25, 2014

Republican leaders have, understandably, not gone very far in publicly discussing their possible agenda if they win control of both the House and the Senate in the November elections. One thing is clear so far, however, and that is that immigration reform is not at the top of their list.

This is, in some ways, understandable. Tax and entitlement reform are large, important issues for Republican supporters, as is substantial modification or replacement of the president's heath care law. Read more...

Immigration Reform in a Republican-Controlled Senate, Pt. 5

By Stanley Renshon, April 23, 2014

The best path to real immigration reform in a 2015 Senate narrowly controlled by Republicans -- as many as 13 of whose likely GOP members voted for the Democratic immigration bill in 2013 -- is through the chairman of the Judiciary Committee.

The chairman can set the direction of the committee and frame the specific issues it will address and hold hearings on, but he can do much more. He can choose which immigration bill will be brought before the committee for debate and markup. Read more...

Immigration Reform in a Republican-Controlled Senate, Pt. 4

By Stanley Renshon, April 21, 2014

Any realistic numbers by which Republicans would gain control of the Senate would still leave the relative weight of the parties rather close to each other. That means that getting Republican legislation passed, including immigration legislation, will not be easy. That includes real immigration reform. Read more...