Zig-Zagging to the Finish Line: The GOP's Disturbing Lack of Consistency on Immigration Policy

By W.D. Reasoner on May 25, 2012

Earlier in this electoral season, when the Republican Party nomination was still being hotly contested, candidate Mitt Romney gave a nod to those in favor of enforcement of the nation's immigration laws by speaking approvingly of his good friend, Kris Kobach — formerly a Justice Department official during the Bush administration, presently Kansas Secretary of State, and author of various immigration enforcement provisions, allegedly including portions of the Arizona statutes now being reviewed by the Supreme Court.

Now that the candidate is the presumptive nominee, awaiting only the blessing of the national convention to take place in Tampa later this year, Kobach seems to be held at arm's length and Mr. Romney's former advocacy for serious enforcement is being questioned by both Republicans and Democrats alike, not to mention the media. Witness, for instance, a recent segment of "Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees" on CNN and a piece published in the National Review.

This back-and-forth see-sawing is disturbing to those of us who take immigration enforcement matters seriously. See, for instance, the excellent May 16 blog, "Media Memes and the GOP's Immigration Stance in the 2012 Election: Damned if You Do, Damned if You Don't", by Center for Immigration Studies Fellow Stanley Renshon.

Now, as if to put to rest any doubt that the GOP and Romney are collectively lurching away from their earlier stance, comes the announcement that Sen. Marco Rubio, (R-Fla.) has joined in a bipartisan effort along with Senator Mark Warner (D-Va.) and others to introduce something called the "Startup Act 2.0". This is significant because Rubio, often captioned by pundits as a Florida Tea Party favorite, is also a possible vice presidential running mate. What is more, he is of Cuban descent — translate "Hispanic" here, at least perhaps in the minds of Republican apparatchiks, who it can be surmised are hoping to sway Hispanic voters to help give the GOP ticket a win at the polls, particularly in a key electoral swing state such as Florida.

According to the Richmond Times Dispatch, the bill panders to Silicon Valley and the technology industry (clearly my words, not theirs) by proposing, among other things, that foreign students graduating with degrees in science, technology, engineering, or mathematics be permitted to remain in the United States and petition and obtain green cards, thus enabling them to remain permanently to be snapped up by eager employers.

The problem with this logic is that it rests on at least two empirically unproven propositions: first, the tired old saw that there aren't enough intelligent or talented Americans already available to do the work (doubtful); second, that this new pool of workers will somehow stop the decamping of technology jobs to overseas locales where the products can be made more cheaply (laughable, given the disparity in wages with countries like China and India, unless the good senators think that our new green card holders will be working in perpetual penury).

According to the Times Dispatch, the bill would also create a new "'entrepreneur's visa' to allow immigrants creating jobs to stay put". Excellent idea! The existing entrepreneurial visas available under immigration law haven't worked out so well — by way of proof, see the many blogs written by CIS Senior Fellow David North on the EB5 Investor Visa program, most recently "U.S. Sells Visas for Less Than the Net Worth of the Average U.S. Household" on May 17, and "USCIS Ombudsman Wants to Help Incompetent Employers Hire Alien Workers" on May 18 — so let's just add another onto the apparently inexhaustible list of available visas, instead of instilling some rigor and integrity into what's already on the books.

But I digress.

The fundamental question is this: Why do politicians and pundits consistently make the mistake of presuming that winning the Hispanic vote is inevitably intertwined with amnesties large or small for illegal aliens, and with thinly veiled giveaway programs? There are significant issues they could, and should, substantively address for the millions of American citizens of Hispanic descent who will vote in the upcoming election, issues including the inability to consistently obtain a quality education in the public school system and an unemployment rate that is above national averages.

Ironically, measures to grant legal status to tens of thousands, possibly millions, of illegal aliens or even nonimmigrant students and other visitors will surely make it more difficult for American Hispanics to obtain decent, gainful employment. Whom do politicians think they will be competing against in the marketplace for those already-scarce jobs?

Topics: Politics