Letters and Op-Eds

Welcome to the OFIR Letters and Op-Eds section.  Here you can read Letters to the Editor and Op-Eds that have been published in various newspapers and news sources.

By:
Jim Luwick
Lake Oswego - O Review
January 17, 2013

With all the talk about amnesties, in-state tuition and driver licenses for illegal aliens, we should take a “comprehensive” look at immigration today before we leap to “comprehensive immigration reform” in Oregon.

This is not 1800 or even 1900 any longer. The United States is taking in a million or more legal immigrants annually while our national economy is fragile, the government deeply indebted and over 20 million citizens are unemployed or underemployed, many of them for protracted periods of time. Illegal immigration has been a serious problem for many years.

Benefits to illegal aliens are very expensive and come from taxpayers’ funds. Most citizens have no idea of the extent to which illegal immigration is subsidized by taxpayers. A study released last month by the Federation for American Immigration documents the shocking fiscal effects of illegal immigration on Oregon taxpayers. The figures in this report come from a broad survey of government statistics and are indisputable.

FAIR estimates that illegal immigration costs taxpayers in Oregon about $1 billion annually. The average Oregon household headed by a U.S. citizen bears an annual burden of more than $700 to cover the costs associated with illegal aliens in the state — this while the governor and legislators are supposedly looking for ways to cut unnecessary spending.

The cost of providing K-12 education to the children of illegal aliens (including students who are themselves illegal and the U.S.-born children of illegal aliens) amounts to $575 million annually. Additionally, the cost of supplemental English language instruction is $159 million a year. Unreimbursed health care and social assistance programs cost Oregonians $92 million a year. Justice and law enforcement costs associated with illegal aliens add $140 million to the state’s tab. The cost of general public services provided to Oregon’s 170,000 illegal aliens and their U.S.-born children adds $79 million a year to the state’s costs

Accommodations to illegal aliens such as driver licenses, in-state tuition, etc. legitimize illegal immigration and encourage more of it. State legislators have the means to discourage illegal immigration and should act to do that. The most effective step would be to mandate the use of E-Verify by all employers, removing the magnet of jobs which draws most illegal aliens.

Tolerance of illegal immigration forces citizens to compete with illegal aliens, causing wage depression and unemployment. It also cheapens the value of citizenship and brings disrespect for the rule of law which is the foundation of a civilized society.

In the upcoming session of the Oregon Legislature, members should focus on ways to discourage illegal immigration, not accommodate it. It’s the duty of legislators to attend to the public interest and the needs of citizens, not to dole out favors for illegal aliens.

Jim Ludwick, of McMinnville, is a founder of Oregonians for Immigration Reform and currently serves on the OFIR Board. Reach him at ofir@oregonir.org.

 

By:
JIM (JAMES) MERKNER
registerguard.com
January 16, 2013

The Register-Guard’s Jan. 12 editorial called for a “big fix” to the immigration issues facing the United States but didn’t give any specific suggestions.

How many legal immigrants would the editors let in each year — the million or so that we do now? Or a more realistic and very generous 200,000 — many more than other developed countries?

Or would the editors make the annual number depend on the unemployment rate — like maybe 200,000 now, going up to 500,000 when the unemployment rate drops below, say, 6 percent? Would they stop chain migration and just let in “brains” and entrepreneurs (counting and including immediate family only)?

And what would the editors say to the millions of citizens who can’t find a job and face cheap immigrant competition? How about some specifics?

Veneta

By:
David Olen Cross
registerguard.com
January 14, 2013

The Oregon Commission on Public Safety’s final report to the governor, submitted on Dec. 17, lacked important information that had been submitted to commission members and staff over the last two years. This information concerns where growth in Oregon’s prison population growth had occurred over the last half decade.

The commission was created to find ways to bring rising corrections costs under control. This can’t be done without understanding where growth in the state Department of Corrections’ prison population is coming from. A substantial portion of this growth is related to illegal immigration. According to information obtained from a DOC Inmate Population Profile, published online monthly, on Oct. 1, 2012, there were 14,234 inmates in the state’s 14 prisons.

Not included in the population profile was data obtained from corrections staff showing that there were up to 1,242 foreign nationals in the state’s prison system. Criminal aliens made up approximately 8.7 percent state’s prison population.

These criminal aliens are inmates the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency has identified as possibly being in the country illegally. The agency has requested that state corrections officials place “ICE detainers” on them so that the inmates will be transferred to ICE custody after completing their prison terms.

From Oct. 1, 2007, through Oct. 1, 2012, the Department of Corrections’ criminal alien inmate prison population grew by 257 prisoners — a 26.1 percent increase.

Over the same five-year period, the DOC’s domestic inmate prison population grew by 424 prisoners, a 3.4 percent increase.

Combining those numbers shows that over the past five years Oregon’s overall prison population grew by 681 inmates; criminal alien inmates accounted for 37.7 percent of this growth.

Criminal aliens in the state prison system were sentenced to serve time from 29 of 36 Oregon counties. Sixty-seven, or 5.4 percent of the total, came from Lane County. Multnomah County had the highest number — 286, or 23 percent. Marion and Washington counties were not far behind, with 282 and 229 respectively, accounting for 22.7 percent and 18 percent of criminal alien inmates. All other counties sent a combined total of 378 aliens to state prisons, or 30.1 percent of the total.

As significant as the number is of criminal aliens incarcerated in Oregon prisons is the number of crime victims involved. The Commission on Public Safety should have included this information in its report — 1,242 inmates means at least that number of victims, many of whom were victims of serious crimes requiring lengthy sentences under the voter-approved Measure 11 sentencing rules.

The 10 most common crime convictions of the criminal aliens in state prisons include 129 assaults (10.4 percent), 28 burglaries (2.2 percent), 28 driving offenses (2.2 percent) 175 drugs (14.1 percent) 153 homicides (12.3 percent) 50 kidnappings (4 percent), 175 rapes (14.1 percent), 79 robberies (6.4 percent) 233 cases of sex abuse (18.8 percent) and 93 cases of sodomy (7.5 percent). There were 99 other types of crimes (8.0 percent).

Furthermore, commission members should have included in their report more information on the demographics of the state prison population — who they are and where they’re from — including their countries of origin. Mexico is by far the most common self-declared country of origin, with 1,018 criminal alien inmates, or 82 percent of the total, claiming to be from that country. Others include 17 from El Salvador, 31 from Guatemala, 12 from Honduras, 14 from Ukraine, 18 from Vietnam and 132 from other countries.

Beyond providing criminal alien incarceration numbers — per county, per type of crime and per country of origin — the commission should have analyzed and made recommendations on how to mitigate the high cost that criminal alien inmates impose upon the state’s prison system.

Incarcerating a prisoner in the state Department of Corrections’ prison system costs approximately $84.81 per day.

The cost of incarcerating 1,242 criminal aliens is about $105,334 per day, $737,338 per week, or $38,446,917 per year.

The federal State Criminal Alien Assistance Program pays some of these costs, with an award of $2,669,738 in the 2011 fiscal year. If Oregon receives the same amount of federal funding in 2012, the net cost of incarcerating 1,242 criminal aliens in Oregon will be at least $35,777,179.

None of these cost estimates includes the money spent for legal services, indigent defense, court costs or victim assistance.

It is disappointing that the Commission on Public Safety didn’t have the time — or take the time — to analyze and incorporate this information in its report, particularly if the commission’s goal was to make cogent recommendations to Gov. John Kitzhaber and the Legislature on how to mitigate the future growth in the state’s inmate population and control the increasing cost of incarceration.

By:
Richard F. LaMountain
The Bulletin Local Columns
January 13, 2013

Last May Day, Gov. John Kitzhaber informed demonstrators at the state Capitol he’d work to change Oregon law and restore driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants. When the Legislature convenes in early February, he and his allies will seek to deliver.

Lawmakers should have no part of it. If they do, our state will become a hub for identity fraud, a magnet for illegal immigrants competing for work with Oregon’s unemployed, and a virtually unimpeded conduit for Mexican drugs.

Let’s review some recent history.

Before 2008, Oregon issued licenses to applicants who had neither verifiable Social Security numbers nor passports. But early that year, the Legislature and then-Gov. Ted Kulongoski enacted a law (Senate Bill 1080) that required each applicant to prove legal U.S. presence.

What drove their decision? “It appears," wrote Kulongoski, “that criminal organizations both inside and outside Oregon are using Oregon’s permissive standards in order to assist persons to illegally obtain driver licenses and identification cards" and other “documents for which they are not eligible either in this state or in the state in which they actually reside."

An example: Early in the last decade, a ring in Hillsboro helped thousands of illegal immigrants, many from other states, to fraudulently obtain Oregon licenses. Some of its operatives, The Oregonian reported, “admitting selling envelopes with fake Portland-area addresses as proof of Oregon residency or falsifying driver’s test applications for illegal immigrants."

If lawmakers negate Oregon’s legal-presence requirement for licenses, such enterprises likely will flourish here again. And what can illegal immigrants do with the licenses these enterprises would help them get?

Plenty. For illegal immigrants seeking jobs, notes the NumbersUSA Education and Research Foundation, licenses “are accepted as proof of identity on the I-9 form employers are required to complete to establish that new employees are legally eligible to work in the United States." With licenses, then, illegal immigrants could better compete, however fraudulently, for the jobs federal law reserves for U.S. citizens and legal residents — of whom some 160,000 remain unemployed in Oregon.

A license can serve as a “breeder document" for other wrongdoing as well. “Once in possession of a driver’s license," notes the Federal Bureau of Investigation, “a criminal is well on his way to using the false identity to facilitate a variety of crimes, from money laundering to check fraud." Cases of this kind involving illegal immigrants have occurred recently in, among other states, Utah, Tennessee and Arkansas.

And consider drugs. “Mexican criminal groups are the primary drug traffickers who utilize the state’s highway system to transport and distribute large wholesale quantities of illicit drugs," maintained the Oregon Department of Justice in a recent report. Illegal immigrants comprise a large percentage of the traffickers’ retail operatives. And if, in the future, “a state trooper stops someone transporting illicit drugs and the driver presents a driver’s license issued by the state," notes Jim Ludwick, communications director of Oregonians for Immigration Reform, “the trooper may lack probable cause to search the car for contraband." Illegal immigrants’ access to licenses, then, would enable traffickers to ply their trade — and addict our youth — more easily.

In November, the Oregon corrections system contained 1,240 foreign nationals being held for transfer to federal immigration authorities. Their yearly cost: some $38 million. If illegal immigrants regained access to Oregon licenses, more of them, many with criminal intent, would be drawn to our state. Some of these, doubtless, would be apprehended and imprisoned. This would drive the number of foreign inmates — and their cost to Oregon taxpayers — even higher.

Oregonians should tell their legislators: In this year’s session, reject Kitzhaber’s effort to restore driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants.

— LaMountain, a former assistant editor of Conservative Digest magazine, serves as vice president of Oregonians for Immigration Reform (oregonir.org).
 

By:
Jim Ludwick
Portland Tribune
January 9, 2013

With all the talk about amnesties, in-state tuition and driver licenses for illegal aliens, we should take a “comprehensive” look at immigration today before we leap to “comprehensive immigration reform” in Oregon. This is not 1800 or even 1900 any longer. The United States is taking in a million or more legal immigrants annually while our national economy is fragile, the government deeply indebted and over 20 million citizens are unemployed or underemployed, many of them for protracted periods of time. Illegal immigration has been a serious problem for many years.

Benefits to illegal aliens are very expensive and come from taxpayers’ funds. Most citizens have no idea of the extent to which illegal immigration is subsidized by taxpayers. A study released last month by the Federation for American Immigration documents the shocking fiscal effects of illegal immigration on Oregon taxpayers. The figures in this report come from a broad survey of government statistics and are indisputable.

FAIR estimates that illegal immigration costs taxpayers in Oregon about $1 billion annually. The average Oregon household headed by a U.S. citizen bears an annual burden of more than $700 to cover the costs associated with illegal aliens in the state — this while the governor and legislators are supposedly looking for ways to cut unnecessary spending.

The cost of providing K-12 education to the children of illegal aliens (including students who are themselves illegal and the U.S.-born children of illegal aliens) amounts to $575 million annually. Additionally, the cost of supplemental English language instruction is $159 million a year. Unreimbursed health care and social assistance programs cost Oregonians $92 million a year. Justice and law enforcement costs associated with illegal aliens add $140 million to the state's tab. The cost of general public services provided to Oregon's 170,000 illegal aliens and their U.S.-born children adds $79 million a year to the state's costs.

Accommodations to illegal aliens such as driver licenses, in-state tuition, etc. legitimize illegal immigration and encourage more of it. State legislators have the means to discourage illegal immigration and should act to do that. The most effective step would be to mandate the use of E-Verify by all employers, removing the magnet of jobs which draws most illegal aliens.

Tolerance of illegal immigration forces citizens to compete with illegal aliens, causing wage depression and unemployment. It also cheapens the value of citizenship and brings disrespect for the rule of law which is the foundation of a civilized society.

In the upcoming session of the Oregon Legislature, members should focus on ways to discourage illegal immigration, not accommodate it. It’s the duty of legislators to attend to the public interest and the needs of citizens, not to dole out favors for illegal aliens.

Jim Ludwick, of McMinnville, is a founder of Oregonians for Immigration Reform and currently serves on the OFIR Board. Reach him at ofir@oregonir.org.

By:
Neal Kolbo
Statesman Journal
December 26, 2012

When will we come to realize that the matter of the illegal alien amnesty issue has been taken over by the hardcore (lifetime) politicians looking for votes and not justice as seen in the eyes of the taxpayers?

Our governor pushing to put a driver’s license in the hands of an illegal alien could not please the Mexican drug cartels more; maybe we should issue a truck to go along on the run to all points north and west.

Also, the matter of letting them go to our state colleges with the same tuition as our in-state kids must make you scratch your head.

Who pays for all this? Taxpayers.

Have you not heard? There is a depression just around the corner. Some call it going over the cliff.

By:
John Robinson
democratherald.com
December 15, 2012

Mike McInally’s editorial on tuition equity (Dec. 13) should receive an F for failing common sense. Why are so many people caught up in trying to establish fairness? What is fairness and how can it ever be applied to every individual? Could you control the family you were born into? Could you control the country of your birth? How unfair.

Why do people think that taking sums of money from some individuals and giving it to others will make things fair? Really? Giving in-state tuition to an individual here illegally would make it fair? I don’t get it.

Everybody gets a free public education through high school. That sounds fair. Now not everybody is college material, nor should college be mandatory. So what is college for? I would say it is to receive specialized training for a specific career/job. So follow the logic: If you are in this country illegally and cannot legally work how does a college degree help? I don’t get it.

You may want to look at www.fairus.org for the actual costs of these undocumented immigrants. The cost to Oregon taxpayers for that free education through high school is $575 million a year. Overall, illegal immigrants cost Oregon $1 billion a year or $728 per household. Why should those of us here legally pay for those here illegally? I don’t get it.

There is a solution. Those of you that feel you must make things fair can establish a nonprofit and contribute money which you can then give to the undocumented immigrants to cover the difference between out of state and in-state tuition. And while you are feeling generous at solving all of this unfairness, please send me $728.

John Robinson

Albany (Dec. 15)

 

By:
Richard F. Lamountain
Investor's Business Daily
December 12, 2012

Is support for an illegal-alien amnesty the key to GOP salvation?

Since the election, some Republican-leaning pundits have maintained that Mitt Romney lost more than 70% of Hispanics, and thereby the presidency, because of his reputedly tough stance on illegal immigration.

Their "solution" is for Republicans to get behind "comprehensive immigration reform" — amnesty and a path to citizenship for illegal aliens. If they don't, the pundits insist, they will render themselves a permanent political minority at the national level.

The problem with this analysis: It's wrong. The election didn't prove that Hispanic voters opposed Romney because of his positions on immigration. And Republicans shouldn't sell the farm on the assumption that they did.

Let's look at some analyses, polls and statistics.

The day after the election, immigration-control group NumbersUSA compared Romney's performance to that of 2008 GOP nominee John McCain — at the time a leading amnesty advocate — in the 20 states with the highest percentage of Hispanic voters. In 16 of those states, wrote NumbersUSA President Roy Beck, "pro-enforcement Romney significantly improved his 'spread' ... over that of nonenforcement McCain."

In Illinois, for instance, Romney outperformed McCain by nine points (2008: Obama 63%, McCain 37%; 2012: Obama 58.5%, Romney 41.5%). In Nevada, Romney's spread over McCain was six points; in Texas, Colorado and New Mexico, five; and in McCain's home state of Arizona, three.

Next, consider Pulse Opinion Research's October poll on E-Verify — the federal system that enables employers to vet prospective hires for proof of legal U.S. presence and whose mandatory use Romney supported. Sixty-nine percent of Hispanics polled favored "requiring that every employer use E-Verify to electronically ensure that no U.S. job goes to illegal immigrants in the future."

Also look at past elections. In 1986, Ronald Reagan approved an amnesty for some 3 million illegal aliens — and two years later his vice president, George H.W. Bush, won 30% of Hispanic voters. In 2008, amnesty proponent McCain won 31%.

If not their stands on immigration, then, what drives Hispanic voters from Republican nominees?

Among naturalized Hispanic citizens, the answer is simple.

"Nearly every immigrant group consistently votes at least 2-to-1 for Democrats," explains Beck, "because Democrats always out-promise government programs to immigrants who on average are lower-income" than native-born Americans.

Indeed, columnist Ann Coulter noted recently that while "39% of native households receive some form of government assistance . .. 57% of immigrant households" here legally get such help.

U.S.-born Hispanics are likelier to need assistance as well. "According to Census Bureau data," reports National Review's Rich Lowry, "among native-born Hispanics, 50% of all households with children are headed by unmarried mothers" — a stratum of the population heavily dependent upon government support.

In California alone, writes the Manhattan Institute's Heather MacDonald, "U.S.-born Hispanic households ... use welfare programs at twice the rate of native-born non-Hispanic households."

Hispanic voters, then — be they immigrant or native-born — are likelier to support Democrats, the champions of government, than Republicans, the champions of tax cuts. GOP leaders' support of amnesty would not change this.

But such support would affect the party's own base. For that base opposes amnesty — overwhelmingly. In a mid-November Gallup poll, 82% of Republicans said it was "extremely important" or "very important" to stop illegal immigration. How would they react if their party's presidential nominee touted the amnesty that would encourage more of it?

There may be an example. In 2008, some Republican immigration restrictionists, including me and others I know in my home state of Oregon, refused to vote for McCain because of his support for amnesty. No study ever sought to determine how numerous we were or whether we affected the election's outcome. But it's logical to conclude: even if our numbers comprised but a fraction of Republicans, they may have cost McCain one or more states.

Consider Indiana (11 electoral votes) and North Carolina (15). In those states, Obama's margin of victory over McCain was smaller than the number of votes won by Libertarian nominee Bob Barr, who opposed birthright citizenship for illegal aliens. A number of Barr's supporters likely were Republicans who supported him, rather than McCain, because of McCain's support for amnesty.

Could something like this happen again, only on a much larger scale, to a Republican presidential nominee? Yes. If, by 2016, Republican leaders have capitulated en masse to an illegal-alien amnesty, "nationalists, such as myself, will leave and join a third party," the Washington Times' Jeffrey Kuhner wrote earlier this month. "Many on the right will follow."

And finally: If realized, how would amnesty of an estimated 10 million illegal aliens affect the GOP's chance for the White House?

"Assume in a decade all 10 million became citizens and voted like the Hispanics, black folks, and Asians already here," reflected Pat Buchanan recently. If the 2012 election's "percentages held, Democrats would get ... 7 million new votes to the GOP's less than 3 million."

And it wouldn't end there. Via "chain migration," the newly-amnestied citizens would import millions of their relatives. Over time, their numbers would create an insurmountable Democratic advantage — and put a Republican presidency forever out of reach.

If not with amnesty, how should Republicans appeal to Hispanic citizens? Beck advocates "connecting support for E-Verify to tackling high unemployment among Hispanic Americans." Bob Dane of the Federation for American Immigration Reform says to stress that "enforcing laws against illegal immigration and limiting future immigration help reduce competition for jobs, wages, educational opportunities and health services."

Perhaps the best appeal would be this: that the rule of law and its consistent application — including on matters pertaining to immigration — undergird the order that helps Hispanic parents cultivate strong families.

This argument would recognize the American Hispanic, in the words of commentator Mark R. Levin, as "the good citizen" who "contributes to the social cohesion of the civil society — for his own benefit and the benefit of that society."

Next year and beyond, President Obama and Democrats in Congress will push for illegal-alien amnesties. Republicans — especially those eyeing the White House — shouldn't accede. Support for amnesty would doom, not save, the GOP.

• LaMountain, a former assistant editor of Conservative Digest magazine, serves as vice president of Oregonians for Immigration Reform.

 


 

By:
Debra Saunders
StatesmanJournal.com
December 6, 2012

SAN FRANCISCO -- On Nov. 16, 2010, an unlicensed driver named Roberto Galo took a left turn at Harrison and 16th streets and hit motorcyclist Drew Rosenberg.

After Galo backed over Rosenberg's body, the law-school student died. A jury convicted Galo for manslaughter and driving without a license. After serving 43 days in jail, he was released on home detention.

Don Rosenberg of Westlake Village -- in Los Angeles County -- blames San Francisco politics for his son's death. He also fears that the like-minded Obama administration will shield unlicensed drivers to the detriment of public safety -- and Washington isn't giving him reason to believe otherwise.

This sanctuary city has been so eager to protect illegal immigrants who cannot obtain California drivers' licenses that in 2009, then-Mayor Gavin Newsom announced that the city no longer would impound the cars of unlicensed drivers automatically. In 2008, the AAA Foundation for Public Safety reported that 29 percent of fatal car crashes in California involved a driver without a valid license. No worries, San Francisco sent a message to folks who haven't even passed a driver's test: You can drive here and get away with it.

Accidents happen, but Rosenberg doesn't see this crash as an accident -- Galo, after all, backed over Rosenberg's son.

You can't blame California's law that denies driver's licenses to illegal immigrants. As a legal immigrant given temporary protective status, Galo was eligible for a driver's license. But he didn't have one, and he drove anyway. That decision demonstrated a reckless disregard for the safety of others and disrespect for the law.

Repeated disrespect. Five months earlier, police stopped Galo for driving the wrong way on a one-way street and driving without a license. He paid a $220 fine. Then-Police Chief George Gascon -- now the district attorney -- supported the Newsom plan. He even told me at the time that it would help legal residents who couldn't afford to get a license or driver training. Does he still support it? No answer from his office.

The Public Defender's Office, which represented Galo, did not wish to discuss the case.

The next question is whether Galo, having been convicted of two misdemeanors, can remain in the United States legally. While immigration officials have not responded to my queries, aides to Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif, told me that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) told them Galo was guilty of only one crime of moral turpitude -- which suggests that he can stay.

Thursday ICE released a statement that said Galo is here lawfully and it "is investigating the options related to his status in light of his criminal convictions."

Jorge-Mario Cabrera, Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights, of Los Angeles stated: "We believe that driving offenses should not be a reason enough on their own to merit deportation. What would we do to a U.S. citizen who does such a crime? We would require them to pay, we would send them to jail or have them lose their license. We don't deport them."

"He should be treated like any other driver."

Jessica Vaughan of the pro-enforcement Center for Immigration Studies told me, "What makes this particular case disconcerting is that authorities seemed willing to overlook this serious violation in order to protect someone from deportation who has killed someone." Will Washington follow San Francisco's example?

If so, thank groups like the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles who have sold the idea that driving without a license is not a big deal. Spokesman Jorge-Mario Cabrera told me, "We don't believe that most traffic offenses should be deportable."

Cabrera feels sorry for the Rosenbergs. But: "Does deportation, exile, bring back the person's son?"

Deportation, however, might prevent the death of someone else's son.

As Rosenberg noted, San Francisco's message to unlicensed drivers is that they can drive, kill somebody and serve only 43 days in jail. The Obama administration, however, could send the message that when immigrants seeking permanent legal status flout the law and drive without a license, and they kill somebody, they will be deported.

The only reason not to send that message: You care more about people who break the law than the law-abiding general public.

Debra J. Saunders is a columnist for the San Francisco Chronicle, 901 Mission St., San Francisco, CA 94103. Send email to dsaunders@sfchronicle.com

By:
Ruben Navarrette
StatesmanJournal.com
November 27, 2012

SAN DIEGO — After Latino voters helped re-elect President Obama — delivering the battleground states of Nevada and Colorado, and contributing to the victories in Florida and Virginia — a consensus quickly emerged among pundits and political observers that the quid pro quo would include comprehensive immigration reform.

But what does this even mean?

For nativists who fear the Latinizing of the United States, reforming the immigration system means building higher fences and rejecting anything that resembles “amnesty” for illegal immigrants. For the business community and high-tech industry, it means owning up to the fact that there are jobs that Americans either won’t do or can’t do, and making it easier for companies to recruit high-skilled workers from abroad. For those on the far left, it means an expedited pathway to U.S. citizenship for millions of illegal immigrants that would not inconvenience the recipients by making them meet any requirements.

Meanwhile, for the majority of Americans, it means a common-sense combination of three things: A temporary guest-worker program where people could come to the United States for a few years, then go home; stronger and smarter border security that keeps track of who is coming and going, and for what purpose; and a pathway to earned legalization for that portion of the undocumented population that has been here for many years.

When the media talk about the imminent arrival of comprehensive immigration reform, this is what is generally assumed: Supposedly, the tuneup to our immigration system that President George W. Bush first talked about at the White House with Mexican President Vicente Fox in September 2001 is a done deal. We’re told: Democrats want it, and Republicans need it.

The assessment is half right. The Republicans need it. But the Democrats don’t really want it. They’ve never really wanted it. They only say they want it to trick Latinos and immigration reform advocates into voting for them again and again.

Which is why reform probably won’t happen. We’ll have a debate but no solution will emerge from it.

So why don’t Democrats want comprehensive immigration reform? For the same five reasons that Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid teamed up in 2006 and 2007 with the nativist wing of the Republican Party to kill bipartisan bills and, in 2010, helped scuttle the DREAM Act — a mini-legalization program for college students and military.

• Democrats would rather not be known, in subsequent elections, as the “party of amnesty” and solidify their reputation for being dovish on border security. This would not help their chances with white and black voters who feel threatened and want stronger enforcement of immigration laws.

• They want to continue to have a club with which to bludgeon Republicans, and convince Latinos that the GOP is hostile to them and their concerns. This makes campaigning easier, and delivers them votes in crucial states that they haven’t earned.

• They want to please organized labor, which opposes any stab at immigration reform that includes mention of guest workers. That is, any proposal that stands a chance of winning the Republican votes necessary for passage because Democrats are so splintered on the issue.

• They want to avoid a contentious debate that would surely divide the Democratic base by pitting Latinos and immigration reformers against labor unions, African-Americans who feel displaced in the racial pecking order, and those who want to restrict immigration to protect U.S. workers.

• They want to preserve the current system, which works great for Democrats. They don’t do anything to fix the problem, so they don’t get saddled with any of the negative pushback they might get if they took action and Republicans used it against them. The GOP gets the blame for being “obstructionist.” Labor is happy. Latinos are duped. All is good.

Don’t kid yourself. Regardless of the election returns and the turmoil now engulfing the Republican Party, Democrats in Congress have no appetite for comprehensive immigration reform. Now that Latino voters have let out a roar, Democrats simply have to be craftier in fooling these voters into thinking they’re doing their bidding while they continue to do what they want to do.

This is the inescapable paradigm of the immigration debate. Getting outraged at Republicans on Election Day didn’t change it. If you want to change it, try saving some outrage for Democrats.

Ruben Navarrette Jr. writes for the Washington Post Writers Group, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, DC 20071. Send email to ruben@rubennavarrette.com.

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