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Schumer and Graham: The Men With a (Immigration) Plan

Washington Post writer Spencer Hsu reports that senators Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) have had ghostwritten for them written an op-ed in the Washington Post that provides an outline of the immigration reform bill they plan to introduce in the coming weeks; the plan’s “four pillars” are:

requiring biometric Social Security cards to ensure that illegal workers cannot get jobs; fulfilling and strengthening our commitments on border security and interior enforcement; creating a process for admitting temporary workers; and implementing a tough but fair path to legalization for those already here.

Border Fence reinforcement

Reinforcing the Border Fence

There isn’t anything terribly original here; Hsu points out that most of these elements were part of the failed comprehensive proposals under the Bush administration as well, which were eventually abandoned in favor of stricter enforcement of current immigration laws and building both a virtual (and bug-ridden) and real fence along the border; while perhaps rhetorically appealing to some on both sides of the aisle, neither solution was likely to have any real effect on the informal economy or most of the millions of illegal aliens already in the United States.

But in the run-up to a midterm election where many Democrats in marginal seats are already running scared of Obamacare and likely facing Tea Party-energized Republicans and independents, scaring up enough votes for the Schumer-Graham plan in both chambers of Congress will be a serious challenge.

With a biometric social security card that looks suspiciously like a mandatory national ID card (at the moment, the social security card is an optional form of ID for people who can prove the right to work with a citizenship document), a “path to legalization” that strongly resembles the paths in the past that were spun by opponents as “amnesty,” and a guest worker system that working-class union members and non-union employees alike probably fear will amount to “foreigners stealing American jobs,” the bill’s chances of passage in any form, particularly before November, seem very slim.

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About Chris Lawrence
Chris teaches political science at Middle Georgia State College in Macon, Georgia. He has a Ph.D. in political science (with concentrations in American politics and political methodology) from the University of Mississippi.

Comments

  1. [...] wine in new bottles In a rare appearance at OTB, I discuss the recycled Schumer-Graham immigration bill. It’s like a Hot Tub Time Machine back to 2006, when another president was heading into [...]

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  2. kth says:

    I don’t like the guest workers because they can be used as a wedge against working citizens. Unless there were a lot of safeguards built in, like guest workers couldn’t be fired (and thus deported) for joining a labor union. But the rest looks fine to me; in particular, I’ve never understood the freakout about a “national ID card”.

    As for the “path to citizenship”: there are 3 ways that the supposed 12 million illegals can be dealt with: some kind of amnesty, mass deportations, or leave them like they are in civic limbo. If immigration reform fails yet again, I think we have to acknowledge that Door #3 has more supporters than is commonly supposed.

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  3. TangoMan says:

    kth,

    There is a 4th option – self-deportation. After 9/11 and the changed security environment in the US, thousands of illegals of Muslim origin self-deported back to Pakistan and their host countries.

    All we need to do is make living in the US either hazardous or massively inconvenient for illegals and they’ll self-deport. It should go without saying that all the action here will take place on the margins so the implementation of measures needs to unfold and scale in response to slowdowns in self-deportation.

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  4. LaurenceB says:

    And, right on cue, TangoMan votes for Door #3.

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  5. kth: I think door #3 is just an option people don’t consciously think about; after all, essentially it’s been the status quo since the Reagan-era immigration changes that introduced I-9s.

    As for TangoMan’s Door #4, I don’t see any standalone policy that would simultaneously be constitutional and effective in encouraging massive “self-deportation.” Nor do I see any plausible situation that would engender the level of fear in illegal immigrants from Latin America that Muslim illegals might have felt after 9/11; you’re not going to see a lot of people supporting sending folks to Gitmo or some CIA prison whose only plausible crime was wanting a $5/hour job mowing lawns.

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  6. kth says:

    All we need to do is make living in the US either hazardous or massively inconvenient for illegals

    Could you perhaps be a little more specific?

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  7. Herb says:

    The other thing Tangoman misses is that any measure intended to make life hell for illegals is going to make life hell for legal residents and citizens. So put me down in the AGAINST column for the nag-ware approach.

    As for the chances of an immigration bill being passed, sure it’s unlikely to happen. The immigration debate is more dysfunctional than the healthcare debate.

    But a fickle public doesn’t make immigration reform any less necessary.

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  8. Chris Lawrence: illegal aliens are to a certain extent just a symptom of a deeper problem. When the second problem is addressed, the first problem will reduce over time. The problem I have is finding anyone else who’s willing to do anything effective; I’ve been trying to get others to help promote my plan for over three years without almost any success. Instead, they just want to whine or play games like waving loopy signs or play little dress-up games.

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  9. anjin-san says:

    All we need to do is make living in the US either hazardous

    Great idea. We could form a special organization just for this purpose. We could call it “The Gestapo”. Wonderful ideas continue to pour out from the right.

    Sometimes I get tired of seeing so many workers from south of the border when people who were born in this country are out of work. And whenever I feel that way, I remind myself that much of the western US came to us via military conquest in a war of aggression against Mexico.

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  10. 24AheadDotCom: I know I’m going to regret asking this later, but what is the “second problem” you refer to?

    anjin-san: Non-sequitor much?

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  11. TangoMan says:

    I don’t see any standalone policy that would simultaneously be constitutional and effective in encouraging massive “self-deportation.”

    -No driver’s licenses for illegals. Driving w/o license is a criminal offense. Once in the criminal justice system, deportation is implemented. No extra effort is required to implement or enforce the driving statutes and the enforcement of immigration statutes takes place with the person already in custody.

    -No banking services without proper identification.

    -IRS audits landlords who must provide evidence that their tenants are citizens or legal residents.

    -Citizenship ID required for paying property taxes. If it can’t be provided then immigration authorities are notified.

    -Upon treatment at hospital, immigration authorities are notified that an illegal is present. In areas with high levels of illegals, hospitals can have on-site immigration officials or the local police or security staff can be authorized or deputized to act on immigration violations, just as they do with unruly people who are on the premises.

    If an illegal can’t work, can’t rent a house, can’t buy a house, can’t drive, can’t bank, can’t send their kids to school (sure the school has to take them, by law, but then immigration visits and scoops everyone up), can’t leave a hospital after treatment has been provided, etc, then the burden of living illegally in the US becomes not worth the trouble.

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  12. TangoMan says:

    Sometimes I get tired of seeing so many workers from south of the border when people who were born in this country are out of work.

    Anjin-san make a perceptive observation. Let’s keep in mind the concept of opportunity costs. If we adopt a policy of tolerance to foreigners in our midst, the employment opportunities that they take come with costs for other members of society. For instance, back in the the more robust employment situation of 2002, we were faced with this situation:

    “By 2002, one of every four black men in the U.S. was idle all year long. This idleness rate was twice as high as that of white and Hispanic males.”

    It’s possible the rate of idleness is even higher, said the lead author of the study, Andrew Sum, who is director of the Center for Labor Market Studies at Northeastern University in Boston.

    “That was a conservative count,” he said. The study did not consider homeless men or those in jail or prison. It is believed that up to 10 percent of the black male population under age 40 is incarcerated.

    While some of the men not working undoubtedly were ill or disabled, the 25 percent figure is still staggeringly high. And for some segments of the black male population, the situation is even worse.

    Among black male dropouts, for example, 44 percent were idle year-round, as were nearly 42 of every 100 black men aged 55 to 64.

    In my personal hierarchy of obligation, I believe a nation needs to further the interests of its citizens rather than the interests of non-citizens who are present in violation of the law. Illegals take many jobs low on the skill hierarchy and the majority of these black men, let’s face they’re not lawyers and physicians and engineers, they’re unskilled, and their is an almost corresponding displacement of blacks with hispanics.

    If this nation is facing a crisis of massive black unemployment, we should not be entertaining the option of coddling illegals because that appeals to our self-image of being tolerant and compassionate people. Decisions and policies have consequences and displacing major segments of the black working age population from the work force has huge social costs for us all and it ruins the lives of many of our citizens.

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  13. TangoMan says:

    Here is more on the plight of black men:

    The share of young black men without jobs has climbed relentlessly, with only a slight pause during the economic peak of the late 1990’s. In 2000, 65 percent of black male high school dropouts in their 20’s were jobless — that is, unable to find work, not seeking it or incarcerated. By 2004, the share had grown to 72 percent, compared with 34 percent of white and 19 percent of Hispanic dropouts. Even when high school graduates were included, half of black men in their 20’s were jobless in 2004, up from 46 percent in 2000.

    Incarceration rates climbed in the 1990’s and reached historic highs in the past few years. In 1995, 16 percent of black men in their 20’s who did not attend college were in jail or prison; by 2004, 21 percent were incarcerated. By their mid-30’s, 6 in 10 black men who had dropped out of school had spent time in prison.

    In the inner cities, more than half of all black men do not finish high school.

    Conservatives are quite fond of saying that the best welfare program is a job. I find that there is a lot of truth to this belief.

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  14. kth says:

    I don’t really have a problem with having to prove citizenship to get a driver’s license from the government, though there is definitely a trade-off in terms of liability insurance compliance. But I imagine you’ll see a lot more grumbling if the entire private sector, not just employers, are expected to be front-line immigration enforcement officers.

    All of what you have suggested would seem to fall under ‘inconvenient’ more than ‘hazardous’, though make no mistake: I’m relieved that my sense that you were advocating harassment or intimidation seems to have been mistaken.

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  15. TangoMan says:

    But a fickle public doesn’t make immigration reform any less necessary.

    I think all the laws we need are currently on the books, so we don’t really need reform, all we need is enforcement of existing laws. It’s a crime to cross the border illegally. Enforce that law. It’s a crime to employ people who aren’t citizens or legal residents. Enforce that law. We have a law mandating the construction of a barrier on the Southern border, so let’s actually build a low tech barrier, AKA a wall or fence. No reform is needed.

    Respect for the law adds to civil order and diminishing the number of illegals improves the lives of citizens from an economic POV. The National Research Council conducted a few massive studies on the economic costs of illegals and found that, in 1990 dollars, that each illegal, over their lifetime in the US, required a public subsidy of $87,000 beyond the value that they contributed with their labor.

    For the same reason that we discourage the growth of high school drop-outs (they’re huge subsidy magnets) we don’t need to be importing poverty so that the economic gains that these illegals produce are privatized among these workers, their employers and their select customers, while the massive subsidies created by their presence are socialized to us all.

    If you want your lawn tended cheaply it’s difficult to make the case that society should indirectly subsidize the labor needed to tend your lawn. Similarly, your need for cheap restaurant food shouldn’t be indirectly subsidized by society.

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  16. anjin-san says:

    Anjin-san make a perceptive observation

    You should also note my other perceptive observations, that we stole a lot of land from Mexico, and that you sound like a bit of a fascist.

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  17. anjin-san says:

    It is believed that up to 10 percent of the black male population under age 40 is incarcerated.

    This may have more to do with our justice system and the racism that still exists in our society than with our friends from south of the border.

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  18. anjin-san says:

    Conservatives are quite fond of saying that the best welfare program is a job.

    Then along comes “compassionate conservative” GW Bush. Poof, no more jobs. But hey, the rich got richer! And 17 billion in cash, our tax dollars, vanished into thin air in Iraq. It would nice if conservatives were now fond of saying “don’t elect a moron President”. Instead they are putting Palin bumper stickers on their cars.

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  19. TangoMan says:

    You should also note my other perceptive observations, that we stole a lot of land from Mexico, and that you sound like a bit of a fascist.

    1.) You don’t get to decide whether your comments are perceptive, that’s the prerogative of readers. I gave you props for the one perceptive comment you’ve made in a long while. Bask in the glow, dude. As you’re demonstrating, they’re few and far between.

    2.) If we “stole” land from Mexico, then Mexico should call the police and have us arrested and tried for this “crime.”

    3.) I’m not a liberal so it’s impossible for me to exhibit fascist tendencies.

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  20. Mike says:

    Tangoman – what world do you live in – have you been to the non-resort areas of mexico? have you read the news about Juarez – El Paso is not the nicest town but stand on I-10 in El paso and look south – it is the largest wealth disparity on an international border – the worst parts of the US are better than that place (although being wealthy in Mexico ain’t too bad). It does not matter how “rough” you make it here, it is still better than being poor/starving in Mexico. If you and I were standing in the slums of Juarez, we would be talking about how to sneak across the border at all costs to feed our kids. Besides, like others have echoed, i don’t want to live in a Gestapo country so that the cops can trample my rights looking for an illegal – they already have enough f-ups with no-knock warrants.

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  21. anjin-san says:

    If we “stole” land from Mexico, then Mexico should call the police and have us arrested and tried for this “crime.”

    Perhaps you should read Ulysses S. Grant’s memoirs and get informed on the subject. Of course, he was simply a military genius, President, and he was there, so his opinion probably means much less to you than say, Glenn Beck’s.

    1.) You don’t get to decide whether your comments are perceptive

    Sure I do. Its a benefit of being perceptive. You of course, would not understand this.

    3.) I’m not a liberal so it’s impossible for me to exhibit fascist tendencies.

    Perhaps then it is just that your are not very bright and do not really understand what you are saying.

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  22. anjin-san says:

    Mike’s comments about the worst parts of the US being a tea party compared to much of Mexico are of course correct. There is also the issue that we can deport all we want, but most of the deportees simply do a U turn and are back in the US in a week or so.

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  23. Herb says:

    Consider that not all illegal immigrants are poor, but the ones who are have two choices: Be poor in their countries of origin, or be poor here.

    No surprise they choose the latter. After all, the USA is all-around awesome.

    we don’t really need reform, all we need is enforcement of existing laws.

    Granted. But let’s think about why the existing laws aren’t being enforced.

    Are they unenforceable? Would enforcing the letter of the law have unintended negative qualities, say mass deportations, expensive incarcerations, intrusive ICE raids, etc?

    Immigration reform isn’t needed because the existing laws are great. It’s needed because they’re not working.

    The border fence? That’s great. It will stop one type of illegal immigration. There are thousands of African, Asian, and European visa-violators that will not be affected.

    We live in the jet age. There’s a porous border at every airport in the country.

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  24. Brett says:

    I wouldn’t entirely rule out self-deportation, but the way to get it isn’t by making life difficult for the illegal immigrants – it’s by going after the major businesses and industries that heavily employ illegal immigrant labor (I’m looking at you, agro-industry and construction).

    Look at the major ways long-term patterns of illegal immigration gets started – one of the biggest ones is that you have an initial group from an area who pulls it off, settles in the destination country, and then helps others come over by sending information on jobs as well as money (to pay for transit, or just in money sent back to support the family). But if the jobs dry up (as they did last year), then the reverse happens – they stop supporting people coming up, and many even make the trip back home (as happened in the US last year, when illegal immigration shrunk drastically and you had many people heading back).

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  25. mike says:

    Brett – i agree – as long as a market is created by the unofficial US policy of not enforcing our laws esp in construction and agriculture, people will come in droves – there will always be some illegal immigration but not like it used to be

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  26. @TangoMan:

    One way to make things “massively inconvenient” for illegals would be to limit or tax all those remittences sent home. Such are requiring federal ID (passport, green card, military ID, or valid non-immigrant/immigrant visa) to wire money overseas.

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