Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Bush Softer Still on Immigration

Via Kaus, John O'Sullivan at NYP did some review on his own assertions and is correcting himself about the history of employer sanctions on immigration. He found that the Clinton administration was much tougher than Bush on employers of illegal immigration. This should surprise exactly zero people, considering Bush has shown he's not very serious about immigration enforcement from day one.

I recently suggested - wrongly - that there had been little or no enforcement of employer sanctions since the passage of the 1986 amnesty law; that, once an illegal reached a major city such as Los Angeles, Phoenix or Chicago, he was safe from official interest and could work unmolested. That was not quite accurate. The Clinton administration in fact managed some (albeit patchy) "internal" enforcement of employer sanctions. For instance, the period 1995-1997 saw 10,000 to 18,000 worksite arrests of illegals a year. Some 1,000 employers were served notices of fines for employing them.

Under the Bush administration, however, worksite arrests fell to 159 in 2004 - with the princely total of three notices of intent to fine served on employers. Thus, worksite arrests under President Bush have fallen from Clintonian levels by something like 97 per cent - even though 9/11 occurred in the meantime.

In this dramatic relaxation of internal enforcement is the explanation of the rapidly rising estimate of immigrants living and working illegally in the United States - up by more than a million in just the last year. For if people know that they are likely to be safe from enforcement once they escape the border area and reach L.A. or Chicago, then they'll keep trying even if they were caught and returned to their country of origin any number of times.

Porous borders are not only the cause of uncontrolled immigration; they are its result. You cannot control the borders, however many patrols you hire or fences you build, if you grant an effective pardon to anyone who gets a hundred miles inland. It's as simple as that.

Some supporters of the "Not an Amnesty" bill cite this history as a reason for the Congress to allow all or almost all of the estimated 12 million illegals to remain in the country. President Bush himself, having helped to make the problem much worse, said yesterday that we simply could not deport millions of people, since the U.S. has no stomach for workplace raids and mass deportations.

Normally I'm not one to care all that much about this issue. To me it just seems like illegal immigration is something a prosperous country is going to have to deal with, and you can tweak and pass laws, but inevitably it won't stop or significantly affect the problem. It's pretty much like Windows. Sure, you can patch it and update it, but it's never going to change the fact that for the most part if kinda blows.

But of course I'm going to post this, because I am a huge smartass it is yet more evidence that Clinton did a lot of little things when he was President that needed to be done that nobody seemed to notice, but didn't really go after big ideas (except for the failed national healthcare scheme). Bush is the opposite: he chases the big idea and leaves all the small things hanging. Strangely, Clinton was more of a day-to-day task-driven managerial President whereas Bush is more of a spacey idealist, though the two are never packaged and sold to the public as such. It's too complicated for talking points.