Monday, January 12, 2009

Mark Krikorian attempts to put lipstick on a pig.

Mark Krikorian, executive director of the right-wing Center for Immigration Studies, has taken to the pages of the National Review to outline what he claims is a new GOP approach to immigration.

Pointing out that for too long Republicans have argued about immigration in terms of "lawbreaking" and illegality, Krikorian suggests instead that a new framing is needed … a framing he views as a more welcoming and in line with public opinion.

Taking a page from the same playbook that brought us the great Bush oxymoron: "Compassionate Conservatism "... Krikorian does The Decider one better and frames out a new right-wing paradox for mass consumption: "Anti-immigration but Pro-immigrant"

With Republicans shut out of power, now is the time to take a new look at their approach to immigration, to develop a new and distinctive alternative to the majority party. In other areas, such as health care or the environment, such a reassessment might conceivably yield different policies than in the past. But on immigration, what is needed is not so much a reversal in specifics but a different framework within which to fit the specifics.

For too long the Republican story line has been “Too Much Lawbreaking,” when instead the real problem is “Too Much Immigration” — only one part of which involves lawbreaking. This exclusive focus on illegal immigration — opposing amnesty and pushing for more enforcement — is both incomplete and counterproductive. Incomplete because the effects of illegal immigration aren’t that different from those of legal immigration — an illiterate Central American farmer with a green card is just as unsuited for a 21st-century economy as an illiterate Central American farmer without a green card. And it’s counterproductive because the focus on criminality can seem punitive and serve to polarize the debate, potentially aliening not just immigrant voters, who really aren’t that numerous, but the native-born, who want less immigration but don’t want to feel bad about themselves for holding such a view.

A new approach would retain the widely popular, and morally compelling, support for more consistent application of immigration laws and opposition to legalization — but make them part of a broader push for a more moderate level of future immigration overall. If the debate focuses solely on legality, ultimately there’s no real argument against amnesty and open borders. You just legalize the whole thing and the issue goes away — no illegals, no problem. In the appropriately larger context, amnesty is bad not only because it rewards lawbreaking (which it does), but also for the same reason that the Visa lottery is bad: it leads to excessive immigration.

A new GOP approach to immigration would also recognize that there are two components to the debate — immigration policy and immigrant policy, the first governing who and how many we take, the second how we treat people once they’re here.

Krikorian, realizing that the blatantly hateful and racist rhetoric of the anti-immigrant movement has turned off so many to his message, and cost Republicans dearly, he now tries to re-frame his message with kinder and gentler rhetoric that sounds more reasonable and rational for public consumption ... that is if you don't actually THINK about what he's saying of more than a nanosecond.

But if you actually get past the touchy-feely buzz words about wanting to be more "welcoming", you realize that it's just a clever re-packaging of the same old message.

One must remember the Krikorian has been a chief architect and vocal proponent of the "deportation through attrition" policy of the far-right that looks to force the 12 million undocumented immigrants living in the US to "self deport" by making their lives so miserable in this country they will simply pack their bags and go. The policy has led to increased raids, local legislation restricting housing and employment opportunities, attempts to revoke the 14th amendment, and a myriad of other punitive measures.

The bottom-line is he's still arguing for less immigration, less legal-immigration, fewer green cards, less family reunification, tighter borders, expulsion of the undocumented, etc. ...but he masks it in a "welcoming" message.

The final option is the one most Americans (of whatever party) intuitively support — a pro-immigrant policy of low immigration, one that seeks a smaller number of future admissions but extends a warmer welcome to those admitted.

Ironically, such reductions in immigration could actually drain away some of the venom from the immigration debate by allowing a more relaxed approach to those immigrants we do let in. For instance, something called “cancellation of removal” can be used by a judge to allow a legal immigrant to stay despite a deportation order, because of hardship to his family. Because of mass immigration, causing the system to be a sieve, Congress raised the bar in 1996, from “extreme hardship” to “exceptional and extremely unusual hardship.” A lower level of immigration, allowing us to reestablish control, would permit Congress to trim back a couple of adjectives, because the problem wouldn’t be as acute. The same could apply to other areas, such as welfare eligibility, where tough standards are required in the face of massive numbers, but more flexibility is possible when the tide ebbs

Basically he's saying:

"We'll be much nicer to you, as long as there are far fewer of you coming.....BTW it would be really nice if you weren't an unskilled farmer from Central or South Americans also.

We'd really prefer a very limited number of skilled, highly-educated, preferably English-speaking immigrants if you don't mind....and then we wouldn't be quite so belligerent.

Oh, and we'd even be willing to cut those kind of immigrants a little slack as far as stuff like welfare goes as long as that other kind of immigrant stops coming here"

Like the saying goes: You can put lipstick on a pig … but it's still a pig. And for all the talk of welcoming new immigrants and "draining away the venom of the immigration debate", Mr. Krikorian is merely painting over his very nasty streak of xenophobia and nativism with a pound of cheap dime store lipstick.

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Shannon (N5KOU) McGauley said...

This is exactly what we need, a new approach. Also a cure for Ameriphobia.

green card visa said...

I know Obama's big thing was to change the immigrant reform. I can't say I have seen too much change as of yet. Too bad for all those Obama lovers who voted for him in hopes of his great visions. So far so good, not!