Why No-one In Washington Has Proposed An Immigration Moratorium (Yet)


In the 1990s, around the time of the amazingly sensible Jordan Commission on immigration reform, a number of immigration moratorium measures were introduced, such as Congressman Bob Stump`s (R-AZ) Immigration Moratorium Act of 1994 with 80 co-sponsors. At that time, there was no organized immigration reduction caucus in Congress. Unemployment was at 6.6%.

In 2003, Tom Tancredo authored the Mass Immigration Reduction Act. It had eleven co-sponsors. Political and economic circumstances ran against a moratorium at the time. Unemployment was at 5.6%. Tancredo`s immigration Reform Caucus had only 68 members.

George Bush and Tom Delay ruled the Republican Party with an iron fist, and few were willing to cross them on immigration.

Things have changed since then. Immigration became the breaking point between conservative Republicans and the failing Bush Administration. Today, Republicans are leaderless but united against a Treason Lobby president.

The Immigration Reform Caucus now boasts 96 members. Most importantly, unemployment has risen to an official level of 9.7%—but everyone knows it`s really much higher

An immigration moratorium bill should be more popular than ever.

But not one Congressman will introduce it.

The hole left by the departure from Congress of Tancredo and Virgil Goode (R-VA)—both of whom are vocally advocating an immigration moratorium—has clearly not been filled.

Nonetheless, there are still seven Congressmen—Roscoe Bartlett (R-MD), John Culberson (R-TX), Nathan Deal (R-GA), John Duncan (R-TN), Sam Johnson (R-TX), and Steve King (R-IA)—in office who co-sponsored Tancredo`s moratorium bill. It`s significant that none has filled the void.

The issue of legal immigration is so off the Washington radar screen that whenever I`ve brought it up to anti-illegal immigration congressmen and their staffers, they seem dumbfounded. I`ve gotten answers such as:

This is not altogether the fault of our elected officials. There are quite a few Congressmen who actually listen to their constituents. Many who were apathetic on illegal immigration, or even inclined to support amnesty, reversed their position and become consistently anti-illegal immigration once they got enough phone calls and angry Townhall meetings.

The problem is that the constituents are not conveying that message strongly enough.

Nor is it sufficient to blame the Beltway patriotic immigration reform groups…totally After all, Mark Krikorian`s recent book was at least entitled The New Case Against Immigration: Legal and Illegal. Numbers USA is actively campaigning for an immigration “time out”—its term for a moratorium. The Federation for American Immigration Reform`s failure to deal with legal immigration is disappointing, but when push comes to shove, FAIR does support cuts in legal immigration.

This cannot be said of the Minutemen and many other grassroots groups. When I went to Arizona for a pro SB 1070 rally a few weeks ago, I heard more “we support legal immigration” talk from the average Americans in attendance than I have inside the Beltway.

The fact is that the bulk of the grassroots who call and write their congressmen on immigration or show up to Tea Parties take their marching orders from Talk Radio and Fox News. And they in turn get their ideas—or lack thereof—from Establishment conservative publications, columnists, and think tanks.

Bill O`Reilly, National Review, Human Events, Rush Limbaugh, the Heritage Foundation and Glenn Beck rarely take a proactive stand against illegal immigration. When it isn`t in the news, they often take terrible positions. However, when illegal immigration becomes a major news story—as it did during the amnesty battle in 2006 and 2007 or it has in Arizona today—they generally make the right noises.

The failure of Talk Radio Right to address the issue is due to a number of factors. The simplistic free trade dogmatism, neoconservative universalism, and Political Correctness that afflict the conservative movement do not help.

But the two biggest factors: the reaction to repeated “comprehensive” pushes for amnesty; and the transformation of immigration into a national security issue after 9-11.

  • Between the 1986 amnesty and the Bush presidency, most amnesties proposed were small and piecemeal, like the 245(i) program. When Bush first proposed massive amnesty, stopping it became the top priority. Saying “illegal is illegal” and contrasting rewarding illegal aliens when millions of foreigners are waiting in line to come here legally, was an effective and expedient argument against amnesty.
  • While the majority of the Islamic terrorists came here with visas, lack of enforcement makes it easy to overstayed visas; and porous borders allow potential terrorists to sneak in through Mexico to avoid detection.

After 9-11, nearly all political causes tried to tie their issue to fighting terrorism. And immigration patriots had a much stronger case than most.

Both arguments were true, politically expedient, and may have stopped amnesty. However, if we limit our opposition to mass immigration to these concerns, then they will ultimately undermine opposition to both legal and illegal immigration.

If the sole issue with illegal aliens is that they are illegal, then why not just have them come in legally at the “back of the line”?

And if there is nothing wrong with legal immigration, why not increase it to make that line move much faster?

If our sole concern is national security, why not let the illegal Hispanic janitors and maids come forward, so we can focus on the Islamic terrorists?

A Rasmussen Poll in late April found that 56% of voters support an immigration policy that welcomes all immigrants except “national security threats, criminals and those who would come here to live off our welfare system“. More significantly

“Among those who favor a welcoming immigration policy, 70% see gaining control of the border as the top priority. Among those who oppose a welcoming immigration policy, 67% see border control as the top priority. This strongly suggests that voters see little connection between the debate over legal immigration and the desire to stop illegal immigration.” [58% Favor Welcoming Immigration Policy, Rasmussen Reports, April 26, 2010]

Yet polls simultaneously show that Americans overwhelmingly oppose raising immigration levels. Outside a few fanatical libertarians, I have never come across a single person who said the over 1.1 million green cards we issue each year is not enough or that the 9.3% European share of that is too high.

Americans simply like supporting legal immigration in the abstract because they oppose illegal immigration so much.

If we are going to make progress on fighting legal immigration, we need to completely change the debate on illegal immigration.

  • The first step: stop using expedient arguments against illegal immigration.
  • The second step: start educating Americans about the sheer number and quality of legal immigrants.

In the rare instances when Townhall.com, Free Republic, or Human Events runs a piece calling for an immigration moratorium by Pat Buchanan or Virgil Goode, the comment section response is overwhelmingly positive.

The Apostle John famously said, “The truth shall set you free.”

Less known is that the phrase is prefaced: “And you shall know the truth.”

Once Americans know the truth about the astronomical numbers of legal immigrants we let in, I am confident that they will demand that their elected officials put the interests of the American workers—and the American nation—first.

“Washington Watcher” [email him] is an anonymous source Inside The Beltway.