Archive for June, 2013

A Republican Case for Immigration Reform — Jeb Bush

A Republican Case for Immigration Reform
While the Senate bill can be improved, it would welcome more skilled workers and lead to faster economic growth.
By JEB BUSH AND CLINT BOLICK

Now that the Senate has passed comprehensive immigration reform, the action shifts to the House of Representatives. Here the GOP’s informal “Hastert Rule” requires Speaker John Boehner to have majority support among Republicans before he will bring legislation to the floor for a vote. That means an immigration bill will need a far greater share of Republican House members than the Senate version received (where fewer than one-third of Republicans voted “aye”).

This is a tall order. But it is one to which House Republicans should respond.

No Republican would vote for legislation that stifled economic growth, promoted illegal immigration, added to the welfare rolls, and failed to ensure a secure border. Yet they essentially will do just that if they fail to pass comprehensive immigration reform—and leave in place a system that does all of those things.

To grow economically, the nation needs more young workers, as the population is aging and its growth is slowing. Yet only 13% of the immigration visas each year are issued for work or special skills. Nearly two-thirds go to relatives of existing residents, under an expansive definition of family preferences that includes not just spouses and minor children but parents, siblings and unmarried adult children.

Family preferences crowd out the work-based immigration this country needs. In particular, America’s educational system produces only a fraction of the high-skilled workers required for technology jobs.

U.S. universities still attract the world’s best and brightest, but few foreign students are allowed to remain after graduating. Many return home or go on to other countries with more sensible immigration policies. Canada has one-tenth of our population—yet it issues far more high-skilled visas (more than 150,000) yearly than we do (65,000).

Illegal immigration results now because there are too few lawful low-skill job opportunities for immigrants. But in both high- and low-skilled industries, the actual alternative to importing workers is not hiring more Americans but exporting jobs.

Today, working-age immigrants contribute to the economy and more to social services than they consume. America needs more of them. Doubling GDP growth to 4% from the anemic 2% that has become the new normal would create more than $4 trillion in additional economic activity in the 10th year—more than the entire current GDP of Germany. It would also add $1 trillion in recurring tax revenues.

The Senate immigration reform addresses most of the flaws of the current system. It reduces family preferences, increases the number of high-skilled visas, expands guest-worker programs, and creates a merit-based immigration system for people who want to pursue the American dream. It also offers a path to citizenship for those who were brought here illegally as children, and dramatically increases resources and tools for border security.

The bill also invites people who came here illegally to come out of the shadows through a provisional resident status. It does not provide an amnesty, that is, a pardon. The Senate bill creates a 13-year probation during which those who came illegally must pay a series of fines and back taxes, undergo background checks, are ineligible for most social services, and must work continuously.

Overall, the bill satisfies a criterion that is essential to the rule of law: It makes it easier to immigrate legally than illegally.

The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office projects that the Senate bill would reduce the budget deficit by more than $1 trillion over 20 years, boost the economy and increase productivity, without reducing the wages of U.S. workers. In short, it advances Republican economic growth objectives.

Still, the House can make several important improvements. These include clearer and more objective border security “triggers” to assure that the flow of illegal immigrants has been curbed, and a stronger E-Verify system to ensure that only people who are here legally are working. The House also can create more opportunities for work-based immigration by limiting family preferences to spouses and minor children, as most other countries do.

Importantly, the House can increase the artificially low guest-worker numbers included at the behest of labor unions in the Senate bill. The best antidote to illegal immigration in the future is a functioning system that allows workers to come and go legally.

Moreover, the House should beef up civics education requirements for new citizens. Currently, immigrants need answer only six of 10 civics questions correctly to qualify. New citizens should be required not only to learn English but to fully understand the nature and workings of our democratic and free-enterprise systems.

The necessary overhaul of the immigration system cannot be achieved piecemeal. The most important changes—reducing family preferences, creating a robust guest-worker program, and increasing border security—cannot be enacted with Republican votes alone. That means compromise and a comprehensive approach—or the perpetuation of the status quo that has all of the detriments of amnesty without any of the economic benefits of reform.

Such reform is commended by both sound policy and principle. And it will also earn goodwill among citizens of Hispanic and Asian descent. In the 2012 presidential election, Republicans received only 27% of Hispanic votes—down from 40% only 12 years earlier. Fifty thousand Hispanics turn 18 and become eligible to vote every month. Republicans did even worse among Asians—now the largest group of immigrants every year—receiving only 26% of their votes.

Immigration is not the only issue on which Hispanics or Asians vote. But it is a gateway issue. Republicans have much in common with immigrants—beliefs in hard work, enterprise, family, education, patriotism and faith. But for their voice to penetrate the gateway, Republicans need to cease being the obstacle to immigration reform and instead point the way toward the solution.

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Mr. Bush is the former Republican governor of Florida. Mr. Bolick is the vice president for litigation at the Goldwater Institute. They are co-authors of “Immigration Wars: Forging an American Solution” (Threshold/Simon & Schuster, 2013).

State Senator Elbert Guillory Switches to the Republican Party…

I’ve been amazed (although I shouldn’t be) at the vitriolic comments associated with Louisiana State Senator Elbert Guillory’s switch to the Republican Party. To emphasize the switch Senator Guillory created a four and a half minute video for YouTube explaining his change. Take a look at the video.

He’s African American and unfortunately, therefore all the reaction is centered on race. It is probable that if a white person made the same comments, he or she would be branded a racist, but that doesn’t mean Guillory’s comments aren’t true.

If one cuts through the speech to the core message, it’s simple:

“At the heart of liberalism is the idea that only a great and powerful and big government can be the benefactor of social justice for all Americans.”

“The idea that blacks, or anyone for that matter, needs the government to get ahead in life is despicable.”

“And even more important, this idea (of big government) is a failure. Our communities are just as poor as they have always been. Our schools continue to fail children.”

How can one not be inspired?

The Most Contested Turf in Congress Isn’t Where You Think

The Congressional Baseball Game stands as a key battleground for members of Congress each year. The game dates to the early 1900s and includes full-on, intense practices for two or three months in advance of the contest. Sponsored by the Roll Call Newspaper and many other organizations, the game raises money for various not-for-profits.

The past couple of contests have prominently featured two Louisiana Congressmen — Steve Scalise for the Republicans and Cedric Richmond for the Democrats. Congressman Richmond, after only two years playing, has been described as perhaps the best player to ever play in this storied game. He was the starting pitcher in 2011 and 2012, pitching complete games and striking out a total of 29 hitters in those Democratic victories. However, Congressman Scalise points out he is one of the few Republicans to get a hit off of his friend and colleague.

National Journal recently wrote a feature on the game and Congressman Richmond. Below is an excerpt.

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Democrats have spent recent years thrashing Republicans on the baseball diamond. Now the GOP thinks it found its secret weapon.

Ron DeSantis dug into the batter’s box, his shadow stretching to the backstop in the morning light.

The first pitch was a fastball, although that’s a generous description. Even through his sun-squinted eyes, it must have resembled a beach ball as it floated to the plate. With an almost casual flick of the wrist and a twist of the hips, DeSantis sent it soaring. It traced a spectacular arc before landing over the fence—a good 320 feet from home plate—and coming to rest beside a sign that boasted “Home of the Titans.”

The sign referred to the high school baseball team that plays at the Alexandria, Va., field—but to the Republican onlookers, scrimmaging a month before their annual congressional game against the Democrats, it felt like a portent. To this clutch of lawmakers in ill-fitting baseball pants and gut-hugging T-shirts, DeSantis wasn’t just a 5-foot-11 first-term House member from Florida, a man who in suit and tie looks like any of a thousand lawyer-lobbyists who clog the capital. He became a Titan of their very own.

And he has much to bear. His teammates view DeSantis as a solution to the problem that is Rep. Cedric Richmond, the young Democratic pitcher from Louisiana who is universally considered the best congressional baseball player in memory, and the reason the Republicans have been completely embarrassed in the past two contests at Nationals Park.


“I think we’ll call him the ‘Ced-ric Slayer,’ ” said Rep. Bill Shuster of Pennsylvania, as DeSantis trotted around the bases of the freshly manicured field. Rep. Jeff Duncan of South Carolina, also impressed, turned to one of his colleagues. “I wanted to play the Darth Vader theme song when I came up to bat. But after that hit, I think maybe Ron should use it.”

It’s been a while since Republicans on Capitol Hill have had much to be excited about. Under the direction of Rep. Joe Barton of Texas—a manager who has been accused of abandoning free-market competition in favor of giving everyone playing time—the team has suffered a four-year losing streak. It hasn’t been fun. Most members of Congress already endure being backbenchers in the least productive and most despised institution in America. Add four humiliating defeats on a professional baseball field, and even the most self-assured members of society begin to doubt themselves.

Morale reached a nadir in 2011, a year that had looked good on paper. The tea party had swept dozens of new members into office, and the Democrats managed to elect only nine new faces to the House of Representatives. Unfortunately for the GOP, one of those rookies was the fearsome Richmond, a former starting pitcher for Morehouse College. In his first outing for the Dems, he pitched a complete-game one-hitter with 13 strikeouts. Last year, he fanned 16. The Republicans saw no end to that streak in sight.

To see the full story, click here.