On immigration reform, incrementalism’s good for Georgia

The AJC’s Jeremy Redmon reports today on some of the immigration-related measures that state Republican leaders are likely to push in the legislative session that begins next week. This outline of the main legislative thrust, from Rep. Matt Ramsey (a Peachtree City Republican and co-chairman of the Joint House and Senate Study Committee on Immigration Reform), strikes me as a sensible way to start:

* Ways to encourage more communities to apply to join a federal immigration enforcement program called 287(g). Through the program, local police officers and sheriff’s deputies are given the power to question people about whether they are in the country legally and issue arrest warrants, prepare charging documents, and detain and transport people for immigration violations;

* Measures to toughen an existing Georgia law requiring state and local government contractors to ensure their employees are eligible to legally work in the United States. The legislation could also include incentives for other private employees to participate in E-Verify, a federal work authorization program;

* Provisions to ensure the identification people use to get public benefits in Georgia are “secure and verifiable.”

So, two measures to push better enforcement of federal immigration law, and a third one that applies strictly to state aid programs. It will be difficult for any interest groups or activists to get much public traction with opposition to such steps.

It’s hard to say at this point whether we’ll see the passage of a bill mirroring the Arizona law that gained national attention last year, but I don’t know that I would bet on it.

Ramsey said he and his colleagues are still studying the law, and a spokesman for Nathan Deal said the governor-elect “is aware of the litigation involving the Arizona law, and he wants to make sure that Georgia is able to narrowly draft legislation that will meet federal guidelines so that we can avoid a lawsuit while protecting Georgia taxpayers.”

That sounds like caution to me, and it’s important here to distinguish between the two goals of passing a law like Arizona’s: Stepping up the enforcement of federal law where federal authorities have failed to do so, and spurring Congress to act on the issue.

On the first goal, broader use of the 287(g) program is a good initial step, even if it may not prove to be a sufficient one. On the second goal, now that Arizona has broken the ice, I think it’s reasonable for states like Georgia to try to add to the groundswell from the states without attracting a lawsuit from the Department of Justice. Given that the heavy lifting on curtailing illegal immigration will have to be done on a national scale, our state can afford to take an incremental approach — so long as it adds to the pressure on Congress to act.

– By Kyle Wingfield

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72 comments Add your comment

carlosgvv

January 5th, 2011
11:32 am

It is not a good sign when the States have to do a job that Congress should have already long-since done. When the Government won’t do their job and sues you if you do it for them, changes are definitely needed.

Libby

January 5th, 2011
11:43 am

Even better – moratorium on all immigration, green cards and work visas so we can reduce the unemployment rates and get Americans back to work. We do not need to import cheap labor, crime, diseases and sick cultures.

No More Progressives!

January 5th, 2011
12:03 pm

I have no problem with legal immigration, Kyle. Go through the process and do the right thing.

But the question becomes how do we incrementally eliminate the parasitic illegals? I can hear the lefites screaming from here.

A Hearty Cheese Sauce

January 5th, 2011
12:11 pm

I like it. Pull em over and toss their illegal butts right into the slammer.

Independent

January 5th, 2011
12:15 pm

A copy of my post elsewhere:

Everyone keeps saying “start penalizing the employers and the illegals will go home”. I challenge the new Georgia Republican hegemony and the new Republican forces in the Federal Congress to do just that, by requiring all companies to use E-verify (and strengthen E-verify to be an effective tool) toverify the legal status of all NEW and EXISTING employees. Of couse, I have said this so often that I am hoarse from saying it and it always falls on deaf ears. Why? The same reason the the U.S. Chamber of Commerce doesn’t wantstronger anti-illegal immigration laws: businesses want the illegal immigrants as workers. Well, either reform the law to allow illegal immigrants to become legal, or enforce the laws against employing illegal immigrants. But they want to eat their cake and have it, too.

Incentives for Georgia companies to give up their illegal labor force? Why not a law against it. Then maybe the carpet mills in Dalton and the poultry plants in Gainesville might comply with the law. Of course, we should prepare for higher prices on these products.

CJ

January 5th, 2011
12:51 pm

Anybody who believes the steps outlined above are intended to reduce or limit illegal is a sucker. As usual, these Republican policies have one intended goal—enrich the rich.

Let’s be clear. Congress has tried to act on this issue. Bush, to his credit, gave it a shot. But his initiative was shot down by his own party. Obama has tried to act, but thanks to the filibuster (or threat of a filibuster), he was blocked by Senate Republicans.

Secure the border first! Isn’t that the refrain from the right? Take a look at Bookman’s blog today to see a video demonstration of how well that’s working out (hint: not so well).

The fact is that we’re being scammed by Republicans for the benefit of their corporate benefactors. It works as follows:

1. Spout rhetoric about preserving our culture, our language, and our jobs.

2. Give corporate benefactors millions to construct a border fence that women can climb in a matter of seconds.

3. Limit the number of work visas available for low skill jobs to a tiny fraction of what we actually need–thereby, encouraging illegal immigration.

4. Do little to nothing to penalize illegal employers, primarily medium and large corporations, that are attracting workers to this country, and as a result, getting away with wage, workplace safety, and in some cases, payroll tax violations while driving down wages for American workers at the expense of our economy. (Or if an employer chooses to comply with the law, they’ll get a reward or “incentive” under Ramsey ’s legislation—sweet).

5. Give state and federal money to the prison industrial complex to build facilities to hold illegal workers and their families, knowing that illegal employers have a seemingly limitless supply of illegal workers.

6. Collect sales, property, payroll, and income taxes from illegal workers (yes, such income and payroll taxes are withheld from their paychecks), but seek to deny them access to public education, public health facilities, and now, allow law enforcement to ask them for their papers while visiting the public parks.

7. Benefit from their labor, but treat them like sub-humans, in part, by asking local police officers and sheriff’s deputies to question people about whether they are in the country legally and, if unsatisfied, detain them. Of course, this approach creates the probability that legal immigrants will be detained all to often, and I suspect, few illegal Canadians and Europeans will be questioned and detained.

9. Take the family to El Azteca for dinner or enjoy a meal at home, probably constructed by illegal workers, with food that was probably picked and processed by illegal workers.

Again, the secure the borders first rhetoric is a con. No matter how secure, somebody can always claim that they’re not secure enough. Of course, it becomes easier to make that claim when they don’t really try very hard. Fences, security technology, and prisons to detain illegal workers benefit corporations. Limiting legal visas leading to illegal immigration benefits corporations.

To benefit the rest of us, we should go after illegal employers on a large scale, making it more expensive to hire illegals than it is to hire Americans. The result will be that employers will have to pay the prevailing market wages and provide a safe place to work. If there’s still a shortage of workers, then we can increase the number of visas available to low-skill workers, so people can come here legally to work—which, no doubt, would be their preference. These ideas aren’t a comprehensive plan, but they’d be a lot more effective than the stuff outlined in Ramsey’s proposal above.

jt

January 5th, 2011
1:07 pm

“incrementalism’s good for Georgia”

Keep practicing “incrementalism” with the Feds,…….. Kyle,

and they will “incrementalze” your wealth to nothing.

If you deal with fools, you always end up looking foolish.
Likewise, if you deal with immoral crooks, you will become immorally crooked.

Georgia should assert her sovereignty and independance. As per our state constitution, the county sheriff does not need the help of the Federal government to “deport” anyone. If he doesn’t do his job, the local people can fire him.

Keep relying on a foreign and hostile entity for help.(D.C.) Get what you deserve.

PinkoNeoConLibertarian

January 5th, 2011
1:08 pm

Until you get rid of the demand you will have no chance of getting rid of the supply. As long as employers get at most a slap on the wrist, there will always be a steady influx of illegal immigrants.

Kyle Wingfield

January 5th, 2011
1:18 pm

Tell us, CJ, what did President Obama try to do that was “intended to reduce or limit illegal (sic)” and which Senate Republicans shot down?

light on policy

January 5th, 2011
1:23 pm

CJ…

Are you really saying that standing along free market principles can’t solve illegal immigration (sarcasm intended)

Halibut

January 5th, 2011
1:36 pm

“If there’s still a shortage of workers, then we can increase the number of visas available to low-skill workers, so people can come here legally to work—which, no doubt, would be their preference.” Sounds like a good plan. The only problem is that this type of thing “is’ the problem. These foreigners come here to work at low skilled jobs and don’t leave when they’re supposed to. With the current level of enforcement, this type of program is doomed to failure.

MG

January 5th, 2011
1:37 pm

The real question is are Americans willing to work for cheap mowing lawns, cooking food in restaurant kitchens, and building houses? Are Americans willing to work jobs only illegals are willing to do?

light on policy

January 5th, 2011
1:37 pm

Kyle is pretty sad that you can’t do simple research about the subject for which you write. In March of 2010 prior to the HealthCare legislation that passed, Charles Schumer and Lindsey Grahamn forged bipartisan consensus on immigration reform that the President fully supported.

Some of the key components of the amnesty bill were to include

1) A path to citizenship for illegal immigrants
2) Offering green cards to keep highly-skilled foreign university graduates
3) Create a program for low-skilled illegal workers with some getting a chance at citizenship

However this bi-partisan consensus didnt last long as Republicans lost an appetite for bipartisanship as Democrats passed the Health Care bill via Reconcilliation

Derp

January 5th, 2011
1:39 pm

It’s funny how quickly this state can come up with “solutions” to solve illegal immigration but we can’t come to any solutions for our water and transportation issues.

John

January 5th, 2011
2:08 pm

“It will be difficult for any interest groups or activists to get much public traction with opposition to such steps.” I don’t think it would be that difficult. Where would it stop? I noticed how you conviently left out the part of the article which talks about Republicans wanting to p*ss on the 14th amendment. As the article stated…

“Meanwhile, state Sen. Jack Murphy, the other Republican co-chairman of the state’s immigration study committee, is planning to be in Washington on Wednesday for a news conference about birthright citizenship. A group called State Legislators for Legal Immigration plans to unveil model state legislation to halt what it calls “the misapplication of the 14th Amendment.” Murphy said Monday that he had not yet seen the legislation and did not know whether he would introduce it in Georgia.”

CJ

January 5th, 2011
2:10 pm

For the record Kyle, I read your Christmas post about goodwill, peace, and trying “to find friendly, kindly attitudes in much of our political discourse.” Yet, you seem to have ramped up the jerk (e.g., “sic”) since then. A commenter you disagree with can’t even make a typing mistake? In the future, spare us the wishes for goodwill and peace. They ring hollow coming from you.

Now, this doesn’t answer your question directly, but your readers should be aware of the following information (something that, as far as I can tell, you haven’t seen fit to mention):

“In a bid to remake the enforcement of federal immigration laws, the Obama administration is deporting record numbers of illegal immigrants and auditing hundreds of businesses that blithely hire undocumented workers.

The Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency expects to deport about 400,000 people this fiscal year, nearly 10 percent above the Bush administration’s 2008 total and 25 percent more than were deported in 2007. The pace of company audits has roughly quadrupled since President George W. Bush’s final year in office.”

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/07/25/AR2010072501790.html

Oh, and here are some more details:

“In the past year, the administration has detained and deported a record number of illegal immigrants and amassed unprecedented levels of border patrol agents and asked for other security measures along the border. Last month, Obama announced the deployment of 1,200 National Guard troops to the southwest border, including 524 to Arizona, and requested $500 million in emergency funds for beefed-up measures.”

http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/obama-renews-push-comprehensive-immigration-reform/story?id=11062758&page=2

I’ll get back to you with a direct response to your question.

CJ

January 5th, 2011
2:10 pm

FYI, my comment is awaiting moderation.

Kyle Wingfield

January 5th, 2011
2:11 pm

@light on policy: The operative phrase in my question, and CJ’s original claim, was “intended to reduce or limit illegal (sic).” The operative word in your response is “amnesty.”

In other words, you haven’t answered the question.

Kyle Wingfield

January 5th, 2011
2:12 pm

CJ, I give what I get. Some of you don’t seem to respond to anything else.

CJ

January 5th, 2011
2:15 pm

John

January 5th, 2011
2:15 pm

@Kyle

“The operative phrase in my question, and CJ’s original claim, was “intended to reduce or limit illegal (sic).” The operative word in your response is “amnesty.””

By giving them a path to citizenship, the number of illegals currently here would be reduced. Followed by stricter border control which could reduce the number coming into the country.

Marla

January 5th, 2011
2:18 pm

YES, Americans ARE willing to work mowing lawns, cooking food in restaurant kitchens, and building houses.

Those jobs are unfairly given to illegal aliens who can be exploited. Have you ever seen any of those jobs on job boards where U.S. citizens can apply? NO. The employers only want a captive and desperate workforce who will not demand fair wages and working conditions.

Kyle Wingfield

January 5th, 2011
2:20 pm

@John: “Followed by stricter border control which could reduce the number coming into the country.”

The problem is that there’s no track record — or, ahem, goodwill at the moment — to suggest that this step would necessarily follow the first ones. At this point, I can’t imagine this being done as a chicken-and-egg measure: It will have to be done at once to convince one side that there will be a path to citizenship, and the other side that there will be border enforcement.

Even then, I’m not sure about our chances. But I don’t see it happening if it’s not passed simultaneously.

mike

January 5th, 2011
2:22 pm

I am certainly glad to hear this state will now crack down on the Mexican problem. So that means they will do nothing about education, jobs, gas prices, falling housing prices or anything else that effects the people of this state. First things first.

Kyle Wingfield

January 5th, 2011
2:23 pm

As for the “record” number of deportations, WaPo ran a lengthy article detailing the unusual methods used to reach that number: http://wapo.st/igFhMG

John

January 5th, 2011
2:28 pm

@Kyle

“The problem is that there’s no track record — or, ahem, goodwill at the moment — to suggest that this step would necessarily follow the first ones. At this point, I can’t imagine this being done as a chicken-and-egg measure: It will have to be done at once to convince one side that there will be a path to citizenship, and the other side that there will be border enforcement.”

Exactly Kyle…seems like you agree with Democrats on this one. Democrats want to pass comprehensive immigration reform. It’s the Republicans who keep blocking that from happening.They want to secure the borders first with no exception.

Kyle Wingfield

January 5th, 2011
2:30 pm

@John: “Some” Democrats might agree with that, just as “some” Republicans will. But don’t forget: That’s not the kind of “comprehensive” measure Democrats offered.

light on policy

January 5th, 2011
2:30 pm

Or Kyle perhaps you haven’t understood the answer. Besides the bi-partisan legislation that was destroyed because of partisan politics that I mentioned above, Obama has a record of trying to pass meaningful immigration reform.

Senator Obama, along with Sen Kennedy and Sen McCain, championed for wholesale immigration reform. Because 2010 was an election year, 11 REPUBLICAN Senators, whom initially supported immigration reform, backed away from the same legislation noted above.

Let’s not let facts get in the way of a partisan blog post.

A Hearty Cheese Sauce

January 5th, 2011
2:35 pm

CJ…we Reps not only want to enrich the rich but also send the Dems strait to the poor house as this will further send the poor into the grave and us Reps can have all the HCare we then want.

You are on the wrong side my friend.

Kyle Wingfield

January 5th, 2011
2:36 pm

@light: Still waiting to hear your explanation of how the bill would have had the intent of reducing or limiting illegal immigration.

Barry

January 5th, 2011
2:37 pm

To those who advocate having sheriffs, local and state police locking up all illegal immigrants, I propose the question: what shall they do with them after that? State and local authorities have no authority or the means to deport them. The federal government through ICE has the sole authority to deport and they have made it clear in every administration that has dealt with this issue that illegal immigrants who have not committed a separate crime are not a priority now nor is it expected to be at any time in the future. If you think that these folk are costing taxpayers now, just consider how much it will cost to incarcerate them indefinitely. Keep in mind that involuntary deportation is not automatic. Even illegal immigrants have due process rights under our laws.

John

January 5th, 2011
2:39 pm

@Kyle…show me a single Republican (especially in the Senate) who would support comprehensive reform today. As light on policy stated, John McCain (the Maverick who is no longer a Maverick) was for it at one time. Then he became against it, especially in this past election cycle when he was running against a Tea Party candidate.

Mitch McConnell

January 5th, 2011
2:42 pm

The most important thing is for Obama to fail. If that means my Senate GOP colleagues have to reverse their own positions on finding a bi-partisan solution to immigration form, so be it. Its more important that we do all we can to ensure Obama policies as fail.

Stephen

January 5th, 2011
2:44 pm

Get them out of here. My taxes paying for there illegal kids to go to our schools, clogging up the grocery stores, walking around everywhere smelling up the place acting like zombies. Get in here the right so you don’t complain everyday why you can’t stay. Go back to your filthy homes.

Jefferson

January 5th, 2011
2:44 pm

The GOP will, as always make it worse than better.

CJ

January 5th, 2011
2:54 pm

I read the WaPo piece that you linked to Kyle, and frankly, there seems to be a double-standard here. Republican legislation might include “incentives” to encourage private employers to use tools to make sure that they’re hiring legally. But incentives to encourage illegal workers to go home voluntarily are bad? The voluntary return program worked. I don’t see a problem with it.

With regard to your question, because all but one Senate Republican indicated that they would block an up-or-down vote on immigration reform, Senate Dems were negotiating with Lindsey Graham for months to craft immigration reform legislation that he’d support. Graham dragged negotiations on for quite a while before pulling the chair out from under them because, he said, there isn’t enough time (first he said that immigration reform needs to take priority over health care, Then after health care reform passed, Graham complained that immigration reform needs to take a back seat to cap-and-trade).

The proposal that Dems were working on with Graham included provisions for securing the border, fortifying our border enforcement capacity, enhancing capabilities to remove “unlawfully present persons”, end illegal employment, among other things. http://a.abcnews.go.com/images/Politics/Final_REPAIR_Proposal.pdf

You’re the journalist, Kyle. It’s a little sad that your readers have to produce the facts that you don’t like before you’ll acknowledge them.

CJ

January 5th, 2011
2:58 pm

In addition, here’s finalized legislation that was introduced during the lame duck session–with no hope for a vote because of Republican delays and filibuster threats. Notice the sections on border enforcement, interior enforcement, worksite enforcement, …: http://www.immigrationpolicy.org/just-facts/comprehensive-immigration-reform-act-2010-summary

Rafe Hollister

January 5th, 2011
3:07 pm

Yesterday Bookman was whinning (as usual) about the lack of money evil Republicans want to spend on education in Georgia, saying we have to spend the money, to educate our kids, if we expect employment numbers to rise. He goes on to say that there are few jobs for the uneducated.

Now, you libs on here are saying we need more illegals to fill the jobs requiring little or no job skills.

The two lib views conflict, but with libs, that is par for the course.

John

January 5th, 2011
3:13 pm

Immigration reform would have passed had it not been for the Republican filibuster. The same Republicans who claim the government is broken and needs to be fixed but they’re the ones breaking it. Of course, they want to keep it broken and make sure immigration reform doesn’t pass…that’s part of their platform for every campaign cycle.

Barry

January 5th, 2011
3:19 pm

Stephen:
You are a really nasty person.

Rafe Hollister

January 5th, 2011
3:22 pm

CJ
#7 of your thesis above refers to local law enforcement officers asking questions of hispanics regarding their citizenship and you brand this as subhuman?

What tag do you give to the treatment of 80 year old lifelong citizen grandmothers, who refuse the body scanners at the airport and are groped and fondled by the T&A security.

If answering questions is subhuman, being felt up, is degradingly subanimal treatment.

John

January 5th, 2011
3:29 pm

@Rafe Hollister

“What tag do you give to the treatment of 80 year old lifelong citizen grandmothers, who refuse the body scanners at the airport and are groped and fondled by the T&A security.

If answering questions is subhuman, being felt up, is degradingly subanimal treatment.”

Do you also consider it to be subanimal treatment to be poked and prodded during a medical examination, such as what happens during a prostate examination?

Rafe Hollister

January 5th, 2011
3:42 pm

John: YES to the prostate exam, but I do not mind answering the Doctors questions.

John

January 5th, 2011
3:49 pm

Rafe, I don’t mind questions but I would have a problem (as I’m sure most people would) of being detained and held possibly in a jail cell only because I didn’t have my id on me.

Rafe Hollister

January 5th, 2011
3:56 pm

John, if you sneak into Mexico and are discovered without papers, they will do more than ask questions of you, while you are in jail. If you are a Guatamalan, you can count on rough treatment, if an American perhaps a request that your family provide some financial assistance to the jailer.

Sheriff Lobo

January 5th, 2011
4:01 pm

@A Hearty Cheese Sauce And what happens when you fill up all the slammers, foolishly forcing the release of fools like the one who killed that cop a week ago.?

CJ

January 5th, 2011
4:02 pm

If what Rafe Hollister is true, then personally, I wouldn’t like to see us become more like Mexico and Guatemala. It seems to me that the U.S. should set the example for others to follow rather than copying the immoral behavior of others.

By the way, I think John @3:49 was referring to people being detained who are here legally.

John

January 5th, 2011
4:02 pm

Rafe, we are talking about the US, not Mexico, Guatamalo or any other country. Different countries have different laws. As an American citizen how could you prove that you’re a citizen and here legally? If you’re out and don’t have a driver’s liscense or other ID on you, you therefore couldn’t prove on the spot that you’re here illegally. The law passed in Arizona, for instance, requires law enforcement officers to detain you in a cell until you can prove you’re not here illegally. That would apply to everyone in this country…citizens, non-citizens here legally as well as illegals.

CJ

January 5th, 2011
4:03 pm

Correction: If what Rafe Hollister [says] is true,…

Sorry Kyle.

Alberto Galdamez

January 5th, 2011
4:04 pm

If there was no demand for cheap labor, there would be no incentives for illegal immigrants to be here. We need to look at what causes the issue in order to fix the problem.