This is really hard. It is very difficult to talk about only three lies when it is such a target-rich environment.
The most obvious lie is that “this time we will get it right and not repeat the mistakes of the 1986 amnesty.” We can call it a lie and not just misleading because not one person making that claim really believes it can be done. It’s false advertising, and they know it.
The thing that makes liars out of all these proponents is that no one can honestly say that President Obama will actually enforce any key provision of any immigration law he disagrees with. The great irony is that Sen. Rubio himself voiced this concern last summer after Obama launched his administrative amnesty, the “deferred action” program. Rubio said Obama’s actions had “poisoned” the debate by circumventing Congress.
The interesting question is why Rubio or any other advocate for “bipartisan compromise” thinks Obama will not behave the same way with regard to any new immigration law he dislikes. How can there ever be good faith negotiations and compromise if we know the other side will subvert the product of compromise with unilateral – and unconstitutional – administrative edicts?
The second-biggest lie is that only a “comprehensive” bill can “fix” the immigration system. This is a lie on two levels. First, it is a lie because none of the four “principles” announced by the “Gang of Eight” address the underlying problems with current immigration law. The bill will be aimed at just enough “reform” to get support for the amnesty, but not enough reform to actually fix anything. It is also a lie because the “fixes” to be applied, like a “probationary status” for illegal aliens, will only make the system more dysfunctional, not less.
If reformers were serious about “fixing our broken system,” they would tackle specific problems with specific bills and then allow debate on the merits – that is, how far it goes to fixing a real problem. The “comprehensive” approach works to obscure real problems and bury them, not solve them. That’s why, at bottom, any comprehensive immigration reform bill is bound to be dishonest at its core.
The third-biggest lie is the one driving too many Republicans into a panic: “Republicans must support a new amnesty to gain support among Hispanic voters.” Otherwise, we will see that growing constituency become a permanent part of the Democratic Party.
This is a lie because there is no evidence that an amnesty will solve that problem. In fact, recent history suggests it will make matters worse for the Republican Party.
In 1986 a popular Republican president supported and signed the Simpson-Mazzoli amnesty legislation that gave legal status to over 3 million illegal aliens. Was the Republican Party rewarded for this legislation? No. In the 1986 election, Democrats took control of the U.S. Senate, and in 1988, the Republican candidate for president, George Bush the elder, got fewer Hispanic votes than Reagan did four years earlier before the amnesty.
It may be news to loud pundits and lazy pollsters, but Hispanics have been voting heavily for Democrats for 50 years. No Republican presidential candidate since Eisenhower has received a majority of Hispanic votes. Even George W. Bush, after championing an amnesty bill from the White House in 2004, got only 40 percent of the Hispanic vote, only 5 percent more than he got in 2000. Even as governor of Texas, Bush never got a majority of Hispanic votes. John McCain, that ever-ready fountain of promises, did not get a majority of Hispanic votes even in his home state of Arizona where his support for amnesty is well-known.
The hard truth of the matter is that Hispanics vote for Democrats because they are registered as Democrats by a three-to-one margin over Republicans and have been for decades – long before immigration was a major issue.
Republicans need to appeal to Hispanic voters on a wide spectrum of issues, for example on jobs and employment, small business opportunities and education reform. That is a long-term project, and politicians who say that amnesty is a quick fix for that problem are either lying or too stupid to be in public office.