Cato Amnesty Analysts Attack Jeff Sessions’ Plan to Battle Amnesty

REUTERS/Jason Redmond
REUTERS/Jason Redmond

At least two senior analysts for the libertarian-leaning Cato Institute are attacking Sen. Jeff Sessions’ (R-AL) 25-page roadmap forward for the new Republican majority in Congress on the crucial issue of immigration.

“Want a laugh? Read Sen. Sessions on creating GOP majority. His 1/2 nativism + 1/2 UK labor party mix is disastrous,” Cato’s immigration policy analyst Alex Nowrasteh tweeted regarding Sessions’ roadmap document, along with a link to the Breitbart News story about the Sessions document.

His colleague Bill Watson, Cato’s trade policy analyst, joined him in mocking the senator’s roadmap document, calling it “nativist” by tweeting an add-on to Nowrasteh’s comments: “In short: Promise to get rid of the Mexicans #DeyTerkErJerbs.” Watson’s disparaging remarks about Sessions plan—specifically the hash tag “DeyTerkErJerbs”—is a reference to Comedy Central’s animated television show South Park’s mocking of people concerned about immigration’s effects on the economy. The show’s creators, Matt Stone and Trey Parker, have made episodes where the citizens of the town of South Park face problems getting work after an influx of immigrants from the future come back in time to take jobs from people.

Cato Institute vice president for communications Khristine Brookes declined to comment on Nowrasteh’s and Watson’s disparaging Tweets. Instead of responding to a detailed press request from Breitbart News on Tuesday asking whether the organization supports Nowrasteh’s or Watson’s comments, and whether it stands by the two analysts in the wake of their Tweets, Brookes simply replied: “I look forward to reading your story.”

These attacks from Cato analysts against Sessions’ plan come as pro-amnesty elements of the GOP consultant class are gearing up for another push alongside Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg’s group for amnesty. Nowrasteh was a major player in the failed push for amnesty in the last Congress, supporting the Senate’s “Gang of Eight” bill and other amnesty measures alongside Grover Norquist of Americans for Tax Reform.

On Tuesday, Nowrasheh tweeted his support for a bill from Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) that would increase the number of visas in the tech community. He called Hatch’s bill a series of “good moderate reforms toward a more functional skills-based immigration system.” In his roadmap document, Sessions writes there is no tech worker shortage in America.

Hatch’s bill, which has the buy-in of Sens. Marco Rubio (R-FL), Jeff Flake (R-AZ), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Chris Coons (D-DE), and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), would expand the H-1B visa program. Sessions calls it a boon to special interests.

“The false claim that has gained the most acceptance is the notion that there is a shortage of qualified Americans with degrees in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM),” Sessions wrote in a subsection of the 25-page roadmap titled the “Silicon Valley STEM Hoax.”

Therefore, the fallacious reasoning goes, the United States must expand the already-substantial annual influx of foreign guest workers to fill these jobs. But the evidence proves the opposite: not only is there no shortage of qualified Americans ready, able, and eager to fill these jobs, there is a huge surplus of Americans trained in these fields who are unable to find employment. It is understandable why large technology firms push the discredited STEM myth—a loose labor market for IT and STEM jobs keeps pay low, allows for substantial turnover without having to retain older employees with increased compensation, and provides a PR basis for the industry’s immigration lobbying campaign. What is not understandable is why they have gotten away with it for so long.

Sessions uses U.S. Census Bureau data to debunk claims from the political establishment that the high-tech community needs more foreign workers imported into the U.S. because there aren’t enough Americans to do those jobs.

Even so, Zuckerberg’s lobbying firm, according to an advisory obtained by Breitbart News, compiled a group of pro-amnesty advocates in the U.S. Capitol on Tuesday. They reportedly including Norquist, Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission’s Vice President for Public Policy and Research Barrett Duke, National Immigration Forum board chair Laura Foote Reiff, and Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller.

“We all know the struggles our broken immigration system causes our nation. Under Republican leadership, the 114th Congress has an incredible opportunity to right these wrongs,” the advisory for the pro-amnesty gathering, which was scheduled for 10:30 a.m. on Tuesday in room 200 of the House Visitors Center in the U.S. Capitol, reads. “Please join conservative faith, law enforcement and business leaders for a briefing on issues of immigration enforcement and reform.”’s Jen Martin—a Democratic operative who has worked for former Rep. Kathy Hochul, now the Democratic Lt. Governor of New York, and for former Democratic Rep. Scott Murphy of New York, according to her LinkedIn page—organized the presumably “conservative” event for “Republicans,” authoring the advisory sent around Capitol Hill.

“The object of this briefing is to provide Republican Members of Congress information from trusted conservatives as to how changes to our immigration system should be approached,” Martin wrote in the email, acting in her capacity as a employee, not a Democratic Party operative. “From a faith, law enforcement and business perspective, speakers will provide the data and research necessary to craft a constructive legislative approach.”

It’s interesting that Zuckerberg is choosing to again make Norquist one of the faces of his campaign for amnesty. Norquist’s staff, including ATR director of Tax Policy Ryan Ellis and ATR Director of State Affairs Patrick Gleason, in November engaged in disparaging behavior against Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) similar to what Nowrasteh at Cato is doing to Sessions. And they did so alongside a key aide to former George W. Bush White House political director Karl Rove.

Specifically, Ellis posted on Facebook an article from the American Spectator’s Jeffrey Lord that detailed how Cruz’s efforts to defund Obamacare in October 2013 actually ended up helping Republicans in the midterm elections, as they took the U.S. Senate majority and added to their House majority.

While posting Lord’s article, Ellis described Cruz and Lord as “from the ‘delusionally insane’ wing of the for-profit Right.”

A running argument ensued among Ellis, ATR’s director of state affairs Patrick Gleason, Sarah Culling—the wife of former ATR staffer Joshua Culling—and Karl Rove operative Jonathan Collegio, the communications director for Rove’s American Crossroads group.

“Surely the GOP won elections in spite of the disastrous shut down, not because of it,” Culling wrote, to which Ellis joked in response referencing the movie Airplane: “Yes, and don’t call me Shirley.”

“I thought you got over your fixation with Sen. Cruz. Evidently not,” Martin Gillespie, another right-of-center political world figure, challenged Ellis.

“I’ll get over Cruz when Cruz gets over McConnell,” Ellis responded to Gillespie.

Also in response to Gillespie, Norquist’s other ATR staffer Gleason further disparaged Cruz.

“Are you serious?” Gleason wrote to Gillespie. “The problem is Sen. Cruz won’t get over his fixation w/ Sen. Cruz. The shutdown was one of the biggest political disasters ever for the GOP. They won last week in spite of it. Obamacare was at the height of it’s popularity during and because of the shutdown. The only good thing to come out of the shutdown is that previously beholden to Cruz members now don’t trust him. Rightfully so.”

At that point, Rove’s operative Collegio jumped in to discuss what he thinks is the “delusionally insane” conservatives in politics—referencing a situation where he had spoken negatively about Media Research Center head Brent Bozell, which prompted calls for Collegio’s resignation or firing from many high-profile conservative leaders—which forced Collegio to somewhat back off his comments, but Bozell tells Breitbart News that Collegio hasn’t apologized for his “personal slurs” against him.

“Jeff Lord was literally the first guy to call for me to be fired after I had that dust-up with Bozell,” Collegio wrote. “If you want the official list of the ‘delusionally insane’ right, look at the folks who tried to get me fired. They are literally all on there.”

The list of conservative leaders who demanded Collegio’s resignation, according to a February 2013 article from CNS News, includes: Nationally syndicated radio host Mark Levin, Family Research Council President Tony Perkins, Ronald Reagan biographer Craig Shirley, RedState’s Erick Erickson, Citizens United’s David Bossie, Eagle Forum’s Phyllis Schlafly, ISI’s Alfred Regnery, former Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell, Morton Blackwell, former Reagan administration officials Frank Gaffney and T. Kenneth Cribb Jr., Liberty Consulting’s Ginni Thomas and Tea Party Patriots’ Jenny Beth Martin.

This Facebook exchange happened on Nov. 11, 2014, and remained published and posted online—accessible to the public—for at least two months until Tuesday this week. But after Breitbart News reached out to both Collegio and ATR communications director John Kartch for comment on it—and specifically whether Rove and Norquist themselves endorse what their staffers wrote about Sen. Cruz and conservative activists and media figures such as Lord and the above list—the Facebook post was deleted. Nonetheless, neither Kartch nor Collegio responded to the requests for comment and wouldn’t answer questions about what this behavior does for their reputations among Republican members of Congress.

Previously, Zuckerberg’s personal ally, Facebook board member Marc Andreesen, called Sessions an “odious hack” and “clinically insane” in a series of negative Tweets directed at the conservative statesman from Alabama.

Rove, Norquist and their organizations, alongside Zuckerberg’s lobbyists, are expected to continue pushing for amnesty for illegal aliens and what they deem to be “immigration reform.”

“Conservatives backing immigration reform aren’t quite done trying to lobby Hill Republicans on an overhaul,” Politico’s Seung Min Kim wrote on Tuesday morning, noting that Norquist is leading the way to push for amnesty. Kim also reports Norquist is travelling to Lincoln, Nebraska, in early February “to tout the economic impacts of immigration reform.”

But Sessions and Cruz say they’ll keep fighting and laying out their vision for the Republican Party.

“For all the Republicans intoning we must get things done, if we simply settle into business as usual in this town and keep growing and growing and growing the leviathan and keep shrinking and shrinking and shrinking that sphere of individual liberty, we will demoralize the millions of men and women who came out in November and gave Republicans the biggest majority in the house since the 1920s. Not only will we not win elections, we’ll get walloped, and we’ll deserve to get walloped,” Cruz said in a speech to Heritage Action’s 2015 Conservative Policy Summit on Monday, a speech where among other things he emphasized the need to block Obama’s amnesty.

Sessions adds:

‘Immigration reform’ may be the single most abused phrase in the English language. It has become a legislative honorific almost exclusively reserved for proposals which benefit everyone but actual American citizens. Consider the recent Obama-backed “immigration reform” bill rejected by Congress. That bill—the culmination of a $1.5 billion lobbying effort—doubled the influx of foreign workers to benefit corporate lobbyists, offered sweeping amnesty to benefit illegal immigrants, and collapsed enforcement to benefit groups in the Democrat political machine that advocate open borders. But for American citizens, the legislation offered nothing except lower wages, higher unemployment, and a heavier tax burden.


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