It’s Official: Green Cards Now Part of 2016 Debate

asylum seekers
Damian Dovarganes/AP

In one of the stranger quirks in the long arc of Western civilization, a green-tinted sheet of laminated paper— no larger than a drivers license— has done more to change the course of American history than many of the most intense debates and political upheavals that have occurred since 1776. This document, rarely discussed by the media, is the source of some of the most dramatic social, cultural, political, linguistic, educational and economic transformations that have occurred in our history.

The document is known as a green card. It is handed out to foreign nationals who apply for permanent admission into the United States. A green card grants foreign nationals lifelong legal residence within the United States as well as: authorization to occupy any U.S. job, freedom to collect welfare, and a guaranteed track to U.S. citizenship and voting.

For all of the extravagant, yet half-hearted and failed efforts to secure the border, a simple one-sentence change to federal law— decreeing a pause on all green cards— would have had an infinitely more substantial impact on immigration to the United States. That is because the vast bulk of all immigration to the United States occurs through the green card and has absolutely nothing to do with our nation’s border.

Even if all of the politicians’ supposed efforts to secure the border had proven successful— and the border were completely sealed— long-term immigration levels would be little affected.

Even if not a single illegal immigrant were able to cross the border in the next ten years, the United States would still add 10 million new permanent immigrants and smash all immigration records— exclusively through the process of allowing foreigners to apply for green cards.

It now appears increasingly likely these transformative sheets of green paper will be a major issue in the 2016 presidential race.

In recent months, a series of facts and circumstances have brought the green card into national focus: reports documenting the sustained compression of the middle class during the forty-year green card wave; the discovery that all net job creation among working-age people went to foreign workers from 2000-2014; evidence documenting the overcrowding of schools where a growing number of students qualify for free meals and require language instruction; the breakdown of social cohesion; and the blue-ward shift in the electoral landscape of formerly red states.

All of these facts combined to direct the public’s attention to the most impactful, yet so rarely discussed, little slip of tinted paper.

As of Monday night’s New Hampshire Republican presidential candidate’s forum, the green card officially emerged as a part of the 2016 immigration debate. The forum’s moderator and WGIR-AM radio host Jack Heath asked:

So much is made of illegal immigration. Until we get a handle on that, should we reduce the number of green cards granted legally each year to folks who want to get into this country through the legal process? Should we cut down that number? What should that number be each year?

Similarly, conservative thought leaders have sounded off in recent days urging a halt to all green cards until the record 42 million immigrants residing in the United States have been assimilated and the battalions of unemployed Americans— including a shocking share of the black population— have been absorbed into the workforce by corporate CEOs who would prefer to import foreign substitutes.

Among the conservatives calling for a pause on all new immigration— that is a green card moratorium— is popular talk radio host and legal scholar, Mark Levin:

Levin told listeners:

Legal immigration in this country… over one million a year— over ten years, that’s ten million— it’s an enormous number and then you have chain migration behind it. The country can’t assimilate and Americanize this many people—it just can’t… Why can’t you reduce the number of legal immigrants coming into this country by 25 percent? I would even argue by fifty percent. As a matter of fact, I would go even further, we need a respite of several years.

Talk radio host Rush Limbaugh, citing a Senate Judiciary Subcommittee report obtained exclusively by Breitbart News, similarly informed his millions of listeners that, historically, when immigration last surged during the Western immigration wave from Europe, the government instituted an immigration reduction that caused the total foreign-born population to decline for six decades:

The United States gives legal residency status, green cards, to over a million legal immigrants, each and every year. Do you know that that is more than the rest of the world does combined? That’s a revealing statistic. Over a million — 1.05 million green cards a year… [Do] you realize, from, I forget the exact years, but through 1924 through 1965, there was no immigration? Not legal, anyway. Zilch. And you know why? Because we stopped everything in order to assimilate the masses of immigrants from Europe… Decades and decades of no immigration. And look at the arguments we are having now. I mean, the numbers were nothing like what we have today.

Indeed, each year the United States issues more than one million green cards to many of the poorest and least-developed nations in the world. Unlike the prior wave, these are from non-western countries. Many Americans would be surprised to learn that most of the low-wage workers competing with them for jobs are invited into the country not in defiance of U.S. law, but as a consequence of U.S law— the one lobbied for Ted Kennedy in 1965.  In addition to these green cards are nearly one million handpicked foreign workers imported on work visas, dependents of foreign workers imported on work visas, and refugees.

For example, in the past decade, we have issued more than 1.5 million green cards to Mexican foreign nationals. Overall, about half of all Mexican immigrants have green cards or are naturalized after getting green cards. That means that for every one Mexican who crosses the border illegally (or overstays a temporary visa), another Mexican is mailed a green card and is allowed to reside permanently with all the benefits of legal residency. To put it another way, the presence of green cards has roughly doubled all Mexican immigration into the United States.

Last year, of the one million new immigrants selected for permanent residence in the United States on a green card, 800,000 of them were from either Asia or Latin America; 100,000 of them were from Africa. Less than 10% were from Western countries with similar political systems. Hispanics and Asians vote 2-to-1 for Democrats and big government policy, creating ironically similar economic conditions to the ones they left behind. For this reason, large amounts of brand new non-western immigration make life more difficult— not better— for the immigrants themselves, by allowing them to replicate failed political conditions and denying opportunities for positive assimilation.

In recent years, about one out of every seven new legal immigrants is from Mexico, and about 9 out of every 10 new immigrants brought into the country on green cards is from Latin America, Africa, Asia, or the Middle East. The vast majority of future immigration from these non-Western regions will all be through the legal dispensation of green cards, including almost all Muslim immigration.

In 2013, we added nearly five times more immigrants on green cards from Pakistan (13,251) than Australia (2,759). We added nearly  six times more immigrants on green cards from El Salvador (18,260) than Italy (2,960). And we issued more than 10 times more green cards to Mexicans (135,028) than Brits, Scots and Northern Irish (12,984).

Thus far, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker is the only top-polling Republican presidential contender to articulate an openness to potentially slowing the green card express. If the express is not slowed, in less than ten years, all known immigration records in terms of immigrant to population ratio will be exceeded forever.

By contrast, Republican presidential and vice presidential aspirant Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) has introduced legislation—known as the I-Squared bill— which would remove the green card cap placed on foreign youths sought by college administrators, a major new pipeline for Islamic immigration. Rubio was also the co-architect of the Gang of Eight plan to make 30 million green cards available in the span of one decade.

The green card tsunami has been a disaster for communities of color.

As Harvard Professor George Borjas has analyzed: “A 10% immigration-induced increase in the supply of workers in a particular skill group reduced the black wage of that group by 2.5%, lowered the employment rate by 5.9 percentage points, and increased the incarceration rate by 1.3 percentage points.” When Borjas studied the period of record immigration from 1960-2000 he found, “This immigrant influx lowered the wages of native-born blacks by 4.5 percent, and of native-born Hispanics by 5 percent.”

U.S. Civil Rights Commissioner Peter Kirsanow has similarly discovered that, “Competition from immigration accounts for approximately 40 percent of the 18 percentage point decline in black employment in recent years. That’s nearly a million jobs lost by blacks to immigrants.”
As for the impact on crime, the Manhattan Institute’s Heather MacDonald demonstrated that: “Between the foreign-born generation and their American children, the incarceration rate of Mexican-Americans jumps more than eightfold, resulting in an incarceration rate that is 3.45 times higher than that of whites.”

Yet despite the economic and cultural impact of mass immigration, Democrats have benefited electorally from this green card tsunami in two ways: first, they have been able to build campaign strategies centered upon preserving social welfare programs disproportionately used by communities of color trapped impoverished by an endless stream of low-wage competitors. For the first time ever, the majority of public school students are minorities, and a majority of students now qualify for programs like subsidized school lunches. According to a 2010 report from the U.S. Department of Education, in 2009 Hispanic 4th-grade students were eligible for free or reduced-price school lunches at rates approaching 80 percent.

The second electoral benefit is that it has enabled Democrats to engage in electoral identity politics— stitching together communities along color lines to establish permanent majority voting blocs.

Polls show that Hispanics, by nearly a 7 to 1 ratio, want employers to hire workers already in the country rather than importing foreign workers to fill jobs. Black voters support this measure by a ratio of almost 30 to 1. Yet, thus far, Republicans have failed to capitalize on this opportunity to capture both voters of color, as well as white working class voters in states like Ohio and Pennsylvania, by urging an immigration pause after the four-decade tsunami.

But as Monday’s forum in New Hampshire, and the comments from Levin and Limbaugh– on the heels of Ann Coulter’s new book Adios, America— make clear, the GOP may not be able to avoid talking about green cards this election season. They may have to answer questions like:

–Should the United States continue to issue green cards at a time when we have record high immigration and an over-saturated labor market?

–Should immigration be reduced until it returns to historic norms?

–Should green cards only be given to a small number of immigrants who will be able to swear-off all welfare, speak fluent English, and assimilate into American society?

–Should green cards be issued at all to terror regions that have sent numerous Islamic radicals to our shores in the past?

For conservative icon Phylis Schlafly, one thing is certain: if Republican candidates do not answer these questions, the political debate will become an entirely academic one, as the green card gusher will make it impossible for the GOP to run nationally as a party of limited government.

The left is well aware of this: just last month Luis Gutierrez took to the House floor and openly declared that he would seek to use green cards as a way of gaining control over the nation’s elections and keeping candidates like Donald Trump out of the White House.

Republican consultants like Marco Rubio’s top pollster Whit Ayres have built careers saying the GOP must reach out more to immigrant voters— whom they acknowledge the GOP is having trouble appealing to— while simultaneously supporting legislation that would add 30 million new permanent immigrants in the elapse of a decade. Thought leaders like Mark Levin, Ann Coulter, Phylis Schlafly, and many others are saying: wouldn’t it make more sense to appeal to the Democrat-leaning immigrants already living here, before we add another 30 million more?

When radio talk show host David Webb asked donor class favorite Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) whether he thought, “immigrants from the third world are more likely or less likely to support conservative policies,” Ryan answered that he thought “immigrants from the third world” were “some of the best Americans” and ignored the electoral implications of a federal law that imports millions of poor immigrants.

Ryan declared:

Some of the best Americans are the newest Americans. People who left former Communist countries, people who left scandalous nations that are crony capitalism that deny them their rights. So people who come from those kinds of systems and those kinds of governments can make the best patriots because they finally see and taste what freedom is like, and they want to fight for it. So that kind of a person can make the best American. And the way I look at it, from our Party’s perspective, is we have to do a better job of going into these communities and exposing people to a different mindset– to these principles that they may not even have ever heard or seen before. This is a challenge that conservatives have to answer.

Ryan’s suggestion is peculiar because, if these new immigrants were to arrive in large numbers in his Congressional district in Wisconsin, Ryan’s platform of cutting Medicare and corporate taxes would suddenly put his seat in great jeopardy. If Paul Ryan believed that his message of cutting Medicare and corporate taxes was a winner with immigrant voters, presumably Ryan would have encouraged the Romney campaign to devote it’s time, money, and resources to winning California and its treasure trove 55 electoral votes.

Polls highlighted in Schlalfy’s 2013 report on mass legal immigration suggest that, as a matter of specific policies, new immigrants may not be overwhelmingly receptive to Paul Ryan’s “Right to Rise” platform:

– A 2011 Pew survey found that Hispanics have a more negative view of capitalism (55%) than do supporters of Occupy Wall Street (47%). In addition, 44% of Hispanics had a positive view of socialism (compared to 24% of whites and 31% of all Americans)
– A 2012 Pew Hispanic Center survey found that 75% of Hispanics and 55% of Asians prefer bigger governments that provide more services as opposed to smaller government that provide fewer services
– A 2010 Cooperative Congressional Election Study found that immigrants similarly supported Obama’s Stimulus package at a higher rate than native-born Americans (66% vs. 57%)
– A 2012 Fox News survey found that 62% of Hispanics support Obamacare. The 2012 National Asian American Survey found that three times more Asian Americans had a favorable opinion of Obamacare than had an unfavorable opinion.
Contrary to Ryan’s assertions, the data suggests that Republicans will struggle to court Hispanic voters unless they drop their platform of limited government policies. As political scientists R. Michael Alvarez and Lisa Garcia Bedolla argue: “The fact that this partisan identification is based on policy issue preferences suggests that, unless the parties fundamentally change their issue positions, these Latinos’ identifications with those parties should remain fairly stable.”
Ryan’s position, however, is supported by the entire Republican Congressional leadership team, all of whom are apparently unwilling to support any immigration limitations, or would like to see even more than we are scheduled to take in. Those members of Congress are as follows. In the Senate: Majority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Majority Whip Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX), Conference Chairman Sen. John Thune (R-SD), Policy Committee Chairman Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY), and Conference Vice Chairman Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO).  In the House: Speaker John Boehner (R-OH), Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA), Conference Chairwoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA), and Policy Committee Chairman Luke Messer (R-IN).

As 2016 unfolds we presumably will learn far more about where the presidential hopefuls stand on this little sheet of paper changing the course of civilization.


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