The immigration concession won by departing Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake in exchange for his vote on the tax bill is both a token prize and warning flag for what promises to be a brutal and high-stakes debate over amnesty, corporate subsidies, and immigration reforms.
The fight may begin in earnest next week because Texas Sen. John Cornyn hinted Thursday that a group of GOP Senators will soon release their wide-ranging amnesty proposal. The proposal has already been rejected by the second-ranking Senate Democrat, Sen. Richard Durbin.
Flake is a strong advocate for amnesty, and he was a member of the 2013 “Gang of Eight” group. His support for amnesty has proved so unpopular that his polls fell through the floor, and he announced he would not run for election in 2018.
On Friday, Flake told reporters that he traded his budget vote for a leadership promise on amnesty, setting off a furious round of media back-and-and-forth over the implications of the promise. The New York Times reported:
Leaders agreed to work on providing “fair and permanent protections” for the beneficiaries of an Obama-era effort that protects young undocumented immigrants from deportation, known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, Mr. Flake said.
“There are no ironclad commitments — at this date we’re going have a bill — but I am confident,” Mr. Flake said. “I’ve always been convinced on DACA that the president’s instincts are better than the advice he’s getting.”
Mr. Flake, an outspoken critic of Mr. Trump, said he had spoken with Vice President Mike Pence about the issue. “We had a long conversation last night and today, and he committed to start working with me on this,” Mr. Flake said.
A Huffington Post reporter said Flake claimed a “firm commitment from the Senate leaders and the administration to work with me on a growth-oriented legislative solution to enact fair and permanent protections for DACA recipients.
A PBS reporter described her conversation with Marc Short, the White House’s congressional liaison chief:
WHAT DID FLAKE GET ON DACA?: WH aide Marc Short tells me he will be part of the conversation. ("Happy to include him".)
Me: Does that mean any agreement on timing (this year or no), substance?
Short: No, it is to include him in our talks.
— Lisa Desjardins (@LisaDNews) December 1, 2017
A later statement from Flake said he got “no ironclad commitment” for an amnesty from the GOP leaders. Asked if he got any policy commitments, Flake replied, “Policy, no.”
Here's Sen Flake describing what the administration agreed to on DACA to get his vote on taxes (not much) pic.twitter.com/MC6z0aM50C
— Erica Werner (@ericawerner) December 1, 2017
Mark Krikorian, the director of the Center for Immigration studies, summarized Flake’s gains:
— Mark Krikorian (@MarkSKrikorian) December 1, 2017
Flake got “bupkis” because the GOP’s Senate leadership has already shown that it intends to push for some form of immigration and amnesty packer early in 2018, in which Flake is allowed to play a role because he is a GOP Senator.
The Senate GOP plan offers some form of amnesty to some illegals in exchange for some benefits to Americans, including the end of chain-migration.
Ending chain migration would be a huge development — depending on possible conditions — because it would automatically halve immigration and force employers to pay higher wages and invest in more labor-saving machinery.
The GOP package was outlined in a Thursday report:
Republicans presented [Democratic Sen. Richard] Durbin with plans drafted mostly by [GOP Sen. John] Cornyn that would make changes to border security, bolster immigration enforcement, revamp the E-Verify employment verification program and put limits on some forms of chain migration.
Durbin called the GOP proposal “a disappointment,” noting that the more than 400 pages of proposals included a new definition of an asylum seeker — a legal issue settled by an international treaty.
“That’s way beyond border security that they’re talking about,” he said.
Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley “has been the driving force” behind the immigration reform package, a senior Hill aide told Breitbart News. Grassley has convened a group of GOP legislators, including Cornyn, to draft an immigration package for passage through the Senate. Grassley chairs the Senate’s judiciary committee, which handles immigration.
The GOP package shown to Durbin did not offer an amnesty to the 3 million illegals dubbed ‘dreamers,’ by Democrats and the media, but instead offered legalization and work-permits to the 690,000 DACA beneficiaries, according to an account in Politico:
“It was a 460-page border security bill by Sen. [John] Cornyn,” Durbin said in an interview. “I told him that is just not gonna happen. It didn’t even accept the Dream Act.”
The bill is expected to end chain-migration, which allows recent immigrants to pick their in-laws to become the next wave of immigrants, regardless of their health, education, skills, ideology, and ability to assimilate into the United States. The strongest evidence for a focus on chain-migration came from the GOP’s Majority Leader, Sen. Mitch McConnell.
“I agree with [GOP Sen. Tom] Cotton and [GOP Sen. David] Perdue” who drafted the Raise Act, McConnell told Laura Ingraham on her Fox News show on November 29. “I think the kinds of things … that Cotton and Perdue are pushing are exactly what ought to be part of a solution,” he said, one year after Donald Trump’s shocking immigration-powered victory in November 2016.
Immigration reformers are being very cautious about McConnell’s new enthusiasm for immigration reform. For example, reformers fear that a GOP promise to end chain-migration visas will be converted by business groups into more visas for foreign white-collar workers who can bid down salaries for American graduates. Similarly, GOP promises to toughen the E-verify system could be rendered toothless by providing easy loopholes for the employers.
Another concern is that legal measures which help Americans will be blocked by courts or starved of funds by Congress, the pro-business measures will be expanded by agency decisions, and the problems will be hidden for voters by media companies eager for more imported customers and cheaper labor.
Democratic progressives are likely to oppose any reduction in the annual immigration inflow of foreign workers because they expect poor immigrants to vote Democratic once they become citizens. The GOP’s business-first Senators likely won’t vote for proposals that reduce the flow of subsidized cheap-workers and welfare-aided, poor immigrant-consumers.
Despite the difficulties, some immigration reformers are balancing their hopes and worries for the new year.
“Getting reasonable [numerical] limits on immigration and ensuring that the people we do admit are net contributors to the country ought to be the primary job not just for Republicans but for anyone making public policy,” Ira Mehlman, a spokesman for the Federation for American Immigration Reform, told Breitbart News in October. GOP leaders “have a great opportunity and they seem anxious to blow it,” he added.
Each year, four million Americans turn 18 and begin looking for good jobs in the free market.
But the federal government inflates the supply of new labor by annually accepting one million new legal immigrants, by providing almost two million work-permits to foreigners, by providing work-visas to roughly 500,000 temporary workers, and doing little to block the employment of roughly eight million illegal immigrants.
The Washington-imposed economic policy of mass-immigration floods the market with foreign labor and spikes profits and Wall Street values by cutting salaries for manual and skilled labor offered by blue-collar and white-collar employees. It also encourages discrimination against American workers, drives up real estate prices, widens wealth gaps, reduces high-tech investment, increases state and local tax burdens, and hurts kids’ schools and college education. Furthermore, it pushes Americans away from high-tech careers and reduces the work activity rate below the rate in foreign rivals, which sidelines millions of marginalized Americans and their families, including many who are now struggling with opioid addictions.
Cheap-labor immigration is very unpopular.
Business groups and Democrats embrace the industry-funded “nation of immigrants” polls that shame Americans to say they welcome migrants. But the alternative “fairness” polls show that voters put a much higher priority on helping their families, neighbors, and fellow nationals get decent jobs in a high-tech, high-immigration, low-wage economy. The political power of the voters’ fairness priorities was made clear during the GOP primaries and again in November 2016.
The workplace impact was highlighted by a bakery in Chicago, which was forced to hire Americans to replace 800 illegal immigrants this year. The enforcement and subsequent reorganization cut revenue at the Cloverhill bakery by 7.5 percent, and trimmed profits from 16 percent to 9.5 percent of revenue once up to $176 million was redirected towards higher wages.