Immigration

How Might the Supreme Court Rule on Obama’s Executive Amnesty?

The Supreme Court agreed this morning to take the case of Texas and 25 other states who sued the federal government over the Obama administration’s unilateral executive action to limit deportations of certain illegal immigrants. The program was halted by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in November over the costs to the states resulting from the program, not its inherent (un)constitutionality.

Obama authorized the DAPA program after Congress rejected a similar legislative proposal to defer deportations for children brought here by their parents…and those parents themselves. That separation of powers argument is the main problem with the program, as I’ve argued before.

Although it’s not explicit in the Constitution, the intent of the separation of powers was for Congress to write federal policy and the President to enact it. The President doesn’t get to write his own policy if Congress refuses to do as he wishes. This Supreme Court decision may end up ruling on that very broad issue, or it could rule on the merits of the DAPA program.

Mob Killing, Wave of Sexual Assaults Prove Fears of “Refugees” Justified

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Obama mocked conservative Republicans and the tens of millions of average Americans concerned about importing waves of Muslim men from the Middle East, with no way to vet them properly. He accused us of being scared of women and children.

Yet two episodes in recent months highlight that we were and are right to be concerned, and Obama is a fool for ignoring these concerns.

One was the story of Farkhunda Malikzada, an Afghan woman falsely accused of burning a Quran at an Islamic shrine, and subsequently dragged into the street by an angry mob and kicked, punched, beaten with sticks, pummeled with heavy rocks, run over by a car, dragged through the streets, and set on fire (after being soaked with fuel because her body was so wet with blood it would not catch fire).

As it turns out, the accusation against her was made by a man selling amulets to illiterate, superstitious women hoping it would help them get pregnant. She accused him of fraud and of dishonoring the Quran, and in retaliation he accused her of burning a Quran. At that accusation, the mob began to form.

The Baffling EB-5 Immigration Controversy

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In most cases, I can understand why immigration is a controversial issue.

Take amnesty, for instance. Opponents make reasonable points about the downside of rewarding folks who cut in line while supporters make reasonable points about deportation being harsh and impractical.

There’s also a fight relating to welfare, with critics (and not just in America) saying that immigrants are more likely to be poor and a burden on taxpayers and advocates pointing out that it makes more sense to wall off the welfare state rather than walling off the country.

The “anchor baby” issue is another emotional topic, with people on both sides of the issue making both legal and practical arguments about whether children born in the United States should automatically become citizens.

And then there’s the biggest question of all, which is deciding on the “right” number of immigrants, with answers ranging from none to completely open borders.

I get why these topics don’t have answers that are satisfactory to all sides.

But there is one immigration controversy that leaves me most puzzled. Why are some people opposed to the “EB-5” program designed to attract rich investors to America?

Barack Obama and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Year

Obama Sad

It’s not been a good year for Barack Obama.

Of course, the midterm elections during the sixth year of a two-term president’s time in office are historically bad for the president’s party. In 2006, Democrats defeated President George W. Bush’s party and picked up a net of six seats in the Senate and 31 seats in the House. The 1998 elections held steady for Republicans during President Clinton’s sixth year, and they kept majorities in both chambers.

In 1986, during President Reagan’s sixth year, Democrats picked up eight seats in the Senate, giving them control of the Senate, and gained a net five seats in the House, giving them a massive 258-177 majority. To give context, Republicans are expected to start the next Congress in January with 247 members to the Democrats’ 188 — and that’s historically high for Republicans.

But President Obama’s bad year doesn’t start and end with Election Day 2014. According to Gallup, which has been tracking presidential approval ratings for decades, 2014 is the first year where President Obama’s approval rating never eclipsed his disapproval rating, meaning he has not — at any point this year — had a net positive approval. He has been under water since August 2013 and has not recovered.

National Journal’s James Oliphant writes:

Obama’s State of the Union proposals would cost $40 billion

Barack Obama

The proposals outlined in President Barack Obama’s 2014 State of the Union address would cost taxpayers at least $40 billion, according to an analysis by the National Taxpayers Union Foundation.

““Even though the President largely reiterated or reframed issues that have long been on his party’s current agenda, the proposals for new federal expenditures he outlined last night would still add up to a hefty price tag,” said Demian Brady, Director of Research at the National Taxpayers Union Foundation. ”Moreover, his push for new mandates, regulation, and tax hikes, particularly on energy, will give taxpayers and business owners plenty to be wary of.”

Of the 29 proposals outlined in the speech by President Obama, only one would reduce spending, according to the analysis, while 12 would increase spending. The costs of 16 proposals couldn’t be quantified.

The most costly proposal outlined by President Obama was the Senate version of immigration reform — the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act — which would cost $20.2 billion each year. Extention of federal unemployment benefits was the second-most costly item, at $12.8 billion.

President Obama’s universal pre-K proposal is would cost $3.5 billion each year, making it the third-most costly item in his State of the Union address.

The only proposal that would cut spending is the FHA Solvency Act, a measure that President Obama supports. This bill, which would protect taxpayers from bearing the cost of another housing crisis, would reduce federal outlays by $103 million, according to the National Taxpayers Union Foundation.

Victims or Visionaries?: Right Needs to Seize Upon Big Issues

Over at R Street, Andrew Moylan makes a fascinating comment regarding President Obama’s recent speech on climate change and his plan to reduce carbon emissions. To wit: doesn’t matter much what your personal opinion is on carbon emissions and their relationship (or lack of relationship) to the already-defined-as-fact (accurately or not) science of climate change, the issue will be addressed by the federal government:

Moylan concluded by saying, “Regardless of one’s views on climate change, the simple reality is that federal policy is going to address the matter. That can happen through ill-advised regulations, like those proposed by the President today, or it can happen through a vibrant market with clear price signals attached to all fuels. Conservatives should seize the opportunity to once again emphasize the superiority of free markets over central planning.”

On climate change and the President’s plan specifically, it’s hard to accept something that will cost the country hundreds of thousands of lost jobs and $1.47 trillion of lost national income by 2030, according to a report by the Heritage Foundation. And, to Moylan’s point, it’s a situation conservatives, libertarians, and those who lean center-right on economic issues should begin to get in front of by doing the work of presenting their own plans to address something people are convinced needs addressing.

Jim DeMint Gets Milton Friedman’s Immigration Views Wrong

Michael Hamilton is a libertarian writer living in Washington, D.C. His main interests are economics, immigration, and land-use policy.

Heritage Foundation President Jim DeMint took to the pages of the Washington Post this morning to defend his institution’s latest report on immigration, in which the ludicrous claim that “amnesty” would cost taxpayers $6.3 trillion is made.

I’ll leave analysis of the study itself to others (and boy, are they really piling on), but I take exception to the very first sentence of DeMint’s op-ed:  ”The economist Milton Friedman warned that the United States cannot have open borders and an extensive welfare state.”

Every now and again a particular clip from a larger Milton Friedman speech is brought up, and this debate is rehashed in libertarian circles. In it, Friedman says, “it is one thing to have free immigration to jobs. It is another thing to have free immigration to welfare. And you cannot have both.” This is what DeMint is referencing, and he seems to think it supports either his general point of view or his immigration policy prescriptions. I believe that either is unlikely.

Congress must reform high-skilled worker visa system

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The renewed debate over immigration reform has led to some very strong opinions, but one particular issue that has been lost in the mix is the need for more high-skilled workers in the United States.

The visa system for high-skilled workers — known as H-1B visas or STEM visas — is in dire need of modernization. This system allows businesses to temorarily employ foreign workers who have college degrees in various fields, including science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.

The system, however, limits the number of workers who can obtain these visas to 65,000 per year, meaning that many high-skilled workers see employment in other countries instead of waiting to come to the United States.

Along with a number of his colleagues from both sides of the aisle, Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) recently introduced legislation — the Immigration Innovation Act (also known as the I-Squared Act) — that would bring a much needed overhaul to the H-1B visa system and more economic benefit to the United States.

The Immigration Innovation Act would increase the annual cap on high-skilled workers who can obtain H-1B visas from 65,000 to 115,000 and also provide a manner of flexibility that would allow the cap to be raised even higher to meet labor demand inside the United States. The legislation would also remove the cap for high-skilled workers with advanced degrees, which is currently limited to 20,000 per year.

A coalition of freedom-minded groups — including the American Conservative Union, Americans for Tax Reform, and the Competitive Enterprise Institute — have endorsed the plan.

Why Republicans have to evolve on social issues to win elections

Yesterday, I had the opportunity to speak at the Cato Institute’s New Media Lunch on some of the issues facing the Republican Party after the 2012 election. The forum, focused exclusively on social issues, was appropriately headlined as “The Republican Problem.”

While Walter Olson went over gay marriage, Rob Kampia on marijuana policy, and Alex Nowrasteh on immigration, I tried to focus on how conservative activists and the conservative blogosphere are adjusting post-2012. With that, I wanted to mention some of what I briefly talked about yesterday in a post this morning.

In the days since the election, I’ve spent a lot of time on Twitter and Facebook reading comments from conservative activists and bloggers. They realize that they have a lot of work ahead of them and they can no longer afford to live in a bubble. They see that social issues — such as gay marriage, the war on drugs, and immigration — present a problem moving forward.

Activist organizations are looking for ways to build outreach to younger voters and minorities, though the immigration issue remains a tough challenge for conservatives, and many are realizing that the war on drugs has failed. Right on Crime, a conservative-backed initiative, has become somewhat popular as cash-strapped states look for ways to take some pressure off of their prision systems. While we as libertarians see this as a personal liberty issue, it’s an easier sell as an economic issue to our conservative friends.

Common Sense After a Close Election

“Now let’s pull up our socks, wipe our noses and get back in this fight.”

After listening to ten days of hand wringing and doom saying from the usual suspects that Republicans must abandon our principles if we are to survive, we need a little of Mark Twain’s common sense.  I suggest we all take it to heart.

He said, “We should be careful to get out of an experience only the wisdom that is in it — and stop there; lest we be like the cat that sits down on a hot stove-lid. She will never sit down on a hot stove-lid again — and that is well; but also she will never sit down on a cold one anymore.”

So it is in that spirit that I will begin with three incontrovertible truths about this election.

First, the same election that returned Barack Obama to the White House also returned the second largest House Republican majority since World War II - bigger than anything Newt Gingrich ever had.

Second, according to polls before, during and after this election, the American people agree with us fundamentally on issues involving the economy, Obamacare, government spending, bailouts - you name it.

Third, the American people are about to get a graduate level course in Obamanomics, and at the end of that course, they are going to be a lot sadder and a lot wiser.

That is not to say that there aren’t many lessons that we need to learn and to learn well from this election, particularly here in California.  But capitulation is not one of them.


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