immigration reform

Meet Arturo Alas: A free market-minded, Constitution-loving Republican taking on a big government House Democrat in California

During Arturo Alas’ congressional campaign HQ grand opening in Covina, California, I had the opportunity to chat with the Republican candidate running against Rep. Grace Napolitano (D-CA) to represent California’s 32nd congressional district. After a surprising top-two primary win, Art Alas hopes to win in November with his free market and constitution-loving message.

The incumbent, Grace Napolitano, has been in Congress since 1999, and many in her district appear to disagree with her on several important issues such as the U.S. role in the Syrian civil war. Could the residents of Covina be persuaded to give a Republican a try? The last Republican politician to have represented the district was Craig Hosmer, who left office in 1974.

United Liberty: What motivated you to run for Congress?

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.

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

immigrants

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.

“Whither the ‘Challenge and Question Authority’ Liberals?”

That’s the title of an opinion piece I wrote for The Daily Caller which you can read in its entirety here.

A selection:

…in the market for political representation, the powerful thrive on market failure. Economics teaches us that (near-) perfect information is a prerequisite for well functioning markets. Thus, in the market for political representation, the press plays the critical role of finding and relaying information to the public it otherwise would not have, of correcting an information asymmetry. When the press cannot (or does not) do its job, or when the government will not allow it to do so, the government enjoys surplus political capital (support, votes, power) at the expense of the governed.

It is deeply troubling that reporters have succumbed so far to this paradigm of failure that an incident like Friday’s [kerfuffle between The Daily Caller’s Neil Munro and President Obama] shocked the status quo such that a veteran Washington reporter found himself castigated openly by his colleagues.

I hope you’ll read the rest, and share with your friends!

Cross-posted.

Barack Obama punts on immigration until after the election to help vulnerable Senate Democrats

Make no mistake about it. President Barack Obama’s decision to delay an executive order on immigration has nothing to do with Speaker John Boehner’s (R-OH) recent statement that immigration reform could happen next year, with a new Congress and, possibly, a Republican Senate. It has everything to do with the mid-term election and concerns of vulnerable Senate Democrats, who have urged the White House to delay action:

Abandoning his pledge to act by the end of summer, President Barack Obama has decided to delay any executive action on immigration until after the November congressional elections, White House officials said.

The move is certain to infuriate immigration advocates while offering relief to some vulnerable Democrats in tough Senate re-election contests.

Two White House officials said Obama concluded that circumventing Congress through executive actions on immigration during the campaign would politicize the issue and hurt future efforts to pass a broad overhaul.
[…]
The officials said Obama had no specific timeline to act, but that he still would take his executive steps before the end of the year.

The last two paragraphs in the excerpt above are contradictory. President Obama realizes that an executive order would make it difficult to pass immigration reform in his remaining two years. But he still plans to do something before the end of the year, anyway. That doesn’t make any sense.

Harry Reid is why Congress can’t get anything done: Senate leader says House border bill is a vehicle to pass immigration reform

There are 358 House-passed bills collecting dust in the Senate because Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) won’t bring them up for a vote in the upper chamber. Of course, when the two houses of Congress are controlled by competing parties, there’s naturally going to be disagreement on issues facing the country and subsequent legislative gridlock.

But even when there is agreement on an issue, someone tries to take advantage of the situation, only further complicating the legislative process. That’s what Reid did yesterday when he suggested that the House border bill could be used as a vehicle to pass Senate’s immigration reform package:

Reid said the policy changes would give him an opportunity to attach the comprehensive immigration reform bill that the Senate passed last year with the support of 14 Republicans.

“If they pass that, maybe it’s an opening for us to have a conference on our comprehensive immigration reform. If they’re finally sending us something on immigration, maybe we can do that,” Reid told reporters after a lunch meeting with his caucus.

“We’ve been looking for something to do a conference on. Maybe we can do it with that,” Reid said.

Here we go again: King Obama will bypass Congress on immigration

President Barack Obama is going at it alone yet again on immigration, announcing yesterday that he plans to sidestep Congress to send more federal agents to the U.S.-Mexico border after Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) told him that immigration reform was dead for the year.

The White House asked congressional leaders for $2 billion and new powers to deal with the influx of tens of thousands of unaccompanied children at the United States’ Southwest border, a crisis that Boehner and Republicans say President Obama created.

“I believe Speaker Boehner when he says he wants to pass an immigration bill. I think he genuinely wants to get something done,” President Obama told reporters on Monday at the White House. “But last week, he informed me that Republicans will continue to block a vote on immigration reform at least for the remainder of this year.

“Some in the House Republican Caucus are using the situation with unaccompanied children as their newest excuse to do nothing,” he said. “Now, I want everybody to think about that. Their argument seems to be that because the system is broken, we shouldn’t make an effort to fix it. It makes no sense. It’s not on the level. It’s just politics, plain and simple.”

The stupid things Democrats say: Earwax-eating Congressman says “we’ve proved communism works”

Joe Garcia

Remember, Rep. Joe Garcia (D-FL)? He’s the guy who was recently caught eating his own earwax during a House Judiciary Committee hearing, not realizing that CSPAN cameras caught him in the act.

Garcia’s earwax addiction has had some sort of psychotic effect, apparently. Not long after the Florida Democrat hosted a Google Hangout on the topic of immigration reform, in which he said that the law enforcement presence on the U.S.-Mexican boarder is proof that “communism works.”

“[I]n America, we are doing a huge disservice to ourselves by not understanding how powerful of a driver in the economy an immigration system that works can be — and continues to be — and by not having an immigration system that works,” said Garcia. “Let me give you an example, the kind of money we’ve poured in: So the most dangerous — sorry, the safest city in America is El Paso, Texas.”

“It happens to be across the border from the most dangerous city in the Americas, which is Juarez. And two of the safest cities in America, two of them are on the border with Mexico,” the earwax-eating Democrat said. “And, of course, the reason is we’ve proved that communism works. If you give everybody a good, government job, there’s no crime.


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