Mike Kueber's Blog

August 24, 2015

What to do with eleven million illegal immigrants

Donald Trump’s strong stance against illegal immigration continues to dominate the contest for the GOP presidential nomination.  Because Trump is the dominant front runner, some of his opponents have been taking potshots at him, but even more forcefully, the media went after him this past weekend.

The principal anti-Trump argument on the Sunday TV shows didn’t concern his bold argument against birthright citizenship, but rather the media asserted that it was not financially and logistically possible to remove eleven million illegal immigrants.  According to cited studies, it would cost hundreds of billions of dollars and take years.

When confronted with these numbers, Trump gave a fuzzy answer that this challenge could be met through his excellent “management.”  Although that answer generally quieted his questioners, I suggest that there is a better answer, which was developed by a man much smarter than Trump – i.e., Mitt Romney.

In 2012, Romney concluded that millions of illegal immigrants would “self-deport” (a) if an effective e-verify system prevented them from securing employing in America and (b) if an improved detection and apprehension process made living in America less safe and secure (no sanctuaries).  At some point, America’s laws could also be tweaked to deny birthright citizenship and educational benefits to illegal immigrants.

I realize these measures are draconian, but if America wants to end illegal immigration, then the magnets that attract illegal immigrants must be eliminated.  Of course, millions of America don’t think that illegal immigration is a big problem, and they will be willing to leave things pretty much as they are.

Elections matter.  I will be surprised if the GOP selects a nominee who is soft on illegal immigration (Bush, Rubio, Walker), but I will also be surprised if the GOP nominee who is hard on illegal immigration (Trump, Cruz, Carson) is able to win a general election.  I think I’m shifting my support from one Cuban (Rubio) to another (Cruz).

November 21, 2014

President Obama unilaterally addresses America’s immigration mess

Last night, President Obama spoke to the American people about an Executive Action that he was taking to deal with America’s immigration mess. Conservatives are apoplectic because the president is taking actions that the American Congress has refused to take – i.e., he is legalizing (a) almost four million illegal immigrants who are parents of American citizens and (b) several hundred thousand more who came here as children.

The Department of Homeland Security has issued a legal memorandum – “The Department of Homeland Security’s Authority to Prioritize Removal of Certain Aliens Unlawfully Present in the United States and to Defer Removal of Others” – explaining why the president’s action is not an illegal abrogation of congressional powers.  Essentially, it says that temporarily deferring action for some illegal immigrants is a reasonable use of executive discretion. Interestingly, the memo makes a distinction between deferring action against the illegal-immigrant parents of children born in America (sometimes called anchor babies) and the parents of DREAMERS (illegal-immigrant children who were previously granted deferred action under DACA by President Obama):

  • The decision to grant deferred action to DACA parents thus seems to depend critically on the earlier decision to make deferred action available to their children. But we are aware of no precedent for using deferred action in this way, to respond to humanitarian needs rooted in earlier exercises of deferred action.”  [Wouldn’t it be ironic if DREAMERS, who were granted deferred action because, as minors, they weren’t personally culpable for their illegal entry, could serve as an anchor for their parents, who were in fact culpable for their illegal entry?] 

My initial inclination is to join the partisan outrage against this unilateral action by our newest Imperial President, but I must admit that ever since I ran for Congress in 2010, I have supported immigration reform that would include legalization of illegal immigrants who have lived in America for 5-10 years. Although these people initially came to America illegally, legalization is fair because our country has allowed them to establish roots. President Obama’s action did not go as far I would if I were emperor for a day.

But neither is President Obama emperor. He may be empowered as the chief executive to prioritize his efforts against illegal immigration, but in my opinion he isn’t empowered to legalize (work permits, etc.) illegal immigrants.

Ed Gillespie, who almost pulled off the senatorial upset of 2014, issued an op-ed piece today in the NY Times suggesting that the new GOP Congress needs to not just repeal ObamaCare, but also needs to pass an ObamaCare alternative.  I suggest they should do the same with respect to immigration. And if President Obama vetoes it, the 2016 election can be a referendum.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful to see more policy arguments and less obstruction and dysfunction?

April 20, 2014

Dan Patrick’s invasion

Filed under: Culture,Issues,Law/justice,People,Politics — Mike Kueber @ 5:29 pm
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Lite-guv candidate Dan Patrick has been criticized extensively in the media for comparing illegal immigration in America to an invasion. Before discussing the merits of that criticism, it might be helpful to ascertain the meaning on the term.

According to one of the most definitive dictionaries in America, Merriam-Webster, there are three alternatives:

  1. to enter (a place, such as a foreign country) in order to take control by military force
  2. to enter (a place) in large numbers
  3. to enter or be in (a place where you are not wanted)

How can anyone argue that definitions 2 and 3 aren’t perfectly fitting? There are an estimated 1.65 million illegal immigrants in Texas and 11-12 million illegal immigrants in America. Those are large numbers. And, despite the sentiments of liberal and conservative scofflaws, these people are living in the shadows because they are living here illegally, so it’s hard to argue that they are wanted.

Case closed.


March 20, 2014

Castro and Patrick to debate immigration

Filed under: Media — Mike Kueber @ 4:26 am

According to the Huffington Post headline, San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro has agreed to have an “immigration debate” with Republican Lt. Governor candidate Dan Patrick.  The article quotes Castro as calling Patrick the “most anti-immigrant Republican running for statewide office.”

Only those who read deep into the article will learn that Castro and Patrick will not be debating immigration policy, but rather will be focused on America’s problem with illegal immigration.  Because of its liberal bias, the media stubbornly insists on misrepresenting this issue.  Their characterization would be analogous to charging Republicans as being hostile to drinking just because they want better enforcement of the drunk-driving laws.

The best way to respond to this bias is to correct it.  Every time someone mentions immigration, they should be asked whether they are referring to legal immigration or illegal immigration.

April 12, 2013

Deadline for illegal immigration

Filed under: Issues,Law/justice,Politics — Mike Kueber @ 5:24 pm
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A couple of months ago, I blogged about the Path to Citizenship negotiations and noted the paucity of information relating to a deadline for illegal immigration.  The status of that situation changed 180% today – i.e., instead of no information, we are presented a fait accompli.  So much for transparency.

According to an article in the NY Times, the Gang of Eight have agreed on a January 1, 2011 deadline.  Illegal immigrants who came to the United States after the deadline will not be given a path to citizenship.  This is apparently a compromise between the Democrats in the Gang, who preferred January 1, 2013, and Marco Rubio, who preferred an unspecified earlier date, although the Times article suggests that the compromise was a victory for Rubio.    

When I first started writing on this subject, I suggested an earlier date, too, but the political landscape was changed by the presidential election, and the proposed deadline now seems reasonable.

April 4, 2013

Is the cost of applying for naturalization too onerous?

Filed under: Law/justice — Mike Kueber @ 6:53 pm
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Chicago’s mayor Rahm Emanuel and Illinois congressman Luis Gutierrez penned an op-ed piece in the NY Times today charging that the fee charged for a citizenship application is too onerous.  How much is the fee?  $680. 

Yes, $680 is a lot of money, and Emanuel and Gutierrez persuasively point out that:   

  • At $680, an employee earning the federal minimum wage would have to work for more than two months to pay for an application for himself or herself, a spouse and two children.”

But there are two flaws to their argument:

  1. The amount is consistent with the offer of Path to Citizenship proponents to assess a significant penalty on individuals in return for overlooking/forgiving their illegal conduct. 
  2. We have all read the news stories about illegal immigrants paying thousands of dollars to “coyotes” to secure passage into America.  If impoverished individuals can come up with thousands of dollars while living in Mexico or Central America, they should be able to accumulate $680 while in America for the privilege of becoming a citizen.    

Instead of a $680 flat fee, Emanuel and Gutierrez recommend “a sliding scale based on household income and family size, and consider other factors like the ages of the applicants and school enrollment of minors.”  Although I’ve always been curious about penalties/fines based on ability to pay, I don’t think the Pathway is the appropriate place to try it.

March 29, 2013


Filed under: Culture — Mike Kueber @ 9:23 pm
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The latest scandal in Washington, D.C. involves a congressman from Alaska recounting how his family ranch would regularly hire about 50 or 60 “wetbacks.”  The timing of this Republican’s slur on Hispanics is especially bad because the GOP is in the early stages of trying to revise its reputation as being inhospitable to Hispanics. 

So how bad is the slur?  I vaguely recall hearing the phrase back in North Dakota in the 60s.    Although my family’s land wasn’t fertile enough for sugar beets, the Red River Valley was only a few miles to the east, and the RRV farmers grew plenty of sugar beets.  Sugar beets are a row crop, and it thrived back then only if someone manually hoed for weeds between the plants, and migrant laborers performed that job every summer.

Because there were no migrant laborers in my part of North Dakota, they weren’t discussed often, but rather only in passing.  African-Americans were even more of an abstraction, and I don’t recall them being discussed at all.  Once again, however, I seem to recall my dad using the term “nigger.”  (He also talked about a money cheat trying to “jew” you, and I didn’t even realize he was referring to the Jewish religion.  I never met a Jew until law school in Austin.)

As a kid, I was oblivious to racial issues, and never discussed the subject with my dad.  But, despite my dad’s use of the terms “wetback” and “nigger,” he always treated everyone he encountered with dignity and respect, and I am confident he would have done the same thing with Hispanics and African-Americans.  But he probably also believed in the concept of “separate, but equal” even though the Supreme Court declared in 1954 that separate wasn’t equal, at least as applied to education.

The term “wetback” has been in use since at least 1920.  And when Eisenhower took office in 1953, the NY Times was still using it in a non-pejorative way:

  • The rise in illegal border-crossing by Mexican ‘wetbacks’ to a current rate of more than 1,000,000 cases a year has been accompanied by a curious relaxation in ethical standards extending all the way from the farmer-exploiters of this contraband labor to the highest levels of the Federal Government.”

Based on Eisenhower’s concern about the negative effects of illegal immigrants, he initiated a program in June 1954 called “Operation Wetback” to crack-down on illegal immigrants in the southwest.  According to an article in The Christian Science Monitor, the program started in California and Arizona because there was less local resistance there (compared to Texas) and by the end of July 50,000 illegal immigrants had been caught and 488,000 self-deported to avoid being caught.  The program moved into Texas in mid-July and by the end of September 80,000 were in custody and 600,000-800,000 self-deported. 

So when did the term “wetback” become a slur?  Wikipedia provides an interesting paragraph regarding “wetback” as an ethnic slur:

  • Generally used as an ethnic slur, the term was originally coined and applied only to Mexicans who entered Texas by crossing the Rio Grande river, which is located at the Mexican border, presumably by swimming or wading across and getting wet in the process. The non-offensive Spanish term is ‘mojado’ which means ‘wet.’  It is often preferred by Mexican-Americans by blood or pure-blood Mexicans who have become U.S. Citizens, to be referred to as ‘Los Mojados’ which translates to ‘the wet ones’ or ‘wet people.’” 

Although I can’t find anything definitive on the subject, I suspect “wetback” became a slur when people started applying it indiscriminately to all Hispanics, not just illegal immigrants.  Then, as Americans have become more ethnically sensitive, the use of any informal descriptor for a group of people has become a symbol of bigotry.  This sensitivity is currently being applied to the term, “anchor babies,” which refers to children born in America to non-American parents.

I am a staunch opponent of political correctness, but as America works its way through the problems associated with diversity, I think it is a good idea to talk and think in ways that reflect sensitivity to the feelings of those in the minority and out of the mainstream.

January 27, 2013

Comprehensive immigration reform in the offing

Filed under: Uncategorized — Mike Kueber @ 2:56 am
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According to the NY Times, a bipartisan group of six to nine U.S. senators (including Rubio and McCain) this Friday will propose comprehensive immigration reform.  Although the proposal will address what Senator Lindsey Graham calls the magnet for illegal immigration – i.e., porous border security, lax employer enforcement, and an inadequate system for temporary workers – the crux of the proposal will be what to do with the 12 million illegal immigrants in America.  As Senator Graham says, “How do you deal with the 12 million in a firm, fair way, realizing you can’t put them all in jail and they’re not all going to self-deport?”

I have previously suggested that a path to citizenship should be provided to those illegal immigrants who have been here so long that they have put down roots.  This result would be justified as analogous to the legal concept of adverse possession, which enables a person to claim ownership of real property if the original owner fails to kick the squatter off his property for an extended period of years.  It is not a stretch to say that America is partially culpable for allowing longstanding illegal immigrants to put down roots in this country and that it would be unfair after many years now to kick them out.   

Unfortunately, the Times article provides no hint of an answer to Graham’s question, although there is some talk of “having those who entered illegally go to the back of the line behind immigrants already waiting to enter the country legally, paying fines and back-taxes, and learning English.”  It does not, however, appear that the senators are going to distinguish between illegal immigrants based on their number of years here.  Rather, I suspect there will be no reason for any self-deportation and the only risk of government deportation will be to felons.  And citizenship, as opposed to legal residency, might be reserved for DREAMERs.

Add illegal immigration to the list of failed Republican positions.

December 13, 2012

San Antonio as a liberal oasis in bone-dry Texas

Filed under: Issues,Law/justice,Politics — Mike Kueber @ 10:08 pm
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San Antonio is predominantly Hispanic.  If you infer from the city’s ethnicity that its government adheres to Democratic orthodoxy, you would be correct.  Two prime examples of that orthodoxy are:

  1. Illegal immigration.  San Antonio has become a sanctuary city.  Not only does its police department provide only tepid support of the federal immigration authorities, its city council passed a resolution last year criticizing the state of Arizona for providing energetic support of those authorities.
  2. Same-sex marriage.  The city of San Antonio, along with only a handful of cities and counties in Texas, provides employee benefits to domestic partners even though the state of Texas declines to recognize domestic partners. 

I don’t agree with either of these policies.  Even though I believe there should be a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants who have well-established lives in Texas, the San Antonio police should not shield arrested people from coming to the attention of the federal deportation people.

With respect to same-sex marriage, the San Antonio City Council in 2011 approved same-sex employee benefits on an 8-3 vote, with my local councilman Reed Williams voting in favor of it.  But reminiscent of John Kerry, who votes against something before he votes for it, Reed had earlier voted for an amendment to exclude the benefits, with the amendment losing 4-7.

These benefits, however, may not be kosher.  A Houston senator recently asked for an opinion from the Texas Attorney General regarding whether the same-sex benefits were unconstitutional – citing a 2005 constitutional amendment that defines marriage as between one man and one woman and prohibits government entities from creating or recognizing anything identical or similar to marriage.  Sounds unconstitutional to me, provided the amendment itself is constitutional.

November 9, 2012

The Republican Party and illegal immigrants

Filed under: Issues,Politics — Mike Kueber @ 6:35 am
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Charles Krauthammer, the world’s most brilliant columnist, has suggested to the Republican Party a simple way to win the next presidential election – namely, agree to provide amnesty to America’s illegal immigrants.  In his first post-election column, Krauthammer argues that Hispanics provided President Obama with his margin of victory and that Hispanics would be conservative voters if not for the Republican Party’s opposition to amnesty.  By contrast, he points out that other key Democratic constituencies, such as blacks, young people, and unmarried women, are generally big-government liberals and, therefore, cannot be pursued without compromising the Republican Party’s conservative, small-government principles. 

I agree that amnesty for illegal immigrants (the term “illegal immigrants” was endorsed just yesterday in a column by the most influential Hispanic columnist, Ruben Navarrette)  does not violate fundamental conservative principles.  Yes, conservatives are generally more in favor of strict adherence to the law and opposed to anyone benefiting from violating the law, but granting an exception under extenuating circumstances can be explained and justified.   

Not everyone thinks like Krauthammer.  Laura Ingrahm substituted for Bill O’Reilly tonight on FOX News and touched on this issue, too.  She argued that the Republican Party shouldn’t get into a bidding war with Democrats over their special-interests constituencies because the Democrats can always offer more than the Republicans can.  For an example, she said Republicans could agree to amnesty, but then the Democrats would offer more affirmative action, etc. 

Even without the Democrats outbidding Republicans, I am not as confident as Krauthammer that amnesty will prompt a massive shift in Hispanic allegiance.  There is a long history of Hispanics voting Democratic, and it will take time for them to conclude that that allegiance no longer makes sense.  But it is worth trying, and it is time to get started.

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