Amnesty Unawakened

A Democrat’s dream to grant illegal immigrants citizenship may not happen.

Because many of the newly elected Democrats didn't campaign on granting illegal immigrants some path to citizenship (The Los Angeles Times noted: "One House Democratic strategist estimates that about half of the almost 30 seats that Democrats took from Republicans went to candidates who took conservative positions on immigration reform."):

  • North Carolina. (District 11 -- Incumbent Republican Charles Taylor vs. Democrat Heath Shuler): "Illegal immigration costs American taxpayers approximately $70 billion a year in financial assistance for welfare benefits, health care, education and domestic crime-fighting. I do not support granting amnesty to people who have broken the law." These are not the words of some hard-line Lou Dobbsian populists but of former Washington Redskins quarterback Heath Shuler. He defeated Charles Taylor.
  • Arizona. (District 8 – Republican Randy Graf vs. Democrat Gabrielle Giffords): In one of the ten districts in the country bordering Mexico, former state representative Randy Graf battled Democratic challenger Gabrielle Giffords. This race was the hottest House election where immigration was the issue. Graf publicized his campaign in one sentence during an interview with the online magazine Salon: "securing this border to stop the drugs, terrorism, the human tragedy of people dying in the desert, and the influx of three or four or five million illegal aliens a year who are just walking across the border." Graf blasted Giffords for her "weak" stance on immigration: opposing preventing voter fraud by illegal aliens and supporting in-state tuition for illegal aliens. But, this election Giffords immigration message morphed -- she countered repeatedly accusations that she was an amnesty supporter and soft on employers who hired illegal aliens. An editorial in the Los Angeles Times noted, "In her campaign commercials […] she doesn't talk about guest workers. Instead, she sounds themes right out of the Graf playbook: securing the border and denying Social Security, welfare and other benefits to illegal immigrants." Giffords is quoted saying on the campaign trail, "There's a big concern right now…that illegal immigrants are the beneficiaries of the taxpayers' dollars." When this is accounted for, how much more different could Graf become? The stances on immigration were both relatively strict: both candidates were not for amnesty; both candidates were for tough crackdowns on employers.
  • Arizona. (District 5 – Incumbent Republican J.D. Hayworth vs. Democrat Harry Mitchell): J.D. Hayworth, one of the most outspoken critics of illegal immigration in the House, felt destined enough to stop illegal immigration he wrote a book on it -- Whatever It Takes: Illegal Immigration, Border Security, and the War on Terror. He has appeared countless times on cable news talk shows lamenting how illegal immigration is ruining this country. Despite his education on this issue, Hayworth will not be returning to the House. He was defeated by a Democrat – Harry Mitchell. But not so fast to accuse Hayworth’s immigration view to be unpopular. Mitchell’s immigration viewpoint was equivalent, from his website: "Every sovereign nation has a responsibility to secure its border. In Congress, I'll make it a top priority to secure the U.S.-Mexico border and stop illegal immigration." Rush Limbaugh pointed out, "[Hayworth] ran against a Democrat who was parroting and echoing everything J.D. was saying."
  • Pennsylvania. (District 10 -- Incumbent Republican Congressman Don Sherwood vs. Democrat Chris Carney): In their first debate, Chris Carney stated illegal aliens "must be given the opportunity to pay back taxes, learn English, register, and then we can begin to talk about making them citizens. But absolutely no amnesty for these workers." Chris Carney won.
  • Pennsylvania. (District 8 -- Incumbent Republican Congressman Mike Fitzpatrick vs. Democrat Patrick Murphy): Patrick Murphy’s immigration platform was as follows: "Patrick Murphy does not believe in amnesty. He does not believe that illegal immigrants should be offered benefits that are awarded to hardworking American citizens such as health insurance or Social Security." Mike Fitzpatrick likewise supported ending the "catch and release" policy and stronger border security. However, Patrick Murphy won.
  • Colorado. (District 7 -- Republican Rick O’Donnell vs. Democrat Ed Perlmutter): Rick O’Donnell labeled himself as strict on immigration opposing a guest worker program claiming it will lead to an "unassimilated underclass." Perlmutter claimed he would “bust” border smugglers and legislate to control the border more; then he said he would support a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants who were well-behaved and were employed. Perlmutter claimed he was not in favor of "blanket amnesty" for illegal immigrants – only for those that he sees that are working hard, abiding by the law, and learning English. He did not call this amnesty. He wanted to crack down on employers who ignore the law by hiring illegal immigrants. Perlmutter, who ultimately won, also stressed how Colorado’s Democratic-controlled Legislature "made it tougher for employers to continue to hire illegal aliens" and "limited benefits to the bare bones for people who are here illegally."
  • Iowa. (District 1 -- Republican Mike Whalen vs. Democrat Bruce Braley): Mike Whalen struck a chord in the populous during a three-way Republican primary by blasting companies that hired illegal aliens. Whalen ultimately went on to lose to his Democrat challenger Bruce Braley who was just as strict. Braley campaigned on a "secure the border" message and wanted no amnesty for illegal aliens.
  • Indiana. (District 8 -- Incumbent Republican John Hostettler vs. Democrat Brad Ellsworth): In one of the most watched races in the country, John Hostettler, famous for giving PowerPoint presentations outlining the illegal immigration invasion at town meetings, was defeated for what many believe to be his immigration platform. Except for when you read Brad Ellsworth’s position: "It's also not right when an Indiana employer passes over an American for a job only because an illegal worker is cheaper. We need to tighten our borders, enforce the laws we have, and punish employers who break them. This is about economic security as much as it is national security."
  • Indiana. (District 2 -- Incumbent Republican Chris Chocola vs. Democrat Joe Donnelly): Chris Chocola was unseated against Joe Donelly. Donelly’s immigration position? "I do not support amnesty. Border security is crucial to solving the immigration problem and is a serious national security concern. I support more border agents, increased funding for surveillance and fencing that will prevent immigrants from illegally entering our country."

The future of immigration reform is summed up today in a Chicago Tribune editorial:

And a number of the new Democrats who were elected campaigned under the "enforcement first" banner.

All of this serves to reinforce what was obvious before the election: There's no clear consensus and no easy fix. There's also no time like the present. Immigration reform is one of the few issues on which President Bush and the new Congress share common ground. But there's a very short window of opportunity before the 2008 presidential election campaign again makes bipartisanship next to impossible.

Posted by Mike Tate at December 31, 2006 1:17 PM
Comment #200991

The only people who proposed to grant amnesty and citizenship to illegal immigrants in the past couple of years were President George Bush and other Republicans. It is perfectly natural for some Democratic House Members to encourage more enforcement of our laws.

Posted by: Warren P at December 31, 2006 2:39 PM
Comment #200997

Mike Tate, thank you for an informative article, and I am hopeful Democrats will not have the votes.

Criminal acts such as sneaking into our country should NEVER be rewarded. It only grows the incidence of the crime. This logical statement is irrefutable by an rationally minded individuals.

The President and Democrats have set aside sound principles on this issue while caving in to special interests that either provide party donations or party votes. In other words, political advantage and gamesmanship trumps sound governmental policy.

2008 will be another banner year for removing incumbents if they pursue this avenue.

Posted by: David R. Remer at December 31, 2006 3:24 PM
Comment #201022

Our dream, you say. Sure, whatever you say.

Personally, I’m for sensible legal immigration, merciful but not lenient dealings with those who are already here, and tightening of security less by useless, expensive physical barriers and more by better and more widespread enforcement of our laws, which has been to date one of the major failings of this administration.

Any more talking points you wish to inflict on us?

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at December 31, 2006 5:41 PM
Comment #201036


We need true immigration reform. That must start with border control. Nothing is really improving when it comes down to border control.

And (this is a BIG and) we must respect our neighbors right to survive. Are you willing to watch your neighbors south of the border starve and languish in poverty?

Hells bells, we can’t even come up with an effective foreign relation policy with our next door neighbor, what chance do we stand with the rest of the world?

We end this year in a sad state of affairs!

Posted by: KansasDem at December 31, 2006 7:46 PM
Comment #201042


Anything we do that is internal to Mexico and the Central American states that are committing illegal emmigration to the United States would only be disolved by the internal structure of those states. We can never solve poverty in those states. It must be done by the people there and their leadership.

Posted by: tomh at December 31, 2006 9:19 PM
Comment #201045

KansasDem: The way to help poor people in other countries is not by hurting your own workers. We woring Americans give aid to all those countries. If we conditioned that aid on improving the lives of their poor, the problem would not be as great. I know that the main reason that many Democrat politicians aren’t doing this to help poor starving immigrants. They are doing it because they believe that most of these people will side with them politically. But, what good will it do them if they lose the support of those families who lose their means of support to the illegals.

If ten percent of the employers of illegal immigrants were sent to prison, we would not have a problem. Any politician who is willing to let the law breakers off the hook, should share their prison cell with them. Employers don’t hire illegals because they are poor starving retches. Some misguided liberals may think they are , but they are deluding themselves.

I have been a Democrat all my life. I would not vote for a Republican for dog catcher much less anything else. If the Democrats give legal statis to these immigrants and let their employers off the hook, I won’t vote for a Democrat again. I will vote for an independent party or not at all.

Posted by: jlw at December 31, 2006 10:10 PM
Comment #201063

Stephen D., the border fence is national security in that it immensely reduces the rate of flow of unaccounted for persons entering our nation. With or without Democrats love for illegal immigrants, the Border barrier is needed for national security.

We are going to be attacked again. This time on Democrat’s Congressional watch. You want Democrats to try to justify no border barriers after our next terrorist attack? Politically foolish in the extreme. Not to mention an abdication of Constitutional responsibility to protect and defend these United States.

Posted by: David R. Remer at January 1, 2007 1:24 AM
Comment #201067

“the border fence is national security”

But there is no fence. There’s an underfunded plan and it’s a half-fast plan at that.

At best we’re now dealing with the problem like the drunken captain of a leaky ship. We’re so focused on bailing out the water we forgot to fix the leak.

At worst we’ve forgotten that this water has a soul. It loves, and hates, and feels everything we feel, so we can hardly just cast it back into the sea.

We can’t let the ship sink, but we must respect life. If I ever look upon another’s life as less valuable than mine then just pull my cork and let me sink.

Posted by: KansasDem at January 1, 2007 2:35 AM
Comment #201071

KansasDem, here is the underlying logic of your argument. If sending illegals back to their country of origin is bad thing because they won’t have it as good there as here, then, it logically follows, that the U.S. should invite all of dying Africa in where they can receive food and not starve, medical care and not die of AIDs and other diseases. For certainly those dying in Africa of starvation and illness need our resources far more desperately than the poor but able bodied of Mexico and Central America.

Of course, this argument utterly and completely ignores the national security issue while our nation is targeted by terrorists. Securing our borders against unknown intruders is job #1 for the President and Congress and voters. Waiting until after the next terrorist sponsored ebola, dirty bomb, or agricultural contamination attack is just plain irresponsible to the extreme.

Posted by: David R. Remer at January 1, 2007 10:08 AM
Comment #201075


In my opinion you do not have a focus on illegal immigration.

I live in AZ. I know personally of ranchers who have people invade their homes to get what they can get, and that is not only food. They are criminals when they cross the border illegally. They must be treated as such.

These people pay thousands of dollars to get accross the border. In Mexico thousands of US dollars is a lot of money. That tells me they are not poverty stricken but only greedy to get some more of those US dollars so they can live like kings in Mexico. Their is a whole culture and mentality of illegal immigrants to deal with and they have absolutely no concern for our rule of law. They come here and demand free services from medical and welfare organizations and get it. They make other demands on our system of government and get it. That is absolutely wrong. It needs to be corrected.

The fence. There are stretches of fence along the AZ and CA borders. They have helped deter some of the entry. The fence needs to be built all along the border and the manpower needs to doubled at the very least.

BTW—The illegal immigrants are not just Mexican. There are Middle Eastern people as well as Central and South American people. If the Mexican government could get past its internal corruption and assist in the border problem from their side, maybe, just maybe this problem could be dealt with from an honest effort.

The crime rate in AZ from “undocumented nationals” as the media calls them is very high. It is a daily occurence where “uns” are in the news for a variety of crimes including killing authorities. One border patrol officer is going to prison for 11 years for shooting a drug smuggler who is also an illegal immigrant and now is free do continue to do what he feels he has a “right” to do.

There is far too much to put on this site to continue, such as their failure to pay taxes, etc. So here is a good place to break for now.

Posted by: tomh at January 1, 2007 11:11 AM
Comment #201099

When we get ourselves into too much of a moralistic dudgeon about people breaking the law, we should remember what happened in the 1860’s. Hundreds of thousands of southerners shot at officers of the federal government. They broke the law, and they were given an amnesty. It was the right thing to do, because it let and country move on. It was also the only practical thing to do.

I think we are in a similar situation now. We can’t just boot out millions of immigrants. By giving them legal status, we can make sure that pay taxes and receive the minimum wage.

Posted by: Woody Mena at January 1, 2007 2:26 PM
Comment #201107

“By giving them legal status, we can make sure that they pay taxes and receive the minimum wage.”

Woody: I am a compasionate person. I care about a lot of people including immigrants. But, your statement is half truth and half myth.

Take a drive by a construction site these days and more likely than not, you are going to see many illegal immigrants who are making 6,7,8,10 dollars an hour. They are making more than the minnimum wage. They are not filling jobs that nobody had or nobody wanted. The illegals are replacing American workers. People who were making 16,20,25 dollars an hour. People who worked hard to get their pay raises and their benefits. These American’s worked hard to get into the middle class. Many of them are now suffering and unable to find work in their trades. Quite a few of them have lost everything.

I worked nearly all my life in the construction trades. I was more than capable in many of them. I worked with illegal immigrants, trained them and eventually lost my livelyhood to them.

Construction contractors are using the illegal immigrants to destroy everything that generations of construction workers have strived to build for themselves and their families. In my opinion, contractors that are doing this are criminals against the American workers and should spend large portions of their lives in prison.

Posted by: jlw at January 1, 2007 4:20 PM
Comment #201130

1)We cannot let our border remain undefended. Thus: We must use every tool at hand to make sure terrorists cannot enter at will.

2)We cannot just expel 11-12 million people from our country without consequences. Thus:
Some sort of legalization program is necessary.

Clearly, enforcing our borders comes first. However, we do need to give those already here some sort of path out. This is not necessarily amnesty, it is common sense. We also need to make sure that illegals have little incentive to come here. This means doing what we can to aleve poverty in South and Central America. We need to have strict penalties for those who hire illegals to deprive them of jobs. And if we deny them the social programs they view as “human rights” (welfare, SS, bilingual ed) we should cut down on the problem.

Posted by: Silima at January 1, 2007 8:33 PM
Comment #201143
A Democrat’s dream to grant illegal immigrants citizenship may not happen.

Instead of giving them citizenship they need to be shipped back to wherever they came from post haste!

If ten percent of the employers of illegal immigrants were sent to prison, we would not have a problem.

It would sure improve the situation. The only way to 100% stop employers from hiring illegals though is to make sure they know if they knowingly hire even one illegal that they will go to prison for a long time. No exceptions. Then the company looses it business license permanently.
I’d be willing to bet that after this happens 1 or 2 times no one will hire illegals.

Posted by: Ron Brown at January 1, 2007 11:37 PM
Comment #201192

Mike, we can only hope that these new dems will whip both the parties into shape on this issue. Americans do not want illegal immigrants to continue to come to this country, nor be rewarded for staying in this country after coming here illegally.
With the righties on the side of cheap labor and the lefties on the side of immigrants rights those in the middle will need to fight hard to correct this national problem.

Posted by: j2t2 at January 2, 2007 2:36 PM
Comment #201195

See we can agree on somthings.
Sacry aint it? ha!

Posted by: Ron Brown at January 2, 2007 2:57 PM
Comment #201291

This problem is simmple to fix cut all benifits to these criminals, use the guard to actully watch the we have enough , and fine employers 25,000 dollars per violation a violation nbeing one illegal working. also any politician who doesn’t work to solve this problem should be voted out period no matter the party.

Posted by: Steve at January 3, 2007 12:17 PM
Comment #201306

i believe that illegals are cool and to not accept them is a way of racism. anyone who disagrees with me is a racist… :D

Posted by: steve at January 3, 2007 1:45 PM
Comment #202218

Well Steve call me a racist.Certainly you do not work in a cotton mill like me in Lavonia Ga. Where
Medical insurance went from $40.00 a week to $98.00 a week because they don’t carry insurance and wait for the Doctors office to close go to the emergancy room because they can not be refused the service. Then never show up to pay the bills. Which runs our cost up.Personally that is all that is just about working with us besides the old hands that have been there for years. They don,t care that it is high because they don’t buy it…

Posted by: Georgia at January 9, 2007 7:41 PM
Comment #305661

I am not a racist, everyone has the right to choose where they want to live or work as long as it is legal. Those people who came here in US illegaly and overstayed must be sent beck home to their origin. This is unfair to those who went to a legal process and there are so many on a waiting list who are waiting for more than a decade now to receive their approval. But this illegal aliens got here so easily. Please be just and fair. US embassy in the Philippines must not grant a visa easily for those who uses STUDY TOUR especially those working in House of Representatives because there is somebody there using the governement access to let their staff or employees get in the US not for the main purpose of STUDY TOUR but for letting them work here and overstayed and wait for amnesty. We don’t know if they were sent here for some reasons… I can’t believe that a government office is now acting a travelling agency…

There are so many BIG Problems our economy is facing so why don’t you just put your attentions to those things than putting all your time wasted in granting amnesty to those who are illegal. If this amnesty will be granted again more and more illegals will come because it is just a repeat process. They might think that it is ok to be an illegal alien because they will wait for the next amnesty again… Boarder control, immigration security… it’s no use. If you want change you have to start now. Put an end to it. Send them back to their country and let them apply for visa to enter again in US if they really want to stay here. That way they will also feel the long process the other applicants are experiencing. This is Just and Fair. Right?

Posted by: pretty at August 12, 2010 5:58 AM
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