At a recent National Press Club meeting former Republican Congressman and Tea Party Express affiliate, Dick Armey exposed his left-leaning tendencies by expressing his support for amnesty. However most Tea Party groups vehemently oppose amnesty and the costs that go hand in hand with illegal immigration.
Looking back to Armey’s time in the U.S. Congress (1985-2002) his positions on immigration almost always appeared to be much more in line with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. It was their view that low-wage labor subsidized by taxpayers would promote growth in the U.S. economy.
“Today, Mr. Armey showed that he disagrees with the majority of Republican Members of Congress who oppose amnesty and who call for enforcement that will cause illegal aliens to go home,” said Roy Beck of NumbersUSA a D.C. think tank promoting lower immigration levels.
“Who in the Republican Party was the genius who said now that we have identified the fastest-growing demographic in America, let’s go out and alienate them? This is a nation of immigrants. … There is room in America,” Armey said. Too bad Armey’s point of view on amnesty is not shared by the majority of Americans.
During the country’s worst economic recession in decades, amnesty is not on the voter’s agenda. Despite the pressure from Americans to focus on job creation, the American worker continues to get pushed aside in Washington D.C. with health care and amnesty.
Congressman Lamar Smith (R-TX) addressed the issue of American jobs being held by illegal immigrants this way; “We could cut the unemployment rate in half simply by enforcing immigration laws. Unfortunately, the Obama administration continues to ignore the eight million illegal immigrants holding jobs that rightfully belong to out-of-work citizens and legal immigrants.”
The number one issue on American’s mind is “it’s the economy stupid.” A lagging economy coupled with a withering job market hardly seems like the ideal time to dump an estimated 20 million illegal aliens into the U.S. job market.
According to Beck, Armey used his power as House Majority Leader to promote amnesties for illegal aliens. “Armey is a key reason why it took so long for the majority of Republican votes in Congress to become anti-illegal-immigration votes.”
While Armey most likely is sincere in his advocacy for smaller government and less spending, he clearly makes exceptions for immigration. Tea Party organizations see amnesty as another corporate welfare program that forces taxpayers to compete with foreign workers in order to subsidize the employers.
The beginning of the end for Armey was the arrival of Tom Tancredo (R-CO) in 1999. When Tancredo first arrived it was difficult to even call a hearing on Capitol Hill. Once Armey lost his post Republicans were able to build up a 100-member immigration caucus and turn the House Republican Conference into a coalition against illegal immigration that resulted in the defeat of the 2007 immigration reform legislation.
“Armey and his Washington-based non-profit advocacy group Freedom Works see things differently than a number of grassroots Tea Party leaders who tell me that Armey’s role has been much more tangential. They claim that the movement spread like wildfire across the country almost entirely on a shoestring budget,” Beck explains. “Armey’s aggressive attacks on anti-amnesty activists in recent weeks has many Tea Party folks puzzled about what he (Armey) is trying to do.”
“As much as some tea party leaders may appreciate some of what Armey has done for the movement, his performance at the Press Club should serve notice to most of the grassroots groups that they have to distance themselves as quickly as possible from Armey’s strong inclinations toward Chamber of Commerce open-borders politics,” Beck said.
Southern California Tax Revolt Coalition, San Diego’s largest Tea Party group made it clear at their year anniversary that they have many arguments with Tea Party Express. “They tend to be more of a co-op of the Republican Party,” Dawn Wildman co-founder of the San Diego Tea Party movement.
While NumbersUSA has no binding relationship with the Tea Party folks, they support the grassroots movement. Beck wants to make it clear that the Tea Parties cannot be held responsible for anything NumbersUSA does, or vice versa.
Crunching numbers is something NumbersUSA does well. For example the immigration organization has compiled data regarding the growth of immigrant populations.
In the last decade the U.S. has added about $1.25 million (legal and illegal) immigrants each year to local communities. Approximately 53 percent of immigrant households with children are so poor that taxpayers have to subsidize them with at least one form of welfare.
“Anybody who advocates an open door for immigration is advocating a lot of extra costs. Even setting aside welfare, immigrants have not come close to being able to pay the taxes it takes to provide the extra roads, streets, bridges, water and sewer systems, schools and hospitals to accommodate them without deteriorating the quality of infrastructure and services for the existing population,” Beck points out.
“LA County spent $50 million in January alone for food stamps and other welfare services. That’s per month. Lets calculate this… 50 x 12, $600 million, then add in the $500 million for the health care and the $350 million for public safety,” said Los Angeles County Supervisor Michael Antonovich. “This number does not even include the costs of education.”
The end result is more government, more taxes and more redistribution of incomes.
Nowhere in the country is the impact of illegal immigration felt more than California. The pressure on local and state governments has placed such a strain on funds the state of California is near bankruptcy.
“This ”so-called” comprehensive immigration reform really means amnesty for the 10-20 million illegal immigrants in America today. What part of the word “illegal” doesn’t the President understand?” said ranking member of the Reform Caucus in the United States House of Representatives, Brian Bilbray (R-CA) who represents one of those affected communities.
“If President Obama wants bipartisan solutions for our broken immigration system, then the Immigration Reform Caucus looks forward to an invitation to the White House,” he said.
Most illegal immigration groups may be waiting for a long time for an invitation to the White House. The Obama Administration has yet to invite the opposition to the White House to discuss their concerns on immigration.
Some of NumbersUSA top concerns regarding amnesty include, legalizing approximately 11 million immigrants overnight. “With mass amnesty comes the fact family in the U.S. would begin the process of requesting family members residing outside the country extending them the right to immigrate to American,” Beck explains.
The 11 million mark could triple or quadruple the immigrant population over the next 5-10 years. The vast majority of these immigrants come to American with little to no education or job skills.
“Most of the immigrants who will apply for amnesty are unskilled workers who qualify for welfare and other entitlement programs at the expense of the U.S. taxpayer,” Beck said.
While the country’s unemployment rate remains high, state and federal budgets operate in the red; it will be up to Americans to set the tone for immigration reform.
On the campaign trail, Jay LaSuer, who is running for San Diego Sheriff in a region riddled with illegal immigration problems, says the question he is asked the most; “What are you going to do about illegal immigration?”
His answer, “We’ve got to put a stop to illegal immigration.” LaSuer points to other countries immigration policies. “In China, North Korea and Iran if you cross illegally into those countries it’s straight to jail.”
While he may not be advocating jail time for each offender, stricter enforcement must be on the table if California is ever able to regain their financial footing.
Immigration reform without amnesty is the solution most American’s are looking for. According to a recent Rasmussen Poll, 67 percent of Americans think illegal immigration is a strain on the country and 58 percent feel the U.S. government lures immigrants to the country due to lax enforcement policies and the promise of entitlements.
This is hardly a recipe for success.