Legislative Update: 10/6/2015
50 Years of Fundamentally Transforming America
The Act that Remade the Nation
Saturday marked the fiftieth anniversary of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) of 1965, the act which laid the foundation of our immigration system. (P.L. 89-236) Although Congress has subsequently passed other immigration legislation adding further visa categories and attempting to deter unauthorized immigration, the 1965 Act remains the core of our system. (See e.g., the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986; the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1990; the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigration Responsibility Act of 1996)
The 1965 Act made two important changes to the nation’s immigration system. First, it abolished the system of national origin quotas designed to keep the proportion of immigrants from various places approximately equal to the ratios already living in the United States that had been in place since 1924. (P.L. 89-236; see e.g. U.S. News and World Report, Oct. 11, 1965) Second, the 1965 Act introduced chain migration, by giving highest preference and no numerical restrictions to the “immediate relatives” of United States citizens (including recently naturalized immigrants). (P.L. 89-236) “Immediate relatives” was defined as parents (of American citizens 21 years or older), children, and spouses of American citizens. (Id.) While other immigration categories were still subject to limits, immigrants who would come under the family reunification provisions were not subject to these numerical restrictions. (Id.) As a result, the 1965 Act created an endless flow of immigrants admitted to the country based on family relationship rather than skills and ability to contribute to the American economy. (See USCIS.gov for current family petition policies)
The Reassurances of the 1965 Act’s Proponents
Though the INA’s effect on the fabric of American life turned out to be far reaching and profound, an examination of the statements of supporters of the 1965 Act shows that they marketed the bill as a matter of moral aspiration rather than of practical consequence. A selection of their statements at the time shows that the bill’s supporters claimed that it would not result in a significant increase in immigration nor change the demographics of the country. For instance:
In his opening remarks, the bill’s chief supporter Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-MA) said:
What the bill will not do: First, our cities will not be flooded with a million immigrants annually. Under the proposed bill, the present level of immigration remains substantially the same… Secondly, the ethnic mix of this country will not be upset… Contrary to the charges in some quarters, S. 500 will not inundate America with immigrants from any one country or area, or the most populated and economically deprived nations of Africa and Asia. In the final analysis, the ethnic pattern of immigration under the proposed measure is not expected to change as sharply as the critics seem to think. Thirdly, the bill will not permit the entry of subversive persons, criminals, illiterates, or those with contagious disease or serious mental illness. As I noted a moment ago, no immigrant visa will be issued to a person who is likely to become a public charge … the charges I have mentioned are highly emotional, irrational, and with little foundation in fact. They are out of line with the obligations of responsible citizenship. (See, The Social Contract, Spring 1999)
Similarly, Sen. Philip Hart (D-MI), who sponsored the bill in the upper chamber, called the “notion” that the existing population of the U.S. would be “swallowed up” false. (Id.) He proclaimed that “[n]one of us would want that, this bill does not seek to do it and the bill could not do it.” (Id.) Likewise, Sen. Hugh Scott (R-PA) said: “I do not think it amounts to a serious increase in the number of persons admitted… I doubt this bill will be the cause of the crowding of the present Americans out of the 50 states.” (Id.)
During his signing speech, President Lyndon Johnson reiterated these claims:
This bill that we will sign today is not a revolutionary bill. It does not affect the lives of millions. It will not reshape the structure of our daily lives, or really add importantly to either our wealth or our power. Yet it is still one of the most important acts of this Congress and of this administration. For it does repair a very deep and painful flaw in the fabric of American justice. It corrects a cruel and enduring wrong in the conduct of the American Nation. (Lyndon Johnson Signing Remarks, Oct. 3, 1965)
Actual Consequences: Profound Demographic Change and Massive Immigration Increase
Fifty years later, all of the proponents’ reassurances have proven incorrect. A recent Pew Research report on the 1965 Act illustrates the depth of the changes it brought to the country. (See Pew Research Center Report, Sept. 28, 2015) Since the passage of the 1965 Act, 59 million immigrants have come to the U.S., pushing the nation’s foreign born share of the population to 14%, a near record. (Id.) These immigrants and their descendants have accounted for over half the U.S.’s population growth, and are projected to account for 88% of the nation’s population growth over the next 50 years. (Id.) The number of immigrants who have come to the U.S. since 1965 is four times greater than the number that came in the previous, European wave, in the late 19th and early 20th century. (Id.)
Immigration since 1965 has also profoundly changed the nation’s racial and ethnic composition. (Id.) In 1965, the share of non-Hispanic whites was 84% non-Hispanic whites, and now it is 62%, and is projected to be 46% in another 50 years. (Id.) The Hispanic share of the population rose from 4% in 1965 to 18% now and is projected to be 24% in another 50 years. (Id.) The Asian share of the population rose from less than 1% in 1965, to 6% today, and is projected to rise to 14% in another 50 years. (Id.)
Political Implications of Immigration Induced Demographics
The population shifts that resulted from Sen. Kennedy’s bill and signed by President Johnson have worked out well politically for their party, the Democrats. Not only is the foreign population since 1965 very large, but, according to U.S. Census data, it is generally less educated, lower skilled, and lower income. (See FAIR’s Republicans Have an Immigration Problem, Oct. 24, 2013) The foreign born are more dependent on, and therefore approve more highly of, government welfare programs. (Id.) As Democrats have been more successful in presenting themselves as supportive of these programs for those with lower incomes, they tend to attract the support of those who want government welfare programs expanded. (Id.) Thus, it is no surprise that the Democratic party wins the great majority of the votes of immigrant-citizens admitted since the 1965 Act.
Time for a Change: Immigration Policy Based on American Interests
We have now had fifty years of immigration policy based primarily on “noble intentions” that were supposed to result in no drastic practical consequences. (See FAIR Press Release, Oct. 1, 2015) Perhaps it is not surprising that the political interests which benefit from the law now see the 1965 Act as a “sacred cow,” and would rather continue to craft immigration policy based on lofty aspirations than the interests of American citizens. (Id.; see White House Press Release, Oct. 3, 1965) For instance, just last week, during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on the fiscal and national security implications of President Obama’s Syrian refugee resettlement program, Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), brushed aside such considerations. (Senate Judiciary Hearing, Oct. 1, 2015) Taking in Syrian refugees, he said, ought to be about “our self-image, our self-worth, our view of ourselves as a nation.” (Id.)
After fifty years, it is clear that our immigration policy does not serve to benefit Americans. The 1965 Act reimagined an immigration system that had then been in place 41 years. Fifty years later, it is time again to reimagine our immigration system — installing a system that actually serves the national interest.
What Has Congress Done in the 3 Months Since Kate Steinle’s Death?
On July 1, Kate Steinle was tragically shot and killed at San Francisco’s Pier 14 by Francisco Sanchez, an illegal alien with seven convictions and five previous deportations. (FAIR Legislative Update, July 8, 2015) As details emerged, it became clear that San Francisco’s sanctuary city policies that obstruct immigration enforcement led to Ms. Steinle’s preventable death. Indeed, Sanchez was in Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) custody about to be deported a sixth time when San Francisco law enforcement stopped the removal proceedings, claiming they wanted to prosecute Sanchez on a decades old drug offense. (KTLA.com, July 6, 2015) Additionally, ICE had issued a detainer — signaling their intent to assume custody and begin removal proceedings once San Francisco finished handling the drug charge — but San Francisco law enforcement refused to comply. Instead, San Francisco officials dropped the drug charges and released Sanchez onto the streets. (FAIR Legislative Update, July 8, 2015)
Last Thursday marked the three month anniversary since Kate Steinle’s death but Congress has failed to send President Obama a bill that would put an end to these jurisdictions that defy federal immigration law. Although the House passed a bill to deny federal funds to sanctuary cities before the August recess, the Senate has failed to do the same. In the meantime, Americans continue to lose their lives at the hands of criminal illegal aliens because of sanctuary city policies. (See FAIR’s Policy Analysis on Sanctuary City Crime)
To learn more about sanctuary cities and what needs to be done to stop them, read FAIR’s policy analysis on sanctuary cities here.
Pew: Impact of Immigrants Seen as Negative on Crime, Economy
Last week, the Pew Research Center released a report showing that half of U.S. adults believe immigrants are making crime and the economy worse. (Pew Research Center Report, Sept. 28, 2015). These are among the findings of a “nationally representative, bilingual survey of 3,147 adults from the Pew Research Center’s American Trends Panel conducted online March 10 to April 6, 2015.” (Id.)
According to the new data, 50% of U.S. adults said that immigrants make American society worse when it comes to crime, while only 7% said they are making it better. (Id.)These beliefs are backed up by recent findings showing that illegal aliens commit crimes at a disproportionately high rate in relation to their share of the population. (See FAIR Legislative Update, Sept. 22, 2015) While illegal aliens make up 3.5% of the population, they account for 12% of murder sentences, 20% of kidnapping sentences, and 16% of drug trafficking sentences. (Id.)
Similarly, 50% of respondents said immigrants are hurting the American economy, significantly more than say they’re making it better (28%) or not having much effect (20%). (Pew Report) This is unsurprising, as Americans are being continuously shut out of the growing job market. In fact, from 2010-2014, 43% of employment growth went to immigrants (legal and illegal). (Center for Immigration Studies Report, June 2014).
Immigration Reform Victory in North Carolina General Assembly
True immigration reformers scored a victory last week in the General Assembly after passing the “Protect North Carolina Workers Act,” also known as House Bill (“H.B.”) 318. (Washington Times, Sept. 29, 2015) The bill strengthens North Carolina’s immigration policies by toughening the state’s E-Verify law, prohibiting “sanctuary” policies that impede the enforcement of immigration law, and cracking down on identity fraud. (H.B. 318)
Specifically, the law broadens the reach of the state’s E-Verify law to also require contractors hired by the state to verify that their employees are authorized to work in the United States using the free, web-based program. (Id.) Current state law already requires public employers and most private employers with 25 or more employees to use E-Verify. H.B. 318 adds approximately 110,500 employers to those required to verify the work authorization status of their new employees. (WRAL, Apr. 15, 2015)
H.B. 318 also takes a stand against policies instituted by localities that limit or prohibit their law enforcement from cooperating with federal immigration authorities and against policies that prohibit law enforcement from inquiring into the immigration status of individuals in custody. (Id.) These policies, which proponents argue are intended to foster “trust” with law enforcement in immigrant communities, are designed to protect criminal aliens from detection and removal from the United States commonly by restricting compliance with detainer requests, often called ICE holds. (Pew Charitable Trusts, Oct. 31, 2014; ICE Detainer Form)
Lastly, the bill restricts government officials from accepting foreign consular cards, including the matricula consular card issued by the Mexican government, as proof of identity or residence. (H.B. 318) Foreign consular cards are unreliable as they are easily forged or fraudulently obtained and are only useful to illegal aliens. All aliens legally residing in the United States have valid government issued documents and, therefore, have no need to depend on foreign consular cards for identification purposes. The matricula consular card is a particularly unsecure form of identification because the Mexican government does not authenticate the documents used to obtain the card against any database of records.
Supporters of the bill acknowledged that the bill would go a long way to protect public safety, reduce identity fraud, and discourage illegal immigration to the state by making it harder to find jobs. The bill “protects jobs, it protects taxpayer resources,” said Representative Chris Whitmire. (Washington Times, Sept. 29, 2015) “Illegal aliens cost the state of North Carolina some $1.7 billion net, after all consideration of what they produce in taxes and whatnot toward government support,” commented Representative Cleveland, sponsor of H.B. 318. (NumbersUSA, Oct. 2, 2015)
H.B. 318 is currently on Governor Pat McCrory’s desk, awaiting his signature to become law. H.B. 318 may also become law if McCrory takes no action within 10 days of receiving the bill.