Sunday, March 31, 2013

Gang of Eight Reaches Deal on Illegal Immigration

The aptly named "Gang of Eight" announced that they've reached a deal on illegal immigration---amnesty. The deal, reached without public input, is expected to be introduced this year. The amnesty bill, according to Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) will call for a "path to citizenship" but added that it will have to be "earned, it will be long" but "fair" in his opinion. Even if it isn't, no doubt that those who have no interest in participating in the program will simply ignore it just as they've ignored existing laws
The agreement, which is largely simply a verbal understanding between members of key business leaders, the AFL-CIO, and the Gang of Eight, will allegedly prevent a "third wave" of illegal aliens from crossing the border areas, and to allow US employers to hire so-called "guest workers" to fill positions where they are unable to US citizens at "competitive wages". Immigration decisions will be based on merit and not on family issues.

There has already been some grumbling on the last issue; complaints about separating families. Of course, I guess the same argument could be made about separating families when one member is arrested and sent to prison for a crime. When you break the law, be it in this country or any other, there's likely going to be an "inconvenience" within the family. Arguments to the contrary seem to ignore the seriousness of breaking the law.

Organized Labor will shortly start their propaganda campaign to try and sell the agreement to their rank and file members. However, the reality is simply that cash-strapped unions will be able to entices these new "guest workers" into the various labor organizations to order to pump up revenue through dues. As for businesses, if they were paying "competitive wages" to begin with, they would have little trouble find US citizens to fill these positions. But, business still comes out ahead with the deal since the now legal influx of workers will increase competition for the already tight job market, which, in turn, drives wages and benefits downward. There was nothing in the announcement requiring illegals immigrates who elect to participate in the program to learn English.

If this agreement does eventually become law, the likely scenario will millions of newly legal immigrates registering to Democrats. The GOP has long been seen as not anti-illegal immigrant as much as anti-Hispanic. Not, I should add, because they are (the Republican Party has been the party of choice by Cuban-Americans since the late 1950's, although that is now changing). The reason for the perception is because the Republican Party has allowed itself to be portrayed as such by the media. The same argument can be made about the GOP and other groups, who are generally conservative, such as women, Asians, and blacks.

Can the damages of decades be repaired? In the short term, I seriously doubt it. Not only does the Grand Ole Party have a serious image problem with these groups, they are seriously out of touch with the next generation of voters...the largest block since the ageing Babyboomers...on issues such as same sex marriage and pro-choice which they strongly support. Many of the Republicans in Washington are also slowly changing their position on same sex marriage because they are discovering (much to their chagrin) that their sons or daughters are gay or bi-sexual, which has caused them to re-examine their positions personally and publicly. The appearance the media is portraying, however, is one of hypocrisy. In politics, perception is often reality.

Polling too has caused many Republicans to re-examine their positions. The largest demographic base for the GOP has been white, male and largely Protestant with a strong contingent of Catholics and Orthodox Jews. Yet, that is the demographic which is declining the fastest. Meanwhile, church pews are becoming increasingly empty among fundamentalist congregations, which has been their strongest ideological base of support since Reagan's "Southern Strategy" to win the South and has long dominated the party power structure. Although church attendance across the board has been in decline for some time now, most church goers have become increasingly younger, more liberal, and yes, browner due to rise in the consolidation of churches, the declining white population, and increasing minority populations. Lastly, the winningness segment of the GOP, the centrists, has been all but purged from the party.

Personally, I expect the agreement or something very much like it, reached by the Gang of Eight will likely find its way to Obama's desk where he will sign it and thereby opening a new chapter in America's unfolding history. For the Hispanics, and indeed, the Republicans and Organized Labor, it will be Pyrrhic victory. Currently illegal immigrants will be able to work openly; free from fear of deportation (which has often been more of a minor inconvenience), will find few jobs and workers everywhere will find increased competition for the few available jobs. Wages and benefits will decline. Taxes will increase to pay for the increased demand for social services and once again, the Middle Class will shudder as it deflates.

Cash strapped Labor will see a short term boon in dues thanks to its new members. Reality will soon hit when they are unable to place these eager workers into jobs. The result will be a sudden drop in membership as workers go elsewhere amid internal fights over seniority, hours, and benefits. The newly repackaged Republican Party will find few takers willing to buying their new "we love everybody" message. Big tent. Small opening. The biggest winners, not surprisingly, will be big business. They'll get a newly untapped workforce not used to good wages and benefits with little to no history of being organized and little knowledge of the unwritten rules of life in America. Perfect fodder for the Machine.

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