Magnet on! Amnesty border rush starts

Mickey Kaus Columnist
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“Where do I go for my amnesty?” One reason I got interested in the immigration issue was the similarity between the … well, let’s call it Liberal BS of the welfare reform debate and the BS of the immigration debate.  Defenders of welfare used to argue, for example, that high benefits, or promises of training rather than required work, didn’t attract people onto the dole. Obvious BS. (Even if you favored more generous welfare benefits, it didn’t make sense to deny that one consequence would be more people going on welfare.) Liberals also said nobody on welfare would move from state to state for higher benefits. Had they ever been to Wisconsin?

Similarly, advocates of immigration amnesty would now like to deny the obvious: that even talk of amnesty is a powerful magnet for more illegal border-crossing. They should go to South Texas, where the rush has already started, according to a report from WOAI in San Antonio.

The debate in Washington on immigration reform has had no political impact, but the debate is having a major impact on south Texas, 1200 WOAI news reports.

 Officials say the number of people entering the U.S. illegally is way up and, tragically, the number of undocumented immigrants who have been found dead in the unforgiving Texas Brush Country is way up, and is on path this year to beat last year’s record for the number of people found dead in the ranch country.

  Linda Vickers, who owns a ranch in Brooks County, which is Ground Zero for the immigration debate, pins the blame directly on talk of ‘amnesty’ and a ‘path to citizenship’ for people who entered the U.S. illegally.

  She recalls one man being arrested on her ranch not long ago.

  “The Border Patrol agent was loading one man up, and he told the officer in Spanish, ‘Obama’s gonna let me go’.”

  Border Patrol agents report that immigrants are crossing the border, and in some cases surrendering while asking, “Where do I go for my amnesty?”

The Daily Caller easily found corroboration of WOAI’s account in official stats.  Despite the assurance of DHS secretary Napolitano that the border’s secure and getting more so, Illegal crossings seem to have started rising in 2012. A couple of points:

–It’s not surprising to see a rise in advance of actual legislation. That happened with welfare too–you would be surprised to see caseloads rise or fall a little bit ahead of rule changes. Apparently people hear advance word and anticipate the changes.

–Nevertheless, something official did happen in 2012 Obama issued his de-facto executive DREAM Act–“deferred action” for young undocumented immigrants.  Is it crazy to think that the huge jump in children being brought across the border (8,041 in 2008 to 24,481 in 2012) had something to do with this–e.g. parents bringing in their kids so they will qualify under the next “deferred action,” or under any future DREAM-like legislation?

–Nor is it surprising to see amnesty talk act as a magnet even though immigrants who come after the end of 2011 would not technically qualify under the proposed “Gang of 8” bill. Some recent border-crossers may simply have vague or incomplete information. Others may recognize that, even if they come after 2011, it might be very easy to obtain documents that convince authorities they came before then. (After all, illegal immigrants purchase false Social Security papers all the time in order to work. Why not other fake docs?)

More generally, it’s quite rational for would be illegal border-crossers to ignore the technical restrictions of the law. They know that a principle will have been established: If you make it here, you won’t be deported. You won’t even be expected to self-deport. Miss this amnesty? So what? Wait for the next one. In the meantime, “prosecutorial discretion” or “deferred action” will protect you. And even if you are deported–well, you’re just back home where you were before.

–Weren’t these recent crossers the people the New York Times told us didn’t exist anymore? Specifically, the Times, and the Washington Examiner ‘s Michael Barone, tell us that we’ll never see anything like the surges of illegal immigration that followed the last amnesty, in 1986. Given Mexico’s declining birthrate, there’s just nobody left to come, the theory goes–and the people who do leave the countryside are going to work in Mexico’s growing economy. I doubt the current surge is yet big enough to contradict this convenient demographic deus ex machina. But it’s not a good sign. We don’t know that Mexico’s economy will keep growing, or that ours won’t boom. Plus, there is still Central America to provide a steady flow of impoverished itinerants.

–If this is the surge we get after some Washington pundits begin talking about amnesty, imagine what will happen now that Marco Rubio is continuously on every television channel, including the Home Shopping Network, confidently pitching his amnesty plan.

–Will the MSM publicize the rise of border-crossings or cover it up? I would have said the latter, but we’ve recently seen press coverage on other issues (e.g. the Gosnell trial) turn around at least a bit under pressure from a few columnists, bloggers, and uncooperative anchors like CNN’s Jake Tapper. Who knows?

Mickey Kaus