In her recent Washington Post article (“Why should Republicans favor immigration reform?” http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/right-turn/wp/2013/04/28/why-should-republicans-favor-immigration-reform/), Jennifer Rubin claims that the majority of Republicans embrace several core beliefs about immigration. I have not met the majority of Republicans, so I cannot definitively address the truth of that particular claim. But I can address the validity of her ideas in and of themselves.
Her piece is a reflective of a mindset widely but irrationally embraced by establishment Republicans. According to their way of thinking, the Republican Party should secure its electoral future by bending far enough to the left on immigration to secure a significant percentage of the new immigrants’ votes.
I will examine each of these ideas individually. But note that two fatal flaws undermine all of them. First, based on the demographics of U.S. immigration it is foolish to assume that a meaningful portion of those who benefit from “comprehensive immigration reform” would vote Republican. Second, today’s immigrants carry ideological baggage that would make many of them questionable members of the GOP team even if they did nominally affiliate with the GOP. This is because our family based immigration scheme disproportionately attracts immigrants from the lower rungs of society in a handful of poorly developed countries with dysfunctional yet theoretically statist and politically centralized governments. Thus, they are naturally (and quite understandably) inclined to pursue all available government entitlements once they arrive in their new homeland.
From this perspective, I will now examine Rubin’s ideas below.
Belief #1: The free market needs to maximize the influx of brainy and motivated people from around the world
Reality: The most brainy and motivated people are not necessarily willing or eager to immigrate at this time. America may still be the land of opportunity, but it is not the only land with any opportunity. In China, for example, many STEM graduates are now voluntarily returning after completing studies in the West simply because they are excited about the changes occurring back home. This is despite the fact that working visas and green cards are actually relatively easy to procure for such graduates when employers wished to petition for them.
It is a well-known fact among immigration experts in the Departments of State and Homeland Security that working visas designed to fill high paying, white-collar jobs with talent supposedly unavailable in the U.S. are actually used to fill marginal, semi-skilled positions or to displace experienced American professionals with less experienced foreigners and those with lower wage expectations. Among private immigration attorneys, it is well understood that nearly every category of employment-based visa is used to hire lower paid workers than are available locally; seminars are offered (some clips are available on YouTube) explaining how to do this without technically breaking any laws.
By placing downward pressure on entry-level wages, the current employment visa scheme actually provides a disincentive for American university students to major in science and technology. The importation of workers with lower wage expectations in these fields artificially narrows the pay gap between American STEM graduates and those with liberal arts degrees. Certainly there is nothing praiseworthy in taking the easy way out, but one cannot exactly blame our college students for choosing easier courses of study when the relative benefits associated with harder courses are diminished by policies instituted by our elected representatives.
Belief #2: The GOP cannot politically or morally survive appealing only to white voters
Reality: We have actually admitted defeat both politically and morally if we make the false concession that any aspect of conservatism is somehow a narrow appeal to white voters. Such is simply not the case. In fact, in the case of our disastrous immigration system, the most severely affected victims are not whites.
Blacks, for example, are substantially overrepresented in the ranks of the unemployed this time, as are Hispanics. They will suffer disproportionately from the further injection of unskilled workers who will further glut the service sector job market. Ironically, underemployed recent Hispanic immigrants will face immediate harm from the push to legalize millions of additional Hispanic immigrants. Few will likely complain, however, as the prospect of bringing in additional members of one’s family is a constant point of concern for members of our immigrant communities, more so than immediate pecuniary gain.
Belief #3: Even imperfect border security is better than virtually no border security
Reality: This belief rests on an assumption that the border security scheme laid out under the Senate immigration proposal will be a substantial improvement over the current setup. But the proposal lets the agency define its own targets and create reports of its own success criteria. This is the same Department of Homeland Security whose leadership currently obstructs both its own special agents and local law enforcement officers from aggressively enforcing our existing immigration laws. But we are to believe they will suddenly be on the level when it comes to these new key performance indicators.
Regrettably, we simply do not have an honest broker with whom to cut this sort of deal right now.
Union representatives speaking on behalf of employees of both ICE and Border Patrol have actually spoken reasonably on these matters. Though I am generally not deferential to the views of government employees’ unions, I would feel more comfortable if those unions—speaking on behalf of their professions—had a say in defining success criteria. But the Secretary of Homeland Security has repeatedly refused to have them involved in the latest rounds of discussion on the implementation of immigration reform.
Finally, let us touch again on the concept of incentives. It was our last amnesty that provided incentives for the last two decades of unchecked illegal immigration. If you amnesty a larger number of people this time, you provide an even greater incentive to illegal entry by telling an even larger group of offenders that their illegal conduct was really no terrible offense in the public eye. This alone threatens border security by motivating more people to attempt illegal border crossings or to acquire visitor visas and overstay. As much as I will like to see a border wall completed, if we simply eliminated the incentives associated with illegal U.S. presence, we probably would not need a wall.
Belief #4: Bringing 11 million people out of the underground economy into the free market and paying income tax is a positive thing
Reality: It is much easier to evade Homeland Security than it is to evade the IRS. Whatever my other complaints about illegal immigrants, they are not immune from income taxation. Nowhere on your tax forms will you see any question squarely addressing the legality of your presence in the U.S. One of the common uses of taxpayer identification numbers is to collect from those who are unable to secure Social Security Numbers, including illegal aliens. Some commentators seem to think illegals all work in basement sweatshops for crumpled stacks of dollar bills, but the reality is more embarrassing from a security standpoint. Genuine identification is so easily obtained that illegals are often able to maintain “on the books” employment with appropriate withholding for income taxes. Some may ask, “You mean nobody at the IRS checks this?” No, they do not.
Furthermore, simply paying income taxes does not make one a net taxpayer. Most of those in the lower half of the annual earnings spectrum, untaxed or taxed, extract more value in federal and state benefits than they contribute. By amnestying millions of illegals, we will greatly increase the pool of people legally entitled to seek such benefits.
And that is not a positive thing.
Belief #5: National security is improved by getting a handle on who is here, who leaves in a timely fashion after their visas expire and who has a criminal record
Reality: We already have imperfect means available for doing much of this, but our elected and politically appointed leaders have not to leverage fully leveraged existing resources. Criminal records are generally linked to digitized fingerprints uploaded into an interstate database under the oversight of the federal government. Thus, we have fairly reliable records of those who have been arrested within the United States, even if they use attempt to change their identity to avoid detection.
Tracking legal stays and illegal overstays is another matter. We do track foreigners’ entry into the U.S. when they undergo initial inspection at airports or official border crossing stations. Because we do not have exit controls at these same ports entry, we have embarrassingly always had trouble tracking departures, making it difficult to track individuals’ stay lengths and to conduct trend analysis on the behavior of representative groups.
Prior to 9/11, I had always advocated legislation that would put immigration officers with fingerprint scanners at U.S. airports to track departures, as is done in countless other countries. However, we now have plenty of uniformed employees at our airports that could easily perform this function – the TSA. They are already responsible for checking travel documents before passengers are allowed into departure gates. No additional personnel would be needed in order to operate a standard digital fingerprint scanner and passport reader at the entry to each airport’s departure area.
I admit this is far from a perfect solution, and I would rather see this duty fall on Homeland Security where it belongs. But please take note of the broader idea implied – smarter utilization of our existing resources can yield significant improvements in security. The federal employees we already have are simply not being utilized to their full potential.
Belief #6: The status quo of non-enforcement is unacceptable.
Reality: Citation of this belief as a reason to back something like the present Senate proposal necessitates that one ignore the effects of amnestying the millions of illegals who have already gained substantially from their abuse of our existing system. We will inspire great disrespect for the rule of law by once again sending the message that our immigration laws, which can already be broken without criminal penalty, can also be broken without any administrative consequences as long as one is willing to lay low, sit quietly and wait for the next periodic amnesty.
The status quo certainly is unacceptable, but that is a reason to support enforcement first. Any proposal from the Senate or House that does not include this as a first principle is not worthy of serious consideration. Hopefully the GOP leadership will realize this before it is too late.
For those of you who missed any of last month’s articles, here’s a quick summary:
1. Applying for a U.S. Passport? Choose your own gender!
2. IMMIGRATION UPDATE: U.S. Government Now Giving Green Cards for Gay Marriage
3. After Gay Marriage: Total Gender Deconstruction
We will be striving for a little more thematic diversity in April. We will cover immigration issues again, but will also branch out into foreign affairs and security.
Thank you for taking the time to read the blog and please visit again soon.
The present gay “marriage” debate is an important one, but I am more worried about the broader, encompassing matter at hand, namely the dark forces trying to redefine social institutions essential to a free society. The family is traditionally the private institution commanding the most intense loyalty from its members, along with churches (at least in happier times). Leftist theorists are now working to drill down past the family, extending their hands into the crib to rob us of our God-given individual identities as males and females and the important roles and responsibilities which have always accompanied these identities.
Given the significant personal loyalties generated by natural, non-governmental unions of individuals, he who would seek to create a statist, socialist utopia must break the influence that the traditional family and church have traditionally held over most individual citizens. These are the bonds that those of us who are advocates of traditional marriage are really seeking to preserve. A few thousand gay men and women calling themselves married will not in and of itself remove everything recognizably American in our constitutional republic. However, thorough degradation of our traditional private social constructs, the family and the church, certainly will do so. Ultimately, it is not only a union, contract or sacrament that is at stake in this debate over the meaning of marriage. Rather, the very foundations of an entire society are at stake, because the society we know was built by millions of individuals carrying out responsibilities inherent in their traditional gender-based roles.
Thus, I strongly oppose any attempt to redefine “marriage” to include more than two people or people of the same gender. However, played out on the stage of real human interaction, it must be said that this is almost a straw man issue in one important respect: many gay men–outwardly the most vociferous activists–would never pursue the option of “marriage” as it does not match up with the lifestyles pursued by most urban, liberal American gays.
Those of us with gay friends meeting that description know this; I have never been shy about telling them so, and surprisingly few have attempted to argue differently when I put the point to them directly. The idea of having the right to be married to a same sex partner is very important to the average gay in the abstract, but the idea of conforming to something resembling the settled lifestyle of most married heterosexuals is simply not attractive to many gays. The gay male activist community was, after all, the demographic that fought against the closure of the San Francisco bathhouse scene even after the outbreak of HIV. This is not a community of individuals generally identified with sexual exclusivity, long-term unions, moderation or temperance, all of which are generally demanded of men betrothed to females in Western societies. It should surprise nobody, gay or straight, liberal or conservative, that the ugly side of one gender is so magnified and exaggerated by the absence of the shaming and civilizing influence of the other.
Separate from the equality of hetero and homosexual romantic unions, gay activists are, knowingly or not, striving for the complete deconstruction of gender identity and gender-specific roles. If you want a society that creates men who are man enough to be soldiers defending the city gates, and women who are woman enough to birth and raise such men, this should give you cause for alarm.
A particularly disturbing organization leading the perverse fight to intellectually deconstruct the very concept of gender is WPATH – the World Professional Association for Transgender Health (http://www.wpath.org). The logical extreme of their core position is that a person is whatever gender they thought they might be when they woke up this morning. To this end, they promote such measures as the use of hormone therapy to prevent the onset of puberty in youths who think they might be transgender.
It is self evident that same sex couples raising children will produce a higher number of such “questioning” youths; from where would a male raised by two lesbians acquire the learned portion of his male gender identity? Most likely, from nowhere, no matter how well-meaning the lesbian couple might be. As has been the case for thousands of years, a man is not made by anatomy and testosterone alone, but by the positive example of those men near to him who are viewed as role models worthy of emulation.
You may believe WPATH to be representative of an oddball, fringe position, but that is not the case among the left. Interestingly, the Obama Administration itself has explicitly enshrined recognition of WPATH’s guidelines in the operating regulations of both the Departments of State and Homeland Security. Now, when applying for a visa or passport, you can be whatever gender you choose, as long as you present a doctor’s note affirming that this corresponds to your “lived” identity.
Recently, I have attempted to draw attention to the fact that the Obama Administration already made green cards for same sex marriage a reality in 2012, when they changed the DHS/USCIS Adjudicator’s Field Manual to require immigration officers to treat all aliens, regardless of their anatomy, according to their self-selected gender identity. See my article here: https://johnqpatriot.wordpress.com/2013/03/15/immigration-update-u-s-government-now-giving-green-cards-for-gay-marriage/
If a gay male wants to bring in his foreign partner, the alien in the couple need only produce a doctor’s note stating he is now living as a female. The two will then effectively make an end-run around the Defense of Marriage Act by being classified as a heterosexual couple for immigration purposes.
Some gays have responded by saying this is not good enough, and that they should not be forced to adopt such a administrative charade in order to be geographically united with their partners. But I would tell them this is a logical consequence of the triumph of those–like WPATH and many in the “LGBT Community”–who are fighting to deconstruct male and female gender identities. Once that work is accomplished, the terms and “gay,” “lesbian,” and “bisexual” will become become meaningless because these terms only have meaning in the context of their relation to (and conflict with) traditional gender roles.
If the radicals like WPATH have their way, we will not be weighed down with such burdensome constraints as the traditional two gender parent team that successfully reared the vast majority of human infants for thousands of years. Even if most gays find conservative positions distasteful, they should still stand opposed to the deconstruction of gender roles if only out of enlightened self-interest.
All of us, regardless of orientation, have enjoyed the benefits that have accrued from our society’s past respect for the traditional family structure and its component gender roles. Likewise, all of us, regardless of sexual orientation, will suffer from the results of this structure’s breakdown.
During the course of the ongoing Comprehensive Immigration Reform debate, media outlets have called attention to the plight of Americans in same sex relationships who, it is claimed, have no means of petitioning for the legal immigration of their partners. See for example one recent Seattle Times article at: http://seattletimes.com/html/localnews/2020501363_lgbtimmigrationxml.html. Recently, the Obama Administration has made the inclusion of provisions for same sex immigrants part of their proposal for the complete overhaul of America’s immigration system. However, it would seem that both the official line of the Administration and the popular line of the media are substantially outdated. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has permitted the issuance of green cards to same sex spouses since 2012.
Did you miss the news? If so, this was likely because the change was neither widely publicized in popular outlets nor fully understood by commentators. This change was made by means of a policy memorandum containing updates to the Adjudicator’s Field Manual (AFM), the desk reference used by the USCIS officers who adjudicate immigration petitions. See Policy Memorandum (PM) 602-0061 here: http://www.uscis.gov/USCIS/Outreach/Feedback%20Opportunities/Interim%20Guidance%20for%20Comment/Transgender_FINAL.pdf. As noted in the memorandum, USCIS had previously conferred immigration benefits based on marriages including a transgendered spouse after receiving a medical certification verifying that the person in question had undergone sex reassignment surgery (a “sex change operation”). This would seemingly have created a significant emotional and financial barrier for anybody who might assume a new sexual identity simply to marry a U.S. citizen and immigrate — undergoing irreversible reconstructive genital surgery is a rather high price to pay.
However, the procedural guidance in PM 602-0061 eliminates the requirement for any evidence of sexual reassignment surgery, requiring only a certification from any licensed physician affirming that the subject has completed “appropriate clinical treatment” in order for immigration officers to treat the person as having assumed their desired gender. Like the Department of State’s guidance allowing U.S. passports to be issued with self-selected gender markers (see my previous article here: https://johnqpatriot.wordpress.com/2013/03/12/applying-for-a-u-s-passport-choose-your-own-gender/), this USCIS procedural change incorporates the suggestions of the World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH). This advocacy group, little known to the U.S. public, advocates such measures as providing hormone therapy to prepubescent children who are experiencing “gender dysphoria” in order to “delay the physical changes of puberty” and give them time to think about which gender they want to choose. You may reasonably assume I have exaggerated their position, but I have not. See their Standards of Care at: http://www.wpath.org/documents/SOC%20V7%2003-17-12.pdf.
Per WPATH guidelines adopted by USCIS, the physician need not have any special competency in sexual or mental health matters. According to the black letter rules of PM 602-0061, a dermatologist would technically suffice. While many U.S. physicians might shy away from providing such a memorandum to a casual walk-in client, this is not the case in many source countries for U.S. immigration. Reportedly, in many developing world affidavits of almost any type may be procured from low-paid local physicians for less than $100. Amazingly, most of these foreign physicians are not authorized to conduct the mandatory physical exams performed to assess the health of potential immigrants, yet their statements are considered credible enough to bind the U.S. Government to an applicant’s latest choice of gender identity. Local attorneys specializing in U.S. immigration law can assist less sophisticated applicants in locating a physician willing to sign the required statement. Once such a note is obtained, USCIS officers are explicitly forbidden from asking an applicant any further questions about the legitimacy of their newly chosen gender identity. The doctor’s word is to be taken as final.
Put simply, once you have decided to immigrate to the United States, your gender is whatever you want it to be.
As with all USCIS petitions for spouses and fiances, a few constraints exist. If a couple is already married, their marriage must be a “valid heterosexual marriage under the laws of the jurisdiction in which it was contracted.” In the case of fiances, the couple must identify the state in which they intend to be married so that USCIS can verify their union would be recognized as a heterosexual marriage there. However, this simply means that the self-asserted genders of the two partners must differ — they can both be members of the same anatomical sex, if state law does not explicitly forbid it. Of course, you can choose to live in a different state than the one in which you are married in the event that your home state prohibits such marriages. Thus, any person in the world can marry any U.S. citizen, regardless of gender, and settle legally in any state of the union they choose, regardless of that state’s marriage laws.
As a practical matter, a hypothetical gay American man who wishes to bring in his partner from overseas can file a immigration petition using the same basic procedures as any heterosexual. The minor difference is that he will need his foreign partner to find a local doctor who is willing to sign an affidavit verifying that he (now “she,” for immigration purposes) has assumed a female gender identity. It is not required that he then procure a birth certificate or passport in the new gender — even if his foreign birth certificate and passport indicate that he is male, he will be treated as female by USCIS based on the physician’s affidavit and the applicant’s own assertions.
The more militant among the gay activist community will likely object that this is degrading and that they should not have to pretend to be another gender in order to immigrate. I will not address the merits of that position, but USCIS apparently anticipated this objection and addressed it indirectly with this legalese footnote: “For an individual who transitioned gender subsequent to a grant of conditional permanent residence, adjudication of a Petition to Remove the Conditions on Residence does not require the validity of the marriage at the time of filing or adjudication….” In plain terms, your immigration status is not affected if you transition to a new gender after arriving in the U.S. Thus, if you were the hypothetical foreign gay man described above who assumed a new female identity in your home country, you can immigrate to the U.S., marry your partner and then experience a new transition back to a gay male identity. In the end, you would be gay, male and married to your partner and would not lose your Green Card even if the state in which you were married would have forbidden the union under the latest factual circumstances. Convoluted, perhaps, but a little ideological compromise now pays great dividends in the long run.
I hope this article has helped some of my readers understand degree to which agencies have effectively granted themselves legislative powers under the guise of routine regulatory revisions. The Obama Administration has essentially won the gay marriage immigration battle before it was fought, simply by redefining unions that would previously have been regarded as homosexual in nature as heterosexual, regardless of the birth sexes of the parties. When you can create your own facts, it matters little how the laws are written.
Please note that since PM 602-0061 only changed an agency’s regulatory operating guidance, it is not part of U.S. statutory law and the procedural guidelines discussed above would be nullified in the event that any contrary law is passed by Congress.
Hat tip for this story goes to CNSNews.com (Original story at http://cnsnews.com/news/article/state-department-will-issue-female-passports-anatomical-males). I highly recommend you read the original article to get the full story.
To sum up, the Department of State previously issued passports reflecting applicants’ “new” status as male or female after gender reassignment surgery. After a policy change in 2010, the Department updated guidance to officers adjudicating passport applications with the directive that “[s]exual reassignment surgery is no longer a prerequisite for passport issuance” in an individual’s preferred gender. (http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/ps/2010/06/142922.htm)
This may compel one to ask: Who gave State the idea that a person can choose their gender? For this, they relied on the guidance published by the World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH, http://www.wpath.org), which is recognized by the American Medical Association as being the leading authority in this field. In essence, the Department has delegated rule-making authority to a privately run, single issue advocacy organization.
And according to WPATH, what evidence should be required to demonstrate that one has assumed a new gender? A note from a physician confirming the applicant’s new gender identity.
I suspect many who come across my blog may have substantive objections to the notion that a person can select their gender. I have a broader concern. The Department, by means of an agency-level order not subjected to legislative review, has created a legal right that is relatively novel in U.S. federal policy, which is the right to be treated as being whichever gender one selects. It will be interesting to see what kind of problems this will create for Consular Officers overseas. Will the Department’s officers also be expected to protest if host countries decline to recognize the chosen genders of such citizens?
There is another interesting question on the domestic policy front. If an applicant of draft age with female anatomy has declared themselves to be a male, will they eventually be required to register with Selective Service prior to procuring federal benefits? If we are going to start placing volunteers with female anatomy into combat arms formations, it would only seem fair that those citizens who choose to be “males” bear the same theoretical risk of involuntary conscription that the rest of us able-bodied men face.
P.S.: There is also an ongoing Free Republic discussion of the CNSNews article at: http://freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/2995930/posts