“Immigration Reform” and Political Parlance

The best way to win a political argument is by manipulating the rhetoric used to describe the two sides in a debate.  The Democrats and the Chuck Schumer Republicans have done a marvelous job hijacking the term “reform” and deriding those who oppose their bill to grant mass amnesty, double record immigration levels, and hamper future enforcement, as anti “immigration reform.”  They have repeated the term “immigration reform” so incessantly that they are starting to sound like the sheep in Animal Farm.  That’s why I prefer to call the bill immigration deform instead of amnesty.  It is a lot worse than amnesty; it is the antithesis of everything that is reform-minded.


When the left and the Schumer Republicans speak of immigration reform, they are referring to one aspect – and one aspect only – legalizing those already here illegally.  That is not immigration reform.  Immigration reform means changing our legal immigration system to on that identifies and prioritizes those who best benefit the broad country from a system that prioritizes those who benefit nobody (or special interests) and encumbers those who would be net contributors.  It also means implementing enforcement and protecting our national security interests first.  Granting amnesty may or may not be a component of that, depending on your viewpoint, but it certainly is not the centerpiece of immigration reform.

Earlier today, I watched our good friend Raul Labrador discuss immigration at a Heritage bloggers briefing.  He mentioned immigration reform about a dozen times, asserting that conservatives must be for immigration reform and that it’s not enough just to oppose the Senate bill.  I respectfully reject that notion out of hand.  Our first obligation is always to stop bad legislation.  Should we have said “we can’t just oppose Obamacare unless we first propose an alternative to deal with our broken healthcare system?”  “We must support healthcare reform.”

Well, certainly not.  And we certainly must not support the Schumer/Obama/La Raza proposal or anything similar that the House gang is concocting just because it is named “immigration reform” or because it is supported by 500 lobbyists.


Moreover, it is insulting to suggest that conservatives who want enforcement implemented before legalization are not “for” any reform.  In fact, unlike some other issues, such as gun control and cap and trade, this is actually an issue conservatives would embrace.  Here is what we are for:

  • Immigration reform means passing something similar to Lamar Smith’s bill, which eliminates the 55,000 junk visas from the diversity lottery and reallocates them to those who graduate from US universities with advanced degrees in STEM.
  • Immigration reform means eliminating all the magnets that have enticed people to come here illegally.  It means blocking refundable tax credits for illegals.  It means reviewing our birthright citizenship policies, which allow all illegals, holders of student visas or guest worker visas to collect benefits on behalf of their American-born children.
  • Immigration reform means not only securing the border and implementing exit-entry before legalization, but also restoring 287(g) and cracking down on sanctuary cities.
  • Immigration reform means making it cheaper for those who we want to immigrate to go through the process.
  • Immigration reform means enforcing our public charge laws when processing applications.
  • Immigration reform means to protect America first by not letting in security risks reinstating programs like the National Security Entry-Exit Registration System (NSEERS), which will help protect against such threats who come in on student or worker visas.

Protecting our borders and sovereignty is a requirement of government; reforming our legal immigration system is a necessary function of government.  They must be dealt with first.  Only after there is a parallel agreement from the left to deal with our issues can we discuss any sort of legalization.  This is the approach that should be pursued by the House Judiciary Committee.

What is being proposed now is the antithesis of immigration reform, and conservatives should not be bullied into supporting it.  Words matter.



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