Stanley Renshon's blog

The 2014 Congressional Elections and Real Immigration Reform, Pt. 1

By Stanley Renshon, March 17, 2014

The nature and timing of any House GOP-sponsored set of immigration reform measures is obviously going to be dependent on the outcome of the 2014 congressional elections. Therefore, an obvious point of departure is to consider what would happen if Republicans kept control of the House, but did not gain a majority in the Senate, and compare that to what would happen if, as seems possible, Republicans gained control of both the House and the Senate. Read more...

For Real Immigration Reform Beat the Clock, Pt. 3

By Stanley Renshon, March 15, 2014

Read Part Two

The immigration clock is ticking, but to mix metaphors, it is unclear for whom the bell tolls. Some panicked Republicans are certain that electoral demographic death awaits the party if it doesn't quickly pass something close to or resembling the vast immigration bill passed by the Senate. Liberal pundits agree: "For Republicans, it's now or never on immigration reform."

That is patently false. There exist a number of timing options for real immigration reform, though none of them are particularly favorable for the passage of a Senate-like immigration bill. Read more...

For Real Immigration Reform, Beat the Clock, Pt. 2

By Stanley Renshon, March 13, 2014

Read Part One

The immigration reform clock is ticking, but when we should set the alarm is unclear.

Republican immigration alarmists are certain that "If we don't pass immigration reform this year, we will not win the White House back in 2016, 2020, or 2024." So said John Feehery, once a top aide to former Speaker J. Dennis Hastert, in a recent New York Times article whose title reflects its perspective and most likely its purpose. Read more...

For Real Immigration Reform, Beat the Clock, Pt. 1

By Stanley Renshon, February 28, 2014

In the early days of television, quiz shows were a staple, and none was more popular or enduring than "Beat the Clock". In that show contestants were required to perform tasks within a certain time limit. Their time remaining was counted down on a large 60-second clock in front of a live audience. If they succeeded at the task within the prescribed time limit, they "beat the clock". If not, the clock beat them.

Real immigration reform also is in a race to "beat the clock", but in this case the clock is an unfolding election calendar, whose results at each stage will present a series of opportunities and dangers. Read more...

An Autopsy of the Senate Immigration Bill, Pt. 3: The Question of Limits

By Stanley Renshon, February 24, 2014

Read Part Two

Most immigration discussions totally avoid the subject of immigration limits or assume there are no limits to the number of immigrants the United States can or should take in every year.

A recent Washington Post editorial, for example, complained about what it called an "absurdly long backlog" that exists "because of annual limits that are out of sync with demand."

Well, yes, almost any limits of immigration to the United States will be out of sync with demand. Read more...

An Autopsy of the Senate Immigration Bill, Pt. 2: What Can We Learn?

By Stanley Renshon, February 19, 2014

Read Part One

The working assumption of too many members of Congress, and this was certainly true for the Gang of Eight, is that when it comes to immigration, they know what's best for the country. And if that runs counter to the real immigration enforcement and lower immigration numbers that Americans continually say they want, well, too bad. Their thinking seems to be "We'll just frame the bill in ways that make it seem to respond to their wishes, when in fact it doesn't. And we'll put in a few high-value symbolic items, like having those gaining amnesty be required to pay back taxes, even though we know those gaining amnesty won't really have to do so." Read more...

An Autopsy of the Senate Immigration Bill, Pt. 1: What Went Wrong

By Stanley Renshon, February 18, 2014

The massive immigration bill passed by the Senate has now officially been given last rites by the actions of the House Republicans. Their list of principles specifically states that "we will not go to conference with the Senate's immigration bill" and there is every reason to believe that House Republicans are united on this, if not on the specifics of immigration reform.

It has been a roller coaster trip for immigration policy this year, and it is worth thinking about what went wrong with the process. Read more...

Boehner's Choice: A Very Good Day for America and for Real Immigration Reform

By Stanley Renshon, February 14, 2014

John Boehner's announcement last week that the an immigration law change this year might be a bridge too far for his caucus to cross is very welcome news, both for the United States and for real immigration reform. Read more...

Anatomy of a Misleading Immigration Poll, Pt. 3

By Stanley Renshon, February 14, 2014

Read Pt. 2

The Public Religion Research Institute's poll on immigration reform touts its finding that a majority of Americans support a pathway to citizenship for illegal migrants. They further tout their comparative finding that more Americans support a pathway to citizenship than providing illegal migrants with legalization status without citizenship. Read more...

Anatomy of a Misleading Immigration Poll, Pt. 2

By Stanley Renshon, February 10, 2014

Read Pt. 1

The Public Religion Research Institute, which published a report on immigration that gained some national attention, presents itself as nonpartisan. Perhaps they are. However, their "fact sheet" is a misnomer, as can be easily discerned if you actually look into the survey itself.

As is often the case, the reporting of their survey across the political spectrum has been superficial and, in that respect, misleading. PRRI's immigration poll actually said more, and less, than was reported. Read more...

Anatomy of a Misleading Immigration Poll, Pt. 1

By Stanley Renshon, February 7, 2014

The president's view and that of his allies is that the real stumbling block to immigration reform is "politics," defined literally as the process by which House Republicans express their views in opposition to the Senate's massive immigration plan. Read more...

Why Allowing Illegal Migrants to Choose Their Own Legalization Status Is a Very Bad Idea

By Stanley Renshon, February 3, 2014

Over at the Cato Institute, Alex Nowrasteh has an idea that he thinks will bridge the gap between those who want to give illegal migrants a "path to citizenship" and those who are skeptical. His idea: "Several paths toward legal status should be created and the unauthorized immigrants should be allowed to choose for themselves." Read more...

Let Illegal Migrants Choose their Status? An Even Worse Idea

By Stanley Renshon, January 30, 2014

Conn Carroll's idea for reaching an immigration compromise is to let illegal migrants who are eligible for legalization choose whether they wish to be on a "pathway to citizenship" track or not. His suggestion is based on the erroneous view that those being offered legalization would first have to leave the country and then reapply. Read more...

Let Illegal Migrants Choose their Status? A Bad Idea

By Stanley Renshon, January 28, 2014

Among the most basic compromise ideas being discussed to help resolve some of the major outstanding immigration issues is the idea of offering legalization in return for real and effective enforcement. For example, immigration scholar Peter Skerry has suggested "splitting the difference on illegal immigration" by legalization for as many undocumented immigrants as possible, but citizenship for none of them. Read more...

Immigration Reform in the Public's Interest, Part 3: Legislative Principles

By Stanley Renshon, January 24, 2014

There is a tendency in immigration debates to begin with the specifics of proposed legislation. However the principles that cover the public interest purposes of any immigration reform bill, the processes by which they are debated and adapted, and the legislative principles that frame the effort are very important. They are the foundation on which the specifics of a viable immigration reform bill will have to rest.

Here in abbreviated form, to be further developed in a later CIS publication, is a proposed set of legislative principles. Read more...

Immigration Reform in the Public's Interest, Part 2: Purposes and Processes

By Stanley Renshon, January 20, 2014

It seems customary to begin any proposal for immigration reform with a framework that lays out the guiding principles for the proposed reform. The Senate bill began with such a statement that contained many laudable intentions. Regretfully, they were not well implemented in the actual bill.

For example, the principles stated that "We will ensure that this is a successful permanent reform to our immigration system that will not need to be repeated." (p.1) They didn't. Read more...

Immigration Reform in the Public's Interest, Pt. 1: A Proposal

By Stanley Renshon, January 17, 2014

In spite of the seeming lull in the effort to enact a new immigration bill because the House has not yet publically acted, there is a great deal of movement behind the scenes. Both House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.), have said "they want to overhaul the immigration system in 2014." And to further that effort, "The House Speaker, John A. Boehner, and his Republican leadership team are preparing to release their principles for an overhaul of the nation's immigration laws later this month." (What those principles are and how, exactly, they correspond to any legislation the House produces is unclear, though there have been some leaks.) Read more...

Why Conservatives Should Consider Agreeing to a Real Immigration Reform Bill, Pt. 3

By Stanley Renshon, January 9, 2014

Should House Republicans accede to the demands of immigration activists, the Democratic Party, the president, and those members of their own party who firmly believe that almost any deal is better than none, they will have done the country a great disservice.

At the same time, those who care deeply about this country, must be willing to take difficult steps to right the country's immigration impasse without allowing it to be set up for another deeply divisive immigration debate that mirrors the present one. Read more...

Why Conservatives Should Consider Agreeing to a Real Immigration Reform Bill, Pt. 2

By Stanley Renshon, January 6, 2014

"Who Are We?" was the title of an important, and in some quarters, controversial book by the late Harvard political scientist Samuel P. Huntington. Part of the answer to the title question is that this country was settled and built by those who came here from elsewhere. That iconic self-description of America as a "nation of immigrants" was and remains true ("true but only partially true," as Huntington writes). Read more...

Why Conservatives Should Consider Agreeing to a Real Immigration Reform Bill, Pt. 1

By Stanley Renshon, January 3, 2014

Conservatives are not the only ones who oppose the Senate's massive and complex immigration bill. However, they are the most vocal and generally the best-informed because this issue really matters to them. In the House, and to a slightly lesser degree in the Senate, it is conservative Republicans who oppose the Senate bill. Read more...

The Real Stumbling Blocks to Immigration Reform, Pt. 3

By Stanley Renshon, December 31, 2013

There is still a large, majority constituency in the American public for enforcing our immigration laws. And that, surprisingly, includes a large majority of Hispanics and Asians.

You read that last sentence correctly.

As a Pew Hispanic Center study notes, "When it comes to increasing enforcement of immigration laws at U.S. borders, the surveys find that two-thirds (68%) of Hispanics and 73% of Asian Americans say they approve of this proposal." (p. 18) Read more...

The Real Stumbling Blocks to Immigration Reform, Pt. 2

By Stanley Renshon, December 30, 2013

The current impasse in immigration reform can be directly tied to the refusal of "comprehensive" immigration legislation advocates to learn from past efforts like IRCA in 1986. The major lesson of that legislation was that the fact of legalization coupled with the promise of enforcement is a recipe for failure. The estimated 11.7 million illegal migrants now living and working in the United States are that failure's highly visible and divisive metric.

The United States has now been put through more than two decades of avoidable social, cultural and political strife because of that mistake. It would be disheartening and politically negligent to repeat that same mistake, this time with eyes wide open. Read more...

The Real Stumbling Blocks to Immigration Reform, Pt. 1

By Stanley Renshon, December 29, 2013

The convention wisdom of the Obama administration and its allies, which is echoed endlessly by the press, is that it is the House Republicans who are holding up a bipartisan deal on comprehensive immigration reform.

In his year-end press conference, the president said, "We can get immigration reform done. We've got a concept that has bipartisan support. Let's see if we can break through the politics on this." Read more...

The 11.7 Million-Person Question: What to Do about Illegal Aliens, Pt. 3

By Stanley Renshon, December 28, 2013

The moral underpinnings of enforcing our immigrations laws have been steadily eroding over the last decade. This has been a crucial element in bringing us to the nation's current immigration morass.

What we have now is a toxic mix of understandable public sympathy toward people who say they only want a better life and the ambivalence toward enforcement it helps to generate, crass political calculation on the part of large segments of both our major political parties, ethnic group self-interest geared to easing the way for more of their own group members – all allied against the basic and legitimate public interest of ordinary Americans and the country. Read more...

The 11.7 Million-Person Question: What to Do about Illegal Aliens? Pt. 2

By Stanley Renshon, December 23, 2013

The debate about what to do with those who have broken our immigration laws has been socially, politically, and culturally wrenching, and it has been going on for decades.

In 1997 Peter Salins wrote a well-regarded book, entitled Assimilation American Style. He worried about illegal migration's corrosive effect on American's support for large scale-legal immigration. And he noted (p.212), "almost all Americans favor stemming the tide of illegal immigration." However, he added, "Unfortunately, no one knows how to go about doing it." Read more...

The 11.7 Million-Person Question: What to Do about Illegal Aliens? Pt. 1

By Stanley Renshon, December 19, 2013

In a September 2013 report, the Pew Hispanic Center estimated that as of March 2012 there were 11.7 million illegal migrants in the United States. That number represented a slight uptick from the 11.2 million figure they had used in a June 2013 report.

There are two important basic points to be taken from the juxtaposition of these two reports, using the same methods: Read more...

Distinguishing Deserving and Less Deserving Legalization Candidates, Part 3

By Stanley Renshon, December 16, 2013

The answer to the question of what to do while enforcement procedures are implemented and before formal awards of legalization for any group take place will differ for each of three major groups: Read more...

Distinguishing Deserving and Less Deserving Legalization Candidates, Part 2

By Stanley Renshon, December 13, 2013

The question of how to implement a small grand bargain that couples legalization for some groups of illegal aliens with the introduction of serious and effective enforcement mechanisms starts with the question of which comes first.

Putting enforcement measures into place first makes sense in order to avoid past mistakes. Yet it also has the effect of helping to increase the level of support for Americans who would like immigration reform, but do not have confidence that their government has the will or ability to keep the problem of illegal migration from becoming an issue again, soon. Read more...

Distinguishing Deserving and Less Deserving Legalization Candidates

By Stanley Renshon, December 11, 2013

Deciding to go ahead with a small grand bargain in which legalization for some illegal aliens is coupled with real and effective enforcement is one part of a large three-piece puzzle.

The second part of that puzzle requires answering the question: Which, if either, of the two should come first? The three options are legalization in practice if not in final, official status first; real and effective enforcement first, or both together. Read more...

Boehner's Dilemma: Which Comes First, Legalization or Enforcement?

By Stanley Renshon, December 9, 2013

The chicken and egg conundrum of this proposed small grand bargain proposal, or any other, is: Which comes first, legalization or enforcement? In the sequence I've described the enforcement bills come first, followed by the legalization bills. Read more...