Are the Anti-Immigration Restrictionists Ready to Support That Dreaded Amnesty?


Originally posted on Huffington Post

Has Hell frozen over?

Why else would the anti-immigration fringe be toying with the heretical notion of “considering” some form of “amnesty” in a future immigration reform package?

In a piece published recently in the National Review, Mark Krikorian, Executive Director of the Center for Immigration Studies, a restrictionist group, wrote:

I’ve long thought that, once real enforcement measures are in place (and functioning, and funded, and survived the ACLU’s legal jihad against any and all enforcement tools), after a few years of shrinkage in the illegal population, considering amnesty for some of those remaining might well be prudent.

The gratuitous slap at the ACLU aside, is Krikorian conceding that some policy other than mass deportation and a virtual end to all immigration might be palatable to the restrictionist fringe?


His comments merely reflect a more nuanced restrictionist rhetoric. This, of course, is not surprising in light of the thrashing that Mitt Romney took in the general election after aligning himself with the anti-immigration extremists and championing their heartless and self-destructive idea of “self-deportation”–a Krikorian favorite.

By suggesting that some form of “amnesty” may be “prudent” for “those that remain here” after years of “real enforcement” Krikorian might just as well have proposed to first deport as many hardworking fathers, mothers, promising youth and children as possible. Then, and only after all the box cars have departed, is he willing to think about treating those few that remain more humanely.

Of course the price he exacts for his newfound benevolence is that America cut off virtually all future immigration, effectively nailing a “Closed For Business” sign on the forehead of Statue of Liberty. He writes:

But the trade-off would not be the conventional one imagined by “comprehensive immigration reform” (amnesty and even more immigration in exchange for insincere enforcement pledges) but rather amnesty in exchange for deep, permanent cuts in future legal immigration.

To concoct this “trade-off,” Krikorian conveniently ignores the facts — like the fact that deportations are at historically high levels and illegal border crossings have been reduced to numbers not seen since the 1970s.

It’s still the same old extremist tune — just more cleverly played.

Why the ruse? Since President Obama was reelected, the national immigration debate has turned sharply away from the positions espoused by Krikorian and his allies. Latino voters rejected Mitt Romney by an astounding 70-plus percent. If Republicans have any hope of attracting them in future elections, they will have to reach out to Latinos on issues that matter to their community. Comprehensive immigration reform is one of them. Like it or not, Republicans are going to have to talk seriously about immigration policy, not just parrot hateful, racially charged nativist talking points.

Krikorian is desperately seeking to be heard in an immigration debate to which he has nothing positive to contribute. His mean-spirited agenda is antithetical to a meaningful national dialogue on immigration. A discussion that will, hopefully, involve bipartisan consideration of serious immigration policy proposals, including visas for highly skilled foreign workers, a well-designated temporary worker program, restoration of due process, and a pathway to earned citizenship for the 12 million undocumented immigrants living in the shadows.

Krikorian’s new message shows that he sees the writing on the wall. His immigration agenda — mass deportation and a virtual halt to all immigration — is not only terrible politics, it’s terrible for America. So, it’s no surprise that as the nation turns to the hard work of fixing its badly broken immigration system, people like Mark Krikorian find themselves stuck in their dark corner groping to find a way to be taken seriously.

The restrictionists should buy winter coats. It’s cold where they’re headed.

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About David Leopold
Past President American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), In-the-Trenches practicing immigration Attorney, Blogger, Activist, Photographer, Educator, World Traveler. All opinions are my own.

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