Immigration

Change Stupid Immigration Laws

Matt Welch spoke with Grover Norquist about immigration reform at the FreedomFest conference in Las Vegas.

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Grover Norquist may be the most influential advocate for lower taxes over the last three decades. He has also pushed the Republican Party to embrace freer immigration, including this year's proposed overhaul of the system. In July, Editor in Chief Matt Welch spoke with Norquist about immigration reform at the FreedomFest conference in Las Vegas.

Q: You have been pushing very hard for immigration reform for about 30 years. There's a lot of conservative Republican grassroots opposition in the House of Representatives. Does the opposition have a point about the largeness and unwieldiness of the [current] bill?

A: What you're trying to reform is a big, messy collection of previous legislation. So if you're going to address the stupid things we've been doing, it's going to be a long bill. We could do it piecemeal, except there's a lot of opposition by the labor unions, the left. The reason we're in the mess we're in is that organized labor didn't like the guest worker program we had under Eisenhower. So they killed it.

They put in regulations in the '20s which were discriminatory-and deliberately meant to be. We're trying to extricate ourselves from that history and come up with a reasonable level of immigration.

We have a 55 mile-an-hour speed limit immigration policy, when the cars on the roads are built for 75 and 80. When we had the 55 mile-an-hour speed limit under Carter, we didn't run around saying: "We must enforce the law first. Before we consider changing the speed limit, we should imprison everybody who was involved in speeding." That's silly. You say: "You change the stupid law, and then you enforce it."

Q: We've heard a lot of discussion from Republican opponents to comprehensive reform-and also from gleeful Democrats-that this issue threatens to rip apart the GOP. Is that true? And why has this become such an emotional question, particularly for opponents of reform?

A: It's very interesting. First of all, this is a problem for the Democratic Party. It's the Democrats that spent the first two years of Obama's administration not doing anything. Why? Because they're paralyzed by the radical environmentalists, who don't like people at all, and by the union people, who don't want more people coming in and working.

So Obama-who killed the 2007 bill by coming in with the amendment to do away with a guest worker program-becomes president, says he's for all this stuff, doesn't lift a finger for the two years when he could've done it any day of the week. He now has to pretend to be for it. I worry that he has every intention of killing it, hoping that Republicans will get the blame.

There are a lot of people who are mad about welfare, but they scream at immigrants. They're mad about the entitlement programs. The Heritage Foundation says, "Do you know that immigrants would come in and get three times as much out of Medicare as they put in?" That's also true of babies born in the United States.

Q: You hear a lot of talk from the [Sens.] John McCain and Lindsay Grahams of the world that Republicans basically have to do this electorally, they're committing suicide if they don't sign on to something. Do you agree with that, and do you think that's an effective, persuasive argument?

A: If we don't deal with the 11 million undocumented and stop threatening to deport them, you cannot have a civil conversation with Asian Americans and Hispanic Americans and Subcontinent Americans, because all of the ones that vote and are citizens have a relative, a friend, a neighbor who has been threatened with deportation.

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  1. So if you’re going to address the stupid things we’ve been doing, it’s going to be a long bill.

    That long bill is going to be layered with bullshit upon bullshit. Comprehensive is another word for bigger government.

    1. Yeah, I disagree with Grover on this. Immigration is really a group of semi-related problems that should be addressed in separate bills.

      Comprehensive bills are a recipe for mayhem and pork.

      1. Reads like you’ve never thought much about amending a long & complicated piece of code, nor about putting together a winning political coalition. Grover Norquist is past master at the latter.

        I’ve seen the result when people make a facile analysis of a bill that amends a long & complicated bit of code. They looked at the bill itself and thought that it diminished freedom, while if they’d looked at it in the context of what it was amending in the FFDCA, they’d’ve realized it increased freedom. No pork involved, either.

  2. This will be another bill that we have to pass so we can see what’s in it.

    1. It doesn’t take a long bill to repeal a bunch of bad laws. Each repealed law takes up one sentence.

      Its trying to amend bad laws and hoping the amendments won’t also have adverse consequences that result in a long, messy, problematic bill.

      1. It doesn’t take a long bill to achieve a simple repealer like that, but what it does take is a helluva lot more votes than you’ve got. So how you gonna make use of the votes you can get? The way to do it is to hack & cobble, piecewise. Sorry if it’s not inspiring, but that’s the way to make progress when you have limited tools.

  3. “”””If we don’t deal with the 11 million undocumented and stop threatening to deport them, you cannot have a civil conversation with Asian Americans and Hispanic Americans and Subcontinent Americans, because all of the ones that vote and are citizens have a relative, a friend, a neighbor who has been threatened with deportation.””

    But don’t they also have an relative or enemy, etc back in the home country who they are trying to get away from and don’t want them to come to the USA? After all they didn’t leave the old country because they liked it. Or for that matter maybe they don’t like their illegal relatives or neighbors in the USA and want them kicked out of the country.

    Its all how you package it. Want your illegal alien mother in law out of the country, vote for immigration restriction

  4. That’s either a terrible picture or Matt has let himself go.

  5. We have a 55 mile-an-hour speed limit immigration policy

    I think it’s more like 1 mile an hour.

  6. We have a 55 mile-an-hour speed limit immigration policy, when the cars on the roads are built for 75 and 80. When we had the 55 mile-an-hour speed limit under Carter, we didn’t run around saying: “We must enforce the law first. Before we consider changing the speed limit, we should imprison everybody who was involved in speeding.” That’s silly. You say: “You change the stupid law, and then you enforce it.”

    But Grover, immigration is different because of Speedy Gonzalez and because nobody understands what Sof?a Vergara says and shit.

    1. But they don’t want to change it, they want to get rid of it but don’t want to say that.

      1. You’re psychic? Cool!

  7. What I find idiotic about the whole thing is that the Republicans haven’t/won’t change the law that prevents Social Security from sharing the fraudulent use of Social Security accounts by illegals and reporting to ICE or whatever DHS branch actually is supposed to enforce immigration. The sad and sorry fact is that SS and Medicare would be a hell of a lot more underwater if these earnings weren’t reported. Do they have a fiscal plan for when all those illegals are deported, not just the one’s that are unemployed? Didn’t think so.

  8. I don’t trust Grover Norquist on this. He’s a corporate Republican, not a regular guy Republican.

    1. Regular guy Republican = xenophobic moron

  9. I remember listening to Milton Freidman say that immigration labor is good for this country because it is cheap and doesn’t tax the welfare roles.

    Isn’t that the problem now? When the workers come here and are able to get on welfare they lose their incentive to work. If we are paying welfare to immigrants are we not subsidizing the cleaning of wealthy peoples homes. What if we allowed people to come to our county, but maintain a period of time that they wouldn’t get any government handouts. The baby thing doesn’t hold water. The children of citizens are under the care of their parents who are working and their taxes cover the babies. There should be no entitlement programs for anyone. SS was supposed to come from the funds people were forced to put in while working. That isn’t entitlement.

  10. it’s going to be a long bill. We could do it piecemeal, except there’s a lot of opposition

  11. discussion from Republican opponents to comprehensive

  12. immigration reform for about 30 years. There’s a lot of conservative

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