- - Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Smart people often make the biggest mistakes. There is no shortage of smart people in Washington, and no shortage of big mistakes. The city is a magnet for self-confident talent from all over the country, people with 4.0 GPAs and degrees from elite universities. Smart people wrote cap and trade legislation, Obamacare, and the Senate Gang of Eight’s immigration bill.

Smart people can profoundly disagree and both sides can’t be right. They are human and fallible. Self-confident people who have had their intellectual egos stroked all their lives tend to seize onto a premise without checking its foundation. Nowhere is this illogical phenomenon more apparent than when debating immigration policy.

Here are a few of the false premises used to advance the amnesty agenda:

“We must fix our broken immigration system.” Immigration laws themselves are not a broken system. The enforcement mechanism has been suspended by the open borders lobby and President Obama.

“We have to do something about the 11 million people here illegally.” This statement contains two false premises: There are more than 11 million illegal aliens in the United States. The standard number cited was 12 million when I first arrived to Congress in 2002.

As many as 4 million a year attempt to cross our southern border. Most succeed. Some fail. Some succeed and go back for another load. Some stay in America and some die. After two decades of high border crossings, 12 million does not become 11 million. If that is the actual trend, though, doing nothing actually would let the problem solve itself.

“We have to bring them out of the shadows.” Why? Illegal immigrants came here to live in the shadows. Living in the shadows was the enticement that brought them here. They have long been demonstrating in the streets and now pack congressional offices in protest for being subject to the laws of the United States of America.

“We can’t build a 2,000-mile fence.” They are not afraid of building a fence, they are afraid that if we succeed in closing the border, the next step would be effective, internal enforcement. If successful, this would solve the immigration problem in favor of the rule of law.

“We can’t deport 11 million people.” This really means they oppose the removal of all nonviolent illegal immigrants.

“Mitt Romney would be president today if he hadn’t said, ‘self deport.’ ” The 2012 election was neither about immigration nor about repealing Obamacare. The election was about jobs and the economy. There was no organized debate on immigration.

“Mitt Romney lost the largest share of the Hispanic vote by a Republican presidential candidate.” George W. Bush won 38-40 percent of the Hispanic vote in 2004. John McCain won 31 percent of the Hispanic vote in 2008 and Mr. Romney won 27 percent of the Hispanic vote in 2012.

Mr. McCain lost 8 points from his predecessor’s tally even as an open borders candidate. Mr. Romney lost only half the margin than did Mr. McCain. In a more objective world, the story would be, “Republican Romney slows free fall of Hispanic vote.”

“Those who oppose comprehensive immigration reform are anti-immigrant.” Almost everyone I know who is pro-rule of law is also pro-legal immigrant. All have been branded by the open borders lobby as anti immigrant. Democrats have spent millions labeling Republicans as racists and Republican leadership seems completely oblivious to the fact.

“Immigration is good for America and the economy.” It is historically true that immigration has been the source of a wonderful American vitality. In today’s welfare state, it is no longer true that all legal immigration is good for America.

The economist Milton Friedman argued that open borders and a welfare state cannot co-exist. When challenged by the Friedman statement, economist Art Laffer, while advocating for the free flow of labor across borders responded, “Then end the welfare state.” That is a politically impossible challenge.

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