- - 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.

“Republicans will never win another national election unless we first provide a path to citizenship for the undocumented.” According to a number of polls, legalizing illegals falls to the bottom of the priority list for Hispanic voters. Americans of Hispanic roots have the same priorities as other Americans — jobs and the economy come first.

“We are a nation of immigrants.” Yes, as is every other nation state on the planet, but no other nation has suspended its sovereign right to control its borders and determine its immigration laws.

“It’s not amnesty.” Ronald Reagan was honest about the 1986 Amnesty Act. To grant amnesty is to pardon immigration lawbreakers and also reward them with the objective of their crimes — legal residence, citizenship and access to public benefits.

“We are going to pass comprehensive immigration reform and establish the rule of law.” Some of us have been working since the 1986 Amnesty Act to restore the rule of law with regard to immigration. If amnesty is passed again, we will never see immigration rule of law restored within the lifetime of this sacred republic.

We have smart Republicans who have embraced a veritable cornucopia of false premises, promulgated by Democrats whose desire is to expand their political power. Stark evidence is wrapped up in a single statement by President Obama to House Republicans: “If you are ever going to win another national election, you must pass comprehensive immigration reform. I’m trying to help you.”

I have provided a list of 13 unlucky, false premises. There are many more. No matter how smart we are, any single false premise invariably leads to false conclusions just like a bad number in one cell in a spreadsheet.

It is impossible for the brightest minds to be confined within the boundaries of so many flawed presumptions and to emerge with even their stated goals. It is especially difficult when the mesmerizing money of Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg and George Soros scrambles the thinking of those who know so much that isn’t so.

Rep. Steve King is an Iowa Republican.

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