Immigration reform polls and the amnesty lie

Immigration reform polls and the amnesty lie

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President Obama: A man with a plan
President Obama: A man with an amnesty plan

WASHINGTON, November 24, 2014 — A consistent tactic to change the dynamic in Congress on immigration reform is to frame amnesty as a mainstream point of view.

When interviewed on immigration reform, politicians, racial identity activists and open border advocacy groups rely on the passivity of interviewers to propose the laziest, most vacuous arguments for Obama’s actions and immigration reform, which include the idea that the American public wants amnesty.

To support that idea they use un-vetted opinion surveys purporting to show that a plurality of poll respondents favor a “path to citizenship.” Mara Liasson of NPR’s “Morning Edition” claimed on November 21 that “most Americans support the substance of what the President plans to do, but there is less support for the way he did it.”

Later that day Liasson referred to a poll that she claimed indicated that 67 percent of the public supports a path to citizenship for individuals in this country illegally. On neither occasion did she cite the poll she referred to.

Warren Olney, host of “To The Point,” had the pluck to ask Kamal Essaheb of the National Immigration Law Center specifically which poll he was referring to. The guest, an open borders advocate, was at a loss and unable to cite the poll. Essaheb, a native of Morocco, is also a beneficiary of Obama’s DACA executive order. If the substance of his amateurish insights are any indication, the U.S. would not suffer a brain drain if Essaheb were repatriated to Morocco.

Why frame the argument around opinion polls? It is to attempt to capture the herd mentality effect. People don’t want to feel that their opinions are outside the mainstream. If people believe that most Americans share the same attitude on some question, they want to join the majority, no matter how devoid of common sense or ethics it might be.

So what do the polls actually say? Representative of the mainstream of surveyed opinion, a Rasmussen Reports national survey finds that:

62 percent of Likely U.S. Voters oppose the president granting amnesty to millions of illegal immigrants without the approval of Congress. Just 26 percent are in favor of Obama’s plan, while 12 percent are undecided.

Only 24 percent think the president has the legal authority to grant amnesty to illegal immigrants without the approval of Congress. Fifty-seven percent believe the president’s actions are illegal; 18 percent are undecided.

Fifty-five percent of voters think Congress should challenge that action in court. Thirty percent disagree, while 14 percent are undecided.

NBC/WSJ found that only 38 percent of the public are happy with the president’s planned immigration order, while a full 48 percent disapprove; 11 percent of Republicans approve of the move and 37 percent of self-described independents agree. Only 63 percent of Democrats in that survey expressed support for an executive order.

The poll also found that immigration reform via executive order is not widely popular with even Hispanic voters. Just 43 percent of Hispanics polled support an executive action creating legal status for millions of illegal immigrants while 37 percent disapprove.

Apart from the issue of whether the president can issue a non-deportation order, Americans are consistently against it. However, some surveys conducted by the polling arms of the corporate media have produced results that suggest Americans favor a path to citizenship for illegals.

There are a couple of problems here. One is that a large segment of the news consuming public clearly understand the implications of amnesty, but have a vague or false notion of what the euphemism “path to citizenship” means.

The term is often ill defined. A path to citizenship could very well mean to the respondent that illegal immigrants return to their native country and begin the citizenship process there — in other words, gets in line behind those who have engaged in the process legally.

Another issue is the wording of poll questions. Consider this one: “Would you support a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, if they are required to submit to a background check, pay a fine, learn English, get in the back of the line and pay any back taxes they owe?”

The question is fashioned this way based on focus group testing that shows that certain phrases and propositions frame the matter in more favorable ways than others. “Amnesty” is avoided because it is blunt and cuts to the heart of the issue.

“Amnesty” puts the awarding of legal status to people who have violated immigration law in very blunt psychological and political terms. People resent having to be subject to the law, while others for political purposes are excused from consequences.

On the other hand, penalizing law breakers by requiring them to “get right with the law” has an appealing ring to it. But the practical aspect of this pulls the rug out from under such sophistry. Based on past experiences with such pretexts for excusing transgression of immigration law, there are at least 4 out of 5 things that will never happen in the pathway to citizenship scenario outlined by Senate Republicans, Democrats and the White House.

The minute a Comprehensive Immigration Reform bill passed Congress, the requirement for learning English, paying a fine, getting to the back of the line and paying back taxes would be administratively nullified. Why? For one, the vast majority of illegal aliens would not owe a penny in back taxes due to the income bracket and the filing status they would fall under.

In fact, what would actually happen would be that they would immediately be eligible for the Earned Income Tax Credit and the Child Tax Credit, and the IRS would be obligated to pay them a refund. Underlining this, the Treasury Department’s Inspector General determined that $4.2 billion was paid in 2010, up from less than $1 billion in 2005.

The requirement to learn English would be revisited in Congress or administratively as an unreasonable burden to the immigrant and a violation of the virtues of multi-culturalism and be discarded.

Fines would also be rejected as inequitable and injurious, as would the purely symbolic concept of “going to the back of the line.” As the Obama Administration has a dismal record of deporting rapists, murderers, drunk drivers, identity frauds and other felons, it’s fair to wonder how vigorous the background check system would be, especially when the system for processing legal immigrants is so overburdened.

The most important rebuttal to the fraudulent appeal to majority opinion is the election that just took place earlier this month. Senate and House candidates who rejected amnesty and pledged to secure the borders won their races.

People who actually went to the trouble of casting a ballot repudiated the “path to citizenship” fairy tale. Voting is the most accurate measure of the temperature of American opinion, not ginned up politically positioned media push polls.

We are a constitutional republic, not a democracy; opinion polls are not the final arbiter of policy.

Congress makes laws — and the electorate informs them in doing so — not special interest groups like La Raza, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and Silicon Valley. And certainly not the President, unilaterally bypassing Congress when it doesn’t deliver what he wants.

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