Why Rush Immigration?
In 2007, Congress killed the last big attempt at immigration reform, thanks in part to the effortless double-dealing of Sen. Barack Obama. Since then, not much has happened. This year however, we are told the world will pretty much come to an end if similar legislation is not passed before 2014.
Hmmm... what happens in 2014? Well, ObamaCare for one. Several commentators have noted that should the current Schumer immigration bill pass, employers will have a perverse financial incentive to hire newly legalized workers over other Americans.
But I wonder if that works the other way, too. If there's no amnesty and ObamaCare comes along in 2014 with its federal dragnet to catch noncompliant employers and employees, target number one would have to be illegal alien workers. They are the ones with the phony social security numbers; they are the ones dodgy employers use if they want to cut corners on benefits, not to mention wage and hour laws.
The IRS and other federal agencies have the data already to flag who might be here illegally, but they bend over backwards to ignore this, as whistleblowers documented last year. Given the massive enforcement effort inherent in Obamacare, that might not be possible in the future -- federal tax collection officials will be tripping over illegal workers as they try to enforce the mandates.
To be sure, under the current law an illegal alien employee is not mandated to buy insurance or eligible for subsidies. The problem will come when the employer is scrutinized. When the IRS asks for example about a claim for the "under 50 employee" exemption when there are 60 workers, one can hardly say, "We're good. Half of them are here illegally."
I'm already hearing anecdotally of employers cutting loose their workers with problem social security numbers, in anticipation of ObamaCare; and I would think insurance companies are also trying to steer away from inadvertently signing illegals and the liability that may entail for them. State governments in running ObamaCare exchanges will be facing the same sort of issues.
Last year Mitt Romney was laughed at for using the term "self-deportation", but as Michael Barone has pointed out, it's already happening. Declining Mexican birthrates and America's rotten Obama economy have led to illegal outflow. Double down with the bureaucratic hassle of ObamaCare, and a lot more of the 11 million may find living here in the shadows unattractive. That could be the real reason behind the immigration panic.
Most conservatives can support a limited form of amnesty if it included genuine enforcement, such as true border security. But that is not in any way the current "Gang of 8" bill. The closer we get to 2014, however, the more likely a tougher and better bill will be possible. We are already seeing the Gang having to offer more border features just to get legislation through the Senate.
Speaker Boehner, meanwhile, has said he thinks an immigration bill can be passed by the end of the year. If he can push his timetable out another six months, the Democrats and the illegal alien lobby will be that more desperate for a deal and will make enormous concessions. Who knows? Herman Cain might even get his electric fence.
Frank Friday is an attorney in Louisville, Ky.