Last September, Joe Wilson shouted “You lie” during President Obama’s speech on health care reform. While it was widely agreed that Wilson’s outburst was poorly timed and displayed a lack of respect, it was also thought by many to be an accurate assessment of the President’s statement that illegal immigrants would not be covered by the health care reform bill.
It turns out that Joe Wilson was wrong—the President was telling the truth. Illegal immigrants won’t be covered by health care reform. They will be made legal before the reforms take effect.
The Obama administration will be pursuing amnesty for illegal aliens in 2010. If enacted, there will be no illegals left to be concerned with…almost all of the 12 million will be eligible for coverage under the health care reform bill.
There are many roadblocks to passing an amnesty bill this year. Health care reform is yet to be finalized, and cap and trade is in a holding pattern. The economy has barely begun to recover, and with the national unemployment rate at 10%, there are concerns about adding over 12 million people to the job market. Terrorism has re-emerged as a huge concern.
According to James R. Edwards, Jr., coauthor of The Congressional Politics of Immigration Reform, “This (amnesty) is what we did in 1986, and that backfired horribly. That mass amnesty overwhelmed the bureaucracy, led to widespread fraud and abuse, spurred four times as much illegal immigration over the next two decades and further cost taxpayers through the public programs the newly legalized now qualified for.”
The vote on immigration/amnesty is expected early in the year, since the further into the year it is postponed, the more the 2010 elections become an issue for Democrats.
In spite of the difficulties that will be faced, it may be imperative for the administration and Democrats in Congress to forge ahead with immigration reform/amnesty. While campaigning in 2008, Obama vowed to take up immigration reform during his first year in office, which he has not done. Since then, he has said that he supports a plan to “bring people out of the shadows”, with “…a system that allows undocumented immigrants who are in good standing to pay a fine, learn English, and go to the back of the line for the opportunity to become citizens.”
There are also secondary reasons why the Democrats need amnesty to be passed as soon as possible. In the words of Barney Frank, speaking to the chairman of the House Financial Services Committee in 2006, “The arrival of additional immigrant workers is ‘bad for blue-collars….but if [a Democratic Congress] were to significantly strengthen unions, then you would offset the negative effect on the income of workers,’ he said.”
There are several union-strengthening measures being debated in Washington, most notably “Card Check”, which eliminates the secret ballot in union votes. An influx of immigrants will ultimately provide 12 million potential new union members.
Immigrants also tend to vote Democrat and live in large cities. While the right to vote generally is not bestowed on immigrants until they have become citizens, since 2004 several cities (including New York City and Boston) have been considering allowing non-citizens to vote in local elections, and several cities in Maryland and Massachusetts currently permit this.
Most importantly, when the census is completed this year and district lines are re-drawn, ALL residents are counted, not just citizens. Having as many people as possible living in the cities will result in increased representation for cities, which will benefit Democrats, since they almost always carry large cities.