Ever since his victory in California election in October, Arnold Schwarzenegger has been the poster boy for the pushers of fake immigration control, mainly because his call for repeal of a new law giving illegal aliens access to driver’s licenses was hugely popular with voters.
Now, with the new governor wobbling on his campaign position, the posters may have to be redrawn.
Why are there “fake immigration reformers” at all? Because ever since 9/11, when the security dangers of having millions of illegal aliens in this country became obvious, the Open Borders crowd began to realize they couldn’t keep peddling the same bilge. They came up with what serious immigration reform advocates call “Reform Lite“—soft measures that do little to address the real problems mass immigration causes but sound tough and sell well at the polls.
“Temporary work visas” for illegal aliens and opposition to granting driver’s licenses to illegals and to the in-state tuition that some states are allowing illegals to pay to attend state colleges and universities are the kinds of soft “Reform Lite” measures the fake reformers are pushing.
By themselves, all these are worth supporting, but by themselves they don’t solve the immigration problem.
During his campaign, Mr. Schwarzenegger never touched the moratorium issue or even the tougher nut of sending illegals back home. All he said about immigration at all was (a) his repeated commitment to repeal the driver’s license law that Gray Davis and the Democrats had just passed, and (b) his not-very-loud endorsement of amnesty—that “illegal aliens should be made legal.”
That didn’t register with voters, but they heard the first, knew he had supported Proposition 187 in 1994, which cut off public benefits to illegal aliens, and assumed he supported serious immigration reform.
Reform Lite worked—in the sense that it accomplished its intended purpose, which was to gull unwary voters into thinking the soft measures it favored would solve the immigration problem. Now, with what Gov. Schwarzenegger has been saying since he was inaugurated,Reform Lite is about to unravel as the fraud it is.
Last week the Copley News Service reported that
“at his first news conference as governor yesterday, Schwarzenegger said he would consider a new license bill if it includes security measures, is limited to applicants in the pipeline for legal residency, and makes sure they are insured.”
“‘Then we can move forward with it in a positive way,'”the new governor beamed. [Schwarzenegger modifies stand on driver license law by Michael Gardner November 19, 2003]
Moving forward in a positive way would be to keep the promises he made during his campaign, promises that said nothing about what repeal legislation might include. As the Copley report also noted,
“Throughout his campaign and on his inauguration day, Schwarzenegger demanded that lawmakers repeal the law, passed this year as Senate Bill 60, that gives illegal immigrants access to driver licenses.”
Indeed, he probably would not have won the election at all had he not made such commitments. A poll conducted on election night by pollster Frank Luntz for the Federation for American Immigration Reform shows that
“30 percent of voters said Davis’ approval of the [driver’s license] bill influenced their decision to support the recall. In fact, 62 percent of voters surveyed said they would support a referendum to block the implementation of the law.”
Had Mr. Schwarzenegger not campaigned against the driver’s license bill, he almost certainly would not be governor today.
The significance of what looks like a blatant sell-out of a major campaign commitment by the new governor only days after taking office is not the untrustworthiness of politicians—a meaning that should not be surprising, especially for Republicans.
What is significant is what it tells us about the Reform Lite measures now being peddled by the fake immigration reformers—mainly neo-conservatives and libertarians who have never supported immigration control at all and who have mostly been on the other side of the issue.
What it tells us is that the problem with most Reform Lite measures is that they can be evaded, diluted, amended or just plain subverted.
Most of them involve fairly complicated legislative efforts that are worked out by staffers and policy wonks behind closed doors.
When the doors open, the immigration lobbyists have won and nothing substantive has changed.
Until the new voices of Reform Lite are willing to sign on to that, those who are serious about immigration control should pay them no attention.