Now that the election is over, the White House is again hauling out an unpopular idea it had kept under careful wraps while the voters were paying attention: amnesty for Mexican illegal aliens. But new evidence suggests the idea is even worse than it seemed.
Karl Rove's new ambassador to Mexico, Tony Garza, described to reporters in Mexico City a rough plan that actually sounds like Rove's learned a little about why so many GOP Congressmen rebelled against his first plan back in the summer of 2001. This new one is supposed to be restricted to 15% of the Mexican illegals, not to let them bring in all of their relatives, and not to let them have citizenship (presumably to keep them from voting against the Republicans).
That would certainly be less self-destructive than Rove's old plan. Clearly, a lot of GOP Representatives have explained to Rove why amnesty is bad for the Republican Party, such as that Mexican-Americans only cast 3.0 percent of the vote in 2000, according to the Census Bureau. Some of it appears to have sunk in.
What's baffling is why Rove (whose "political genius" reputation got chipped a week ago when he poured everything the Republicans had into the Senatorial runoff in Louisiana and suffered an embarrassing loss) is even bringing it back up at all.
Quite obviously, a limited proposal as the one Garza described would be seen as an insult by Mexican-American activists. It would be instantly topped by the Democrats. Rove would end up in a bidding war and end up with a huge amnesty like in 1986. What's the point?
But if Rove insists on amnesty, the Public Policy Institute of California has released a major study that he should ponder. The PPIC does some tremendous work, although you usually don't hear much about it. It often offers up to journalists bland, don't-rock-the-boat summaries of its quantitative investigations. But even though it's up to you to dig deeper to find the hot insights, the PPIC should be praised for being almost fearless in which topics it investigates.
This particular hot insight, found in a report entitled "Understanding the Future of Californians' Fertility: The Role of Immigrants": amnesties have unexpected repercussions that echo for years. It turns out that the 1986 amnesty for illegals set off a big baby boom among its beneficiaries - inevitably worsening the subsequent crowding in schools and emergency rooms.
Laura E. Hill and Hans P. Johnson of the PPIC wrote:
"Between 1987 and 1991, total fertility rates for foreign-born Hispanics [in California] increased from 3.2 to 4.4 [expected babies per woman over her lifetime]. This dramatic rise was the primary force behind the overall increase in the state's total fertility rate during this period. Were it not for the large increase in fertility among Hispanic immigrants, fertility rates in California would have increased very little between 1987 and 1991.
"Why did total fertility rates increase so dramatically for Hispanic immigrants? First, the composition of the Hispanic immigrant population in California changed as a result of the Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA) of 1986. In California alone, 1.6 million unauthorized immigrants applied for amnesty (legal immigrant status) under this act. The vast majority were young men, and many were agricultural workers who settled permanently in the United States. Previous research indicates that many of those granted amnesty were joined later by spouses and relatives in the United States... As a result, many young adult Hispanic women came to California during the late 1980s. We also know that unauthorized immigrants tend to have less education than other immigrants and that they are more likely to come from rural areas. Both characteristics are associated with high levels of fertility. As a result, changes in the composition of the Hispanic immigration population probably increased fertility rates.
"Another possible reason for the sudden increase in fertility rates for Hispanic immigrants is also related to IRCA. Because many of those granted amnesty and their spouses had been apart for some time, their reunion in California prompted a "catch-up" effect in the timing of births..."
Face it Karl: amnesty's a rotten idea. Now it turns out to be even rottener.
December 15, 2002