A Word in Support of Hillary’s License Response

In fairness to Hillary Clinton, it seems clear to me that she was not so much evasive in last night’s MSNBC Democratic debate fielding a question about Eliot Spitzer’s policy to allow undocumented sojourners to obtain driver’s licenses as hampered by her own intelligence. 

It is not necessarily evasive, nor is it indecisive, to be unable to generate a thirty second sound bite in response to a complex question. It can be a sign of a mind that perceives a wide array of implications in one gestalt.

For example, as “No Way In,” a report assessing the relationship to visas and demand for unskilled labor, pointed out

  • According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 48 percent of all job openings, some 27 million positions, between 2002 and 2012 “are expected to be held by workers who have a high school diploma or less education.”
  • Given that 12.5 percent of native-born adults age 25 and older lacked a high school diploma in 2003, compared to 32.8 percent of the foreign-born, it is clear that a large number of less-skilled jobs will be filled by immigrants.
  • According to the 2003 American Community Survey, Mexicans comprised 30.7 percent of all foreign-born workers in the United States, but amounted to 88.8 percent of the foreign-born labor force in “farming, fishing, and forestry”; 60.2 percent in “construction and extraction”; and 51.6 percent in “building and grounds cleaning and maintenance.”
  • Only one of the five categories of visas for permanent immigration status is tailored to less-skilled workers, and it is capped at 5,000 visas per year. (emphasis mine)
  • Only two of the 16 employment-based visa categories for temporary immigrant status are available to workers in industries that require little or no formal training. One (H2A) is restricted to agricultural workers and the other (H2B) is not only capped at 66,000, but is limited to “seasonal” or otherwise “temporary” work that is defined so restrictively as to disqualify workers in many industries.
  • Roughly 76 percent of Mexicans receiving temporary work visas in 2002 were recipients of only H2A and H2B visas. In other words, Mexican workers are crowded into categories in which few visas are available for most industries.
  • The family-based immigration system is not capable of compensating for deficiencies in the employment-based system due to arbitrary numerical caps. In the case of Mexican nationals, wait times for visas under the “family preference” system are currently 7-10 years for the spouse of an LPR and 10-12 years for the unmarried adult child of a U.S. citizen.Therefore, “Current immigration policies are completely out of sync with the U.S. economy’s demand for workers who fill less-skilled jobs, especially in the case of Mexican workers. Indeed, the current debate over whether or not to create a pathway to legal status for undocumented immigrants has more to do with labor policy than with undocumented immigration per se. While U.S. immigration policies present a wide array of avenues for immigrants to enter the United States, very few of these avenues are tailored to workers in less-skilled occupations.”

Try putting that into a 30 second “lightening round.”

I’m certain that Senator Clinton’s mind also flashed on the devaluation of the peso in 1995, the rates of extreme poverty in Mexico, the glacial pace at which ICE processes things, and a hundred other factors. Oh yeah, and there’s the fact that it might be a good thing to know who is on your highways. At least national security hero Richard Clarke thinks so.

Chris Dodd tried to counter with a sound bite, with his “driver’s license is a privilege” quip, but demonstrated the heartlessness of Know Nothings generally when he defended providing health care for undocumented sojourners as a matter of “public health.” What’s that supposed to mean? If somebody shows up at an emergency room without documentation and without a communicable disease, it’s OK to just let them die?

And to those candidates who piled onto Senator Clinton by declaring themselves “confused,” I can only say your time will come. Sound bite answers are within the comfort zones of two kinds of people: extraordinarily skilled epigrammists and simplistic dolts. The former are very rare.

Unfortunately the latter appear to be in good supply at MSNBC. When a “debate” among candidates for President of the United States degenerates into confronting Dennis Kucinich with the “UFO issue,” goes on to pull Barack Obama into the UFO  discussion, and closes with asking Obama what he plans to dress up as for Halloween, we learn not so much that the wheels have come off Tim Russert’s journalistic wagon, but that he doesn’t seem to care that they have.

And Chris Matthews, whose habit of screaming over guests while they try to answer his questions must tempt one to punch him in the nose for his own good, could not stop his post-game egging on all who listened over the license plate issue. If “licenses for illegal immigrants” (thanks, MSM for turning a slur into everyday language) becomes a national wedge issue, thank Russert and Matthews for letting the Lou Dobbs monster out of the cage. Nothing like “let’s you and them fight” to boost their ratings, and the public be damned.

I say, don’t buy into their garbage.

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