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Self-Deportation Mastermind Mark Krikorian Admits Failure of Attrition Through Enforcement

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The Mastermind of the GOP’s politically catastrophic self-deportation strategy, Mark Krikorian, that leading anti-immigrant voice, posted another screed from his perch at National Review. Times are tough for the Tanton anti-immigrant network. The political tide has turned against them. So, it’s no surprise that Krikorian has reached a new-low, referring to Frank Sharry as “the Professor Moriarty at the center of the web of open-borders lobbying.”  For those who aren’t as clever as Krikorian, according to Wikipedia, Moriarity is a fictional character, “The archenemy of Sherlock Holmes, Moriarty is a criminal mastermind whom Holmes describes as the ‘Napoleon of crime’ .” See how he really got Frank there? Yeah, we didn’t either.

Anyway, there’s something else interesting about Krikorian’s rant. Remember, as an ardent advocate of self-deportation, he believes in “attrition through enforcement.” In other words, he wants to make life so miserable for undocumented immigrants that they pack their bags and leave voluntarily. That strategy was tried in both Arizona and Alabama. In both states, the economic impacts were severe, as were the hits to their states’ reputations. Also in both states, that strategy was found unconstitutional. So, we know it doesn’t work.

If it was just Krikorian’s tacky swipe at Frank, we’d probably just laugh at this quietly and move on. But, there was a policy implication in the post that deserves a look. Krikorian actually admits that the key elements of his attrition through enforcement strategy, mandatory E-Verify and border security, won’t work:

A requirement that E-Verify be fully operational before any legalization would not — could not — “put millions of immigrants out of work” because E-Verify is only for new hires. (And how border security could put any current illegal aliens out of work is a mystery.) . . . . While current illegal aliens looking for new jobs would be outed by universal E-Verify, no one with a job would be put out of work. Retroactively E-Verifying existing workers should be required as part of any future amnesty deal so that those who didn’t get amnesty, but stayed anyway, would indeed be thrown out of work, taken into custody, and sent home. But that’s not required for full implementation of the system.

For years, Krikorian has been trying to sell politicians on the theory that mandatory E-Verify, ramped up border enforcement, and continued deportations would free up jobs for Americans and solve the issue of unauthorized immigration once and for all.  His ideological twin Rep. Lamar Smith has also argued that mandatory E-Verify is a job-creator, and introduced legislation Krikorian calls the “most important jobs bill” in Congress.  (Smith’s legislation actually would permit and in many cases mandate verification of existing workers, poking another factual hole in Krikorian’s argument.)

But wait.  What is Krikorian’s argument, again? It used to be: we won’t need to do “amnesty” if we do “attrition through enforcement.”  But now it’s more like: we don’t need to do “amnesty” until we do “attrition through enforcement.”  Sounds like an attempt to reposition his preferred policy of enforcement-first/enforcement-only in the current landscape, and an acknowledgment that addressing the status of 11 million aspiring Americans is now firmly and clearly at the center of reform.

The other problem with Krikorian’s “conservative” argument is that it’s not actually conservative.

How does a massive increase in government bureaucracy, business mandates, and expensive border enforcement reflect conservative values?  How is immigration reform that adds to the tax base, stabilizes the workforce, and grows our economy supposed to be anti-GOP?  Unlike Krikorian, the vast majority of actual Republicans support immigration reform with citizenship for undocumented immigrants, and key Republican constituencies are behind it.  Yet Krikorian keeps pushing the GOP to embrace self-deportation (and hasten the Party’s self-destruction in the bargain).

Who’s the diabolical mastermind here?