Policy: Immigration

Immigration debate epitomizes why Americans hate Washington

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Conn Carroll,Immigration,Washington,Analysis

Gallup recently asked more than 1,500 American adults how much confidence they had in more than 15 U.S. institutions. "The military," "small business," and "the police" were the only three entities in which more than 50 percent of Americans had either a "great deal" or "quite a lot" of confidence.

"Public schools", "the criminal justice system," and "banks" all finished in the middle of the pack. "Newspapers," "big business," and "organized labor" were in the bottom third.

And guess who finished dead last? Congress. Just 5 percent of Americans said they had a "great deal" of confidence in Congress, which matched the 5 percent of Americans who said they had no confidence in Congress at all. The overwhelming majority of Americans, 84 percent, said they only had "some" or "very little" confidence in Congress.

Why is this so?

It is not that Americans are distrustful of all forms of government. According to Pew, the vast majority of Americans have favorable views of both their local (63 percent) and state (57 percent) governments. By contrast, only 28 percent of Americans have a favorable view of the federal government in Washington.

If you want to know why this is the case, just look at the immigration bill that is about to pass the Senate, S. 744.

The very fact that immigration is the only major issue Congress is working on right now is reason enough for Americans to feel that Washington is completely out of touch. Americans simply don't believe there is an immigration crisis of any kind in this country.

CBS News recently asked Americans to identify the most important issue facing the country today. Immigration finished tied for dead last with "values" and "partisan politics." ("Economy and jobs" came in first at 34 percent).

Bloomberg found a similar pattern, with "unemployment and jobs" (34 percent) as the runaway top issue, while immigration (4 percent) came in second to last ahead of only "the environment" (2 percent).

Not only do Americans not consider immigration a pressing issue, but when they do bother to think about it, it turns out they want they exact opposite of what S. 744 is offering.

According to Pew, 67 percent of Americans want immigration levels to stay the same or decrease. Just 25 percent want more immigration.

According to CBS News, 66 percent of Americans want immigration levels to stay the same or decrease. Just 25 percent want more immigration.

And according to Fox News, 65 percent of Americans want immigration levels to stay the same or decrease. Just 28 percent want more immigration.

And what does S. 744 do? It doesn't just increase immigration. It more than doubles it.

Under current law, the Congressional Budget Office expects 10 million immigrants to enter the United States legally over the next ten years. Under S. 744, that number is set to rise to 20.4 million. Add in another 4.8 million new illegal immigrants (thanks largely to S. 744's expanded "temporary" guest worker program) and Americans are looking at 25 million new immigrants over the next ten years, compared to just the 9 million who entered over the last ten years.

Worse, according to the CBO, S. 744 will make unemployment go up as floods of new workers displace many Americans with jobs.

To recap:

1) America doesn't believe we have an immigration problem, but that is the only priority in Washington right now.

2) To the extent that America does think about immigration, it wants current levels to stay the same or decrease, but Washington is instead doing the exact opposite.

3) By more than doubling the flow of immigration, Washington will make unemployment go up at a time when lowering unemployment is Americas' top priority.

Considering how vastly out of touch Washington is with the rest of America on immigration, the only wonder here is why any Americans still have confidence in Washington at all.

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