Giuliani, Alan Simpson & the 1986 Simpson-Mazzoli Act

Will someone please please please ask Rudy Giuliani about what he was doing at the USDOJ in the early 1980s, under William French Smith, as Ronald Reagan permitted the DOJ’s Office of Public Affairs to amass a speaker’s bureau dedicated to getting immigration reform legislation passed? (note how that 1983 article mentions Kennedy’s objection to the bill)

[NB: You may or may not recall that INS (Immigration and Naturalization Service), which no longer exists because it’s been under the Department of Homeland Security since 3/1/03, was an agency under the DOJ.]

I was there then. Giuliani was there then. Wyoming Republican Senator Alan K. Simpson was on the Hill then. Giuliani’s media stops were being monitored, along with those of all the deputy and assistant AGs, to see how often and when and where they were scheduled to travel and could squeak in conversations about that bill. I didn’t know or think squat about immigration, but I knew the name of the Simpson-Mazzoli bill (here’s the Wikipedia quick hit and here’s the Thomas info on the Simpson-Mazzoli Act of 1986) because I was the one monitoring the visits and making the calls to media outlets to try and get the AAGs airtime.

What will you learn if you ask any of these folks any questions?

I don’t know, but here are some clues:

Ed Koch wrote about Giuliani’s history with immigration law here.

Simpson gives his thoughts on immigration, last Fall, here. And this 2001 speech by Simpson is concise and poignant and, well, accurate if you ask me.

Ed Meese talks about what Reagan might do differently about immigration here, but Meese was not the AG when Reagan began to push Simpson-Mazzoli – French was.

Want more prognistications, so that if and when this thing passes and if and when it fails to accomplish anything anyone wanted, you can say, yup, I knew that would happen?

Then listen to this hearing from last fall.

Want more perspective still? Read this account from TIME magazine – 1984.

The signs are all there, just like they were in the 1980s, just like they are here in Ohio with that damn SB16 adult entertainment bill: you can legislate anything all you want but if you don’t work to change the underlying reasons why people do – or don’t do – what they are doing or not doing, ain’t no law going to make a damn bit of difference in the end.

If nothing else, the immigration debacle shows us how, ultimately and fatefully, the process and the politics were the focus with the 1980s immigration reform effort, and not the results.

11 thoughts on “Giuliani, Alan Simpson & the 1986 Simpson-Mazzoli Act

  1. The U.S. Senate has voted for cloture (69-23) on S.1348, the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Bill (story here.) Although Harry Reid had earlier called for a final vote by Memorial Day, the final vote will be delayed for about three weeks. There is no final text for the bill. There have been no hearings on the bill. It has not been scored for expense by the Congressional Budget Office. Robert Richter (Heritage Foundation) has estimated (here) “that if all the current adult illegal immigrants in the U.S. were granted amnesty the net retirement costs to government (benefits minus taxes) could be over $2.5 trillion.” I know many people discount the Heritage Foundation, so I’d be interested in other cost estimates.A 326-page draft of the bill–which could be radically changed–is available as a PDF (here) or in a more readable form (here). The bill is definitely a draft–the fonts in the PDF aren’t even consistent between sections. The draft contains 145 sections by my count. (Section 508, page 258, discusses changes in visa numbers by country.)Hugh Hewitt, a lawyer and talk show host, spent his weekend examining the bill. His analysis is here. He found what he considers a number of problems. (Hewitt is conservative, but believes that most of the twelve million illegals currently here should be regularized. However, he also believes that improved enforcement and border security should come first.)

  2. Thanks for the very thorough response. I guess my follow up would be: if it’s our country, then we get to say what we want in a legal immigrant. But, that “we” who decides what “we” want in a legal immigrant isn’t one single voice. How do “we” in fact decide? I suppose it’s the Congress, those we elect, but they of course don’t speak with one “we.” It’s been a while and I don’t remember where I saw it, but I know I’ve seen the list that shows how many people from which countries are granted legal immigration papers. Does changing that really have anything to do with the illegal immigration situation? I don’t know. I don’t sense that it does. I sense that we’re talking about two completely different sets of people who meet completely different needs and ideas.I just don’t know how we reconcile those differences.

  3. Tinker: promoting assimilation and English profciency. I would want us to be extremely careful about how we progress on this front. For economic and work reasons, yes, for cultural and social reasons – far more complicated issue.Yes, assimilation is a complex problem. However, I don’t want to see large numbers of immigrants who remain apart from the existing society. That’s only asking for problems of ethnic and national division down the road. (Such problems have occurred in countries such as France.)Tinker: decreasing demand for illegals is connected to making sure that there are enough legal workers and that the companies are willing to hire legal workers with the commensurate packages legal workers desire or at least need to live a decent life. The illegals only seem so attractive to employers because they are cheap.Agreed.Employers need to get their head around the fact that their profit interests are screwing up other sectors of life and that lowering their expectations of profits, in order to diminish the problems caused by immigrationI’m all for being punitive with employers who hire illegals. The new immigration bill supposedly includes such sanctions, although I’m waiting to see what the bill actually says.(whatever THOSE are – and really – what ARE the problems of immigration? Are there really that many criminals, percentage wise, in the 12 million, or whatever figure we want to use? eh – that’s a question for another post, but I can’t recall the last time I saw a story that actually DEFINED the so-called immigration problem – what exactly is it?).What are the problems of immigration? Well, it depends in part on the type of immigration. I have very little difficulty with legal immigration, assuming it’s done in a reasonable manner. (For example, I think the US can absorb several hundred thousand legal immigrants per year with relatively little difficulty. On the other hand, I think 50 million legal immigrants per year would put an extreme strain on the country’s social and economic fabric.)It’s illegal immigration with which I have difficulty. Some of the problems I see are:- illegal immigrants entering the U.S. with the intention of doing harm;- illegals undermining the rule of law and making a mockery of those who do follow immigration laws;- illegals undercutting the wages of low-skilled native-born workers; – illegals increasing public expenditures for medical care and education in excess of taxes paid;- illegals overloading public facilities/services (e.g., hospital emergency rooms);- illegals increasing crime (even if most illegals are law-abiding, criminals are in the country who would otherwise not be);- illegals with poor educations/skills are likely to have children with below-average education/skills, increasing both social costs and the potential for a semi-permanent underclass.-substantive diplomatic and economic conversations with Mexico and other relevant foreign nations. Bush has a lousy record with our neighbors.Talks are fine. -international agencies talking with our neighbors, and us, about the issues and what can be done to alleviate the underlying causes, in the foreign nations, that make people WANT to emigrate. We can say because America is so wonderful all we want, but the fact is, it’s wonderful compared to where the immigrants lived before. How do their native lands make themselves more attractive, and what can we do to help them be more attractive?Again, talks are fine. However, both Mexico and much of Central America have been dysfunctional for a long time. It seems unlikely that anything is going to change enough in these countries to affect illegal immigration to the U.S. in the foreseeable future.-Europe, lots of borders, lots of countries – how do they handle immigration there?It depends on which kind of immigration we’re talking about. I know that immigration from Eastern Europe to Western Europe is an issue. However, what may be of greater interest is immigration from outside Europe into Europe.France has a very messy situation with millions of disaffected and underemployed North African immigrants/immigrant descendents. The U.K. also has a Muslim population in which 40% want some form of sharia law (here); I’d call that 40% potentially problematic. This suggests to me that Europe may not have always handled immigration very well.

  4. Wendell – agreed re: when folks on both sides aren’t wanting it, it’s a better bet to let it fail. Sometimes success is saying no.

  5. Okay – well – I view those steps ones that require consideration but, as you might guess, there’s one or two I would tinker with immediately and then there are others which I can think of that aren’t mentioned at all:Tinker: promoting assimilation and English profciency. I would want us to be extremely careful about how we progress on this front. For economic and work reasons, yes, for cultural and social reasons – far more complicated issue.Tinker: decreasing demand for illegals is connected to making sure that there are enough legal workers and that the companies are willing to hire legal workers with the commensurate packages legal workers desire or at least need to live a decent life. The illegals only seem so attractive to employers because they are cheap. Employers need to get their head around the fact that their profit interests are screwing up other sectors of life and that lowering their expectations of profits, in order to diminish the problems caused by immigration (whatever THOSE are – and really – what ARE the problems of immigration? Are there really that many criminals, percentage wise, in the 12 million, or whatever figure we want to use? eh – that’s a question for another post, but I can’t recall the last time I saw a story that actually DEFINED the so-called immigration problem – what exactly is it?).Ok – I’m meandering.Here are a couple of suggestions you don’t mention:-substantive diplomatic and economic conversations with Mexico and other relevant foreign nations. Bush has a lousy record with our neighbors.-international agencies talking with our neighbors, and us, about the issues and what can be done to alleviate the underlying causes, in the foreign nations, that make people WANT to emigrate. We can say because America is so wonderful all we want, but the fact is, it’s wonderful compared to where the immigrants lived before. How do their native lands make themselves more attractive, and what can we do to help them be more attractive?-Europe, lots of borders, lots of countries – how do they handle immigration there? That’s all for a Sat. morning without reading a single other thing, but that should be enough fodder for now, yes? 🙂

  6. What do you think should be done?Well, I’d say let’s slow down a little and take a nice, deep breath. Immigration has been simmering as a problem for a long time. (Ted Kennedy sponsored his first immigration bill back in 1965.) I don’t see why the problem has to be solved right now with a humongous new bill. As already noted about Simpson-Mazzoli, a comprehensive bill in 2007 is simply not going to work as intended. Without too much detail, my preference would be to address, roughly in order: – securing the borders to staunch the inflow of illegals; – vigorously deporting illegals who engage in (non-immigration-related) criminal activity; – simplifying the determination of employee eligibility by employers; – heavily sanctioning employers who hire illegals, decreasing the demand for illegal workers;- facilitating regularization of illegals who remain here, including their payment of back taxes; – strongly promoting assimilation and English proficiency of regularized illegals; – focusing legal immigration (probably liberalized) on those most likely to benefit the nation, with some weight given to considerations of compassion. These issues would be handled in relatively small steps, with feedback allowing for mid-course corrections.I’ll note that many of these issues can be addressed by existing law. I will further note that supporters of the current bill may claim that it will handle the issues I’ve raised. I’m extremely skeptical, believing, for example, that illegals will be regularized long before borders will be secured.

  7. Any time political agreements are made in haste under the cover of darkness you KNOW that something ain’t right.What’s unique about this immigration program is that folks on the left and the right both hate it and the political insiders love it.Enough said.

  8. Thanks, Anon – I think! Seriously though, I don’t know who you are but I’m glad you still read even if we don’t agree, as you say.To be perfectly honest (what else is there, I know), I don’t know WHAT I would want in an immigration bill. There are so many facets to this issue. Which is why moving forward is so hard – there is no single, permanent solution because it’s a landscape that keeps shifting. Did you see the news out today about how one in three Americans is an immigrant (or non-white or something like that – sorry – it’s late and I’m writing inbetween cleaning dishes). But something about just how diverse we are and are only getting more so.I think this tying the amnesty to economics versus family, as a change historically, is a bad idea. But…on the other hand, I can understand why it’s being proffered.What do you think should be done?

  9. Jill,I could be wrong, but I think we might actually be in partial agreement on this bill. (I usually vote Republican, so I often disagree with your postings.) I hate the way this bill is being handled. This is a 300-1000 page bill. It was negotiated in secret. As of this afternoon, it was unavailable for inspection, even by Senators.Yet, at 5:30 PM on Monday, the Senate is scheduled to vote for cloture, which will severely limit debate. John McCain has also called for a vote on the bill ASAP.That’s absolutely nuts. The Senate will vote for cloture before knowing what’s in the bill and before the public has a chance to see what’s in it. What’s the hurry?I know that I’m thoroughly ticked off at many Republicans (including Sen. McCain, Sen. Kyl, and Pres. Bush). I have written to both Sen. Brown and Sen. Voinovich urging them to vote against cloture, although I expect they both will.

  10. Totally politics re: that email – I read that earlier today. Just makes you shake your head and say, politics as usual. And the worst part is – this newer immigration law will go no-where – it is ALL posturing.It’s so hard of for me to understand how so many of us support a system that allows the very people we think can make our country better to do nothing but game each other once elected for the purpose of retaining power and getting more. Why do we allow it? It’s up to us to either elect people who won’t do that or change the system. We have no one to blame but ourselves in this problem, imo.

  11. I agree it is all about the politics – which always seems to get in the way of good government. Just to illustrate, check out theemail I got today…BTW JMZ – see I do read the feed. Unfortunately yours seem to come in groups on my Google reader about three hours after you post…

Comment here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s