The Perfect Storm: Republicans Should Remember The Bush Mantra of Free Trade and of Welcoming Latinos to the Party.

By Alex Gonzalez

Family values don’t stop at the Rio Grande River–W. Bush

Since Obama became President in 2009, diplomatic and economic relations between Mexico and the U.S. have become strained and the numbers of deportations of Latinos have increased.   With the new Pew Hispanic report showing that illegal immigration from Mexico has decreased to “zero”, it is imperative that the Republicans in Border States begin a transaction period to srart working towards harmonizing free-trade policies with Mexico to supply “legal workers”, as former President Bush promoted during his two terms in office.  With the Mexican immigration hitting zero and the recent Report by the CBO signaling that Social Security and Medicare trust Funds will be depleted three years earlier than expected, the reality is that in few years the US government will have to imports more foreign workers to meets its entitlement obligation.  As a result, Republican legislators in border states need to shift away from rhetoric perceived as anti-Mexican–or anti-Latino—and instead they should embrace a free market legal framework to allow Mexican workers and business to operate in the U.S.  And this is how President Bush envisioned the Party.  This embracing of more free trade will also be am embracing of Mexican-American how often see the GOP as anti-Latino.

If Republicans want to have a future pool of Mexican workers to legally come to the US  to work and pay into the Treasury,  it is becoming obvious that Republicans need to embrace the Mexican-American in the US. According to the Pew Hispanic, the turning point on illegal immigration seems to have come with the collapse of housing prices and the onset of recession in 2007.  As the Michael Barone of American Enterprise Institute underscores, annual immigration from Mexico dropped from peaks of 770,000 in 2000 and 670,000 in 2004 to 140,000 in 2010.  As a result, the Mexican-born population in the United States decreased from 12.6 million in 2007 to 12.0 million in 2010.  That decrease consisted entirely of Mexican-born illegal immigrants, whose numbers decreased from 7.0 million in 2007 to 6.1 million in 2010.

At the same time, Mexico’s population growth has slowed way down. Its fertility rate fell from 7.3 children per woman in 1970 to 2.4 in 2009, which is just above replacement level.  Meanwhile Mexico’s economy has grown. Despite sharp currency devaluations in 1982 and 1994, its per capita gross domestic product rose 22% from 1980 to 2010.  Mexico, like the United States, experienced a recession from 2007 to 2009. But since then Mexico’s GDP has grown far faster than ours: 5.5 percent in 2010 and 3.9 percent in 2011.  But an end to the huge flow of immigrants from Mexico has huge implications for U.S. immigration policy. And, most of the benefits free trade with Mexico going to borders, especially Texas and California.

In a new Op-Ed by Dowell Myers, a professor of  Public Policy at the University of Southern California, and the author of “Immigrants and Boomers,”  Myers underlines the reality that Boomers and  immigrants need each other, and America will need more foreign workers to help pay for  entitlements.   With 58% of Latinos very unhappy with President Obama, it would behoove the Republican Party to come up with reasonable solution to revamp our broken immigration system by connecting an immigration reform with our need to finance entitlements.   The aging population of retiring Boomers estimated at 4 million each year exacerbates the Social Security Trust Fund since it will no longer be able to keep solvent, since the pool of beneficiaries is increasing while the pool of workers paying into the system is shrinking.

Currently, the ratio of beneficiaries to workers is 3 to 1: it takes 3 workers to pay benefits for 1 Social Security beneficiary. But by 2020, the ratio will be only 2 to 1. Hence, there will be a need to import more workers from other country beside Mexico, in order to provide service for boomers.  And, with Mexico not able to supply the low-skilled workers, the U.S. will need to bring workers from Central America and Africa.

“Indeed, with millions of people retiring every week, America’s immigrants and their children are crucial to future economic growth: economists forecast labor-force growth to drop below 1 percent later this decade because of retiring baby boomers”

Moreover, a large bloc of retiring boomers will consume up 80% of the federal budget or 42% of our GDP by 2050, unless we fix entitlements. According to CATO, entitlements are   “A Looming Fiscal Train Wreck” but Republicans can fix this mess by making the argument that we don’t need to increase taxes since the problem is more related to spending:  “to focus solely on debt is to treat a symptom rather than the underlying disease. We face a debt crisis not because taxes are too low but because government is too big. If there is no change to current policies, by 2050 federal government spending will exceed 42 percent of GDP”.  Currently, 50% of federal budget is allocated to entitlements with an exponential increase of 18% each year. So the need for an immigration reform is becoming more urgent year by year to help the Treasury finance entitlements.

Furthermore, on Monday the CBO released numbers showing that the Social Security and Medicare will be depleted three years earlier that anticipated.  For instance, the trustees who oversee the Social Security’s two trust funds—one for disability benefits, the other for retirees—said reserves for the fund that pays disability benefits would be exhausted by 2016, two years earlier than projected last year. And if the disability fund were combined with the larger fund that pays retiree benefits, all reserves would be exhausted by 2033, three years sooner than projected last year. Benefits would automatically be cut roughly 25% if the trust funds were exhausted. Monthly Social Security benefits averaged $1,125 per recipient in March, according to government data.

The Bush approach to Mexico:  More Free Trade and Practical Immigration Reform

When his Presidency began, President Bush, being from Texas, had an affinity toward Latinos. In his first official trip abroad,  Bush went to Mexico and came up with the Guanajuato Proposal: Mexico and the United States will now focus on resolving mutual pressing problems. The Fox – Bush Summit in Guanajuato promised a new era for the US-Mexico. Mr. Bush stated that Mr. Fox “is the kind of leader that Mexico has needed for a long time. This Fox-Bush combination “could turn out to be a great blessing for both Mexicans and Americans alike. In 2001, Sep 7th, 4 days before 9/11, Vicente Fox spoke before a joined Session of congress. But, after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, this new vision suffered a severe regression.

And even though the 9/11 attacks created a new level of suspicion between the two nation, President Bush kept pushing forward to bring Mexico and the US together. He brought Canadian Prime Minister Martin and President Fox to Texas where the leaders three leaders signed the Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America—partnership to increase the free flow of goods and to harmonized trilateral policies in North America. At the same time, Bush persuaded the Republican US Senate to pass and comprehensive immigration reform, which would also have guaranteed a guest-worker program to supply low-skilled worker to the US labor.

In 2007, President Bush enacted a pilot program to allowed Mexican firms to operate in the US. But Obama signed an unrelated bill that canceled a George W. Bush-era pilot program in the US and designed to grant temporary access to Mexican cross-border truckers.  The plan was in preparation for a larger inclusive US-Mexico trucking program.

The Obama approach to Mexico:  Less Trade More Deportations of Latinos

However, upon becoming President, Obama signed a legislation suspending the pilot program created by Bush allowing a limited numbers of trucking firms to operate within in areas of the US.  Obama was persuaded by labor unions, which have backed the ban in its various incarnations and opposed some other trade initiatives, including efforts to conclude a trade pact with Colombia.

On immigration, Obama has promised Mexico the creation of legal frame-work for the free flow a legal immigration.  But instead, Obama has neglected all promised made to Latino Voters in the US and the Mexican Government.   Moreover,  in implementing Secured Communities, which by all accounts was supposed to secure the U.S. and Communities across the nation, the Obama Administration has managed to use Secured Communities to deport Latinos (U.S. citizens and not), separate families, and drown out opportunity.  In fact, this Administration has done more to discourage, separate families, and harm the Latino community than any other previous Administration, Republican or Democrat.   In a study done by the Berkley School of Law and the Cardozo Law Center, the Obama Administration deported 400,000 Latinos in one year using the Secured Communities as an excuse.  The current number point to estimated 1,200, 000 of deportation under Obama, which over 90% happens to be Latino.

Another contentious issue between the US-Mexican under Obama has been the discovery of Operation Fast and Furious.  Since 2009, under Fast and Furious, ATF its own confidential informants were helping finance the illegal gun purchases.  “According to DEA and Congressional reports, the two men were the primary cartel contacts used to finance the illegal gun trafficking ring. Jim Needles, the assistant Agent in Charge of the Phoenix ATF office estimated the brothers spent $250,000 on guns tracked by his agency while conducting Operation Fast and Furious.  Needles called it “a disappointment”  the FBI didn’t bother to tell his agency of the connection.  The FBI, knew, but failed to tell the ATF, it’s informants were part of the gun trafficking ring. Attorney General Eric Holder denied any knowledge of the operation but yet internal Justice Department documents show that at least ten months before that hearing, Holder began receiving frequent memos discussing Fast and Furious. About 40, 000 Mexican citizens have lost their lives due to war on the drug cartel and according to Congressional records, it is  estimated that  hundreds of Mexicans have lost their lives through the use of these weapons, and at least one U.S. Federal Agent, Brian Terry, has lost his life.

Politics is Culture:  Republicans Can Win In the U.S. By Embracing Mexican-Americans and Reaching Out To Mexico. 

The reality in American politics is that specific groups of voters have specific needs and issues important to their region or background, and Bush understood that.  The Latino Population in the southwest is 80% is Mexican-American.  So Latino voters in the southwest for generations have felt political attacks on Mexico as attack on their own cultural enclaves across the southwest, especially on the issue of immigration.  However, these perceived attacks were greatly minimized under W. Bush.

Likewise, when a political Party embraces the cause of one specific group, and since in politics is about passions more facts, ethnic groups tend to support a Party when that party embraces a cause important to the group.  For example,  every since the Republican Party embrace the anti-Castro cause of Cubans in Florida since Republican President Nixon came to power, Cuban have voted Republican 95% of the time. Typically, in Florida Republican candidates have to makes speeches to get the Cuban “super vote”—guaranteed voter that vote Republican based on a pure anti-Castro speeches. Thus, since Nixon, strong anti-communist Castro mantra is what connects  the Cuban leadership, which was basically composed of Cuban businessmen, ex government officials, and heads of social groups in Florida under the Republican umbrella.   The new Cuban leadership that emerged from the 1960s Cuban Adjustment Act developed and anti-Castro policy that have persisted since first wave of Cuban “emigres” and that has kept anti-communist rhetoric as a fundamental element of U.S. foreign policy and the Cuban-Americans and the Republican Party.

Similarly, historians have been written about How Martin Van Bouren as the architect of the “Irish bloc” by recruiting Irish Immigrant in the South by supporting the Repeal Act in the UK, and in the North, by supporting unions. By massively enfranchising Irish immigrants, the Democratic Party gave rise to the “Irish bloc” who fought against emancipation of blacks in the Civil War.  However,    by the turn of the 20th century Irish-Americans learned democratic process to seek an independent Ireland.  WW I presented this opportunity.  American rejection of the Versailles Treaty was not a struggle between Democrat president Woodrow Wilson and the waspish Republican Senate.  In the 1919 when the ethnic Irish-American became bitterly angry over peace conference without a guaranteed free Ireland.

Thus, the Irish-American  abandoned their Democratic “Irish bloc” power to sabotage the Versailles Treaty championed  by Democratic President Wilson. Irish demanded that unless the independence of Ireland was included in the peace treaty, Irish politician in Congress will not support the Treaty.  The population of Irish had increased to 20 millions by 1919, so they did carry sufficient political clout against Wilson.  As a result, Irish-American leaders, regardless of their differences, campaign against the Treaty and Wilson. The day of the senate vote, only 21 Democratic senator’s most Republican senators voted against the Treaty. Thus, Wilson opposition to include the independence of Ireland in the Treaty created the first wave “Irish bloc” that abandoned the Democratic Party and moved to the Republican Party.

Therefore, what the Republican Party needs right now is a type of Bush approach to get Latino voters, specifically Mexican-American, to further incorporate Mexico into a more bilateral trade agreement to regulate the free flow of workers and business travelers and the traditional cross-border traffic for all Mexican in Mexico and Mexican-American residing on both side of the border.

In the Southwest, about 80% the entire population will be Latino by 2042. It would be impractical that if 80% of the population is Mexican American, the Republican party will not want to reach out this community to link the interests of Republican party to interests of the Mexican-Americans in the US and Mexico.  As with “Irish bloc”,  Republicans can lure an ethnic vote if the Party embraces the cause/politics of group. Currently, there is strong disillusionment among Mexican-Americans about Obama position on immigration due to the large number of deportations and the economy.

And just as the Republican Party did by supporting the freedom of Ireland–a direct  opposition to Democrat President  Wilson—and embrace the Cuban Cause to remove Castro, the GOP needs to go back to the Bush approach and recognize that Latinos and Mexico are inevitably  linked to the future of Republican Party in the southwest. The growth of the economy in Mexico, minimal immigration from Mexico, and disillusionment with a Democrat President over deportation, and bad trade and gun policies against Mexico, has created the perfect storm for the Republican to start saying Bienvenido a nuestro Partido. If they don’t, who is going to send workers to pay for entitlements?

With Obama unable to force democrats in Congress to push for an immigration reform, Republicans in Congress could benefit from proposing a viable solution that will create more revenue to pay for entitlements. It will also give Republicans the opportunity to make the argument that the U.S. labor pool needs an urgent immigration reform to make immigrants  part of the agreement in order to find way to pay for entitlements. Such reform will be based on the demands of a national labor pool with the goal of financing entitlements for the 8o million Boomers that will hit retirement in the next 20 years.

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