I confess that last week I was trying to figure out how the Administration could salvage their immigration plan. I am personally skeptical about comprehensive immigration reform but I was curious how well this Presidential edict would fare on a complex political issue like comprehensive immigration reform. Is this a step forward or just another stir of the witches brew in election year politics?
My focus was the complications arising from issuing of social security numbers to illegal immigrants and the first issue on the docket was the earned income tax credit. A few years back we legally hired a person from Mexico to work in our barn. He was a better, more reliable worker that was better than the two high school girls we were replacing. At that time our government was less stupid about guest workers so he had a H2B VISA and a social security number. He did not care about the taxes that were collected from us or him, he just wanted a job so he could send money back to his wife and two boys in Mexico. He was just another guy trying to provide for his family and really did not care about earned income tax credits. He was willing to make major compromises in his life so that his family could live a better life. This week the erstwhile friend of the Administration, Mr. Koskinen, said that one of the unintended consequences of the President’s plan is that the illegal immigrants will now be able to file tax returns for previous years and claim earned income tax returns. I am pretty sure that guest workers and illegal immigrants don’t care about Earned Income Tax but when you give out free money somebody will fill out the forms necessary to collect the handout. It looks like H&R Block and Intuit are the big winners here.
My initial thought of resolving this issue was to adopt a modern form of the “Don’t ask, don’t tell” policy for income tax filling issues with previously illegal immigrants. Obviously many of the illegal immigrants told a few lies about their employment status and maybe were part of some crimes along the way. So now we are parsing crimes to figure out which crimes are okay and which crimes are a pretty good indicator that we want to get them on the next plane out of here. So we are a nation of laws except in the case of illegal immigrants. Although we continue to hope that we can resolve immigration without political debate, I think the Administration will find out that there is no easy solution. As an example I still do not understand how this immigration edict is good for those low skill, low education workers we are having the huge problem finding jobs for. Yeah, I doubt this immigration handout is playing well in poor black neighborhoods! The one thing the Administration should have learned from the Healthcare.gov debacle is that there are no shortcuts and it would be really nice if Congress would provide the Administration some cover. It is a sign of insanity to keep doing stupid stuff and expect good results. Is this the issue we ask the President to put his pen back in the desk, hang up the phone, and ask Congress to do its job? Maybe this time Congress will read the bill and fix the problems before they vote on it. I think the Administration has to recognize its limitations. If you did not accomplish comprehensive immigration reform in your first six years maybe it was never meant to be.