July 18, 2006

Chafee and Laffey on Immigration II, Part 2

Carroll Andrew Morse

In addition to their differences over the basic principle of offering amnesty to illegal immigrants, Republican Senatorial candidates Lincoln Chafee and Steve Laffey have differences of opinion regarding specific provisions in the recently passed Senate immigration bill.

1. The Senate bill applies Federal labor rules that apply only to Americans working on Federally-contracted projects to foreign guest workers working on any kind of project. National Review’s Kate O’Beirne (via Mickey Kaus) explains…

The bill extends Davis-Bacon “prevailing wage” provisions—typically the area’s union wage that applies only to construction on federal projects under current law—to all occupations (e.g. roofers, carpenters, electricians, etc.) covered by Davis-Bacon. So guest-workers (but not citizen workers) must be paid Davis-Bacon wage rates for jobs in the private sector if their occupation is covered by Davis-Bacon. Presumably because Senate Democrats’ union bosses thought this provision too modest, an amendment by Senator Barack Obama, approved by voice vote, extended Davis-Bacon wages rates to all private work performed by guest workers, even if their occupations are not covered by Davis-Bacon.
Steve Laffey opposes the Davis-Bacon extension on the grounds that it “would guarantee foreign workers greater salaries than American employees working in the same industry”.

2. The Senate bill allows currently illegal immigrants to receive Social Security credit for work done while illegally in the US. Here are the short versions of the arguments for and against this policy as provided in the Washington Times by Senators John Ensign and John McCain...

The Senate voted yesterday to allow illegal aliens to collect Social Security benefits based on past illegal employment -- even if the job was obtained through forged or stolen documents.

"There was a felony they were committing, and now they can't be prosecuted. That sounds like amnesty to me," said Sen. John Ensign, the Nevada Republican who offered the amendment yesterday to strip out those provisions of the immigration reform bill....

"We all know that millions of undocumented immigrants pay Social Security and Medicare taxes for years and sometimes decades while they work to contribute to our economy," said Sen. John McCain, Arizona Republican.

"The Ensign amendment would undermine the work of these people by preventing lawfully present immigrant workers from claiming Social Security benefits that they earned before they were authorized to work in our community," he said. "If this amendment were enacted, the nest egg that these immigrants have worked hard for would be taken from them and their families."

Senator Chafee voted against the specific amendment (offered by Senator Ensign) that would have disallowed work done by illegal immigrants from counting towards Social Security benefits. Steve Laffey has criticized the Senator for this vote.

Chafee campaign manager Ian Lang (as quoted in Katherine Gregg's Projo article) explains the Senator's positions on these aspects of immigration policy as follows…

Lang said the expansion of the Davis-Bacon Act "was brought in as a compromise to get the bill through," and Chafee viewed it as "part and parcel" of a bipartisan compromise that would increase fencing along the border, authorize the deployment of the National Guard and provide a pathway to citizenship.

On Social Security benefits, he said, Chafee indeed supports "the principle that people who have worked and paid into the system for years should be able to get the benefits they paid for" after the payment of back taxes and a fine qualifies them for citizenship.

Coming in part 3: The other one-third of the immigration debate

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We should wait until next week to discuss the immigration issue. Laffey may have another position by then.

Posted by: Anthony at July 18, 2006 6:26 PM

Laffey's position on immigration could not be more clear...all you have to do is listen to the radio or read the Projo and you'll see.....

1) Secure The Border
2) Enforce the existing laws with employers
3) Documented guest worker program
4) Free market reforms/trade in Central and South America so that there are jobs THERE

There is no quick fix, this will take time but we must FIRST SECURE THE BORDER!!!

Chafee's plan, well on Arlene Violet today he didn't even know his plan!?! Let's all check his palm card shall we.....

Posted by: Carl Elliott at July 18, 2006 8:08 PM

Don't forget:

5) Give the Guatemalans and Mexicans a free pass.

Posted by: Greg at July 18, 2006 8:12 PM

This issue can be confusing.

Laffey has never supported citzenship (amnesty) for illegals. I understand that.

Chafee is less clear - does he still support the Feinstein amendment which gave citzenship(amnesty) for all illegal aliens or does he support the final Senate bill which gives amnesty(citzenship) to most illegals along with social security benefits, and higher wages for foreign workers. My guess is that Chafee likes the Feinstein postion best but settled for the final Senate version as a compromise.

Posted by: Fred Sanford at July 18, 2006 8:15 PM

I heard a Mexican comedian comment that since the border guards had no guns and were not allowed to detain illegals from crossing the border, that they were more like 'greeters' - like in Wal-Mart.

Posted by: taxpayer at July 18, 2006 9:16 PM

Laffey's supporters are confused because it is a total change in positions.

Federal agencies have come out staunchly against the Matricula Consular cards that Laffey has so strongly supported. Why? Because they compromise homeland security, not to mention allowing illegal immigrants to obtain taxpayer-funded services to which they are not entitled.

It wasn't that long ago when Laffey was touting pro-immigration policies and now he is trying to move to the right of Chafee. He talked about allowing companies to go to the border to recruit illegals and is now disowning all of his previous positions.

You can't really disagree with Laffey on this issue because he agrees with everyone(depending on who he is speaking with at the moment).

Posted by: Anthony at July 18, 2006 9:17 PM

Let's not forget this Laffey quote published in the liberal LA Weekly when he was touring the border with the leader of a group that encourages illegal immigrants to cross the border and provides them with water and supplies to do so-

"This border is just too far away from people's lives. They have all these people who clean for them and take care of their yards and their kids, but don't know who they are or care. My whole thing is that EVERBODY has to have the opportunity to live the American Dream."

Yeah, sounds like "securing the border" to me.

I don't think that many of the people that Laffey met were "legal" immigrants. So which is it Steve, should we allow illegal immigrants the opportunity to "live the American Dream" or should we "enforce the current laws and secure the border"?

Posted by: Anthony at July 18, 2006 9:33 PM

Laffey was banking on Latino immigrants' social conservatism for votes. Didn't quite work.
Give Steve time. By primary day, he'll have more positions on immigration than Kerry did on Iraq.

Posted by: rhody at July 19, 2006 1:21 AM

Steve's newest radio ad:

"I'm Steve Laffey and I approve this message. Illegal immigration is a serious issue for our country and this election season, I promise to listen intently to both sides of the issue and pander to whomever I'm in front of at the moment in order to get their vote. Even if that means speaking in spanish, going to the border to put out water for the invaders, or allowing them to get consular cards that will allow them access to hundreds of state and federal programs that you, the taxpayer are paying for.

So in September, vote for me, Steve Laffey. Remember, I was for illegal aliens before I was against them."

(repeat in spanish)

Posted by: Greg at July 19, 2006 8:40 AM

I guess being a Chafee supporter automatically translates into having the intellegince capacity (or lack thereof) of the Senator himself. This clears up a question that has been troubling me for some time now. I've been struggling to come up with one good reason why an intelligent person would support a candidate who can't even remember his own position and the bills he voted on (Arleen Violet, 07/18/06). And now I got it: It must be a common cerebral deficiency that underlies Chafee support. At least, I will be able to sleep soundly tonight.

Posted by: Logan H. at July 19, 2006 8:58 AM

"If it's in my literature, it must be my position."

I could not believe my ears when I heard that.

Posted by: Henry Gondorff at July 19, 2006 9:06 AM

Hey Anthony and Greg,

How do you guys have so much time to blog these days?? Shouldn't you be out attending some sort of WWE wrestling competition with tickets procured from Jack Abramoff's lobbying firm?


Posted by: Leon Berg at July 19, 2006 9:12 AM

Typical strategy of those in the weaker position. When you can't attack the message, attack the messenger.

Posted by: Greg at July 19, 2006 9:23 AM


Ouch. Nice suplex on Anthony. Now we know the truth.

Gloves. Are. Off.

Posted by: oz at July 19, 2006 9:59 AM

The whole Chafee campaign has been reduced to challenger status. They're on the verge of imploding. Debates, if they ever happen, are going to do him in!

Posted by: roadrunner at July 19, 2006 11:16 AM

Are you that Anthony? Now we know why Chafee doesn't even know what his positions are. His staffers are too busy cozying up to lobbyists like Abramoff for WWF tickets. Heck, who has time for policy issues when there are tickets to procure.
Anthony, you are an embarassment, like your boss.

Posted by: jim at July 19, 2006 11:17 AM

Just for the record, I don't like Chafee, either. In my opinion, the worst part about this senatorial election is that one of these a-holes will win.

Posted by: Greg at July 19, 2006 11:43 AM

Wow, I've been outed! Actually, I'm Stephanie Chafee blogging under the name Anthony!

Well, as is usual, the brilliant minds on Team Laffey are wrong. For the record, I don't work for Chafee or collect a paycheck from anyone in government. That would be unlike some of the Laffey supporters on this blog who talk about their disdain for bureaucracy but have no problem sucking from the government's tit. Because what we really need are more taxpayer subsidized state-employed lawyers.

Although my wife would find it funny that I went to a wrestling show.

Posted by: Anthony at July 19, 2006 12:56 PM

Good attempt at diverting the discussion from Senor Laffey's flip flop on immigration, though

Posted by: Anthony at July 19, 2006 1:07 PM

You're wrong. Laffey wouldn't give the same message in English and Spanish. Here what his radio commercials would sound like:

English version:
"I'm Steve Laffey and I approve this message. Immigration is a problem that plagues America. We're unable to secure our borders and taxpayers are absorbing the costs for millions of undocumented illegal aliens who receive benefits ranging from Social Security to public assistance to free public education.

This is an affront to immigrants who follow the law and immigrate to this country legally and you, the taxpayer, are left footing the bill.

If elected, I pledge to secure our borders and work to protect the taxpayer. My name is Steve Laffey and I'll be the strongest voice for the smallest state. PS: I have a Harvard MBA."

Spanish version:
"My llamo es Esteban Laffey and yo aprobo este recado. Every immigrant coming to this country should be able to enjoy the American Dream. But my opponents don't think so. They want to split families apart and deport immigrants even though they work hard to earn a living and have endured numberous hardships to get here.

I've been to the Mexican border. I've given water and sustenance to immigrants trying to cross the border. They are among the most vulnerable people on earth, often falling victim to coyotes--human transporters who take money and advantage of these new Americans who are just trying to live the American Dream.

If you vote for me, I'll make sure that your family members who may not be here legally are able to get work and live free of harassment from government authorities in the United States. How?

If elected I'll push to ensure that the federal government accepts identification cards issued by your home countries so that you can get work and travel here in the States. Because I know, like you, that new immigrants help stimulate America's economy.

Yo estoy Esteban Laffey y por favor, don't tell your gringo friends about this message. PS: Did I mention that I visited the Mexican border. Oh, wait I did. Never mind."

Posted by: Anthony at July 19, 2006 1:44 PM

Yeah, Anthony. You're totally right.

Posted by: Greg at July 19, 2006 1:51 PM