[Adapted from the latest Radio Derb, now available exclusively on VDARE.com]
My friend and occasional VDARE.com contributor Bob Weissberg is a Professor Emeritus of Political Science, with many decades of teaching that subject at New York University and the University of Illinois. Bob actually describes himself as ”a recovering academic.”
Bob once told me that the least popular class in all his teaching portfolio, and the class most difficult to ignite any interest in among the students, was the class on Regulation. The topic is, said Bob, just intrinsically boring, but none the less … important.
So last week I heroically took the train into Manhattan for an event organized by CIS, the Center for Immigration Studies on “Regulation Warfare: The Biden Administration’s Agenda and How the Public Can Make a Difference.” I confess I was expecting it to be a snoozer, but the speaker was a lively and very personable young lady named Elizabeth Jacobs, whose title at CIS is Director of Regulatory Affairs and Policy.
CIS is based in Washington, D.C. but they stage events in New York City—and perhaps, for all I know, other cities too—twice a year to spread their message and raise funds. You join twenty or thirty other people in a lecture room at one of the old, comfortable gentlemen’s clubs, socialize for half an hour, then a CIS speaker gives a presentation followed by a good lively Q&A. There’s finger food and a wine bar.
I like these events. I learn something I didn’t know and meet old acquaintances I haven’t kept up with as well as I should have.
The house of Patriotic Immigration Reform has many mansions. Here at VDARE.com we have had our differences with CIS, although we’ve gone a lot easier on them since they bravely rescued Jason Richwine after he was thrown under the bus by the Heritage Foundation. Set against the outrages perpetrated by the current administration—wide-open borders, perversions of immigration law, et cetera—our differences look small indeed.
Congress, Ms. Jacobs pointed out, does not just pass laws to tell us what we can and cannot do if we want to stay out of jail; it also directs federal agencies to issue rules to more closely define how the laws should be administered, all according to the Administrative Procedure Act that has been with us since the Truman Administration.
Those rules can, if I understood the lady correctly, be pretty fluid, and subject to partisan bias. We—well, I—vaguely understand, for example, that an alien can’t be lawfully accepted for settlement as a full immigrant if he can’t support himself. Sure enough, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, USCIS, has a Public Charge Rule to regulate this issue.
What exactly does the rule say, though? By all means look it up and see if you can figure out the answer. I made a good-faith attempt, but my eyes glazed over about four hundred words in.
It’s like that all over immigration law. The law tells us, for example, that persecution on grounds of ”race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion,” is necessary for an alien to be granted refugee status [8 USC 1158: Asylum]. What is included in ”particular social group,” though? Red-heads? Left-handed people? The law doesn’t specify. There are rules, regulations, all vulnerable to political manipulation.
Again, the term ”lawfully present” is common in immigration law. What does it actually mean, though?
According to the Washington State Department of Social and Health Services, (which presumably uses it to decide how much taxpayer cash an alien is eligible for):
A lawfully present alien is any non-U.S. citizen presently permitted by the Department of Homeland Security, one of its agencies, or the Department of Justice to remain in the United States.
So it’s decided by regulation, not really by law. Shouldn’t the term really be ”regulatorily present”? The so-called DACA recipients broke our laws by coming here. The Obama administration said we’re OK with them, though, so they are ”lawfully present.”
What about the second part of the title she gave to her talk? ”How can the public make a difference?”
Here I learned something I didn’t know at all. There is a website you can go to, regulations.gov, where you can post comments on the entire rule-making process, comments the regulating agencies have to respond to, although in most cases they have sixty days to do so. You can search the website by agency, docket type, date comment posted, and so on.
Pretty nifty. So ordinary citizens can make a difference?
Well … before you jump to it, the agencies only have so many employees they can assign to deal with our comments, so the process is easily gamed.
On immigration issues, for example, you see a mighty host of comments from AILA. That’s the American Immigration Lawyers Association, a key part of what VDARE.com calls the Treason Lobby and a powerful and well-funded pressure group for … well, for anything that helps make immigration lawyers rich.
Ms. Jacobs told us that commenting at regulations.gov is worthwhile none the less. She is a very smart lady who knows her subject in depth, so by all means give it a try.
Thanks to her, and to Mark Krikorian and his colleagues at CIS for a convivial and instructive evening.
I’m still not sure that I understand much about the regulatory process, but I know more than I did this time last week.
John Derbyshire [email him] writes an incredible amount on all sorts of subjects for all kinds of outlets. (This no longer includes National Review, whose editors had some kind of tantrum and fired him.) He is the author of We Are Doomed: Reclaiming Conservative Pessimism and several other books. He has had two books published by VDARE.com com: FROM THE DISSIDENT RIGHT (also available in Kindle) and FROM THE DISSIDENT RIGHT II: ESSAYS 2013.
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