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April 06, 2006

Congress Nears Bad Compromise On Immigration

Few details yet, but if Harry Reid likes it, I have a feeling I won't:

- In a last stab at compromise, Senate Republicans and Democrats reported progress Thursday toward agreement on legislation opening the way to legal status and eventual citizenship for many of the 11 million immigrants now in the U.S. illegally.

"There's been tremendous progress overnight," said Sen. Harry Reid (news, bio, voting record) of Nevada, the Democratic leader, while Majority Leader Bill Frist also expressed optimism that a long-sought compromise might be at hand.

There was no immediate reaction from President Bush, who has made immigration legislation a key priority.


In general, the legislation would provide for enhanced border security, regulate the flow of future immigrants into the United States and settle the legal fate of the estimated 11 million men, women and children already in the country.

It was the fate of the illegal immigrant population that proved hardest to legislate, and it has left the Senate on the verge of gridlock for days.


Sens. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Edward M. Kennedy, D-Mass., as well as other key senators met before the vote to review terms of a proposed compromise.

In general, it would require illegal immigrants who have been in the United States between two years and five years to return to their home country briefly, then re-enter as temporary workers. They could then begin a process of seeking citizenship.

Illegal immigrants here longer than five years would not be required to return home; those in the country less than two years would be required to leave without assurances of returning, and take their place in line with others seeking entry papers.

Charles Krauthammer had a typically excellent take on the Brit Hume show. The idea of amnesty -- and this is amnesty, of course, though no one wants to say so -- would be more palatable if first we established that the endless flow of Mexican immigrants to America would be reduced to a trickle. Put up a wall and patrol it vigorously, stop 90% of future illegal migrants, and then the idea of minting millions of new American citizens isn't so bad. So long as this is the last time -- so long as we're going to stop the endless illegal immigration -- then it's not such a horrible compromise to be generous towards those attracted by our schizophrenic immigration laws, the wink-wink nudge-nudge manner by which we let farm-owners and other employers hire hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants (under the table; no income or Social Security taxes paid), and the lax enforcement of our supposed "laws."

But that generosity should only come if there is a guarantee that this is it. The best compromises are not half-measures, a little bit for you, a little bit for me. The best compromises are composed of an exchange of core principles, neither of them watered down or half-assed.

For one side: the wall and vigorous patrolling, and stiffer penalties for future illegals, and local policemen required to report and detain illegals, rather than giving them sanctuary.

For the other side: a generous welcoming of those already here, and a path to full citizenship.

This bill, of course, gives most of the latter but none of the former. We have bullshit claims that we'll "increase border security," but of course we'll be doing no such thing.

So -- we will be creating essentially a legal, official regime of open borders, with some minor bureaucratic hurdles for those wishing to come to the country and work here, and eventually become citizens.

If illegal immigrants share one political amition, it's for open borders, and more immigration, legal or not. So we're letting in millions of people -- soon to be voting citizens -- dedicated to allowing in further millions, and neither party feels they can afford to alienate them. As those millions become dozens of millions, it will be politically impossible to effect any sort of limits on immigration at all.

And don't buy the bullshit that Hispanics vote Republican. They don't. They vote more Republican than many other minority groups, but they are still 60-40 in favor of Democrats, or thereabouts. So every ten million new Mexican-American voters puts 2 million votes in the Democrats hands-- who will of course seek to pad their numbers by allowing more immigrants to become citizens.

Voters should select their politicians. However, we now have politicians selecting their voters, and it's only going to get worse.

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posted by Ace at 11:00 AM

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