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May 17, 2007

Immigration Bill Clears Senate, Will Likely Become Law


I have to confess I don't know enough about this to have an opinion I'm comfortable ranting about. Certainly, given the Senate's general pro-amnesty position, I'd have to guess it's a full-on sell-out. But I don't know -- what, exactly, are the provisions for securing the border, and how confident are we the government will actually honor any such provisions?

I have rather little confidence in Bush to secure the border. He hasn't done so for six years and I don't see him doing so now that Mexico is de facto an autonomous region of the United States of America.

Here are the main provisions:

* "The plan would create a temporary worker program to bring new arrivals to the U.S. A separate program would cover agricultural workers."

I have nothing against a temporary worker program, assuming it would be based on US economic needs rather than Mexico's. The problem is that this entire debate seems to center not what is best for the US but what is best for Mexico, not what benefits Americans but what benefits poor hardworking Mexicans.

I have nothing against poor hardworking Mexicans. But this country's government does not exist primarily to serve their interests.

* "Key senators in both parties announced agreement with the White House Thursday on an immigration overhaul that would grant quick legal status to millions of illegal immigrants already in the U.S."

There's the amnesty part, which is hardly a surprise, because most politicians seem to have regarded amnesty as a given. The only debate seemed to be what alternate term to use to convince Americans amnesty was not amnesty.

My own take? I don't see how any plan could have avoided amnesty. It would be odd to allow millions of Mexican workers into the country but bar/deport the Mexicans already working here -- i.e., trade the current twelve million illegals for another twelve million legals. It wouldn't have worked. The current illegal population just would have ignored the law.

Given the fact that amnesty of some sort was almost guaranteed to be part of the deal, it was critical to me that the border be secured in fact, and not in theory, so that this amnesty would be the last amnesty, at least for a generation, rather than these 12 million being simply the crest of breaking wave of millions upon millions of more illegals.

Does the bill actually secure the border? Of course not.

* The key breakthrough came when negotiators struck a bargain on a so- called "point system" that would for the first time prioritize immigrants' education and skill level over family connections in deciding how to award green cards.

Seems silly, in the sense that it won't be enforced. It's not like Mexico is sending us hundreds of thousands of engineers and doctors every year. They're sending us millions of unskilled laborers.

* The proposed agreement would allow illegal immigrants to come forward and obtain a "Z visa" and—after paying fees and a $5,000 fine—ultimately get on track for permanent residency, which could take between eight and 13 years. Heads of household would have to return to their home countries first.

A rhetorical gimmick -- those granting amnesty can claim, while trying to keep a straight face, that the illegal immigrants haven't broken a law as their first act in America, as they have a second "first step" into America, this one legal.

But you can't regain your virginity, now can you? You can't unring the bell.

* They could come forward right away to claim a probationary card that would let them live and work legally in the U.S., but could not begin the path to permanent residency or citizenship until border security improvements and the high-tech worker identification program were completed. A new temporary guest worker program would also have to wait until those so-called "triggers" had been activated.

On paper, this accords with what I'd like to see -- yes, you can begin a pathway to citizenship, but only after the border has been sealed and we have a guarantee that the flood of illegal immigrants will become at most a trickle.

But I have no confidence in the government to actually do this. So this is a rhetorical ploy designed not to secure the border but to insulate politicians from the charge of rewarding lawbreakers and encouraging tens of millions more to do likewise.

* Those workers would have to return home after work stints of two years, with little opportunity to gain permanent legal status or ever become U.S. citizens. They could renew their guest worker visas twice, but would be required to leave for a year in between each time. Democrats had pressed instead for guest workers to be permitted to stay and work indefinitely in the U.S.

Sounds good. Temporary workers should be, in fact, temporary. But this provision assumes that illegal immigrants will suddenly start obeying US employment/visa/immigration law, something they're not doing now, and something they're even less likely to do given the US government's preferred method of solving the illegal immigration problem is to simply legalize it.

* In perhaps the most hotly debated change, the proposed plan would shift from an immigration system primarily weighted toward family ties toward one with preferences for people with advanced degrees and sophisticated skills. Republicans have long sought such revisions, which they say are needed to end "chain migration" that harms the economy, while some Democrats and liberal groups say it's an unfair system that rips families apart. Family connections alone would no longer be enough to qualify for a green card—except for spouses and minor children of U.S. citizens.

This is good. I doubt it will be enforced, though. Illegals will continue bringing their relatives into the country to use US services (without paying taxes for them), and ultimately the left will agitate to grant citizenship to millions upon millions more of chain-immigration arrivals.

Incidentally, doing so makes the entitlement problem even worse. Medicaid isn't going to become more solvent thanks to millions of new elderly or sickly arrivals (grandparents, older parents of immigrants) who've never paid a dime in payroll taxes. Each immigrant pays barely anything in taxes -- these aren't highly paid workers, after all; at most they pay payroll taxes, which only partially cover their own Social Security and Medicare (with subsidization from richer taxpayers); they're definitely not paying enough to cover several children and several older people at or near retirement age.

Incidentally, while the article mentions "fortifying the border" several times, there's not a single specific statement as to how the bill addresses this. Which suggests it doesn't address it specifically. In other words, it's pure bullshit.

Overall, I guess I've worked myself up into having an opinion: The hell with the Republican Party. They can win lose the next election without my help.

Dix Illegal Immigrant Terrorists Allowed Here By INS For Sixteen Years, Entered Via Mexico: Wonderful.

I suppose I should observe the 48 hour rule. And I suppose I may lose traffic. But I think, unless my thinking seriously changes, that I am now officially and independent, that I despise the GOP, and that they're scarcely more serious about security than the Democrats. At least not so much more that I should put up with their bullshit and support them.

Take care, fellers. Good luck winning anything with 1) the loss of tens of millions of Americans who used to vote for you but will now no longer vote for anyone and 2) tens of millions (or more!) freshly-minted "Americans" who vote Democratic by a 5:1 margin.

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posted by Ace at 04:32 PM

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