Immigration "Reform" dead…for now
Last night the Senate once again failed to reach cloture on the Bush-Kennedy Immigration reform bill. This is a good thing. The bill as it existed was a farce and would have been detrimental to the US. Of course, its likely that this same bill will come up again in the near future (say a month or so), but I think that the members of Congress will find that there really is a large group of people that are opposed to amnesty for illegals in the US. Those are the ones that have been calling their Senators every day to remind them that they want this bill killed.
Does this mean that immigration reform is dead? No, and it shouldn’t be. There is a need to fix the system that we currently have. It has huge problems and needs to be fixed, but this was not the proper fix. First off, one of the biggest problems with the current bill was the automatic granting of effectively permanent legal work status to anyone. When Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) attempted to attach an amendment to block convicted felons from being granted permanent temporary work status (and eventually the ability to apply for citizenship) it was defeated. When Senator Coburn (R-OK) brought up an amendment that would have reaffirmed the commitment of the US government to enforce existing immigration laws, it also was defeated 54-42. I called Senator Hutchison (R-TX) to try and find out why she voted against it, but her office said that she had not commented on why she would oppose enforcing our laws.
Immigration reform is complex, but not impossible. What might make it impossible is that you have various groups that all want something very different. You have the free marketers (usually Republicans) who want open borders so that they can get cheap labor, you have the labor unions (usually Democrats) who foresee a huge influx of new members. Both sides want this Z visa to be created thinking it will benefit them without realizing that it benefits neither in its current form. They say that politics makes for strange bedfellows…but immigration reform has made for some of the strangest.
One of the main complaints with the Bush-Kennedy bill is that it further emasculates the fence that was provided for last year. Congress authorized 700 miles of fence, then failed to fund it. Then the funded 375 miles of it…and now with only a few score miles actually under construction, this bill would reduce that number even further. But the fence, and with that the enforcement of border security so that thousands of illegals from terrorist nations are not able to enter into our country. The other reason that enforcing our own border makes sense is that we make it hard to enter illegally to encourage people to enter legally.
So, once we have a legitimate border, how can we encourage people to enter legally? Well, they have to have the ability to do so. This will require an overhaul of the immigration system as we know it. We can certainly handle more immigrants coming into the US. If we are dealing with roughly a million illegals each year, then we can certainly deal with a million legals instead. One big reason for opening up our visa levels is to allow for people from countries other them just Mexico and Central America to enter the US and work here. There are certainly lots of people from Africa, Asia, or Eastern Europe who would love the opportunity to come to the US and work. Right now the Mexican immigrants are getting all the press because they, much like squatters, can get here first and easily. There are significant advantages to pushing for immigrants from other parts of the world and we are missing the boat by not allowing them entry.
Then there is the problem of the 12-22 million already here. What do we do with them? My response is nothing. We don’t give them free schooling, we don’t give them public assistance, and we don’t give them work. Get much tougher about penalizing employers that hire illegals. It means that we need a tamper resistant ID card, and yes that means that we likely end up with a national ID. Then, that ID is used, along with a database, to validate employment status. When an employer knowingly hires illegals, then we hammer them. Without work, there is little incentive to stay. With a nice fence, entering illegally becomes harder then entering legally. And then, if we are feeling generous, and I am today, we go ahead and provide anyone who requests it a free ticket home. So, when an illegal can’t find a job, and can’t get welfare, they can get a free ticket back to their country of origin, heck we can even throw in a few hundred dollars for spending money.
Once we can make the border hard to cross, make it easy to enter the US legally to work, ensure that only those here legally can actually work, and provide a route home for those here illegally of their own volition will we have finally reformed immigration. Of course all of that is incumbent upon an Executive Branch that will actually enforce the laws, which every administration since Ronald Reagan has been evidently unable to do. This is one big plus that Rudy G has going for him. Even laws he claims to not agree with he enforces.