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Illegal Immigration, Now What?
by John Campbell [congressman] 8/13/07

It’s been over a month now since the “immigration reform” bill championed by Senator Kennedy and others was defeated on the Senate floor. In my view, that defeat was a good thing. The bill contained amnesty for illegal immigrants here now and many of its provisions were completely unworkable. After all, we can’t even enforce the relatively simple immigration laws we have. How were we going to enforce the new “guest worker” program which allowed people to come and stay for two years, and then go home for a year; come back for two; go home for another year; come back for two and then go home permanently?


John Campbell (R-Irvine) is a Member of Congress representing 48th Congressional district [Orange County, California]. He can be reached through his Congressional website. [go to Campbell index]

So, what happens on this very hot issue now? The Senate spent a great deal of time and political capital, as did President Bush, in this failed effort. I think they will both leave the issue alone. In the House, a number of us will be publicly pushing an enforcement-first bill (HR 2954 Smith-Tx, King-NY). But I doubt that Speaker Pelosi will allow it to have a hearing. She has shown no interest in any immigration bill, perhaps because the amnesty she would prefer would be a political liability for Democrats seeking to retain their majority in 2008. It seems unlikely that anything of significance on the subject of immigration will pass in the 110th Congress.

That means it’s up to the presidential candidates. If there is no bill providing a solution, or masquerading as one, all the people who want to be president will have no choice but to articulate their position and plan on this important issue. And, when there is only one Republican and one Democratic candidate left, they will each have to be quite specific about what they plan to do. (Senator Obama will have to say something he is for beyond just “hope.”) Then, the electorate will decide which candidate and which plan they want.

Any immigration reform must contain these five items:

No amnesty. The Senate bill rewarded 12 million illegal immigrants with citizenship, after breaking the law. Any immigrant who crosses our border illegally ought to forfeit citizenship to the United States forever.

Secure the border first. We must control the border, build a fence, and enforce employment law and immigration law within our borders with the help of state and local law enforcement.

End birthright citizenship. Children of illegal immigrants should no longer be granted automatic citizenship simply because they were born in the U.S.

End chain migration. The Senate bill would have increased extended-family chain migration by as many as four times the current levels.

New visa programs must be enforceable and expanded to highly skilled workers. The Senate proposal called for up to one million visas for low-skilled workers, but did not do enough to attract higher-skilled workers who would contribute to our nation’s economy.

I’m not sure that any of the presidential candidates will embrace my list completely. But, whoever wins in November 2008 will have the halo of a public mandate and will probably be able to implement their immigration plan in their first 100 days in office, putting this contentious issue behind them early in their term. That makes November 2008 the most critical election yet in determining what this country’s immigration policies will look like decades in the future.

That’s important stuff. It’s worth paying attention and voting. CRO

First appeared in OC Metro




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