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|Kill This Bill
by J. F. Kelly, Jr.[writer]
Some senators seem intent on resuscitating a compromise immigration bill. Recall that Senate majority leader Harry Reid earlier pulled it from the floor so that the Senate could turn its attention to more substantive issues like a purely symbolic vote of no confidence in Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. Actually, Americans would be better served by just letting it die. A misguided effort to generate a comprehensive immigration reform bill that President George W. Bush will sign would only produce another piece of legislation that will probably not be enforced and will, in any event, fail to correct the real problem just as “reform” bills signed by Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton failed to prevent the illegal alien population from swelling to over 12 million.
J.F. Kelly, Jr.
Kelly, Jr. is a retired Navy Captain and bank executive
who writes on current events and military subjects.
He is a resident of Coronado, California. [go to Kelly index]
This time it will be different, we are told by proponents of a bill. But why should this time be any different, absent any demonstrated willingness to enforce existing laws? Proponents offer three arguments for a bill. First, they say that comprehensive immigration reform, not a piecemeal approach, is needed. Second, there is rare bipartisan support for passing some sort of compromise. Third, this is probably the last chance to get something passed until after the 2008 elections. These arguments are faulty but their proponents spare no demagoguery to advance them and are quick to brand opponents as obstructionists or anti-immigration racists.
Addressing the arguments sequentially, comprehensive immigration policy reform may indeed be needed but not until we can demonstrate an ability or willingness to enforce immigration laws we already have. Besides, immigration policy reform is a different problem from that of controlling illegal entry. The problem that has energized public anger is not immigration policy; it is illegal immigration. Comprehensive immigration policy reform is something most Americans would not place on their short list of top concerns at the moment.
Advocates for illegal aliens, including businesses that exploit them for their cheap labor, have obfuscated the issue by attempting to persuade the public and the Congress that the problem of illegal immigration is correctable only through comprehensive immigration policy reform. That is sort of like saying that the problem of violent crime is only solvable by first reforming the legal system. Illegal immigration is the immediate problem and it can be dealt with primarily by enforcing existing laws, tougher employee sanctions, a tamper-proof ID, better enforcement measures at the border including the construction of fencing and virtual fencing already authorized and coordination between federal, state and local authorities, including school systems.
The second bogus argument is that there is rare bipartisan support for some kind of a bill and we must seize the moment, as it were. But bipartisan support for exactly what? There are so many proposed amendments that there are more areas of disagreement than of consensus. The only bipartisan agreement that I can discern is the unanimous feeling among politicians that they had better appear to be doing something before the voters kick them out of office in 2008 which will probably happen anyway.
Finally, there is the related argument that this is somehow the last chance at comprehensive immigration reform and we must address all aspects of it at once. But why? Our immigration policy should always be dynamic, responding to our changing needs for skilled people from all over the world, not just Mexico and Central America, and to respond to valid requests for asylum. On the other hand, our last, best chance to avoid the problems created by adding 12 million illegal aliens to a growing underclass of unskilled Americans has already passed as a direct result of failure to enforce laws already on the books for which the president and Congress must be held accountable. The best we can do now is to keep the problem from getting worse.
Legalizing the status of those already here illegally, whether or not token penalties are imposed, is amnesty. It makes proponents of a bill crazy to hear that, but they need to check the meaning of amnesty. Rewarding these lawbreakers with even temporary and conditional legal status is a form of amnesty. Advocates of a “path to citizenship” argue that we have no choice. We can’t deport 12 million people. But we do have a choice. Don’t deport them unless they are caught committing another crime. Mass deportations would be too expensive and too inhumane. Let them remain “in the shadows” if they wish. That’s the status they earned by sneaking across the border. No one promised them amnesty and they should feel free to return home at any time and apply for citizenship like someone from, say, Africa or Asia, without convenient access to a porous border.
President Bush is desperate to add immigration reform to his short list of presidential accomplishments before his term runs out. He picked the wrong horse. He would have been better advised to devote his efforts to dealing with the real problem. Instead, he and Congress pandered to Hispanic voters and business interests addicted to cheap labor and permitted the problem to double in magnitude. It is a problem that simply must be addressed before any grand attempt at comprehensive immigration policy reform. CRO
2007 J. F. Kelly, Jr.