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Senate Arrogance on Immigration

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What is happening in the Senate on the immigration issue is arrogance. Plain and simple, old-fashioned, “we know better than you do” arrogance. In the face of overwhelming public opposition to virtually every facet of the McCain/Kennedy Senate bill regarding immigration reform, the Judiciary Committee, by a vote of twelve to six, reported the bill to the full Senate.

The proponents of this bill, or variations of it, cry repeatedly that it is not an “amnesty” plan. But as the old saying goes, if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it’s probably a duck. This bill could have a picture of it next to the word “duck’ in the dictionary.

The most controversial element of this “reform” is a scheme that would allow illegal aliens to stay in the United States permanently. The long and short of it is that if people who broke the law and came here illegally will report in and pay a fine and some back taxes, they get to stay. Moreover, they get put on track to full citizenship.

And without any serious border enforcement, much less the proposed physical barrier that could be erected along the most difficult to patrol areas of our border, the Senate bill would lead us full circle to our present situation a decade from now. This is to say nothing of the fact that, once potential border-crossers see that we’re an easy touch once they actually get into the country, more of them are sure to follow.

Proponents of the Senate version of a “guest worker” plan say that it is not feasible to expect illegals to return to their home countries and apply for such status or even for American citizenship. Why not? They came here, didn’t they? They obviously know the way. What they are really saying is that they broke the law to get here, so we should just accept that they would break any law that asks them to come here through legal channels.

It is axiomatic that, if you want more of something, you subsidize it. If you want less of something, you tax it. The same principle applies here. If we want to see the number of illegals increase, then give the ones that are here now amnesty and a green light towards citizenship. If we want fewer, then secure the border and begin penalizing the businesses that knowingly hire them. Period.

And what about the fiscal realities associated with such a scheme? If all of the illegals in this country “reported in”, paid their fine and back taxes as required by the McCain/Kennedy bill, how much are they likely to cost taxpayers in government benefits once they’re legal? I’m sure the proponents of the Senate bill will fail to trumpet that piece of information.

Then there is the lesson of “fool me once shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me.” In other words, we’ve been down this road before, in 1986 to be exact. That year some four or five million illegal aliens received amnesty. The political tradeoff for that deal was, you guessed it, enhanced border security. We were going to get tough. “This more and no more”, so to speak.

So how did that work out? Well, here we are, twelve million illegal aliens later, hearing the same old song and dance. This time, House Republicans wisely moved to put the horse in front of the cart and focus on border enforcement. The idea being that there would be no legislative tradeoffs on that issue — it would stand on its own.

But this is Washington, and the politics of immigration prevents that from happening. Too many politicians see future political advantage in several million more poor immigrants with voter registration cards. Too many liberals see an advantage to having a larger constituency to lobby on behalf of for government benefits. Too many members of the business community see the dollar signs that come with cheap labor.

So how do the American people feel about all of this? According to each and every major poll on the subject, they disagree. Overwhelmingly. The various polls were conducted by Time/Warner, Quinnipiac, Gallup, NBC/Wall Street Journal and IQ Research and, while the numbers vary slightly from poll to poll, suffice it to say that an average of three-fifths to three-fourths of the American public agree on the following:

They support construction of a security fence on our border; think illegals should be treated as felons; oppose giving them a path to citizenship; want employers who hire them penalized; think illegals increase the likelihood of terrorism; and think they cost taxpayers too much because of demands for public education and health care.

A whopping eighty-eight percent of Americans consider illegal immigration to be a serious problem, and seventy-one percent say they would vote for Congressional candidates who would tighten immigration.

It doesn’t seem that the solons in the Senate are listening. That arrogance problem again.

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About Drew McKissick

Drew McKissick is a political consultant with over twenty-five years of experience specializing in political strategy, planning and organization as well as the development of grassroots related political action programs. He has worked as a political activist at the local, state and national levels, and has served in elected and appointed positions at all levels of the Republican Party, including serving as a member of the Republican National Committee. He also writes a regular column providing analysis and commentary on current events.
  • G.C.

    If you do not like the way the Senators vote, convince people in places like CA and NY to send their senators packing this fall.

  • Dave Nalle

    Drew, the bill currently on the floor is NOT the Kennedy-McCain bill. It’s the First version of the Sensenbrenner bill from the House with amendments added to include the best elements of the Kennedy-McCain bill. So it has both the homeland security and strong enforcement provisions PLUS the guest worker and fines and go to the back of the line immigration option for illegals.


  • Much that I have seen of this debate in many many quarters ignores reality. It’s impossible to stop illegal immigration, plain and simple. Even a twenty foot wall with machine gun nests every quarter mile wouldn’t completely erase it. Plus, that would take many billions of dollars ergo it’s not going to happen.

    So in my view the only obvious choice is to have a balanced plan to increase border security (knowing that many will still get through) while going some kind of “road to citizenship” route.

    I hate many of President Bush’s policies, but I applaud his stance on this one.

  • Uh Eric, it’s a republican-run congress, of COURSE it ignores reality!

    …but that’s only my opinion

  • Nancy

    This is just election-year posturing; there will be much sound & fury signifying nothing, while the scum on The Hill make political hay but very carefully ignore whatever facts or polls they find inconvenient, or spin them if they won’t go away (“when you criticize the war in Iraq, you criticize Our Troops”). None of them, Dem or GOP, will dare to do anything concrete, for fear that somehow in the future it will come back to bite them in the ass…and God forbid any of them should actually take a stand on something & stick to it. If they really, really wanted to do something, then penalizing employers & enablers of illegals, and making a flaming example of those caught, would bring a good deal of the demand to a screeching halt, and likewise substantially reduce the supply. If there are no jobs, no hope of anything except getting charged with a felony & treated very harshly, then there won’t be such a scramble to sneak in here. However, Congress & business all look the other way, with no intentions whatsoever of preserving anything except the status quo. They’ll make plenty of noise pretending they’re doing something about it, but I’d be willing to bet that a year from now, nothing will have changed except for a few paper pronouncements with all the bite of a toothless dog: for all intents & purposes, null, void, & unenforcable.

  • Bliffle

    Nothing will change or improve until the Bush administration brings very strong and determined pressure on the Mexican government to change its ways, which would mean at least the following:

    (1) allow US business to own property and be freed from the baleful oversight of the Mexican mafia families that rule Mexico,

    (2) end the reign of the Mexican ruling families

    (3) open Mexican markets to foreign business,

    (4) end the religious domination of Mexico by the catholic church (one can see how little the vatican cares for mexican catholics by Benedicts recent actions),

    (5) allow US and other foreign citizens to own property in Mexico,

    (6) take privilege away from the hereditary rulers and allow hard-working Mexican citizens to prosper and own property and businesses just as many escapees do in the USA.

    The solution to Mexicos woes lies not in Washington or California or The Senate, but in Mexico City. Until all parties recognize this essential truth all the rest is mere window dressing.