Monday, October 02, 2006

House-backed bill fails to address immigration ills

from the Home News Tribune (for full article click here):

You can look at it as cynical political manipulation. You can look at it purely in terms of policy effectiveness. Either way, it's not going to work.

Right now, it seems holdouts in the House are going to kill the comprehensive immigration reform passed by the Senate a while back. Instead, they are going for an enforcement-only approach.
It includes a $2 billion, 700-mile fence along the Mexican border, giving state and local cops authority to arrest people for civil violations of immigration law and a new requirement for voters to show photo identification to take part in federal elections.

Off the table, for now, is the Senate plan — supported by the president — that provides a guest-worker program and a path for illegal immigrants to legalize their status if they pay fines, learn English, have a job and stay out of trouble.

The enforcement-only provisions would not be totally objectionable were they part of a more comprehensive bill.

Take the 700-mile fence. The border with Mexico is some 2,100 miles, and the border with Canada is about 5,500 miles, including land and water. The fence would cover about a third of the Mexican border and none of Canada's. One could argue it's ineffective, especially in light of the fact that 40 percent to 50 percent of illegal immigrants did not sneak in but entered legally and overstayed their visas. Then there is the ugliness of a nation built by immigrants hiding behind walls and barbed wire.

Still, no need for perfection. A fence will make it more difficult, in some border sectors, to enter the United States illegally. So fine: a fence it is — as part of a compromise that accepts the comprehensive Senate provisions.

Same for the plan to give state and local cops power over immigration law. Many law-
enforcement agencies don't want such power, saying their job is to catch actual criminals and prevent actual crimes, not violators of civil statutes. They also say that illegal immigrants who often serve as sources to catch real criminals will be afraid to talk to police.

The legislation, however, does not force local cops into the immigration-enforcement business. It leaves that up to local authorities. So, again, it's an idea full of problems yet acceptable as a negotiated part of a larger solution.

And there's the matter of photo IDs to vote. There is zero evidence that illegal immigrants are flooding voting booths. The legislation solves a problem that does not exist. Yet if anti-immigrant radicals want voters to show who they are, moderate voices should be able to accommodate that — again, if accompanied by the more comprehensive Senate plan.

But Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist has said he would support enforcement-only, and President Bush has said he would sign the bill as a "first step."

In terms of pure politics, it's a craven cave-in to the hard right. Republicans will reverse the gains Bush made among Hispanic voters since xenophobic waves of the mid-1990s. And they will lose the votes of moderates — poll after poll has shown that a majority of Americans support a path to legality.

And in terms of policy effectiveness, the enforcement-only approach merely nibbles at the problem. Maybe a few more people will be unable to sneak in. Others will find a way around the fence. Many more will continue to enter legally and stay beyond their allotted time.

Nothing will be done about the 11 million already here without papers. At least the House's enforcement-only
bill says nothing about mass deportations — the more extremist sorts have come to realize it's not the right time to demand such a measure, while the less radical ones who still want enforcement-only see that kicking 11 million out of the country is both impractical and immoral.

So they will remain in the shadows.

The Senate's plan for a guest-worker program combined with a path to legality would have addressed the problem. But the plan might be dead.

Sadly, it isn't just the xenophobic right that is killing it. It's also George Bush. Going back to his days as governor of Texas, he always understood a sensible immigration policy needed to include more than walls, cops and ID cards. Now he is willing to accept those things as a "first step." If he does, it is hard to imagine the hard right will later accept a second.

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

Rep. Foley voted for HR 4437.

Anonymous said...

Europen workers with trouble getting visas because their is no line from them to get in ,to get one.Have started to move home in big numbers but luckly their is enough people comeing from south America to talk up the vacant jobs. All you fools who think a fence will help wake up
TOM CULLAN

habeus corpus said...

As the immigration debate has suffered from a lack of discussion about one of the central issues: immigration's influence on population growth.

The Census Bureau projects that, if current immigration rates are allowed to continue, the country will add well over 100 million additional residents by mid-century, with most of the growth caused by immigration. This poll asked likely American voters from different regions, ethnicities, economic brackets, and political affiliations if they thought this growth would have a positive or negative impact on their quality of life. The majority of voters from all walks of life agreed that this growth would have a negative impact.

Sixty-four percent of voters said the country needs to reduce immigration numbers: Democrats (59%), Independents (59%), Republican (74%), Asian (64%), Black (72%), Hispanic (57%), White (65%), Professional workers (56%), White Collar (65%), Blue Collar (74%), Part-Time (62%), Not Working (68%), Retired (69%).

Nevertheless, Republican leaders such as Senators McCain, Brownback, and Frist; most Democratic Senators; and the Republican White House favor immigration INCREASES! The Senate went so far as to approve a bill (S. 2611) that would DOUBLE immigration numbers - a policy that is supported by only three percent of likely voters: Democrats (2%), Independents (4%), Republican (2%), Asian (7%), Black (1%), Hispanic (5%), White (3%), Professional Workers (4%), White Collar (1%), Blue Collar (3%), Part-Time (3%), Not Working (1%), Retired (2%).

This disconnect cannot last forever. Eventually, these American voters will elect people who share their concerns.

habeus corpus said...

As the immigration debate has suffered from a lack of discussion about one of the central issues: immigration's influence on population growth.

The Census Bureau projects that, if current immigration rates are allowed to continue, the country will add well over 100 million additional residents by mid-century, with most of the growth caused by immigration. This poll asked likely American voters from different regions, ethnicities, economic brackets, and political affiliations if they thought this growth would have a positive or negative impact on their quality of life. The majority of voters from all walks of life agreed that this growth would have a negative impact.

Sixty-four percent of voters said the country needs to reduce immigration numbers: Democrats (59%), Independents (59%), Republican (74%), Asian (64%), Black (72%), Hispanic (57%), White (65%), Professional workers (56%), White Collar (65%), Blue Collar (74%), Part-Time (62%), Not Working (68%), Retired (69%).

Nevertheless, Republican leaders such as Senators McCain, Brownback, and Frist; most Democratic Senators; and the Republican White House favor immigration INCREASES! The Senate went so far as to approve a bill (S. 2611) that would DOUBLE immigration numbers - a policy that is supported by only three percent of likely voters: Democrats (2%), Independents (4%), Republican (2%), Asian (7%), Black (1%), Hispanic (5%), White (3%), Professional Workers (4%), White Collar (1%), Blue Collar (3%), Part-Time (3%), Not Working (1%), Retired (2%).

This disconnect cannot last forever. Eventually, these American voters will elect people who share their concerns.

Handy Manny said...

reducing immigration does nothing for the people that are already here. They should be brought out of the shadows and given a chance to prove themselves worthy of legal status. We need to give them the chance to pay the fines and go through the background checks and jump through the strict hoops required by the Senate Bill that was stalled and delayed for cynical politics aimed at protecting the status quo.

The same House leaders that gave their all to stalling real immigration reform did their all to keep Foley's activities quiet to protect their own political hides.

Let's build the fence around the anti-immigrant leaders in the House to protect the American people from them!

Legalize the Irish!

Sean said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
habeous corpus said...

handy;
They should be brought out of the shadows and given a chance to prove themselves worthy of legal status
I have some problems with this statement, and it reflects a kind of remarkable and unusual way of thinking.
The US, like some other countries has an immigration program. Many qualified foreign nationals can apply for the program. I suppose it's analogous to attending college - you make the application - if you are accepted and meet the criteria - you move forward.
This idea that somehow the rules can be circumvented, and for example, a rejected college applicant would decide he will "audit" the courses, and do the work on his own, is a reflection of this unusual disconnected mode of thought. The thought that his person at the end of 4 years of this, could present to the University a petition that he should be granted a degree. Well, the University has no obligation to grant him even the time of day.
Similarly, as an immigration program applicant, the receiving country, has no obligation to suspend or change their criteria, based on whatever - the high moral character of the applicant, his industriousness, his brains, or his good-looks.
Sure, it is possible for the current immigration program to change through legislation, but that hardly seems likely in the current highly volitile and extremely messy state of affairs.

Anonymous said...

I think Sean is right get rid of illegals with the amount of people going to retire over the next 20 years.We should make our work force smaller who care if their is not enough money to keep up social secuirty sure "let them it cake" if they get hungry.Slow down our whole econmy and try and fund a war at the same time this country needs more people like Sean the sooner we close our borders and become more like Cuba the better
Julio Lincon

Anonymous said...

"Sure, it is possible for the current immigration program to change through legislation..."
--nuff sed, habeus.

There is no "obligation" to correct the broken immigration system and get the undocumented on the path to legal status. There is no obligation to save a drowning child. Doing the right thing is usually not obligatory.