"How did it come to pass that an opposition's measure of a president's foreign policy was all or nothing, success or "failure"? The answer is that the political absolutism now normal in Washington arrived at the moment--Nov. 7, 2000--that our politics subordinated even a war against terror to seizing the office of the presidency." - Daniel Henninger - WSJ 11/18/05
"the slovenliness of our language makes it easier for us to have foolish thoughts." - George Orwell

Friday, June 23, 2006

House is being irresponsible on immigration legislation

There is always the chance with politicians that they are just paying lip service to an issue with no intention of actually following through. The recent news announced from the right side of the aisle, to take the show on the road and conduct "field hearings" on the bill is one that allows for just that possibility.

But it is only a possibility and is not a fact - I'll take that bet, as I would rather have nothing at this point than have them rush into something that doesn't take security and enforcement into account first.

The Chicago Sun-Times doesn't feel the same way. The paper would rather we end up with something more fair to those that have entered illegally. A bill that would go with the presidents "guest worker" program for the estimated millions of illegals. A bill that would grant citizenship/amnesty to the estimated millions of illegals as though that is more realistic that deportations.

On the subject of "mass deportations" I've wondered how it is that this is so much more difficult than dealing with the number of people that will need to be processed for amnesty programs. If the 12 million estimate is correct, the assumption seems to be that this would be manageable for the bureaucracy. Whereas a deportation wouldn't be. Bottom line is the number is an estimate, which means we're talking about doing something with people that we cannot identify. Why will one work better than the other? But I digress, sorry.

The Sun-Times believes this to be an election year ploy (it may be), though I highly doubt they would describe an action like this by Democrats in the same way.

From the Chicago Sun-Times:

No one knows how many illegal immigrants are here in the United States -- the estimates go as high as 12 million, with more arriving each month, daring the stultifying heat of the desert to cross into this land. Although the first group of National Guard were sent last week to monitor the border, little more can be done to address the issue because House Republicans in Washington won't work with the Senate to get a bipartisan immigration bill passed.

Forget flag burning and same-sex marriage. Illegal immigration is emerging as the bitterly divisive domestic issue. House Republicans, led by our own Illinois politician, Speaker J. Dennis Hastert, are shirking their obligation to lead on this by paying more mind to partisan politics and the upcoming election in November than the national good.

They see that the conservative Republican base is deeply opposed to the Senate bill that allows for a temporary guest worker program and a mechanism for illegals to obtain American citizenship. The House bill is far more punishing and does not give any latitude for future citizenship, focusing only on increasing border security and keeping illegals out.

At this point, the two houses, which each endorsed their own bills after much hard bargaining, should have been working on a compromise, but the House Republicans have put the kibosh on that, perhaps emboldened by a recent California election to fill the seat of disgraced House member Randy Cunningham. Despite the scandal about Cunningham taking bribes, that voting was won by a Republican candidate taking a hard line on immigration.

The House decision to break off talks with the Senate and hold public discussions on immigration reflects a disturbing flight from reality. Do House Republicans think that by postponing a bill, the illegal immigrant problem somehow will get better? Do they think that holding public hearings is going to change anything? Or make achieving a solution easier? What they should be doing is rolling up their sleeves and getting down to the hard work we elected them to do, not frittering away their time and ours. Surely, with a Republican in the White House (one who supports a Senate-style bill) and a Senate and House dominated by Republicans, the work can get done. But the irresponsible actions of House Republicans could lead to the Senate and House having to start over again.

Yes, there is anger about illegal immigrants, a feeling that it's been too easy for them to live and work in this country, that wages have been depressed as a consequence, that there are national security concerns from an unprotected border. All true, but the issue won't go away. If Republicans in control the White House and both Houses of Congress can't produce an immigration bill, the voters in November rightly will wonder whether Republicans deserve to rule in Washington.

**This was a production of The Coalition Against Illegal Immigration (CAII). If you would like to participate, please go to the above link to learn more. Afterwards, email the coalition and let me know at what level you would like to participate.**

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