First, let me welcome Charles Krauthammer into the “fences and carrots” coalition:
My proposition is the following: a vast number of Americans who oppose legalization and fear new waves of immigration would change their minds if we could radically reduce new — i.e., future — illegal immigration.
Forget employer sanctions. Build a barrier. It is simply ridiculous to say it cannot be done. If one fence won’t do it, then build a second 100 yards behind it. And then build a road for patrols in between. Put cameras. Put sensors. Put out lots of patrols.
Charles K’s proposition is a chapter in my new book, and has been a much debated middle ground in the immigration debate for many years. (Hedgehog was an early enrollee with me in the coalition, but there are many others.)
The Congress of the United States could in fact get such a bill through both chambers and to the president’s desk, and be remembered as a Congress that tackled and worked through one of the thorniest of all problems.
But it apparently won’t. Because the Senate punted. The Senate “compromise” of yesterday –with its promise of a “process” that will lead to fencing in high traffic areas– is just another security charade. There is no chance that the Senate bill would prevent the next 11 million from entering.
The legislation needed to put front and center the 700 miles of fencing the House authorized, needed to write “notwithstanding any other law” language to assure that environmental challenges wouldn’t hamper construction, and needed to detail an explicit timetable for construction –beginning immediately– along with construction parameters that assure it isn’t a cyclone fence unrolled in an hour but is instead like the 17 miles of barriers that run from the San Diego coast inland: very effective.
Fences work. They aren’t symbols of oppression. They are the reality of security.
The Senate needed to confront the rhetoric that would confuse a fence against entry with one prohibiting departure.
It needed to explain to the world, and especially the political left, that we can’t be intimidated on our own security by false charges of racism.
In short, it needed to be serious. Instead of compromise, though, we got collapse.
I don’t know who killed the fence, or if it can be resurrected, but I sincerely hope the GOP majority kills the compromise dead rather than hope for a rescue from the conference.
And if the Senate insists on this botched bit of patchwork, I hope Chairman Sensennbrenner —“Chairman ‘Who'” according to the always gentlemanly Harry Reid, a man who, quite incredibly, is making the defeated Tom Daschle appear stong and principled– kills it dead and explains to the American people that most of the GOP puts the country’s security ahead of political gain.
BTW: Take a look at the results in the Powerline survey. Unscientific, of course, but interesting as a hint of the reality of opinion among the GOP base. (You can vote here, in the right column.)
I am not surprised that John McCain has a tin ear on such matters. But I am surprised the Majority Leader misjudged thematter so completely, and will watch with interest how George Allen votes.
I will be amazed if the the senator from Virginia signs on to the destruction of his presidential hopes.
It wasn’t that hard to get right.
But the Senate got it very wrong indeed.