Senator Jon Kyl was my guest this afternoon —the transcript is here— The immigration bill is clearly not dead, and the effort to resurrect it will be intense.
I tried to raise the points I have heard most often from critics of the draft bill who, like me, are not opposed to regularization of most of the illegals in the country but who are concerned with gaps in the security provisions. I don’t see why more of the fence can’t be built before Z visas start to issue, why illegals from Saudi Arabia, Iran, Jordan and other countries with jihadist networks of long standing should be treated the same as illegals from Mexico and Central America, and why the law can’t be written to make express the determination of the Congress that due process rights will not attach to probationary benefits under old Section 601(h). Senator Kyl conceded that the conservatives have seen their leverage increase in the past few days, and that Senators DeMint and Sessions are crucial to the fashioning of a package of amendments the full consideration of which will be a precondition to resuming debate.
Those amendments not only have to be offered, I suspect, they will have to pass to salvage the bill. But if Senator Kennedy really wants a bill, now is the time to push for genuine border security and serious increases in the domestic security forces within the U.S. An amendment recognizing that illegals from “countries of special interest” have to receive an affirmative clearance from the government before getting work and travel permits seems an absolute necessity as well given our recent experiences with the Kennedy Airport Four and the Fort Dix Six. Such affirmative declarations will have some government official’s name on them, which will surely increase the real scrutiny being paid to such applicants for Z visas. So too does additional funding and personnel levels for the agencies tasked with scrutinizing the millions of new probationary residents.
Here’s the political danger: To bring back a bill with only cosmetic changes will enrage the GOP base far beyond where they already were when their complaints were perceived as being ignored. Republican activistswill feel as though they are being conned if the bill that was thought to be dead is raised up in the same form and quickly passed. A successful relaunch will begin with a press conference that details the changes that have been made in Immigration Bill 2.0. If there is a sequel, it has to be a much improved version of the original.