My Monday Washington Examiner column raises the obvious, appropriate questions in the aftermath of the Boston bombings: Will immigration reform provide the occasion whn the United States takes its cross-border security vulnerabilities seriously?
Here’s the draft bill. Read through Title I a couple of times and I think you will agree it is far too much about promising border security and far too little about delivering it. Why the plan for border security mandated by the draft provisions is not already in existence is an indictment of the Department of Homeland Security that is supposed to produce the new plan, and in any event critics will of course point to the failures of past legislation regarding border fencing. (See the interview with Senator Jeff Sessions from last week.)
I and a large majority of Americans want immigration reform to pass so that those in the country without any legal status can regularize their lives and those of their children. The vast majority of these people are already hard at work here and will make lasting contributions to the country’s progress and prosperity.
But that progress and prosperity is threatened by almost non-existent border security and incredibly laxity concerning who does come via visas and stay with or without permission and regardless of assimilation. All of Title I is an almost absurd recasting of Wimpy’s famous “for a hamburger today I will gladly pay you Tuesday” schtick, and could only have been designed by Democrats who believe that it will certainly wreck the bill’s chances in the House.
The Senate has to amend Title I with nearly a complete rewrite into specific mandates or delay consideration of the bill until such time as DHS has produced the border security plan the draft bill proposes. Attaching a requirement to any debt ceiling measure that would oblige the plan to be developed now just as the balance of the immigration draft is making its way through the legislative process would be a reasonable, consensus-builign step, or a simply rewrite to mandate the immediate construction of double-sided fencing (which is explicitly called for in Title I to be part of any plan) of up to half the border would be an alternative approach.
But this version won’t pass the House and probably won’t pass the Senate. It wouldn’t have done so even before the Boston bombings reminded nearly everyone in the country of the need for comprehensive, sustained vigilance against fanatical enemies who use our openness against us, and it certainly won’t do so now.