After talking with Senator Jeff Sessions and Michael Medved int he first hour of today’s program —transcripts will be here later— I suspect that the immigration bill is beyond repair.
But if the bill does come back, it will only be because the proponents of the bill have decided to make the sort of concessions to the critics who hated the probationary benefits and the half-hearted effort to build the fencing already put into the law. Mickey Kaus is trying to seal the coffin, but the security-minded should resist that invitation as surely as they rejected the false promises of border security in the first draft. Here’s what Mickey is writing:
kf Balking Points
1. If all these enforcement measures are so wonderful, why not enact just them and drop the questionable legalization part? Bush is holding the parts of the bill everyone says they want hostage to the parts he wants.
(Answer: because that bill won’t pass, and we need a bill because the border isn’t secured and the visa program is still broken.)
2. If we tried the enforcement parts first, then we wouldn’t have to trust the federal government. We could make sure the measures work before we go ahead with legalization (and attract a new wave of legalization-seeking illegals).
(Because the bill still won’t pass, and if we don’t get security out of the current Congress, an even worse bill could emerge under President Hillary.)
3. The bill does require “that we meet border security objectives before certain other provisions can take effect.” Unfortunately, legalization is not one of those “certain other provisions.” Legalization is immediate under the bill.
(Mickey’s correct –this is one of the key problems in the bill. But if this is fixed, it still won’t be enough for Mickey.)
4. “[I]f … they’re not obeying the law, they get sent out.” Of course, most of them will be obeying the law … because what was illegal will have been legalized! As for whether the government will actually get it together to send people home if, say, they’ve come illegally after the January, 2007 cutoff–well, again, let’s see whether that “investment” in enforcement pays off.
(Rhetoric, followed by a non-objection.Of course beefed up security won’t end all illegal immigration, but the idea is that if most of the illegal immigration is stopped at the border and by the new verification system, the impact ont he country will be greatly diminished and the attractiveness fo the attempt greatly reduced.)
(He’s right. The “silent amnesty” rhetoric is silly.)
The pro-reformers in the Senate need to (1)bring over one of the big critics like Senator Sessions or Senator DeMint, (2)hide Lindsey Graham and every other Republican who has blasted the base as “nativist,” (3)put a detailed plan out to build much of the fence in 24 months, (4)put out a detailed plan on the Border Patrol and related agencies build-up (4)make very clear that no probationary benefits —none— kick in until the triggers are pulled, (5)there are no automatic benefits for any illegal from a country of special concern.