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Immigration and the House GOP

Sunday, July 21, 2013  |  posted by Hugh Hewitt

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Any House immigration bill without adequate border fencing is a death knell for immigration reform for this Congress.  (AP File)

My Monday Washington Examiner column warns that the House GOP is headed into a box canyon on immigration, and that it is wholly unnecessary to go there.

I think 90% of the GOP base is agreed on 90% of what needs to be done.  I think that includes regularization for the 11 million, citizenship only after a couple of decades of steady employment and no legal problems, and a long, strong, double-layered fence on any part of the border which is reasonably accessible to foot or vehicle traffic (which is much more than the 700 miles of the opening offer in 2006), and which is fully funded, authorized, and not subject to veto by tribal authorities, Homeland Security bureaucrats or environmentalists.  The immediate embrace and expansion of E-Verify and the visa-tracking system are also keys, so that the necessary but but not sufficient elements are all understood.  But they need to be spelled out as “must-haves” by the House in the first bill it passes on the subject.

The bill from the House Homeland Security Committee which calls for a plan to be developed is a disaster, and trying to sell it ends up sounding like condescending double-talk even when genuine conservatives like Mike McCaul and Lou Barletta are trying to make the pitch.  It is as though immigration strikes Republicans with a curse of incoherence and an inability to speak with clarity and directness. Conservatives know what they want –a big fence, E-Verify, and visa reform.  Write the bill to require those three things. A bill that punts the obvious to any group of “experts” or “stakeholders” will cripple the credibility of any GOP Congressman who votes for it.

When the Members go home in August they need to get an earful, and not just from the “not now, not ever, never” caucus which is loud but not representative of most of the voters on the center-right side of the political spectrum.  They need to hear from the common sense conservatives, and they need to actually listen, not lecture.  This isn’t a complex issue and the refusal to treat voters as intelligent and very attentive on the issue is driving even hard-core loyalists to anger with the leadership.

This doesn’t have to be a disaster, though it looks like it is headed that way. H.R. 1417 is a disaster.  Hopefully the Conference already knows that and will wholly amend the bill with a straightforward set of minimum border security steps, beginning with the fence, before voting on it.

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