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Immigration Reform In The House: First The Fence

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My Monday Washington Examiner column urges some familiar positions on the House GOP as it prepares to grapple with immigration reform in the aftermath of the Senate fiasco.

The Examiner’s Conn Carroll is right to urge House Republicans to put their guard up the moment they hear Democrats like Chuck Schumer counseling them on what is in their best interests.  “I was moved, almost to the point of tears, by Senator Schumer’s concern for the future prospects of the Republican Party,” South Carolina’s Trey Gowdy said on CNN yesterday –exactly the right response to such shams.

But the House could produce what is needed –serious immigration reform, but it has to begin as the Senate’s bill should have begun –with a long, strong, double-layered fence.  Not the promise of high-tech wizardry or pledges of 100% effective plans down the road, but a simple, old-fashioned, highly effective fence, and one that crosses tribal lands, doesn’t need the permission of environmental activists to build, and which is fully funded in advance.  Indeed, House appropriators can begin testing Democratic seriousness by putting full funding for immediate construction of long ago authorized fencing –but with mapping, design specs, and “notwithstanding any other law” language to expedite at least 700 and probably 1000 more new miles of the double layered effective fencing with access roads alongside.

Why the Senate GOP refused to demand a fence at the first meeting of the Gang of 8 and never abandon it will always remain a mystery, especially as senator McCain campaigned on just such a fence throughout his 2010 re-election campaign.  But it didn’t, and as Mark Steyn’s weekend column noted, my interview with Senator Hoeven demonstrated that the senators really didn’t understand the border security amendment they actually passed or how to make legislative language actually effectuate the legislative goals the body intended.

The House cannot make these same mistakes.  Clarity and specificity about the fence is everything to the success of any reform effort.  If the House cannot point to such language and every member urging reform is not prepared to answer questions abotu when, where and how high when it comes to the fence, then the House bill won’t be serious either.



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