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House should refuse to name conferees

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Senate Immigration Bill Is Skunk in a Bow

House should refuse to name conferees

The Republican House of Representatives should tell the U.S. Senate — and the Bush White House — to take a hike on immigration.

The GOP-led House has been handed a skunk wrapped in a bow. That stinking varmint, S. 2611, amounts to a liberal, Democrat bill.

Instead of obliging the cynical pansies of the Senate and the administration who keep pushing open-borders policies, the House should simply refuse to name conferees. That is, House Republicans should boldly snub their noses — very publicly — at their party’s turncoats.

Otherwise, the GOP House faces a no-win situation in a conference committee charged with reconciling two immigration bills as different as night and day.

The best course for the House majority, if it hopes to retain Republican control this November, lies in shouting “No deal!” and slamming the door to bargaining behind closed doors. The House should stick to its guns and insist on its enforcement-only approach as the only thing worth discussing.

Enforcement is the true “rational middle ground” on which there’s any agreement. But flacks for Big Business, Big Labor, Big Religion and the Far Left hold enforcement hostage. It’s leverage to force acceptance of amnesty-guestworker schemes.

In the end, no immigration bill is better — for the country, for conservatives and for the Republican Party — than anything that could possibly emanate from a conference committee trying to marry up H.R. 4437 and S. 2611.

Why not attempt to hammer out a House-Senate compromise? For several reasons, but first consider some facts.

The Senate’s Hagel-Specter-Martinez “compromise” amnesty bill is in fact a liberal product. While the vast majority of Democrats (38) voted for it, only about 40% of Senate Republicans (23) supported its passage.

Doesn’t it tell us something when Teddy Kennedy enthusiastically supports this bill?

Nearly 60% of Senate Republicans (32) opposed S. 2611. Ten of the 14 GOP Senators who face re-election this year voted against the bill, and three of the four Democrats who cast “no” votes stand for re-election this time.

S. 2611 includes several amnesty measures. It legalizes some 85% of the 10 million to 12 million illegal aliens, even rewarding their lawbreaking with U.S. citizenship. It amnesties employers who broke the law by hiring illegal aliens. It contains a DREAM Act amnesty for illegal aliens under 18 years of age and a special amnesty for illegal farm workers.

The bill creates a new “guestworker” program in which the “guests” (some of whom are illegal aliens whose status it launders) will never leave the country. This is President Bush’s “any willing worker” plan. It sets up a dynamic where no willing American could ever accept the artificially depressed wage rate being offered, so cheap foreign labor always gets the job.

Proponents unfailingly fail to mention that native-born American unemployment in the very job sectors with the most foreign workers (e.g., agriculture, restaurants, construction) is twice the national average. Millions more American workers have been forced from the labor market because they can no longer find employment in their fields.

When the average Mexican worker earns 1/12th the wage of the average American worker and 4.6 billion people in the world earn less than the average Mexican, that makes for a lot of “willing workers.”

Further, S. 2611’s enforcement provisions don’t measure up to the House’s. The immigration lawyers’ lobby drafted much of S. 2611 (creating an “immigration lawyers’ full employment act”). “Enforcement” sections actually tie the hands of law enforcement — one provision even requiring the United States effectively to get Mexico’s permission before building border barriers or taking enforcement actions.

So, what do these facts mean for House Republicans? They mean House Republicans will be outgunned in a conference committee. Everybody else — House and Senate Democrats and Senate Republican conferees — will gang up on the GOP House conferees. And the White House, while not formally part of the conference, will arm-twist for the open-borders, pro-amnesty side.

If Senate GOP conferees reflected the majority of Republican Senators, they would side with House majority conferees. But Sen. Bill Frist has already tipped his hand. He intends to name “Republican” conferees who mostly reflect Democrats’ instead of his own party’s views.

The very fact House Republicans are negotiating with the amnesty crowd will further depress the Republican base. The reputable polls all show the public overwhelmingly favors the House’s enforcement-only approach and opposes amnesty-guestworker.

If they name conferees, it will appear House Republicans are selling out America. That will further depress turnout this fall by the voters the GOP desperately needs to show up on Election Day.

Midterm elections historically go poorly for the party that holds the White House — and second-term midterms tend to be the harshest.

To keep the House in Republican hands, the key is for the House majority to hand back to President Bush and the Senate their amnesty-guestworker skunk.

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James Edwards is coauthor of "The Congressional Politics of Immigration Reform."

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