Immigration: If It's Too Broke, Don't Fix It

The man and his wife were fighting, so she decides to play it coy. When he comes home from work and calls her name, he hears her disembodied voice answering from somewhere in the apartment, “I’m hiding!” Calling her name again only elicits the same response. Finally he has to sacrifice the element of surprise: “Honey, I bought you some nice diamond earrings.” After a moment of silence, he hears her voice again. “I’m hiding — in the linen closet!”

Apparently we can’t find our illegal immigrants, so well are they concealed in the countryside. Unless of course we have goodies for them, in which case they will promptly materialize. The three rules of finding these fugitives are: allocation, allocation, location. In fact, enough Republican senators thought that it was such a good idea to lure them out of the woodwork with the prospect of a shortcut to citizenship that it was worth teaming with Democrats to outvote their more conservative colleagues. And so the Senate immigration bill was born of dubious parentage.

End of story, right? Wrong. Apparently it ain’t over until long after it’s over. Because the Senate can deliver in voices inflated with ego but they can’t make us pay for their bill if we don’t let them pass through the House. And our boys in the House have hundreds of Reps to do the heavy lifting. They’re not dumbbells; they know that no pain means no gain. The House did pass an immigration measure but it was all about enforcement, not about amnesty.

America is getting a great civics lesson, one that most citizens have not been privy to in the past. Namely, that the Senate and the House of Representatives almost never pass identical bills on any matter. When they pass their separate bills on a subject, usually not terribly far from each other, there is a special committee that meets to seek a compromise position between the two versions. This is known as reconciliation. If such a happy medium emerges from their séance, it is sent back to the two bodies for a vote. Once it passes both, it heads up Pennsylvania Avenue to the third house; you know, the white one.

There is a possible scenario that virtually never happens. This is when the bills are so far apart that the committee decides that they have irreconcilable differences. Then, essentially, both bills have been rendered null. Citizens rarely mind this outcome. Politicians, by contrast, find it abhorrent. Not to mention loathsome and execrable and anathema and — forgive me for the four-letter words — rank and base. Why? You ask. Because then all their hand-wringing and back-scratching and tongue-wagging and eye-rolling (yes, and log-rolling) will have gone for naught.

This time around folks on both sides would like to see this monstrosity die a horrible death. The leftists are bitterly disappointed with the Senate, saying that the bill is too mean to people here less than five years, too tough on employers, too reliant on Social Security records, too un-protective of the migrant worker’s labor rights, among other grievances. Conservatives believe that it gives amnesty to criminals among both employers and employees, creates new protections for migrant workers that home-bred Americans do not enjoy, and quintuples the amount of legal immigrants admitted each year without too much scrutiny into their background and intentions.

Well, I say, if it’s too broke, don’t fix it. Why should well-intentioned people from both ends of the spectrum be at loggerheads? It’s time to introduce our No-Bill Peace Prize. Not since Clinton left office in January 2001 have those words — “No Bill” — sounded so soothing. Why not settle our differences by not settling our differences? That way we can both be happy that we killed a bad law and angry that we have no good law: ultimate compatibility! Let’s agree to disagree, baby. And the drinks are on the House, no bill.

This will leave the Republican Party intact rather than riven. After all, this issue has been threatening to explode in their faces for a long time. There is a lot of indignation at the perceived indignity of our laws and borders being trampled. The Minutemen’s motions are being seconded. And voters have done more than just bray against the bill, they have elected Bilbray in San Diego. His platform was to build a wall on the border, and despite liberal wailing, he stands victorious.

At the border, Customs agents and police always ask, “Has anyone put anything in your bags without your knowledge?” To which the jokey reply is: “How would I know?” This time the senators won’t get to slip their contraband into the lawbooks without our knowledge.