The immigration debacle reflects the sorry state of the U.S. Senate nowadays. Has the world’s greatest deliberative body really fallen so far?
Where is the extended debate, a real debate? Where are the Calhouns, the Websters, the La Follettes? Where is the respect for the process, our nation, the Founders?
The amnesty bill isn’t dead, with President Bush and Senate leaders twisting arms to revive this amnesty monstrosity and force through a “deal.” The bill’s death would be very good for the country!
The Bush-Kennedy bill makes mass amnesty its main object. It recklessly increases legal immigration levels and chain migration, though the public wants immigration cut. It sets up a cheap labor importation program. It offers hollow enforcement measures. Bottom line, it would actually make things much worse.
The Senate and the administration leave us a mottled, distorted shell of legitimate republican government. That’s the gravest tragedy.
Only six days of debate have occurred so far. Only a relative handful of amendments have been considered — some with just a couple of minutes of debate!
Some 190 amendments have been filed in the Senate on this bill. Yet the leadership is forcing strict time limits on only a dozen or so, and only on those the “grand bargainers” will agree to. Debate will be held to only a few minutes per amendment.
There are a few heroes. They include a few stalwarts fighting on both substantive policy and procedural legitimacy grounds. Sens. Jim DeMint and Jeff Sessions, David Vitter and John Cornyn, Byron Dorgan and Robert Byrd have stood up for the rights of the minority, for regular order, for a constructive amendment and debate process. Unfortunately, the real obstructionists — the “leadership” — plan to steamroll them.
What has happened? The American people have weighed in with their lawmakers and the Bush administration. It is abundantly clear to anybody with a modicum of common or political sense that the public strongly objects to mass amnesty of 12 to 20 million foreign lawbreakers and mass importation of cheap foreign labor.
Yet, a cabal of Senators, with Secretaries Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum of the Homeland Security and Commerce Departments, huddled in a back room drawing up a “grand bargain” amnesty-guestworker bill.
This irregular approach circumvented regular order — committee hearings, building up a public record, getting public input, working with members of the relevant committees, taking time to deliberate, draft, mark up and amend a work in progress. The closed-door dealmaking has bred public distrust, cynicism and anger.
The goal of good legislating isn’t speed. The Founders wisely gave us a government with strict speed limits and tall speed bumps. That part of the process worked to derail, at least temporarily, a shameful power grab.
With the immigration issue in particular, all sides agree on the problem: a broken immigration system and illegal immigration run amok.
But there’s no agreement on the solution. The pro-amnesty side holds any effective enforcement measures hostage to the whole “deal.”
One side cynically calculates its interests of importing voters for its party, reviving the ranks of labor unions and enabling ethnic grievance advocacy.
The other side cravenly favors importing a slave labor underclass to benefit its Big Business overlords, only dressing it up with the façade of legalized exploitation — in the name of the free market.
Shame on both sides!
The Bush administration has stooped to name calling and character assassination of anyone who dares to oppose it on mass amnesty and runaway importation of cheap foreign labor. The president dismisses reasoned objection as emotionalism.
President Bush’s job approval rating hovers under 30%. It is falling farther, in part thanks to his unseemly attacks on his political base over the immigration issue. The president ought to skim the old book “How to Win Friends and Influence People.” He definitely needs some pointers.
The president’s henchmen have launched an arm-twisting hard-sell routine for amnesty. They say to give the president credit for taking on the issue, “read the bill” and lower the temperature of the debate.
Meanwhile, DHS Sec. Mike Chertoff and others kicked their vitriol into high gear. President Bush gave a very public, very pointed, very critical speech in Georgia. He essentially called opponents of the backroom “grand bargain” unpatriotic, xenophobic and racist.
So much for restoring civility to Washington!
One talking point of the pro-amnesty crowd is that killing this bill equals “silent amnesty.” How utterly galling!
The only amnesty — “silent,” de facto or otherwise — is of the Bush administration’s own doing. This administration has willfully refused to enforce the laws on the books. In several instances, it’s actually undercut enforcement that was taking place and working!
For instance, Bush killed the NSEERS program, which caused 10-to-1 self-deportations among targeted illegals. He stopped a Border Patrol sting that netted hundreds of illegals in California. He quashed Social Security no-match letters where illegal aliens work illegitimately.
The American people justifiably resist rewarding foreign lawbreakers with amnesty; we’ve been down that road before. It only exacerbated the problem.
The public reasonably asks why it should trust the politicians saying “trust us” to faithfully enforce a new set of laws, when they’ve cravenly blocked the government from enforcing existing immigration laws.
The American way would be to scrap the backroom Frankenstein. Focus on systematic immigration enforcement — at the border, in the workplace, on American streets. Show us some real results first.
This isn’t “doing nothing.” It’s doing what politicians swore to do, namely to carry out our laws. It uses an attrition strategy, applying “broken windows” policing to immigration.
Want results? Try that! Get back to us in five or 10 years, we’ll see where things stand then. The 12 million illegals will have shrunk, not grown.
Build the 800-mile border fence. The border will be more secure.
And if you won’t do your job, voters should respond accordingly. But please, don’t lecture us, condescendingly or otherwise.
The White House should drop the uncomely ad hominem, character attack routine. Instead, it should resolve to enforce the law. But there is no good reason to let any politician browbeat the American people into choking down an amnesty or any increase in legal immigration.
Americans deserve better than the administration and the U.S. Senate are giving on immigration. Apparently, responsible governing is yet another “job American politicians won’t do.”