Immigration Victory and Hope

Americans nationwide felt the satisfaction of a job well done when a compromised immigration reform bill was blocked on the Senate floor yesterday morning. Any major reform action is likely stalled until after the 2008 elections so politicians will have ample time to consider the future of immigration for the country.

The freshly amended bill, which would have granted 12 million illegal aliens amnesty, had been polished by backers to rally dwindling support but Republican opponents and activists clamored loudly enough to overhaul the reform.

“This is remarkable because it shows that Americans are engaged and they care deeply…enough for their country to get mad and to fight for it, and that’s the most important thing of all,” said Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.), who fought fiercely on Capitol Hill against the proposal. “Americans made phone calls and sent letters, and convinced the Senate to stop this bill.”

When poll after poll concluded that majorities in every state were against the reform, elected leaders were asked to respond accordingly and stop it. The most recent CNN/Opinion Research poll found that only 30% of Americans had supported the bill. Democracy Corps reported only 28% supported and Zogby numbers revealed only 3% of Americans approve of the way Congress was handling immigration. Some leaders disregarded the will of the people in favor of personal and political gain. 

In his post-vote remarks, President Bush said, “Legal immigration is one of the top concerns of the American people and Congress’s failure to act on it is a disappointment.” Bush is wrong in his consensus. Members of Congress who were disturbed the bill’s excessive accommodations for non-citizens have spent the past months acting on their convictions. The choice to stall reform and propose an appropriate plan in due time was extremely important.

Rep. Brian Bilbray (R.-Calif.), who spent a considerable effort rallying and informing citizens of the unconstitutional measures in the bill, responded to the vote saying it is “important that this defeat not signal the end of our efforts to address illegal immigration but rather represent a new opportunity for Congress.”

Millions more voters on the political horizon provided overwhelming incentive for some politicians to support the amnesty. But no one will admit that. A new USA TODAY/Gallup Poll reveals that Hispanics, by nearly 3 to 1, identify as a Democrat or left. The only majority of people residing in America who opposed the immigration bill because it’s “not doing enough” were illegal aliens. Almost every Democratic Senator supported the bill.

They undermined a pride formally associated with obtaining an American citizenship. I attended an elementary school near an immigrant-populated university, and remember many children proudly announcing their citizenship to the class. This should never become an assumed birthright.

When Miss USA was booed in Mexico at the Miss Universe pageant two months ago, Mexicans in the audience revealed their utter lack of respect for the country that so many of them desire to call their own. A letter to Congress form the pro-immigrant William C. Valesquez Insitutute said, “The so-called bipartisan Grand Bargain immigration reform proposal is neither grand nor a bargain for the millions of immigrants that will have to pay the price for Congressional expediency.”

On their web site, the Asian Law Caucus writes that the bill would have “sen[t] the un-American message that certain people are good enough to work for American but not good enough to become Americans.” They called the bill a “direct attack” on immigrant communities. From across the border and across the oceans, these individuals are essentially demanding rights — and ours leaders were salivating for their votes.

But now that defeat has ensued, the untrustworthy can be duly noted. Sen. John McCain (R.-Ariz.), Sen. Trent Lott (R.-Miss.), Sen. Mel Martinez (R.-Fl.), Sen. Arlen Specter (R.-Penn.), Sen. John Kyl (R.-Ariz.) and Sen. Lyndsey Graham (R.-S.C.) all voted in favor of the bill — putting the will of non-citizens above their fundamental duty to represent Americans and protect our nation.

A Rasmussen and Opinion Dynamics/Fox News poll both found that respectively 69% and 58% of Americans believe that enforcing current immigration laws is the best solution to the immigration crisis yet this hasn’t been implemented. It should be first priority on the next round.

“It’s unfortunate this particular bill got as far along in the process as it did, but its defeat will give new momentum to those of us in Congress fighting to secure our borders, reestablish the rule of law, and ensure those who come into this country are identified, verified and legal,” said Rep. Roy Blunt (R.-Mo.) on Thursday.

A few strong voices in Congress, like DeMint, Bilbray and Sen. Jeff Sessions (R.-Ala.) made monumental strides to help set a strong precedent. Rep. Steve King (R.-Iowa) and Rep. Lamar Smith (R.-Tex.) proposed an alternative immigration bill illustrating ideas that can appease the American people on reform.

The foundational components of the Secure Borders FIRST Act are securing the borders and enforcing current laws. Americans cannot be convinced by wordy promises from a Congress that hasn’t delivered for over 20 years. This proposal is a model for the right way to approach immigration reform.

The immigration debate sparked a booming grassroots movement. Bloggers and radio talk show hosts like Michelle Malkin and Laura Ingraham drenched their audience with information and incentive, publishing phone numbers, addresses and urging voters to contact their legislators and say no to amnesty. The hard-fought efforts of bill opponents in Congress and the media, as well as Americans from across the country, have surely prevailed.