September 9, 2006
Senate Major Leader Bill Frist tried to put the best light on the meager accomplishments of Congress on the immigration front this year, saying he thinks voters are willing to give the Republicans another chance. Although he now concedes that the demands by the House GOP for immediate action on border security [must be given top priority], he also said that the 12 million undocumented people already here must be dealt with, via a temporary-worker program and enforcement of labor laws at places of employment. According to the Washington Post,
The legislative standoff amounts, in part, to a back-door victory for House Republicans, who have insisted on tougher enforcement of immigration laws before tackling broader revisions.
Indeed, knowing a little bit about how Congress works and how public policies often emerge in a haphazard process is about the only thing that gives me confidence on this issue. As for the 12 million, of course there needs to be some kind of legal framework to process them, but that doesn't mean our members in Congress need to gnash their teeth striving for some kind of Perfect Solution. As is the case with most big, divisive issues, reform of immigration will be a messy, partial, and frustrating process. The important thing is to start moving, and not to enact any new measures (such as "guest worker" programs) based on phony sentimental premises that will only end up creating new loopholes for lawyers to exploit.
The Hispanic immigrant community held another rally on the Mall in Washington on Thursday, and for the life of me, I still can't figure out exactly what they want. "Yes, we can what?" I suppose they're just trying to put the best face on desperately clinging to a status quo that they know cannot be sustained forever. I was watching on C-SPAN and saw Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-IL) make a particularly obnoxious (bilingual) speech slamming the Republican majority in Congress for -- he said -- wanting to keep immigrants repressed and separated from their families back home. What a disgusting spin. It is the current system that tolerates a two-tiered system facilitating exploitation of workers. That would come to an end in an instant if only our laws were consistently enforced. The hard truth is, millions of Latin American folks would rather live here as indentured servants than in their own countries as (more or less) free individuals. As for living apart from one's beloved family members back in the home country, that is a purely voluntary decision in which prospective (illegal) immigrants must weigh the costs and benefits of seeking a higher paying job in the U.S.A. Don't blame those who make and enforce the laws for that!
The candidate himself may be playing it very low key in terms of actual campaign appearances, but the first TV ads on behalf of James "Born Fighting" Webb have come out, so there must be someone in his organization who is serious about it. Unfortunately, Webb chose to make use of film footage of him standing with Ronald Reagan, as if The Gipper were giving him an endorsement from The Afterlife. For someone who switched parties, such a move is extremely presumptuous, to say the least. Nancy Reagan has already objected, and this phony stunt will probably end up angering more voters than it persuades. What's more, Webb is on record as having criticized the Reagan administration in sharp terms just after he stepped down as Navy Secretary, and his judgment on European defense policy at that time turned out to be grossly wrong. See Red State, via Chad Dotson. Perhaps the national security credentials of the pugnacious Scotsman are not as strong as many of us had assumed.