Immigration & identification
Sunday's Washington Post provided some historical background on why the 1986 Simpson-Mazzoli immigration bill ultimately failed: The critical provision to require national identification cards was deleted in the last hour of debate on the House floor. Rep. Edward R. Roybal (D-CA) warned that we would be heading toward a Nazi-like regime ("Let me see your papers!"), and that was the end of it. Former Sen. Alan Simpson (R-WY) recalled having the rug pulled out from under him:
We told them this would be the last amnesty. ... That there would be penalties against employers. It was like, Merry Christmas! But without identification, sanctions are toothless.
I mentioned the proposed REAL ID system on May 17, 2005, and it does pose a real (!) dilemma. At some point, a stark choice must be made between border vigilance and internal policing. Neither alternative is appealing, but I think most people would prefer focusing on the former. It would be nice if a more balanced, less intrusive approach were possible.
Meanwhile, in the present day, the leading Republican moderate in the Senate, Arlen Specter, says he is willing to compromise on the immigration issue and put a priority on protecting border and greater law enforcement in the interior. See Washington Times.
The chairman said he is open to novel approaches to reducing illegal immigration, including a suggestion by Lou Barletta, the mayor of Hazleton, Pa., who says landlords should have to verify that their tenants are in the country legally, just as employers are supposed to verify that their workers are legal.
It speaks volumes that such requirements are not already on the books. Well, Specter's flexibility on this is certainly encouraging. I am by no means solidly on the House side in this controversy, and the fact that reality is starting to sink in for some senators is a hopeful sign that the same will happen with some of their counterparts in the House.
Speaking of which, I think it is time for conservatives to give due credit to the GOP moderates -- most notably, Senators Specter and Warner -- for last year's compromise on judicial nominations that averted the "nuclear option." Since then, two solid conservatives, John Roberts and Samuel Alito, have joined the Supreme Court, which is a pretty good outcome from a conservative point of view.
Flag amendment fails
I am relieved that the proposed constitutional amendment to ban flag desecration failed to get the necessary two-thirds vote today, but I am dismayed that it fell only one vote short, 66-34. "Three Republicans joined most Democrats in voting against the measure. They were Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island and Robert Bennett of Utah." See washingtonpost.com. Good for them!
Politics gets nastier
These days, the biggest fear that members of Congress have about their daily mail is anthrax, ricin, or some other toxin. So guess what Rep. Marilyn Musgrave (R-CO) received in a package from one of her constituents? Dog poop! The alleged perpetrator is Kathleen Ensz, a Democratic activist who has taught at the University of Northern Colorado for 30 years. See The Hill. Apparently, Prof. Ensz has not grown up yet.