Hamilton, Madison, and Jay

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Friday, June 8, 2007

NRO makes the right call

The president and those that support the amnesty bill are requesting that we trust them. "This time we're serious," they say. Ah, but we've been burned too many times on this issue, and we're not likely to trust those that have fooled us many times before. Today, the Editors of NRO have put together a "compromise" of sorts,/li> that is far better than the compromise offered by the secret cabal of senators on immigration:

Leaders of both parties had agreed on an immigration plan, and everyone they knew was on board. They seemed confident that they could marginalize their opponents, caricaturing them as bigots and silencing them in Congress. So what happened?

What happened is that the American people came out of the shadows. Their opposition to the Senate’s grand compromise, amplified and given voice by talk radio and other dissenting media voices, were enough to carry the day.

The result is not a failure of bipartisanship but a triumph of it. In a procedural vote last night, members of both parties objected to the backroom deal-making and dealt what we hope will be the fatal blow to “comprehensive immigration reform.”

President Bush has been gravely weakened by his loss of this battle, and it is a loss for which he has only himself to blame. He now faces a choice. He can continue to press forward with a flawed bill that probably won’t pass, at the cost of the continued alienation of his base. It is a testament to the damaged political instincts of this bruised and battered White House that it is this course — stubbornness — that it seems to be taking.

In his radio address Friday, President Bush continued to urge passage of the compromise plan. He said, “I know some of you doubt that the federal government will make good on the border security and enforcement commitments in this bill. My administration is determined to learn from the mistakes of the past decades.” Those “past decades,” please note, include the past six years. In recent months enforcement has been beefed up to make it easier to get this bill passed. If the president had done more, earlier, on this front, he might very well have gotten some type of amnesty through.

Instead of “comprehensive” reform, Bush should choose a second option: consecutive reform. During this debate, both the comprehensivists and their opponents have stressed the critical need to control the border and to give employers a reliable system to verify the legal status of their workers. There is no reason that either imperative should wait on resolution of the amnesty or guest-worker questions. The administration has often said that enforcement cannot work without an amnesty or guest-worker program; but it has refuted that claim by pointing out that its border-enforcement measures have brought the number of illegal crossings down.

When Americans are confident that the government is committed to enforcing any immigration laws, they will be more open to changes to those laws. We are skeptical about the need for a guest-worker program or a sweeping amnesty. But we would be willing to debate these policies in a few years’ time. They are not even worth debating, however, until we know that we are not merely legalizing millions of illegal immigrants while inviting millions more to be legalized in some future round of “reform.”

Last September, the Secure Fence Act, designed “to establish operational control over the international land and maritime borders of the United States,” passed the Senate on an 80-19 vote. It was supported by every Democratic candidate running for president and by Republican senators McCain, Martinez, and Graham. Mr. President, build on that overwhelming bipartisan support. Build that fence.

This certainly seems to be a compromise that Americans can accept. Why? It's quid pro quo. We get what we want; what we've deemed is necessary to help secure this nation. If we get what we want, then the president can have his bill. Although many security voters -- ourselves included -- have pointed out that the fence isn't the only measure that must be included in this bill. On Friday, Hugh Hewitt had an interview with John Kyl. the following exchange took place:

HH: And that’s one of my concerns. The second one goes back to…the San Antonio Express News series on the tens of thousands of illegals who’ve come through the Southern and the Northern border from countries of interest. I don’t know if you’ve had a chance to read that, yet, Senator Kyl.

JK: Yes, yes, I did, yeah.

HH: And to me, it seems that people from those countries, while certainly eligible, because most of them, the vast majority of them are going to be refugees and good people. But that if they don’t have documents, or we can’t check their documents, like Afghanistan or Saddam’s Iraq, that some sort of greater showing should be on their burden than a Mexican immigrant, or a Spanish speaking immigrant. And that…

JK: I may, I may have misunderstood you on this, because I understood your position there to be that they should not be considered. And if I’m in error, I apologize.

HH: Oh, no. That’s not it.

JK: If it’s a matter of a finer screen, I think as a practical matter, a finer screen will in fact be applied to them, but I confess to you that we don’t…I mean, we haven’t written it into the bill. But I think the reality is that there will be a finer screen, but that may be something that’s done by regulation than by statute.

No, not by statute. Attach this bit on with teh fence part, and the Senate may have itself a compromise. We want this nation protected from our enemies. The fence is part one. Scrutinizing immigrants or visa applicants from "countries of interest" is the second part. Give the nation this much, and we may be able to trust the government on it's enforcement promises. Until then, there is no deal, and the grand compromise can wither and die.

Publius II


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