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Do-nothing Senate blocks a Bad Deal on Immigration

Apr
7
2006

After two weeks of national debate over immigration reform, the United States Senate did what it does best today: nothing. But maybe their two week vacation will allow our Senators to come back and get serious about long-term immigration solutions.
Over the past two weeks, a compromise bill came out of committee, only to see Majority Leader Bill Frist seek to boost his Presidential Primary posture by introducing a draconian enforcement-only bill.
In response, Democratic leaders pushed for a vote on earlier compromise, but only if there could be no amendments voted on the floor of the Senate. As the week wore on, yet another compromise came out which looked even more like “amnesty” than the guestworker programs Republicans railed against.
Two months ago, I wrote that, “we’re asking United States Senators to choose policy objectives at the expense of scoring political points” before predicting that it wasn’t likely to happen. Little did I know how prescient I would be.
United States Senators will now take a two-week vacation and go back to their districts. Surely, immigration will be a hot topic as they meet with constituents and listen to Holy Week sermons from the pulpit.
Perhaps getting away from Washington will allow our elected officials to gain some perspective. What we have with the immigration debate are really two major issues—what to do about the immigrants who are already here, and how do we protect our borders in the future.
The House version of the immigration bill focuses primarily on the latter, but it’s enforcement-only approach is unrealistic. The Senate bills attempt to address the situation of immigrants who are already here, but is short-sighted when it comes to what will happen in the future. If passed, any compromise between these positions will force us to have this same debate again in 20 years just like the last “amnesty” bill under President Reagan.
A more comprehensive approach to immigration should ask the question, “if so many people want to become Americans, what is the appropriate level of legal immigration we allow?” Is it right to grant legal citizenship to 10,000 people a year? 100,000? One million? Or do we need a quota at all?
So for those immigrants who are already here, let’s find a way to allow us to bring them out of the shadows and give them the right to work here and stay here as long as they register with the Government. Then let’s adjust or eliminate the annual immigration quotas. If we can bear to welcome a million new Americans a year, through the legal processes, then raise the quota—and let folks apply. If someone wants to come here and get a job, pay our exorbitant taxes and chase the American dream, why should we keep them out?
If coming to America were decriminalized, there would be fewer criminals coming to America.

Share  Posted by Scott Olin Schmidt at 10:18 AM | Permalink

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