Monday, May 28, 2007

Immigration (What's Going on Here?)

It was gratifying that Congress responded so rapidly to my previous immigration post.

The theme was that the Democrats would never allow an immigation bill to be passed while Bush was President, and despite the pressing need, it will not happen until 2009, when a Democrat is President.

Within 48 hours of my post, the story of the big "compromise bill" hit the papers. Could I have been wrong? Are the various players in Congress working together in a bi-partisan manner for the good of the country? I would like to think so, but something smells funny about this bill (fish or rats, maybe both). Here are a few thoughts on this bill, and the ongoing debates:

1. It's curious that the Democrat at the forefront of the bill is Ted Kennedy, probably the only Democrat who never has to worry about being re-elected. He can afford to act bi-partisan, and also inject/infect the debate with all kinds of issues that would be unpalatable to most Senators and Congressmen.
(An aside -- I don't think this "compromise bill" has anything to do with actually passing a law, it's all about framing the debate for the law they are going to eventually pass. The one that's going to be signed by President Hillary or President Edwards. So now we are hearing some debate about the importance of re-uniting immigrant families, in the context of the immigration laws. Of course, most of us knew this was an issue in immigration policy, but not a FOCAL issue. The present debate is designed to get us all ready for this, when the real law is debated and passed)

2. President Bush is desparate to do SOMETHING good and memorable, so he has to support the compromise bill. There are some things in there for him. Some border security, some fines, some onerous "return home and wait" provisions, some English language preferences. Unfortunately for him, his right wing support base will not go for this bill, and will enter the debate in a shrill and partisan manner. This will further splinter an already divided Republican party. In their effort to frame the debate about what the immigration law SHOULD focus on (the security of out country and the best long term interests of the economy and our society), the Republicans will be cast as partisan racists.

3. In a normal world, when you are trying to reach a compromise in a complex conflict, it can be encouraging when "everyone is unhappy about the proposal". That seems to be the case here, but does anyone think this will lead to further workable compromise and a law?

4. None of the Presidential hopefuls on either side is saying much about this bill. I don't blame them. As Jackie Mason might say "It's not really any of my business". I suspect they know what this thing is really about, and they are going to sit this one out, until it's THEIR time.

Here's a fun thing to think about.....what would you rather have......a law that took all the decent ideas in the present bill, and worked through them in a true bi-partisan fashion in the best interests of our country, ending up with a law that may leave a few groups wishing for more, but really was designed to right the course of this unworkable mess....OR....

The law that will be passed in 2009 by a Democrat Congress and Democrat president?'s not that funny....

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