Saturday, July 29, 2006

Illegal Immigration: The GOP's Hobson's Choice?

If you're interested at all in illegal immigration, you'll want to read Tamar Jacoby's piece in today's L.A. Times. Jacoby summarizes the current state of the debate:

  1. The great majority of Americans prefer a comprehensive approach, combining serious and effective enforcement with some kind of path to citizenship for the illegals already here.
  2. The small minority that insists on an enforcement-only approach and opposes a comprehensive approach is so vociferous that Republicans in Congress are afraid to risk that minority's wrath.
  3. And yet an even larger group of voters (primarily Republicans) want something done even if that solution includes something they consider to be amnesty.

This leaves the GOP with a difficult choice: Whose anger do they risk?

Some devastating paragraphs from Jacoby's piece:

The Gallup Poll, Washington Post/ABC News, Time, NBC News/Wall Street Journal, CNN and the Republican National Committee have all come to the same conclusion: Between two-thirds and three-quarters of the public would be willing to let illegal immigrants stay in the country and earn eventual citizenship, provided they meet requirements such as paying back taxes and learning English.

The problem is the other 20% to 25% — and, survey after survey show that's the extent of their numbers. A USA Today poll in May painted their portrait in vivid detail: Mostly male, white and without a college degree, they believe immigrants are bad for the economy; they want to build a wall along the border; and they adamantly oppose allowing illegal immigrants to become citizens. Only about half are Republicans, and if we assume that GOP voters make up roughly half of the electorate, then these diehards account for no more than a quarter of the party.

And here's the result:

But many Republican candidates, particularly in the House, are convinced that this group is more intense — more concerned, more motivated, more likely to vote on the basis of this single issue — than anyone else likely to go to the polls. So they have become the tail wagging the dog of the national debate about immigration, leading many House Republicans to conclude that blocking reform could be a political winner.

Yep. And the real problem facing Dennis Hastert and company is this:

House Republicans could be setting themselves up for a fall. How can they travel around the country all summer, hold hearings and insist that immigration is the most pressing domestic policy problem we face, and then come back to Washington in September and sit on their hands? They risk losing not only Latinos and swing voters (both of whom are more likely than other voters to be put off by the GOP's anti-immigrant rhetoric) but also staunch Republicans (who feel most strongly, by a 75% margin, that it is "very" or "extremely important" for Congress to come to grips with illegal immigration this year).

(Emphasis added.)

Is there a way out of this mess? Only one solution is now on the horizon: the Hutchison-Pence Border Security Immigration Reform Plan, which might just be the last hope for reform this year, if Fred Barnes is right. The problem with the Pence bill is that is does not accept the Laura Ingraham prescription for reform: "Enforce the borders, then we'll talk." In other words: "We don't even want to talk about paths to citizenship or anything smacking of amnesty at all. We'll discuss that after we feel the borders are secure, and we'll let you know when we feel that has occurred."

In my view, anyone who thinks those hard-liners will ever want to talk seriously about a path to citizenship for the illegals who are already here has been smoking something. And yet, given the intensity and inflexibility of their views, I am not surprised that the Republicans in Congress, with a thin majority and a restless base, are terrified of those people. Disappointed, yes; but not surprised.

Pence would require those illegals to go home and apply for permission to re-enter the country legally, but even that is too much for the "no amnesty" crowd. Here's Fred Barnes' summary of the Pence-Hutchison bill (the summary is quoted with approval on Pence's web site):
It would start with the buildup of law enforcement along America's southern border: more border guards, drug enforcement agents, helicopters, detention facilities, unmanned aerial vehicles, and miles of fence. This enforcement-only beginning is aimed to appeal to House conservatives.

Once a series of specific benchmarks were met and certified by the president--a two-year lag is expected--the guest worker program could start. Illegals in the United States would have to return to their home country to sign up at private "Ellis Island centers." If they had a job in the United States, they would get a tamper-proof ID card and quickly return to the States. After 17 years, they would be eligible to begin the process of gaining American citizenship.
Sounds like a plan that would appeal to most people concerned about the issue. We'll see if the absolutists will buy into it. I'm not optimistic.

Update: Called As Seen has more.

7 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Most people I hear make a comment on the current immigration situation are angry. They are that (1) people are swarming here from all over the world, especially meso-America and (2) the talk that this is good/expected/reasonable leaves them incredulous. Most of these commenters are over 65.

The Pence bill may make a lot of sense, but defending unlimited immigration, plus illegal immigration, and combining it with "path to citizenship" is like fingernails on the blackboard. People are losing faith in government while the news media are becoming despised.
 

Posted by Jim

Sunday, July 30, 2006 7:18:00 AM  
Blogger Ken Prescott said...

Most people I hear make a comment on the current immigration situation are angry. They are that (1) people are swarming here from all over the world, especially meso-America and (2) the talk that this is good/expected/reasonable leaves them incredulous. Most of these commenters are over 65.

If true, I guess these are racist goobers that don't want their bedpans emptied by those they believe to be their racial inferiors. If true, this is the sort of thing that makes it hard for me to hang on to my staunchly pro-life and anti-euthanasia beliefs. (Don't worry, I don't favor shooting anybody's grandma, no matter how obnoxiously stupid they choose to be, but Good Lord, it sure is tempting every now and then.) 

Posted by Ken Prescott

Monday, July 31, 2006 4:41:00 AM  
Blogger Harold C. Hutchison said...

Sadly, the right is tilting on the edge of following its hard-liners down a primrose path of destruction.
The hard-liners have no intention of solving the problem. There's too much money to be made complaining about the problem.
 

Posted by Harold C. Hutchison

Monday, July 31, 2006 5:52:00 AM  
Anonymous DL said...

Ken and Harold -nothing like ascribing motives you couldn't possibly know to those whom don't agree with you. This is always a sure sign of weak argument.

The Ellis Island ploy is but a two way bus ticket. How about having them get in line like honest immigrants?

How about quotas that other nations besides Mexico might also have a chance to enter America and muliticultural balance restored?

How about requiring assimilation and stopping the costly catering to the Spanish people - what an insult to othem that they can't learn English is the assumed default mode?

How about offering proof why this charade for amnesty again, wont be repeated again and again and again?

How about, as Hastert says, securing the border before CONSIDERING, the amnesty nonsense.

How about confiscating the businesses of those that abuse the illegals and our common working citizens, by hiring them at unfair wages?

How about impeaching any politician who delibertly refuses to enforce the laws that this nation has passed and they have sworn to uphold?


How about the correcting, instead of using, the deceit of deliberately confusing immigration with illegal immigration?

I could go on forever - but you get my point.

Notice -no personal attacks -just legitimate debate.




 

Posted by DL

Monday, July 31, 2006 7:48:00 AM  
Blogger Harold C. Hutchison said...

DL, your comment is exactly what Hedgehog was talking about earlier:
""We don't even want to talk about paths to citizenship or anything smacking of amnesty at all. We'll discuss that after we feel the borders are secure, and we'll let you know when we feel that has occurred." "

Furthermore, if anyone looked at the President's proposal, it was not amnesty. There was punishment - just not the amount of punishment you and other hard-liners like yourself wanted. I can read a dictionary, and the definition of amnesty is pretty clear. It does not fit the President's proposal. 

Posted by Harold C. Hutchison

Tuesday, August 01, 2006 5:42:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Harold

Allowing them back in before any any others is amnesty!

Fining them the price of an airplane ticket is amnesty.

Rewarding lawbreakers with a path to citizenship is amnesty, with a gift attached.

Ellis Island was for legal immigrants. To desecrate its image by this sham amnesty connection says a lot about those who pretend not to know the difference.

Not punishing them, and even rewarding them for breaking the law (once they were going to reward it on a senority basis) is amnesty with a bonus. This topic needs to be separated completely from securing the borders, both as a topic and only long after the borders have been proven secure.(No one will tell me how they can easily secure our borders if we allow amnesty but they can't do it now.)

It needs to be separated competely from catching and punishing employers of illegals, and not DISCUSSED untilk the borders have been secured.

If and when the borders are finally and in reality secured,(minimal incursions are to be expected -increase the punishment severely) Then and only then, should these other questions be discussed. When it is discussed - the question of rewarding illegals should be front and center. Then a Comphehensive immigration policy should include fair and balanced entrance - not just Mexico. Step up the process for entry if need be - add larger quotas - seek also a balance of talented immigrants to help, not drag down America. Assimilation is essential and no efforts at dual language nonsense should be undertaken. Europe has suffered greatly because of immigration without assimilation. Why do we wish to repeat that failure here?

By the way - "hard liner" could be compared to mush head -I appreciate argument and debate not name calling. The pretend show at catching illegals we now see sputtering occassionaly is just cheap insulting politics more appropriate to the Democrat image machine.

Karl Rove chatting with LaRaza borders on complete betrayal.  

Posted by DL

Tuesday, August 01, 2006 7:18:00 AM  
Anonymous DL said...

Harold

""We don't even want to talk about paths to citizenship or anything smacking of amnesty at all. We'll discuss that after we feel the borders are secure, and we'll let you know when we feel that has occurred." "


Okay - do that much - but enforce the nation's laws while you do that, for a change.

Frankly I can no longer trust this president to tell me when the borders are secure - he has a loaded horse in this race. Sending Rove to LaRaza ought to tell us all something is going down. His early comment that we "had better all get use to it" leaves me with the foul image I have of Hillary as president. 

Posted by DL

Tuesday, August 01, 2006 7:26:00 AM  

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