SAN DIEGO, July 5, 2013 — A recently passed Senate immigration reform bill seems to strike a balanced solution to immigration, with provisions to satisfy both sides of the political aisle. Indeed, many prominent Republicans helped to craft the newly proposed law which passed by 68-32. Those who instantly equate “bipartisan” legislation with “good” legislation will feel as if Christmas came early this year.
Closer inspection reveals some of the bill’s finer promises. There’s a 13-year path to citizenship which will at least bring undocumented workers out of the shadows. A series of hoops will have to be jumped in order to make citizenship a reality. These include financial compensation through fines and taxes. At long last, a frustrating situation will come under practical control.
American citizens concerned about border security might feel encouraged to sleep better at night. This bill has something for everybody: $38 billion is allotted for 40,000 new border patrol agents, along with an extensive arsenal of high tech surveillance equipment. These are supposed to reduce illegal immigration by 33-50 percent.
According to Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, “The big problem with immigration is convincing people in the country that it won’t turn into a 1986 endgame.”
He was talking about an earlier immigration reform under President Ronald Reagan. We were promised that the border would be secured under that bill, too. Graham, Marco Rubio and other Republican champions of immigration reform believe that with this new bill they have avoided the errors of 1986.
Since Democrats and Republicans alike admit that something had to be done about the problem of undocumented workers, this latest legislation seems to be about as grand and comprehensive as a person could wish for. Yes, it seems that way.
But perhaps we shouldn’t celebrate quite so fast. There is one small problem, more correctly, one small clause in the bill which provides the key to a massive problem:
“Notwithstanding paragraph (1), nothing in this subsection shall require the Secretary to install fencing, or infrastructure that directly results from the installation of such fencing, in a particular location along the Southern border, if the Secretary determines that the use or placement of such resources is not the most appropriate means to achieve and maintain effective control over the Southern border at such location.”
Some insist this humble little clause will not take away from at least 700 miles of mandatory fence. Others disagree. Attorneys are haggling over what the fine print actually means.
To a casual observer, the translation seems obvious: “The new law’s border requirements will absolutely, positively be met, but only inasmuch as the governing administration deems it necessary.”
If you think securing our border is a priority of the Obama administration, you believe in a fantasy that the Brothers Grimm would not have been able to sell to Mother Goose.
In case your memory needs refreshing, this is the same President Obama who, back in 2012, denounced an Arizona immigration law allowing police to ask for records when they stop people and then report such information to ICE. Obama’s contempt for that law and refusal to cooperate has been made abundantly clear.
This is also the same President Obama who promised that he would stop deporting illegal immigrants who came to America as children so long as they meet certain requirements. He then gave a speech about how this decision was not really amnesty.
“This is not amnesty. This is not immunity. This is not a path to citizenship. It’s not a permanent fix.”
Obama sure has a way with words. This wasn’t amnesty because he didn’t call it amnesty. It may have resembled amnesty, but, well, it just wasn’t!
And who can forget the Obama Administration’s position on mandatory voter identification? His own Attorney General compares such requirements to a poll tax.
We are not left to speculate whether or not securing our border is a priority to Obama. But it’s anybody’s guess why Republicans fall for Democratic promises more often than Charlie Brown trusted Lucy with the football.
A note to Republicans in the House who can still stop this train: In your desire to court Hispanic voters or “compassionate liberals,” be careful not to sell your party’s soul as if it were another item at the Dollar Tree.
You will be demonized no matter what you do. You may as well do what is right. True immigration reform is fine. Just beware of Trojan Horses imbedded in the bill.
The first clue for Republican Senators should have been that Charles Schumer was offering to work with them. The second clue should have been Obama talking as if he plans to sign the thing.
This is Bob Siegel, making the obvious, obvious.
Bob Siegel is a radio talk show host and columnist. Information about his radio show can be found at www.bobsiegel.net.
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