I am on record saying that the current immigration bill is like a swiss army knife, no matter which way you stand it stabs you in the back. It is an unlovable thing. But I'm not sure that it deserves so much scorn. In the end, it is going to be the best our Congress will do.
In one way there are some real strengths to it. What I'm calling the Pence provision echoes exactly what I wanted when we went over these matters last time. You can't really do better than voluntary self-deportation.
But before I go praising the bill, let me get all my gripes on the table.
Gripeset One: Lax Current Enforcement
1. We were promised a wall. Where's the wall?
2. We were promised anti-tunnel provisions. Where are they?
Gripeset Two: Probable Future Lax Enforcement
Gripeset Three: Building Compromise into the Bill
But while I was lost on the freeways of Houston yesterday, desperately trying to get to the Continental President's Club, I listened to Dennis Prager defend several of the bill's provisions fairly well. I'm beginning to think that this bitter tasting salad may just have enough iron and vitamins to make us healthy.
Anyway, the roughneck provisions of the law that appeal to me are:
1. January 7, 2007 is the drop dead date. Anyone who crosses illegally never gets back in legally.
2. No aunts, cousins, parents or various other hangers-on get in. Only minor children.
3. You must touch base if you're busted. File papers in your home country and go to the back of the line.
4. Applicants of the sort busted in #3 have to wait at least 13 years to get citizenship.
5. Such applicants must prove 5 years of continuous work. No welfare loafers allowed, no major crime allowed.
As for this bill being 'amnesty', I don't see it, quite frankly. Point it out to me. The statute of limitations on second degree murder is four years. That's not amnesty. Class B Scofflaws have to wait an additional 5 years and pay a $5K fine. That's a fairly hard line.
So basically now somebody has to prove to me that this is more than just an unfunded mandate, or other holes. Despite the fact that I see all kinds of difficulties in its implementation, so far it sounds like good law. Since it substantially does Pence, I'm for it.
Now the other side of this equation is border security. I'm all for having that handled separately. The overlap of course is of great concern, but I am willing to believe that this Immigration bill does right by Immigration, if not by national security. Mojados are not a threat to national security, they are a threat to the rule of law. If this law is enforced, I believe that threat will be greatly diminished.
There's another important disambiguation we've got to deal with which is the entire infrastructure question. Assuming that the Twelve Million are every bit as loathsome and butt-draggy as we spew, how are states supposed to deal with that many more legal Americans in 13 years? That is to say, since it's obvious that they're flooding emergency rooms, how many more are we planning for? If it's obvious that they're overcrowding the classrooms, how many more are we planning for? It seems rather obvious to me that $5K is a puny fee if you get to pay it over 8 years, so are legislators just going to punt to another bond measure to upgrade America to handle 12 million new Americans? Seems pretty short sighted to me.
The citizenship problem may very well be solved by this bill, so if people still have complaints aren't they just piling on? If not, then where are the other plans?