kf Tries to Square the Burkle!
Why I'm flummoxed by the Page Six scandal.
kf Searches for Common Ground, Again! Mark Kleiman argues, plausibly, that employer sanctions are the key to reducing illegal immigration--and that criminalization of illegals gums up any employer-sanction effort:
[T]he provisions in the Sensenbrenner and Frist bills to stiffen sanctions against the illegal aliens themselves would make enforcement of their employer-sanctions provisions virtually impossible.
Effective enforcement of employer sanctions needs the cooperation of the illegal aliens themselves as complainants and witnesses. Stiffening sanctions against them, as the Republican bills do, deters them from complaining or testifying, making them more attractive to employers. ...[snip] ... Felonizing illegal entry, therefore, isn't just pointless, it's counterproductive, if the goal is to slow the influx across the southern border.
But if the goal is to exploit nativist fears without seriously inconveniencing employers too cheap to pay what citizens would demand to do their dirty work, making illegal immigration a felony makes perfect sense.
I don't quite see why the government couldn't simply announce that it would waive any criminal penalties against an illegal who testifies against an employer--indeed, Kleiman himself suggests such a reward system to encourage workers to blow the whistle. (He wants to give out green cards!) But this does seem like a significant potential problem. ... P.S.: It's obvious to anyone paying attention that mere illegal status won't be a felony in the final bill. The felony provisions now functions mainly as a club with which to hit conservative House Republicans over the head. Indeed, as JPod notes, being an illegal immigrant would have been a misdemeanor in even the House bill if Democrats hadn't voted en masse to retain it (presumably for Machiavellian make-the-GOPs-look-heartless reasons). ... 5:55 P.M. link
Frame B: "Reward people who have broken the law": Mystery Pollster answers the call to assess the Time "April Fool's Poll" on immigration. He also provides a concise summary of the battle to "frame" the issue (and a one-stop review of the polling so far). ... 5:12 P.M.
A series of terrible leadership moves have ensued. There was Frist's effort to deploy the "nuclear option" — that is, to perform radical surgery on the Senate's filibuster rules in order to allow votes on President Bush's more extreme judicial appointments. But the nuclear option was thwarted when 14 Senate moderates cut a deal to keep the rules and allow votes on some of the appointees. "We saved him on that," said a G.O.P. staff member involved in the negotiations. "Frist never had the votes he needed for the nuclear option."
Frist sure seems clumsy, but, um, wasn't his "nuclear option" threat, in the end, kind of successful? Kind of wildly successful? By provoking the Gang of 14's compromise, with its "extraordinary circumstances" language, Frist got two quite conservative (and anti-abortion) Supreme Court nominees confirmed. They are now on the court, handing down decisions--what liberal interest groups had been preparing for years to prevent. The vaunted Dem filibuster threat collapsed completely. If Frist pulled this off without having the votes--a bluff!--then doesn't that make him positively brilliant?
Also: Do we need Joe Klein to sloppily amplify the week's CW? ..
P.S.: Do you think it's an accident that Pile-On Frist Week comes when the MSM is pushing the Senate to adopt the Judiciary Committee's semi-amnesty approach while Frist appears to be resisting ... sorry, I mean "pandering"? ...
P.P.S.: As Luciannenotes, Frist's push for a quick vote may not produce a result conservatives like. If you opposed the Specter/McCain/Kennedy approach, you might want to stop the MSM stampede and let the backlash build. ... If the Senate does pass a liberal bill the press likes, who will write the first news analysis about how the Majority Leader has finally found his groove? ... Update: Frist's early tough anti-"amnesty" rhetoric may actually turn out to be an effective strategy for selling out the immigration conservatives--i.e., when he pronounces whatever compromise gets cobbled together to be not an amnesty. Only panderers get to go to China! ...
Photograph of Judith Miller on the Slate home page by Mark Wilson/Getty Images.