But this is obviously disingenuous. Pence's own description of the plan makes it clear that current illegal immigrants will have every advantage over outside applicants for the guest worker program, because the program--which matches foreign workers with U.S. employers--will allow their current employers to in effect request them. Here's Pence:
Now, some of you are thinking to yourselves that twelve million people aren't going to pack up and leave just to get a visa to come back legally. But, I believe most will.
The process that I just described to you will only take a matter of one week, or less. That is the beauty of the program. Speed is so important. No employer in America wants to lose employees for an extended amount of time. No worker who is earning money to feed and clothe a family can afford to be off the job for long.
But, an employer faced with a looming requirement to verify the legality of its employees and stiff fines for employing illegal aliens will be willing to use a quick system to obtain legal employees. And, an illegal alien currently employed in America will be willing to take a quick trip across the border to come back outside of the shadows and in a job where he does not fear a raid by Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
In fact, I envision employers working with placement agencies to make sure that their long-time illegal employees get their paperwork processed, background checks performed, and visas issued so that they will be back on the job quickly. [Emphasis added]
In other words, their re-admission will be wired in advance. Since "the number of guest workers will be limited," those who stayed in their native countries and played by the rules (and therefore never worked for U.S. employers who could in effect sponsor them) will be shut out. That's the "beauty of the program"! It couldn't be any other way--without the pre-wiring, existing illegals wouldn't be willing to leave the country, as Pence acknowledges.
Entering illegally becomes the way to re-enter legally. That isn't a lesson that will be lost on future generations of impoverished foreign workers. ... P.S.: Pence's pre-wired illegals will be also be allowed to become citizens--sorry, to "enter a separate process of seeking citizenship." Another "compromise" element! ... 3:24 A.M. link
The Forward Lean: Is McCain Blowing It? Meanwhile, Ross Douthat asks the next obvious question--whether, when his immigration reform effort fails, McCain will righteously persist at the expense of his chances for the Republican nomination:
[F]or the first time in a long while I think that John McCain might not be the Republican nominee in 2008 - and the reason is immigration. The Senator's line on the matter seems to me to be a distillation of all that's wrong with McCainism - the moral vanity, the knee-jerk belief in reform for reform's sake, the willingness to promote a bad bill just because it's your pet issue, and the willingness to let the bien-pensant "center" set the political agenda, regardless of the merits of the case. And given the GOP base's feelings on the subject, it's hard to see how this won't come back to bite him.
Of course, McCain always has the option of forswearing the GOP nomination and running as a Perot-like independent. The point is that over the next few months, through his behavior on immigration, he may effectively be making that choice for himself. Unlike Noah Millman, I find it hard to believe McCain doesn't realize this. ... Update: See also Influence Peddler. But it's not just that McCain is failing to "lock up" conservatives. He's actively outraging them. ...3:12 A.M. link
[Insert non-immigration item here for badly-needed variety--ed Not before I go to sleep. ... Update: How about the Burkle Clip of the Day?] 4:37 A.M.
The semi-amnesty magnet is already exerting its pull: You don't think poor foreign workers would make big life decisions based on distorted rumors about the possibility of eventual legalization in the U.S.? WaPo reports:
Tens of thousands of Honduran and Nicaraguan immigrants nationwide risk losing their legal status in the United States today because they have not renewed their temporary work permits under a program to help victims of natural disasters, some in the mistaken belief that they will soon be on the path to becoming U.S. citizens.
With the deadline approaching by the end of today, about half the eligible applicants have yet to apply for renewal. They could lose their jobs and face deportation ... [snip]
Many Hondurans and Nicaraguans have not yet renewed because they think they will soon benefit from immigration reforms, including a guest worker program and other measures that could pave the way for citizenship, immigrant advocates said.