Unfortunately, the legalization in the Senate's compromise would be immediate--see below. The "enforcement" part would follow, in the form, WaPo reports, of "18,000 new Border Patrol agents and four unmanned aerial vehicles," etc. There appears to be no requirement that these added assets would actually accomplish the job of preventing more illegal immigration. At least in Iraq Bush is asking to be judged by the result of his surge, not by his mere deployment of more troops.
It's not even clear the new agents will be assigned to enforce the immigration laws. Here is a CNN report, citing Homeland Security Sec. Michael Chertoff on the subject:
But Chertoff told CNN that the bill would help him better focus his resources.
"Right now, I've got my Border Patrol agents and my immigration agents chasing maids and landscapers. I want them to focus on drug dealers and terrorists. It seems to me, if I can get the maids and landscapers into a regulated system and focus my law enforcement on the terrorists and the drug dealers, that's how I get a safe border."
Hmm. Future illegal immigrants will be "maids and landscapers" too. Is Chertoff going to use the Border Patrol to look for them (and their law-breaking employers) or is he going to pull Border Patrol agents off the immigration beat in order to put them on the anti-drug smuggling and terrorism beats? If the Bush Administration is going to try to appease foes of legalization with a show of "enforcement" muscle, it could at least get its story straight. ...
P.S.: Good Rich Lowry line--
But the 12 million illegals here before January would get probationary legal status immediately when the bill passes. Effectively, that's amnesty. (It's unclear why illegals arriving here after January would be excluded so coldheartedly. What does McCain want to do, deport them all?)
4:07 A.M. link
Thursday, May 17, 2007
Fight It Like FAP? Something to encourage those who oppose the Kyl-Kennedy compromise GOP cave-in on immigration: This is a complex bill, with provisions opposed by the right (e.g., instant legalization) and provisions opposed by the left (e.g., a temporary guest worker program, potential shift toward favoring immigrants with skills more and family members less). It's not uncommon for a bill to ultimately fail because it loses votes on both ends**--some legislators don't think it's "liberal" enough and some don't think it's "conservative" enough--even though the objections are contradictory. That's what happened, for example, in 1972 to Nixon's Family Assistance Plan (FAP)--a "grand bargain" that would have replaced welfare with a guaranteed income. FAP is eerily similar to Kyl-Kennedy: it too was a faux-solution to a big problem. It too was endorsed by virtually the entire respectable MSM-political establishment (and promoted by a president weakened by an unpopular war!). But it lost when faced with a strange bedfellows alliance of conservatives who didn't like the idea of guaranteeing everyone cash benefits and liberals who didn't think the benefits were generous enough. And after FAP lost, it went away and never came back. It's not inconceivable that the same thing will happen to Kyl-Kennedy ...
P.S.: And that's not even considering the many "left" objections that are in fact the same as the "right" objections--e.g., that the bill, by encouraging another flood of illegals, will drive down the wages of unskilled Americans. ... (See this L.A.T. article noting the initial opposition of Democratic senators Ben Nelson and Byron Dorgan.)
P.P. S.: A Full FAP strategy might require conservatives to figure out how to rile up, not just right wing anti-amnesty critics of the bill but also left wing immigrant-rights critics. Perhaps House Democrats could be subtly encouraged to hold a large hearing, attended by activists from the undocumented community, at which spokespeople loudly demanded not just instant legalization but free instant legalization! (Speaker suggestion: Nativo Lopez.) They'll be making these demands soon enough. Why not now? ... They might also emphasize that they do not think they are immigrants at all--this is their homeland! We stole it from them. ... Not only would these hearings mobilize Latino opposition to the compromise, they might also turn off the rest of the country (much as some famous hearings featuring George Wiley's welfare rights activists soured the country on the guaranteed income). ...