The Immigration Dilemma: Serving Too Many Masters? genre: Econ-Recon & Polispeak & Six Degrees of Speculation

Deception Mode

Every now and then the efforts of political parties to contort themselves in order to appeal to more and more constituent groups in the hopes of establishing a winning majority comes back to haunt them. I would argue that immigration is a case in point for our elected officials...and the bill put forth by House Republicans shines a bright light on their painful conundrum.

WASHINGTON -- In a sharp rebuke to President Bush, House Republicans unveiled legislation Tuesday that would bar illegal immigrants from gaining legal status in the U.S., require tamper-proof birth certificates for Americans and make English the nation's official language.

The measure's core principles include gaining control of the border and enforcing existing immigration laws -- it does not provide a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants as the Bush plan does.

The House bill stands virtually no chance of becoming law, or even advancing, in the Democratic-controlled Congress. Still, it casts in bold relief the split between Bush and many fellow Republicans in the immigration debate.

The authors of the House bill also are pushing for a congressional resolution detailing ways in which they believe the federal government has failed to enforce immigration law and made it easier for illegal immigrants to stay in the U.S.

"The current illegal immigration crisis is a direct result of this and previous Administrations failing to enforce or adequately enforce at least eight immigration laws," the resolution said.

Frankly, why either party chose to politicize immigration is questionable. Few issues in American politics involve so many competing interests and while politicians fashion themselves to be adept at juggling diverse constituent groups, they may have hit the proverbial brick wall with this one. They have no one to blame but themselves.

Big business has been a longtime beneficiary of our lax immigration system and we all know how politicians pander to deep pockets. At the same time, the Bush campaign sought to capitalize on his experience in Texas and make immigration reform the substrate upon which the GOP would roll out the welcoming mat for Hispanic voters.

Add in self interest in the form of nanny's, gardeners, and housekeepers...regional concerns predicated upon proximity to the Mexican border...plain old bias and prejudice...the objections of labor unions and those near the lower end of the wage scale...concerns about easy access for terrorists...and a nasty ten way tractor pull emerges.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., has told administration officials that she will not take up the bill unless about 70 Republicans are brought on board to help pass it.

The bill unveiled Tuesday is the equivalent of a warning flag that conservatives intend to fight for those Republican votes.

"It seems a formal way of putting proponents on notice that there will be resistance from those quarters in the House," said Roberto Suro, director of the non-partisan Pew Hispanic Center.

The measure would require that 18,000 border patrol agents be deployed by Dec. 31, 2008. Currently, the force totals about 12,000.

It would also require the full implementation of US-VISIT, a program that is meant to track entries and exits at all ports-of-entry but has fallen short of that goal.

U.S. citizens would be affected by many of the changes proposed for work site enforcement, including mandatory checks of all employees' eligibility and a nationwide electronic system for tracking birth and death records.

Lost in all the wrangling is any sense of responsibility for our role in enabling the mass infusion of illegal immigrants. While I recognize the fact that illegal entry is just that...illegal; the reality is that it happened because our government turned its head as those in power believed they stood more to gain from the entry of 12 million immigrants than from enforcing the existing laws that were sufficient to limit, if not prevent, the massive influx.

In the end, I'm amused by all the righteous indignation being tossed about by elected officials. An honest analysis would no doubt place blame where blame belongs...squarely on the shoulders of our pandering politicians. This latest round of feigned leadership is little more than an effort to rewrite the woeful history of a nonexistent immigration policy.

The 12 million illegal’s…servants in their own right to the ever changing interests of this country’s politician masters… have simply been pawns in a game of political cat and mouse. Isn't it time that our public servants actually begin to serve a legitimate master...the American public...and give us an honest assessment of how they intend to clean up this mess of their own making?

Daniel DiRito | June 19, 2007 | 9:33 PM
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