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Conservatives poised to battle over immigration proposal

By Carol Devine-Molin
web posted May 21, 2007

Of course, granting amnesty to illegal aliens is totally unacceptable. And if the Senate's immigration proposal ever became law, it would surely destroy America as we know it, guaranteeing an unprecedented demographic shift and a staggering Nanny-state. Not only are the original 20 million "undocumented workers" in play, but the millions that will be sponsored by them over the coming years. That being said, I'm not going to join in the cacophony of hysteria that's being generated by conservatives for one simple reason: The "comprehensive" immigration bill, as currently proposed, will never become law.

Conservatives nervously point out that some Senate Republicans are spineless wonders that have been known to sell out the party's base. That's spot-on. However, these GOP elites might be unprincipled and short-sighted in many respects, but they're a) political animals that understand the ferocity of opposition to the current bill among the Republican grassroots, and, b) fully cognizant that there would be hell to pay if they voted for it. Most Republican Senators will look to protect their hides. In any event, even if the bill is passed by the Senate, it would surely be killed in the House. Besides, the Democrats have their own misgivings about the bill, citing stumbling blocks with the "guest worker program", among them. As for Senator McCain, he can kiss his presidential aspirations goodbye since he'll be walloped in the GOP primaries, where the rank and file hold sway. Thou shall not seek to grow government by leaps and bounds. There's a price to pay for violating conservative orthodoxy.

The Wall Street Journal, which has consistently endorsed an "open borders" policy, stated in a recent editorial, "Restrictionists are calling this ‘amnesty', but they were going to slap that label on anything this side of mass deportation." The WSJ editorialists are usually very insightful. But when are they going to wake up and smell the coffee on this particular issue? No doubt about it, the current bill provides a form of amnesty, since the "Z visa" provision would make these "undocumented immigrants" legal with the stroke of a pen. Moreover, why should this group – which jumped the line so to speak – get a leg up over others from around the world that are seeking US citizenship? As to "mass deportation", this is a red herring. What should be of concern to all Americans is deporting illegal aliens that have committed crimes, and preventing their return with secure borders.

The Republican grassroots have called for common sense and prudent legislation to prevail on Immigration: First and foremost, secure the borders, and ensure that the flow of illegal aliens is halted. And, of course, securing our borders is vital to our national security during this war-on-terror. Second, as aforesaid, deport all criminal aliens. Third, through a period of discussion and debate – without a rush to judgment or Senate deals worked out behind closed doors – let's decide how to proceed with all issues on the table, including the "path to citizenship" and the "guest worker program". If conservatives are demonstrating considerable concern about the crafting of effective Immigration legislation, it's probably because we're wise enough to worry about the expansion of government, higher taxes and unwieldy bureaucracies that can't properly enforce laws.

Without question, illegal aliens should be treated with compassion! The American citizenry, irrespective of political stripe, are compassionate people. But let's also have compassion for the American taxpayers who are already footing the bills for these illegal aliens, which are regularly utilizing our criminal justice system, social services (mothers with anchor babies), health care and education systems (for their children). Although the exact numbers are in dispute, my sense of it is that at least one in four illegal aliens are having run-ins with law enforcement, with drug-related crime, assaults, domestic violence, driving while intoxicated, and driving without a valid license cited as the usual activities. Criminal aliens comprise about 30 percent of the prisoners in federal facilities.

The proposed Immigration legislation – also known as Bush-Kennedy – triggers myriad questions to ponder: With legal status, what other government services and programs will the formerly "undocumented workers" be eligible to access? How will they impact Social Security and Medicaid? Moreover, as to the "path to citizenship", are we to be impressed by all the requirements that ostensibly must be met by the applicants and employers? What are the enforcement mechanisms? Knowing the malleability of politicians, at some point in the not too distant future, can we expect the citizenship criteria to be whittled down? What about anchor babies? Should we automatically confer citizenship upon babies born of illegal aliens? Do we really want to fast-track 400,000 new immigrants each year? How can we mend "chain migration" so that America doesn't become inundated with impoverished people that can't adequately assimilate or support themselves? In the current proposal, a point system - that underscores skills and education over family ties - is certainly a step in the right direction, but could ultimately be revised.

Many Republicans are wondering why President Bush and his administration have been pivotally involved with the creation of this so-called Immigration deal. Sure, the president is very sympathetic to the plight of the Mexicans and other Latin Americans that have been economically oppressed. However, there's got to be more in play. The president also seems determined to outreach to the Hispanic community, which is now the largest ethnic group in America and a voting block to be reckoned with. Perhaps Bush understands that the current bill will go down to defeat, but hopes that his efforts will nevertheless create some good will with Hispanics on behalf of the Republican Party. However, that remains to be seen, since future immigrants will probably be members of an economic underclass that will more than likely vote for the Democrats and bigger government, more programs.

The only clear winner in this matter is GOP presidential contender Mitt Romney, who knocked a salient aspect (Z visa) of the Immigration proposal and referred to it as "amnesty", thereby scoring big points with the Republican base. According to an Associated Press piece, "Romney said the immigration plan unveiled Thursday "has some positive features" but shouldn't include a renewable visa that would allow illegal immigrants to stay in the country indefinitely."

"That in my opinion is a form of amnesty," Romney said. "It would suggest the president, the House and the Senate need to come together to reconsider this incredible gift to those who are here illegally." ESR

Carol Devine-Molin is a regular contributor to several online magazines.


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