The mainline newspapers are full of warnings and worries about the fate of the Senate amnesty bill, which can’t even get a committee hearing in the House of Representatives. Add to the mix the other legislation that has a much higher priority for most lawmakers and you can see why the amnesty lobby is in full panic mode.
The amnesty lobby is apoplectic that their strategy isn’t working: Promise anything to get the bill to a House-senate conference and then kill any substantial border security provisions in the conference committee compromise bill. That isn’t going to work because the majority of House Republicans see no need to pass any immigration bill that can be used as a vehicle for a conference report. However, that’s not the end of the story.
I am going to commit a cardinal sin and tell the amnesty lobby how to get their amnesty bill enacted in this session of Congress. It is actually very simple: Recall the Senate bill and add every amendment that Senate Republicans wanted to promise true border security prior to any illegal alien gaining eligibility for a path to citizenship. Presto, you have a bill with magical qualities to melt away Republican opposition.
Wouldn’t that be a sellout by the amnesty lobby? They don’t want true border security and have included only meaningless, unenforceable provisions in the Senate bill. That’s all true, but it is not relevant. The dirty little secret in Washington in 2013 is that it no longer matters what the text of an immigration bill says because Obama can ignore the law and do whatever he pleases on immigration and Congress will not block him.
Today, few members of Congress doubt that Obama will implement wholesale amnesty by administrative rules if amnesty legislation does not pass by the summer of 2014. He has already done so for the “dreamers” and for their parents. Who is left? Illegal aliens without children?
So, if they were really smart, the amnesty lobby would “cave” on border security, give the conservatives everything they want in a new Senate bill and then see the House Republicans rush to climb aboard. Fences? Got 700 miles of new fences! And 20,000 more Border Patrol agents? Yes! New technology? Yes! You want 90 percent of the Southwest border declared under “operational control”? Absolutely! Secure borders within 18 months guaranteed!
Of course, none of that would ever happen, and amnesty would go forward anyway, just as it did after the broken promises of the 1986 amnesty legislation. But the lawmakers would have voted for border security and would be “surprised and disappointed” when it didn’t happen.
Now pause and reflect on another possible scenario. Let’s say that some border security measures were actually implemented for a period of time to give plausible cover for Republicans who voted for the amnesty legislation. Let’s say that through added manpower and some new fences, crossing the border actually became more difficult. Would that halt illegal immigration significantly? The answer is no, for many reasons.
It is now clear that probably a half million migrants can enter legally from Mexico by claiming refugee status, as is happening today in larger and larger numbers. What’s more important is that 40 percent of illegal aliens arrive by legal visa as tourists, students or business travelers and simply overstay that visa. Until we implement a workable entry-exit system for tracking and enforcing the visa expirations, that flow will not only continue, it will increase. All of the Sept. 11 terrorists arrived by legal visa.
So, why hasn’t the amnesty lobby done that? Why haven’t they simply included strong border security provisions in the Senate bill – or a substitute House bill – with full awareness those provisions would never be implemented – not by Obama, not by a President Hillary and probably not by a Republican president three years down the road?
The surprising answer is not political; it is ideological. President Obama and a large segment of the Democratic Party are now wedded to the “world citizenship” concept: The world’s population and all migrants have a moral right to come to the United States and attain full legal status and a path to citizenship. Opposition to that moral claim is racist and “ethnocentric.”
The reason amnesty legislation is stalled in Congress is that Democrats have locked themselves into a strategy that is so far out of step with the American people that compromise is not possible. That’s good news for the nation in the short run. Nevertheless, it is alarming that so many Republicans in Congress seem determined to help pull the Democrats’ chestnuts out of the fire.