Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Immigration Reform - What's the Rush?

Students at Montebello High School, California
Notice the position of the American Flag

Congress and the President have ignored our county's immigration problems for 20 years, since the last time an amnesty period was granted and the problem "fixed." Now, there is a big rush to address the problem.

The problem with that, though, is that people strongly disagree on what exactly the problem is to be solved. One public truth is that the US has 12 million illegal aliens living here. Mostly from Mexico. I'm not sure how we know that, but I'll go with it. We agree that this is a problem, but what sort of problem?

Some folks see the problem as a bunch of lawbreakers living here with little chance of getting caught, making a mockery of our laws and fools out of the people waiting to immigrate legally. The bill offers conditional amnesty, which sticks in the craw of many people.

Other folks see the problem as a a bunch of undocumented immigrants who scrambled to come here for a better life, being made to suffer because of their illegal status. These people see the illegals as sympathetic characters, which many are. Giving them a path to citizenship would bring them into society and out of the shadows of the underclass. This argument generally ignores the fact that all of these people already have citizenship, just somewhere else.

There is also concern that many immigrants (read Hispanics and Muslims), will not assimilate into American culture, causing an erosion of America's English speaking, Protestant Christian based civilization.

So, after years of doing nothing, our fearless leaders tried to rush this immigration reform law through, with little public debate, calling it a bi-partisan Grand Bargain. But sadly, someone failed to notify the partisans, who are not bi-ing it at all. So the new reform bill is stalled, as many legislators change their minds for political cover, like my own Suntanned Saxby Chambliss, who was booed by his own party right here in his home state for supporting this bill.

Why the brooha? No leadership. No national leader has made a compelling case to the public about why this bill is a good idea, and why we need it now. The President, whose baby this is, has failed to lead, failed to articulate a reason why the Nation should forgive and welcome these illegal aliens.

Meantime, while the President and Congress spend their time on this, our Army continues to fight 2 wars. Remember those? How does this reform bill square with the Global War On Terror (GWOT)?

In the context of the wars, this immigration debate seems absurd. At the aiprort, our luggage is x-rayed, dog sniffed, chemically swiped, and possibly manually inspected while we struggle to get our shoes back on while repacking our laptops and apologizing for packing shampoo in our carry-ons. Meanwhile a million people a year enter the country illegally through our southern border.

We need to prioritize. We need to secure our borders. We shouldn't have to explain why or justify it. It is sensible on its face. Aside from successfully keeping Cat Stevens out, our border security is a joke. Even Tuberculosis Man made it through, and there was an alert out on him.

Once the borders are secure we need time for a national debate on our immigration policy. Immigration policy permanently affects the nation, unlike tax policy or foreign policy or other policies which can be changed if they are not working well. There is a lot at stake and it should not be rushed.