Saturday, December 17, 2005

The Price of Fences

This has been a very interesting week. Senator McCain held his ground and got the Resident to back off on his threat to veto McCain's anti-torture amendment to a military spending bill. The Senate refused to extend the Patriot Act which the Resident wanted in place before key provisions expired at the end of the year. Leaders of both parties are screaming for more information from the White House after the NY Times (finally) broke the news that the NSA has been spying on American citizens via a super-secret Executive Order issued by Bush (scroll down to "Absolutely Chilling"). Last night the House passed an immigration bill that clearly rejected the Resident's concept of a guest worker bill.

The first three items are great news because they seem to show that the Congress is finally willing to put limits on the White House. The last item, eh, not so much. The bill, staunchly supported by Rep. Tancredo of Colorado, is a vicious one, based as it is in what can only be seen as rank racism. The Washington Post has the story.

The House last night passed tough immigration legislation to build vast border fences, force employers to verify the legality of their workers and tighten security on the nation's frontier, but it rebuffed President Bush's entreaties to include avenues for foreign workers to gain legal employment.

The bill passed 239 to 182, with 36 Democrats joining 203 Republicans to vote yes. Seventeen Republicans, 164 Democrats and one independent opposed the measure.

The bill was designed to demonstrate to voters a new resolve on border security before the House adjourns for the year. But it also revealed deep divisions in the Republican Party between lawmakers who agree with Bush that a strict clampdown alone cannot work without a guest-worker program for noncitizens, and others resolutely opposed to any plan that would keep undocumented workers flowing into the country.
[Emphasis added]

Tancredo and his buddies are convinced that getting the undocumented workers out of the American workforce would be a boon to the economy and to the country. What he apparently fails to realize (or cheerfully refuses to acknowledge) is that large segments of the economy depend on the cheap labor that these immigrants provide. One of the big critics of the bill is the US Chamber of Commerce. Business leaders actually agree with union leaders and immigrant rights groups that this is a terrible bill.

What is shocking to me is that 36 Democrats voted for the bill. What is up with that?

But wait: there's more!

Under an amendment approved Thursday night, the nation would spend more than $2.2 billion to build five double-layer border fences in California and Arizona, totaling 698 miles at $3.2 million a mile. Another amendment approved last night would empower local law enforcement nationwide to enforce federal immigration law and be reimbursed for their efforts. [Emphasis added]

While Congress has been cutting the budget for medicare and the school lunch program, the House figures there's room in the budget for $2.2 Billion to erect a fence to keep the Mexicans out. That's one expensive fence at $3.2 Million per mile of fencing. I guess the high price tag is so that some Halliburton subsidiary can afford to pay non-immigrant workers to put the thing up.

Yeah, that's the ticket. After all, "fences good neighbors make," right?


Blogger Willy Jo said...

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9:01 AM  

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