Monday, September 25, 2006

Immigration Games

Of the nineteen days that Congress will meet between the summer recess and the election recess, only five remain. Republicans had hoped to end this session with some red-meat legislation on the books to tout to the electorate in what has become a very close campaign. That means a lot has to be done this week: the Senate has the NSA spying bill, the torture "compromise" bill, and now, according to Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, an immigration bill to consider. Here's what an AP article had to say:

Maneuvering toward a pre-election showdown on immigration, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist on Sunday said he would seek passage of legislation to secure the borders and predicted Democrats would resist.

"Right now I got a feeling the Democrats may obstruct it," said Frist, R-Tenn.

The bill is all that is left of a comprehensive immigration proposal generally backed by President Bush that included provisions for a guest worker program and ways for an estimated 12 million illegal immigrants to work toward legal status and eventual citizenship.

Frist led a bipartisan effort to pass that measure this year, but House Republicans opposed it as too lenient on immigrants in the country illegally.

The bill in question is one that essentially calls for the building of a high-tech wall along the Mexican border that the House wanted in their bill passed last December. The GOP strategy is clear: the Republicans want to come out of this session looking tough on border security, and they want to paint the Democrats as obstructive and weak on terrorism.

Is the wall all that important to Republicans? Well, not enough to, you know, actually fund it. In another AP article we learn that the Republicans aren't real big on that second part of the equation:

House Republicans have whipped through a series of bills to crack down on illegal immigration with hopes they might provide an election boost in November.

But there's wide disagreement on what they would cost and little inclination among lawmakers to come up with the money in any case.

...Lawmakers, however, repeatedly have passed legislation ordering increases in border security without the money to pay for them.
[Emphasis added]

The shell game is pretty obvious, but the results often involve increased costs to the state and local authorities who now are facing yet another unfunded mandate. I'm sure the folks in Texas, Arizona, and California are just thrilled about that.

If it weren't so cynical, this latest GOP move would be hilarious.


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