Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Immigration: Back On the Agenda

As the 110th Congress begins gearing up, one of the 'left-overs' from the 109th looms large: immigration reform. Work has already begun on bills for both houses and the Democrats have made it clear that the meanspiritedness of the bills from the last Congress will not reappear. From today's NY Times:

Counting on the support of the new Democratic majority in Congress, Democratic lawmakers and their Republican allies are working on measures that could place millions of illegal immigrants on a more direct path to citizenship than would a bill that the Senate passed in the spring.

The lawmakers are considering abandoning a requirement in the Senate bill that would compel several million illegal immigrants to leave the United States before becoming eligible to apply for citizenship.

The lawmakers are also considering denying financing for 700 miles of fencing along the border with Mexico, a law championed by Republicans that passed with significant Democratic support.

Getting a bill through this year, before the 2008 presidential primary season kicks off, is imperative if the solutions are to be truly bipartisan, and they will have to be bipartisan if a bill is to be passed and signed. It won't be easy. Republicans will have to contend with the Tancredo-Sensebrenner wing of their party which will fight anything that looks like "amnesty" tooth and nail. Democrats will have to contend with the AFL-CIO which is vigorously opposed to a guest worker program. Yet any bill which does not consider both hot-bed issues will not be worth the effort.

One thing I suspect both sides agree on: that damned wall idea has got to go. It's expensive, won't work, and is an insult to our neighbors to the south. Defunding that monstrosity has to be at the top of the list. That done, Congress can get on to the trickier parts of the necessary legislation.



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