Tuesday, January 29, 2013

False Start?

(Editorial cartoon by Mike Luckovich and published 1/29/13 in the Atlanta Journal Constitution.  Click on image to enlarge and then please wander back.)

It isn't often I read Doyle McManus two days running, but I was curious as to what he would have to say now that we know a little more about the immigration reform law being considered by the bipartisan group of senators.  He's quite cheered by the move.  Me?  Eh, not so much. 

McManus seemed both surprised and pleased that the GOP is even willing to work on the issue.

Only a year ago, Republican presidential hopefuls were competing to show how tough on immigration they could be. Mitt Romney won that dubious contest by denouncing the Dream Act, which would have provided legal status for some children of illegal immigrants, and calling for tough policies that would induce immigrants to “self-deport.”

Poor Gov. Romney: After his defeat, his own party has suddenly concluded that sounding hostile toward immigrants is bad politics, especially when Latinos and Asians constitute a growing part of the electorate. Who knew?

There’s still plenty of opposition among GOP voters to increased immigration in general and any reform that smacks of “amnesty” for illegal immigrants in particular. It won’t be easy getting comprehensive immigration reform through the conservative-majority House.

Given House Speaker Boehner's success in getting the debt ceiling pushed off for a couple of months, and given Paul Ryan's indication that the GOP needs immigration reform to remain "viable", I think it likely that some kind of bill could be passed.  The question is, however, whether such a bill would make any difference to the millions of undocumented people already here.

From what I gather from "unofficial" reports, the benefits would only kick in once the border was effectively sealed.  Presumably the Mexican border is what is meant.  That doesn't take into account those people who entered the country legally via visas (tourist or student) and simply overstayed their visits.  And how do we know when our border is effectively sealed?  Who decides?

And a path to citizenship would require paying a fine and paying back taxes.  How big a fine and how far back?  That's pretty weak soup for calling it amnesty.

At this point, the bill seems to favor the students from abroad who get advanced degrees from American universities in subjects such as science and engineering.  The rest of the foreigners would have to be satisfied with a bracero-like program.

While I am pleased to see some movement on a long-overdue issue, I'm not so sure this is moving in the right direction.  I hope the Democrats don't get too invested in this approach.

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