Captain's Quarters Blog

« Iran Throws A Party | Main | Saudis Run To Russians To Protect Teheran »

April 11, 2006
Movement On Immigration In The House

The AP reports that House Republicans are considering modifications in their immigration-reform bill that will make it easier for the Senate to absorb it into whatever version they can pass. The changes involve the two most controversial parts of the House effort, making "illegal presence" a felony and broadening the notion of accessory to potentially include religious outreach and charity workers:

Following huge nationwide protests, Republicans on Tuesday moved to possibly change two key provisions in a get-tough immigration bill passed by the U.S. House of Representatives.

One would turn millions of illegal immigrants into felons and the other has raised concerns that people who provide them humanitarian relief would be punished. Top Republicans insisted that neither is their intent.

Their verbal commitments to revisit those provisions came a day after hundreds of thousands of people held demonstrations nationwide, provoked by the bill that would also erect a fence along much of the U.S.-Mexican border.

At some point, all sides will have to agree to modify their approach enough to get an effective solution to two separate but linked problems: a porous border that represents an unacceptable risk to national security while we are at war with Islamist terrorists, and how to reasonably deal with the estimated 12 million illegals already in the country. The House legislation dealt with the first problem but essentially ignored the second, while the Senate bill focused on the second but offered nothing new for the first. The best we can expect when both chambers return from their recess is that the two bills can be merged in committee in a manner that will satisfy the most pressing of the issues for both sides without necessarily delighting anyone.

To that end, these prospective changes make sense. The two issues pointed out by Republican sources for the AP created the most controversy and arguably make the overall solution more difficult to achieve. No one has a good explanation why illegal presence needs to be a felony other than as a complete disqualifier for future consideration for residency, which can also be accomplished through other less heavy-handed means. While many demand tight border security as a prerequisite to any other solutions, changing the level of offense to a felony has not been a high-profile demand, and we can live without it as long as the government enforces the new policy with more energy than it has our existing laws.

Exempting charitable organizations from prosecution also makes sense. The legal concept of accessory assumes that the person enabled a breach of law through some sort of positive action, not through simply offering humanitarian assistance. We don't charge soup kitchen workers with crimes for feeding bank robbers, for instance; we don't expect these volunteers to perform a background check. Neither does the House legislation, for that matter, but the language in the bill allows for a broader interpretation than desirable. It can certainly be modified to keep the bill's reach from enabling overzealous prosecution.

Assuming that the House can address this bill in the manner described above, it will provide a much less controversial border-security plan and one that can serve as a bridge between the two chambers. No one who takes national security seriously can object to securing the southern border as the basis of an effective immigration-reform plan that does more than just punt the problem for another generation, as Simpson-Mazzoli did in 1986. With a credibly-secured border in place, the extremes on both sides should be able to come closer to the center for a solution to the existing 12 million illegals already inside the US. Absent that minimum, no guest-worker or graduated amnesty program will ever work anyway, as illegals will continue to choose the path of least resistance and least cost to American dollars -- and that path is 700 miles wide across the Rio Grande.

Sphere It Digg! View blog reactions
Posted by Ed Morrissey at April 11, 2006 9:07 PM

Trackback Pings

TrackBack URL for this entry is


Design & Skinning by:
m2 web studios

blog advertising


Proud Ex-Pat Member of the Bear Flag League!