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April 26, 2006
Not Invited To The Party

Last night the White House announced a breakthrough on immigration reform, and members of both political parties hailed the President's leadership on breaking the legislative impasse in the Senate. Harry Reid told the press that the meeting had "made great progress" and that "I'm not in the habit of patting the president on the back and sending him accolades, but I have to say that this meeting that we just had, I have to pat the president on the back." However, in the rush to achieve consensus on the plan for so-called earned citizenship, it looks like a few Senators didn't get their dinner invitations:

President Bush and a group of senators yesterday reached general agreement on an immigration bill that includes a pathway to citizenship for many illegal aliens.

But left out of the closed-door White House meeting were senators who oppose a path to citizenship. The meeting even snubbed two men who had been considered allies of Mr. Bush on immigration -- Sen. John Cornyn, Texas Republican and chairman of the immigration subcommittee, and Sen. Jon Kyl, Arizona Republican.

Mr. Bush in brief remarks to the press said there was agreement to get "a bill that does not grant automatic amnesty to people, but a bill that says, somebody who is working here on a legal basis has the right to get in line to become a citizen." But senators, speaking afterward, said Mr. Bush was far more specific in the meeting.

"There was a pretty good consensus that what we have put into the Hagel-Martinez proposal here is the right way to go," said Sen. Mel Martinez, Florida Republican. "I think he was very clear [on] pathway to citizenship, so long as it goes to the back of the line, and he even opened the door here for something we've haggled back and forth on, that you can shrink the time for people to become citizens by simply enlarging the number of green cards."

Cornyn's office downplayed the snub, saying that any message about an end to partisan bickering and blocking votes had to be meant for the Minority Leader and didn't require the Texan's presence. Still, one has to wonder why two staunch allies of the President got ignored for this key meeting. It appears that the White House wants to build consensus through ignoring those who have a different perspective on immigration and pretending that they don't exist.

Another issue that apparently doesn't exist is border security. While everyone at this meeting kept their concern focused on people who entered the country illegally, none of them addressed the issue of ensuring that the illegals entries get stopped. Instead, the words "Hagel-Martinez" slid off of the lips of attendees as smoothly as one might say "Simpson-Mazzoli".

The Bush administration is about to go squishy on a national-security issue, and unlike the overblown Dubai ports deal, this one actually has real security implications for the US. It is a national disgrace that more than four years after 9/11, we still have not credibly secured our southern border. During a war in which our enemy moves primarily by stealth and attacks exclusively through individual or small-group terrorist actions, allowing the unfettered movement of people on the vast scale we see presents a clear danger to our nation. Instead of focusing on that, the President has aligned himself with Democrats and the handful of Republicans who put political correctness (and political expediency) ahead of their Constitutional duties.

The last time we saw this kind of alliance, Washington passed the BCRA into law.

Cornyn and Kyl need our help to get this administration focused on real border security before worrying about earned citizenship. I could accept the latter as a reasonable compromise as long as we have established the former first. That's the broad consensus that Americans have in regards to immigration reform, not the warmed-over rehash of a failed policy from twenty years ago.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at April 26, 2006 6:47 AM

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