May 21, 2007

Everybody Hates The Compromise

Proverbially, a compromise succeeds best when it leaves all sides unsatisfied. However, the compromise which everyone hates usually fails, and that appears to be the case with the new immigration reform package -- and that spells trouble for any hopes of reaching a compromise at all. While immigration hardliners have found enough devils in the details to populate an entire plane of Dante's Inferno, immigration advocates apparently dislike the bill at least as much:

There is little doubt about how grass-roots organizations feel about a bipartisan immigration compromise reached in the Senate: They don't like it.

The New York Immigration Coalition issued a statement that called the proposal unacceptable, saying, "We say no to this deal." In California, the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund vowed to oppose numerous provisions in the plan. In Massachusetts, an immigrant and refugee advocacy coalition said the deal was "immoral, unworkable and unacceptable." ...

But condemnations from supporters and opponents of illegal immigration were a sign that the bipartisan compromise, like the illegal immigrants it addresses, faces a rocky future. Rep. Tom Tancredo (R-Colo.), a staunch opponent of illegal immigration, believes that the proposal's path to legal status is an amnesty that rewards lawbreakers.

Tancredo favors strengthening the Mexican border and, in the U.S. interior, cracking down so hard on illegal immigration at the workplace and in other areas that illegal immigrants would depart voluntarily.

Immigration advocates find two particular aspects of the bill highly objectionable. First, they consider the points system that favors English speakers racist. They complain that people in Africa, Asia, and Latin America do not usually speak English, and that the restrictions are meant to keep people of color out of the US. That's a rather stunning charge. It makes sense to place a higher value on applicants who speak the mainstream language of our culture just on the basis of the cost of assimilation. Supporting the cornucopia of languages for people already here who don't feel the need to learn our language costs us enough without deliberately adding to it, and it seems rather common-sensical to place a higher value on immigrants for whom we won't need to provide that kind of support.

Besides, isn't it a bit racist in itself to assume that people from those areas can't learn English, or don't know it already?

Their second objection also comes from the point system in its replacement of the family privilege. They want new citizens to retain the ability to sponsor their entire families for entry, including extended families, rather than subject them to the point system. My understanding is that the point system does grant points for those related to American citizens, but not as many as for education and language skills, and immediate family is not affected by the change. If so, then I fail to see the problem. If families want to qualify for entry, then the process is open for them as well, but just because one person qualifies does not mean their cousins should automatically get a pass. Immigration is not an entitlement, a fact that seems to have escaped more than a few people in this country.

However, the tenor of the debate raises grave concerns about our ability to fix immigration. Everyone agrees that the system is broken; in fact, that's about the only agreement to be found. The partisans have become so passionate and vociferous that any compromise will likely fail. Advocates will hold border security hostage, because they can do that much in Congress; opponents will block anything else. Both will consider anyone who tries to broker a compromise as either traitors or racists, and the end result will be more paralysis.

This particular compromise has plenty to oppose on both sides, and appears unworkable. If we're going to solve this huge, expensive problem, we're eventually going to have to find somewhere in the middle to meet. Right now, the visceral immediate reaction to this effort demonstrates that paralysis sells.


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Comments (32)

Posted by Geistmaus | May 21, 2007 6:46 AM

"but not as many as for education and language skills"

I'll run with that. From Page 241 (On The Truth Laid Bear's bit)

Son or daughter, over 21, of a US citizen gets 8 points.

Bachelor's degree 10 points.

English & civics or Native English speaker is worth 15 points.

M.D. 20 points.

Worked seasonally in agriculture for 3 years? 21 points. Up to a max of 25 for 5 years. In fact, nothing else scores as high as migrant farm work.

Reducing the cost of lettuce is more important than reducing the cost of health care? Brilliant!

Posted by Nessus | May 21, 2007 7:05 AM

I'll repeat, no one is against immigration - IF and it's a big if, it's legal and in reasonable numbers. However, DC has shown again and again, that it's either unable or unwilling to control either aspect. President Bush is the worst on this issue. He simply loves Mexico and I also think he does want to see greater integration leading to a kind of North American Union. Our fathers and grandfathers fought and bled for this?

Today's immigration in a way really isn't normal immigration, it's simply about Mexico and a few other Central American countries exporting huge portions of their populations to our nation with all it's attendent negative consequences such as the sheer illegality - the fake or stolen ID's, social security numbers, driver licenses, drunk driving, etc.

These nations, especially Mexico which is a wealthy country, refuse to enter the modern world and reform themselves, so they export their peasants and yes, in Mexico's case, export their criminals, sending them north so the American taxpayer can foot the bill. I say the best way to deal with Mexico is tough love. Cut out this deal, shun them, greatly tighten the border, workplace enforcement, eventually Mexico City will get the message and hopefully reforms will begin down there.

Posted by The Yell | May 21, 2007 7:27 AM

The only "middle ground" I see possible is abandoning the radical notion of "comprehensive" reform.

We've got people outside the borders who want to emigrate here for legal, temporary work;
we've got people outside the borders who want to move here permanently and become Americans;
we've got legal resident aliens who want to become citizens;
we've got resident illegal aliens who want to become citizens;
we've got resident illegal aliens who just want to keep working before retiring "home";
and we've got resident illegal aliens who won't give a damn whatever Washington says because it's really THEIR homeland.

A responsible program would be to decide what we want for each group and hash it out separately. Unfortunately I doubt the "chickencrap" cabal we call the Senate has the maturity and sense to actually craft solutions to these very distinct problems. We clearly can 'absorb' dozens of millions of people, we just need to forge agreement on how.

Posted by jeff m | May 21, 2007 7:29 AM

"However, the tenor of the debate raises grave concerns about our ability to fix immigration."


This process can proceed with one simple act -- secure the Southern border. Then we can talk about the rest.

Posted by Geistmaus | May 21, 2007 7:33 AM

Let me add more fun stuff from the bill as posted on The Truth Laid Bear:

-- You can forge 9 passports in 3 years. But 10 will get you up to 20 years.
-- 1099 employers are exempt from exempt from workplace enforcement and verification.
-- An alleged employer can forge their little hearts out about the immigrants employment status for the purpose of attaining a Z Visa and *cannot* be investigated for, or have evidence introduced about, those applications for criminal or even *tax* purposes.

Currently it's $3500 to mule one up to Denver, Co and dump them without papers. How much do you think I could make if I offered the scotch-free value-add of legit walking papers?

You wouldn't cut and run from Iraq. Why are you so desperate in your plea to cut and run from Arizona?

Posted by Inge | May 21, 2007 7:40 AM

Being a legal immigrant, one who came to the US off and on while my husband served the Department of Defense, I find it appalling that the illegal immigrant demand rights. Never in my wildest dreams would I abuse the hospitality of this country such as these illegals. When I applied for my entry, I was given 'hell', had to provide lung x-rays etc. to demonstrate a clean bill of health. Many of these illegals break the law, jumping ahead, and behave abysmal. It is an insult to americans, regardless which side is one on. Politicians who can not be honest should be thrown out during next election, so the issue can be resolved according to the law. Just because they came here illegal does not give them right to be abuse to the american public no less.

Posted by Keemo | May 21, 2007 7:42 AM

There is one aspect of this amnesty go around the American people bill that I do like....

This bill shows all of us just how far removed our politicians are from the will of the American people; just how Conniving, Greedy, Lying, and Deceitful these people are; just how pathetic John McCain, Ted Kennedy, & Jorge Bush really are....

Posted by Inge | May 21, 2007 7:43 AM

Being a legal immigrant, one who came to the US off and on while my husband served the Department of Defense, I find it appalling that the illegal immigrant demand rights. Never in my wildest dreams would I abuse the hospitality of this country such as these illegals. When I applied for my entry, I was given 'hell', had to provide lung x-rays etc. to demonstrate a clean bill of health. Many of these illegals break the law, jumping ahead, and behave abysmal. It is an insult to americans, regardless which side one is on. Politicians who can not be honest should be thrown out during next election, so the issue can be resolved according to the law. Just because they came here illegal does not give them right to be abusive to the american public no less.

Posted by NahnCee [TypeKey Profile Page] | May 21, 2007 8:41 AM

I would rather have the status quo where at least we can harass and sometimes deport these people, than passage of legislation like what has been proposed, which essentially rolls out the red carpet to them and gives them every advantage in life over me.

I have to pay taxes. They don't.

I have to pay for medical care. They don't.

I have to pay for education. They don't.

Story in last week's LA Times about Spanish-speaking "immigrants" complaining about rent increases and their Section 8 not being enough to maintain their rental "housing with a view". *I* don't get Section 8 reimbursement, care of the American tax payer.

I want these people to continue to know and understand that they are *not* valued, that they are illegal, and that they can be shipped back to their hellhole of origin once someone's attention lands on them.

And for advocates of immigration to call Americans who feel like we're being swarmed to death "racist" -- isn't that the same tactic as they tried to keep Affirmative Action alive, and for the same reasons? It's *not* racist, and that's just a stupid debating tactic to try to lay a guilt trip when you have no statistics or facts on your side.

Like the poster above said -- put up a fence first, and then we'll discuss the details.

Posted by trapeze | May 21, 2007 8:42 AM

What everyone in this debate seems to lose sight of is that there is no reason for immigration reform.

The fact is that they are called "illegal immigrants" for a reason...they have already broken our laws just by crossing our borders secretly, by being here without our implicit permission. I get tired of hearing that we can't solve this problem without complicated laws, formulas, point systems, etc.

Secure the border: build a big frickin' fence...already 700 miles have been authorized...just fund the stupid thing. Enforce the laws on our books: deport the illegals whenever and wherever they are found. Punish employers who hire illegals: there must be a reason I fill out an I-9 form and require proper ID on anyone I hire...also a serious crackdown on Social Security fraud would be helpful. Personally, I would rather the federal government severely increase the penalties for "identity theft" which goes hand in hand with an illegal workforce.

The illegals didn't get here overnight and I wouldn't expect the problem to be dealt with any faster than it appeared. This immigration bill would eliminate the term "illegal" at its signing.

Does that make sense? No.

We just need to elect someone to the presidency who places a priority on the rule of law as regards the border and immigration and, given enough time, the problem will go away. The current occupant of the white house has no interest in doing so and, although I support him in most other areas (including the war), he cannot selectively enforce the law and garner the respect of the countries citizens.

May we get a new president who understands this concept and has the political will to do his job correctly.

Posted by RG | May 21, 2007 8:46 AM

"no border, no order, no nation" - it's that simple.

Mexico wants to colonize the USA and is doing so with the help of our DC elites.

Posted by Joshua | May 21, 2007 8:50 AM

Geistmaus may have found the provision that could kill this bill altogether. 25 points for being a migrant farm worker, 20 points for being an M.D. -- how are the supporters of this bill going to justify that?

Posted by richard_223 | May 21, 2007 9:21 AM

Gosh Ed, since when is anyone who believes a soverign nation has the right to enforce its own border a 'hardliner'?

Posted by Noatak | May 21, 2007 9:40 AM

I was remain extremely alarmed by Captain Ed's willingness to so readily compromise on this travesty of a bill and poke legal immigrants in the eye by doing so.

Posted by patrick neid | May 21, 2007 9:57 AM

for the love of god, just close the border.

while we fiddle rome burns. how many years of a million plus illegals swarming across the border before its too late. it may be too late already. even the parts of the bill folks appear to agree on turns 10 million illegals into 40 million--all 8th grade dropouts to boot. meanwhile la raza tells us what they want and we abide! what the f*ck?

this debate has long since stopped being about america's successful immigration history and is now turning into the "sacking of rome".

bin laden continues to be right..........

Posted by james23 | May 21, 2007 10:02 AM

"since when is anyone who believes a soverign nation has the right to enforce its own border a 'hardliner'?"

Get ready for worse than that, richard. When the WH and McCain, Specter et al finally figure out this bill is going nowhere, they will beat up opponents as racists, nativists, etc. They just hate it when the rabble will not shut up and follow, as ordered.

Posted by Duke DeLand | May 21, 2007 10:03 AM

Punish Re-entry
Reward returns to Mexico/et al for legal entry.

No Negotiation.....

Criminals, and they are all criminals by default, have few rights...just as with any other lawbreaker!

KISS.....Keep it Simple Stupid!

Posted by james23 | May 21, 2007 10:05 AM

please go to to send a free fax to both of your US Senators telling them you oppose McCain Kennedy 2.0. It is very fast--takes about 2 minutes of your time.

Posted by rjc | May 21, 2007 10:32 AM

I find it incredible that this issue is even addressed from the bottom up - “They are already here, so we have to do something with them.” What kind of a country is this that allows its policies to be controlled by a group of people who are not even citizens? Sane immigration policy should originate with our leaders, and should be decided on the basis of what is good for the country, not what is good for any one group, especially one which has flouted our laws and entered illegally.

Many people say we need these workers, but do we really know that? Their jobs have arisen not necessarily from need, but just because these uninvited are “here”. They hang around and eventually someone finds something for them to do, especially since they work for lower wages than Americans.

There is a perfect example in my community, where we have loads of illegal aliens doing landscaping maintenance work on tiny plots of land. Anywhere I have ever lived before (and I have lived a long time) landscaping has always been done with an eye to the least maintenance possible. Yet here and now, ONLY BECAUSE we have an overabundance of cheap labor, reason was not used in the planning stage. There must be thousands of similar stories. This kind of cheap labor also stifles innovations in mechanization. An example is when the Bracero program ended in 1964. Though many said prices of tomatoes would soar, they did not - because the industry mechanized and adapted.

At this point, what we should be doing, instead of throwing up our hands and saying we have to accept them, is to deport them. Or have them self deport by drying up the jobs. I can’t believe it will be easier to admit this huge number of illegals under the programs in the proposed bill than it would be to force them to self deport. The administration should then decide how many of which types of workers we need, and apportion that need over many countries, not just those to our immediate south. That way we will not have the problems we have now with assimilation, Spanish this and Spanish that. The current group is so large, and has come so rapidly from one place, that there is no incentive to assimilate.

No doubt if we did start afresh many would be immigrants just like those here now, but at least it would be legal and fair. I do not understand how our government can give preference to those here illegally over those who have followed the rules and done the right thing.

One last thing. I hope that everyone who opposes this terrible bill will contact as many senators as possible and fight against this. This is a horrible wrong that the government is trying to perpetrate on its citizens, and should be stopped.

Posted by unclesmrgol | May 21, 2007 11:31 AM


Wonder why our tomatoes taste like paper? Not only did we mechanize, but we bred tomatoes that can be picked by machine without damage.

Personally, I like the older kind that you picked by hand. I grow them in my back yard.

Posted by The Mechanical Eye | May 21, 2007 11:47 AM

If illegal immigration is such an affront to our sacred sovereignty, why is it only a misdemeanor?

Did U.S. senators expect illegal immigrants who are strawberry pickers, gardeners, house painters, roofers and housekeepers to stop working, drop their obligations, go back to Mexico, and stand in line to apply for a fee-laden citizenship process?

And why on earth would anyone agree on a bill that ends up pleasing no one while sharply dividing the inhabitants of these United States, especially the GOP?

We are not living in the era of great political talent.


Posted by rjc | May 21, 2007 12:02 PM

First, I grew and picked tomatoes by hand myself. Second, there is no proof that the mechanization caused the "paper" taste you refer to.

In any case, no matter what your "tomato taste" preference is, it isn't worth it if they are being picked by illegal entrants into your country who are piggybacking on your social services structures. If it is that important to anyone, he/she can grow their own.

Posted by Bill Faith | May 21, 2007 12:17 PM

The main problem here isn't Mexican-Americans or Chinese-Americans or Iraqi-Americans, it's Politician-Americans.

Posted by Jay | May 21, 2007 12:23 PM

I don't want paralysis. But I don't want bad legislation in it's place. Whatever happened to the idea of convincing other people that your argument is sound, and getting them to come over to your side? I don't want to compromise my principles on the premise that "something must be done". Sometimes there is actual right and wrong. Sometimes the middle is NOT the right place to be. I've got an idea for a very simple bill. If everyone is so concerned that "something must be done today", how about this: write a bill that says we will enforce the laws on the books, and here is the money to do it.

Posted by Bill Faith | May 21, 2007 12:51 PM

An excerpt from Amnesty, shamnesty. Maybe it'll die in the Senate:

Friends and neighbors, the best we can hope for under the current administration is no action of any sort on immigration. I realize that's a gamble. The bill currently under consideration is a wonderful bill compared to what we can expect under an Clinton or Obama administration, but if either of them ends up in the White House immigration is going to be a minor issue compared to the other problems we'll have anyway. As long as we keep the 12 or 20 or 30 million people who are in this country illegally illegal there's at least hope that under a Thompson administration an actual reasonable compromise can be worked out and actually implemented. Stall for time, people, stall for time.

Posted by Geistmaus | May 21, 2007 1:04 PM

Jay, ignore the 'paralysis' riff. That's just the Cap'n trying to tune his 'narrative' to taste. Fact is, when 72% of Republicans and 64% of Democrats agree that the laws on the books need enforced... well then, that gives us a rough 68% in favor. Or enough to get an amendment to the Constitution in. Make it the 29th and make it simple for the idiots we elect:

"Close the frickin' border or swing slowly from the gallows"

Posted by Mikey J | May 21, 2007 1:41 PM

The end result (hopefully) is that NO bill will be passed into law. In the time that it takes congress to come to this conclusion, they will have wasted enough money in lost time that we could have funded the wall. So lets just fund the wall now (whose building has already been approved), enforce what we already have on the books and move on.

P.S. Your tomatoes taste like paper because they are not Jersey tomaotes. Its all that toxic soil that gives them the great taste.

Posted by paul | May 21, 2007 3:26 PM

Write your reps and senators. Make as much noise as possible. End this bullshit legislation. Secure our borders and enforce our existing laws for fucks sake!

Posted by burt | May 21, 2007 4:06 PM

Tomatoes along with many other fruits and vegetables have had the flavor inadvertently bred out of them while breeding other favorable characteristics into them. These include transportability and long shelf life. Even good tomatoes are tasteless by the time they are sold in a supermarket: Tomatoes lose their flavor if they are cooled to about 45 deg F, and that usually happens. Yes soil can make a difference just as it does with vinyards.

Posted by AZlegal | May 21, 2007 10:19 PM

Everyone is falling into the trap. We do NOT have an immigration problem. We have a Border problem. So, how do we solve it? Again? We legalize everyone that has walked across. As Spock would say, "This is not logical", but it looks like it will get you re-elected til you die to keep fixing the problem. Don't let them run the con game again. It only shows what they think of our intelligence.

Posted by Layer Seven | May 21, 2007 10:32 PM

Hey, Cap'n,

France has more brains than you!

"France says no to mass legalisation of undocumented immigrants"

Posted by J | May 22, 2007 6:39 AM

Let's say the southern border in a water pipe in your basement, now one day leaks start appearing in the pipe and your basement in fulling with water fast. Which do you do first, clean up the water or call the plumber to fix the leaks, then clean up the water???