The immigration bill is dead, yet again, after the Senate rejected cloture by fourteen votes. In the end, the compromise could not even gain a majority in support of what conceptually may have been a passable compromise, but in reality was a poorly constructed, poorly processed mass of contradictions and gaps. Many of us who may have supported a comprehensive approach to immigration found ourselves amazed and repulsed by both the product and the process of this attempt to solve the immigration problem.
So what should happen now? The problems of immigration did not disappear with the failure of the cloture vote a few moments ago. Congress needs to act to resolve them -- but they need to do so in a manner that respects the processes of representative democracy, and in a manner that builds the confidence of Americans rather than fuel their cynicism.
They need to address border security and visa-program problems immediately. Congress has left these problems simmering for over 21 years. Their failure to address the issue over two decades has demonstrated that Washington does not consider those issues a very high priority, and the Senate's insistence on tying them to normalization underscores that. Poll after poll shows that Americans don't believe Congress when it says it will do something -- and so Congress needs to demonstrate their competence first before we take a flyer on creating another vast bureaucratic nightmare.
Secure the borders. Fix the visa program. Do those tasks by using the proper legislative processes in both chambers, allowing for real debate, honest and open amendment opportunities, and quit using clay pigeons and other parliamentary tricks to hide the bill and railroad it through Congress.
In other words, act responsibly, instead of trying to pull a fast one on the American public.
UPDATE: Some people argue that the failures of enforcement come from the executive branch, not the legislative. Certainly the executive branch shares the failure, but Congress has never allocated the resources for proper border enforcement, nor have they funded the visa overhaul. They have also created new bureaucracies (DHS) that actively impeded progress on these issues. The issue starts in Congress, and they need to act to provide the proper resources for these priorities.