July 3, 2007

The Elusiveness Of Low-Hanging Fruit

Now that the comprehensive immigration bill has died on the floor of the Senate, it seems that few in Washington have the stomach to address the most pressing components of the issue. Some in the House want to do just that, The Hill reports, although they may not get a lot of support for an approach that focuses only on borders and visas. Leadership in both chambers and both parties would rather avoid immigration for the rest of this session.

At Heading Right, I take a look at the politics of this effort. With over 70% of the public favoring action to secure the borders and fix the visa system, it seems like this should be the low-hanging fruit of the political season. Will this Congress, which has accomplished next to nothing, be smart enough to pick it -- and who wins if they don't?


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Comments (13)

Posted by daytrader | July 3, 2007 8:42 AM


I have commented elsewhere and maybe here that there are many other immigration reform measures also on the floor.

Both sides agreed during the debate there were broken borders and broken laws that needed fixing.

Sure you are not going to get comprehensive reform and all the faults in that bill show exactly why.

But to now totally ignore ANY reform with proposed bills on the floor that aim to fix specific issues is wrong headed.

At least getting some fixes done is better than nothing.

If no fixes come forward then a good case can be made that the comprehensive bill was a purposeful intended to fail smokescreen done for political reasons rather than a true effort to enact reform.

Posted by TomB | July 3, 2007 8:58 AM

What looks simple on the surface is really just a tip of an iceberg and touching it is like opening a Pandora box. No politician wants to do it even with 70% public support (which can evaporate in no time after leftist MSM will zero-in on the details), as we can see even with a 10ft pole.
Securing the borders is really a complex process, and border controls and enforcement is just a first step. We need a scary legal system to send undocumented people for processing to camps, best somewhere in Alaska; we need a robust national biometric ID, to be able to weed out illegals, who skipped past the border enforcement. Then we need find an acceptable way to deal with people, often well established who entered the country and were staying here illegally for a number of years (due to our intentional neglect of the problem). And this is just for starters.
All this needs a really determined administration, which we do not have and, dare I say, WILL NOT HAVE in a foreseeable future.

Posted by bulbasaur | July 3, 2007 9:03 AM

Your expectation makes sense only if you still believe congressmen see themselves as agents of the people. They don't. They see the people as adversaries.

That's why democrats and republicans together, in defeat, began issuing veiled threats to reinstate the Fairness Doctrine.

Posted by Gregg | July 3, 2007 9:08 AM

How despicable if some members of Congress refuse to secure our borders against human traffickers, drug runners and terrorists (and many good people who are desperate to get to the greatest country on this planet any way they can) if they can't get other pet legislation passed. I am disgusted that they would refuse to protect and defend this country if they can't get their way.

Posted by BoWowBoy | July 3, 2007 9:14 AM

It's clear that the American people will have to lead on this issue. Neither the executive branch or legislative branch of our federal government are interested in doing the right thing for America and American workers.

Homeland Security Agency has tipped their hand that they will not prosecute employers for hiring illegal aliens. They are taking their cue directly from the POTUS.

The scum suckers in the U.S. Senate are still interested in how they can exploit this security problem for their best interest ............which at this time is to take the lead and funding from the business community .....to just make this issue go away.

This is why it is critically important that patriotic Americans join a citizen border group and attend a border operation or attend a day labor operation in their communities.

Posted by Mentant | July 3, 2007 10:06 AM

They will not pass border enforcement becaue those who are in favor of "comprehensive" reform understand that the only way to get amnesty-esque provisions passed is to make them appear palatable through enforcement provisions.

If they just pass robust enforcement provisions, any future attempt at the kind of sweeping amnesty they almost passed would be futile. So they won't. And two years from now we will again hear that the "only way" to fix the border is to pass another "comprehensive" bill.

Posted by AnonymousDrivel | July 3, 2007 10:20 AM

RE: daytrader (July 3, 2007 8:42 AM)
If no fixes come forward then a good case can be made that the comprehensive bill was a purposeful intended to fail smokescreen done for political reasons rather than a true effort to enact reform.

You're being far too generous here, daytrader. We both know that case has already been made and the jury screamed bloody h*ll to stop the railroading.

As much as we'd like to think there was no way this legislation could have passed due to the public outroar, history will show that the Senate was very close in spite of the lopsided vote during the second cloture. Reid's inverted "clay pigeon" process was working until the Baucus-Tester amendment (which was narrowly passed) stripped the Real ID security fig leaf some needed to justify the legislation's passage. With Real ID gone, the camel's back was broken.

A few other timely events made the ultimate cloture appear legislatively devastating... but it really wasn't. Many "nays" came in after the 40-vote threshold had been reached. Brownback, McConnell, and Voinovich were the most embarrassingly transparent "nays" and should serve as textbook examples for legislative rookies on how to CYA (well, learn the method but not the style).

All of that security "urgency" has evaporated. Our highest levels of governance have yet to spell c-r-e-d-i-b-l-e, much less act it. Perhaps they'll recall the practice of acting on things that have not yet been written like a nice piece of legislation. They could just do it without understanding it.

Posted by Old Mike | July 3, 2007 10:58 AM

If we secured the border and got a tamper proof ID card, I would be willing to consider all sorts of options, even generous ones, for dealing with illegals already here. I am not, however, willing to put the cart before the horse a second time.

Posted by Lew | July 3, 2007 11:29 AM

What is needed at this juncture are what the conflict resolution consultants call "confidence building" steps. Small incremental measures designed to build trust between two estranged parties to a dispute, and advance some progress toward a solution that both sides can tolerate. Because the problem here is not the border or the illegals or the wall or whatever; the problem is that Americans have absolutely NO faith in their government's intention to enforce the laws that they enact. None! Zero! Nada! Zilch!

Until we face that problem head-on and get it resolved, then no other problem is solvable. What's the point of passing all kinds of nifty looking laws when nobody believes they'll be either funded or enforced?

In the end, the people holding elected office right now need to admit in public that the American people simply don't trust them, and with damned good reason. Until they admit the problem, they can't solve it. Maybe some kind of "Twelve-Step" program would be in order?

Posted by MarkD | July 3, 2007 1:33 PM

We were promised enforcement for amnesty once, got amnesty, no enforcement.

So how stupid do we have to be to take the same deal when it's offered again by the same liars? I say liars because I don't see much of the wall they are supposedly building. Or would that be a virtual (ie imaginary) wall?

I just want the borders secured and the laws enforced.

Then we can figure out what to do with the 12-20 million estimated illegals. Maybe Bush can pardon them.

Posted by RichPete | July 3, 2007 2:40 PM

To: Lew at July 3, 2007 11:29 AM

By "Twelve-Step" program do you envision "Contract with America?"

Posted by Project Vote Smart | July 3, 2007 3:58 PM

In her article for The Hill, Jackie Kucinich mentions Representatives Pete King, Lamar Smith, and Zoe Zofgren of the House who are currently pursuing new legislation on immigration.

Rep. King’s history of speeches on immigration can be found at: http://votesmart.org/speech.php?keyword=immigration&daterange=&begin=&end=&phrase=&contain=&without=&type=search&can_id=26968&go2.x=0&go2.y=0#Results

For Rep. Smith’s history of speeches on immigration, please visit: http://votesmart.org/speech.php?keyword=immigration&daterange=&begin=&end=&phrase=&contain=&without=&type=search&can_id=27097&go2.x=0&go2.y=0#Results

For Rep. Lofgren’s statement on the updated visa bulletin, please visit: http://votesmart.org/speech_detail.php?sc_id=299308&keyword=&phrase=&contain=

For more information on the legislative activities of these representatives, and on immigration, please visit http://www.vote-smart.org or call our hotline at 1-888-VOTE-SMART.

Posted by Lew | July 3, 2007 9:50 PM

Nope, what I have in mind is more like AA's sequence of steps beginning with the sincere and public confession that "I am an alcoholic!". Only in this case the sincere public confession would be "I am a fraud!".

Once that step has been sincerely taken, then they can move through the other steps to final self control and responsible adult life.

After all that is done, then perhaps we might believe them when they once more indulge us with a "Contract with America". Until then, all the "Contracts" in the world are just so much gas!