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March 28, 2006
A Virtual Wall Brings Virtual Amnesty

The Senate will begin debate tomorrow on the new immigration-reform plan voted out of the Judiciary Committee earlier today. The comprehensive bill will create another pathway to citizenship for illegal aliens twenty years after the last time the government thought that we had illegal immigration licked and waters down the stringent border security that the House demanded:

Under the Judiciary Committee bill, illegal immigrants who pay a $1,000 fine and back taxes would be able to apply for a three-year work visa, renewable for a second three-year period. In the fourth year of work, the visa holder could begin a five-year path toward citizenship. A second guest worker program would open up legal agriculture jobs to 1.5 million undocumented farm workers.

The measure would also add as many as 14,000 new border patrol agents by 2011 to the current force of 11,300 agents and would authorize a "virtual wall" of unmanned vehicles, cameras and sensors to monitor the U.S.-Mexico border.

Unlike the House bill, it would not make illegal immigrants and those who assist them into felons, nor would it authorize the construction of massive new walls along 700 miles of the southern border.

As I have written repeatedly over the past two years, we simply cannot throw out 12 million people overnight, so some sort of guest-worker program is inevitable, if for no other reason than to get an accurate accounting of the aliens in our nation. Either that, or we will have to herd people into concentration camps, a solution that will never pass political muster even if were remotely possible logistically. That program could form a basis of a comprehensive immigration "reform", if properly written.

That being said, the bare minimum necessary for such a program to succeed is border security successful enough that it forces those who want to enter the US to do so through either legal immigration or the guest worker program. And that is precisely where the Senate bill fails, and fails miserably. Rather than build barricades along the border that will force illegals to easily-monitored crossing points, the Senate wants to build a "virtual" wall instead of the real thing. They make it sound very high-tech, and they back it up with a little more than double the current number of border-patrol agents, but in reality all they provide is cameras and sensors to note the passage of ever-more illegals across our border.

Without real security at the southern border, any guest-worker program will fail. Why should the illegals register and cough up so much of their pay when they can easily cross over and keep everything they earn?

Immigration stalwarts might hope that the House approach will prevail in the joint conference committee that will reconcile the two bills, but that hope appears fading at best:

House Majority Leader John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) said that he hopes the Senate will pass what he called "a responsible border security bill," but he indicated he is willing to rethink the House approach. After meeting with ranchers and law enforcement officers on the U.S.-Mexican border, Boehner said those living on the frontier did not believe the House-passed border wall would work.

"If the people on the border don't believe that the wall will have the effect that people here think, then we ought to reconsider it," he said.

The Israeli wall works pretty darned well -- so well that their entire national-security policy relies on it for protection against the terrorists that want to destroy their country. Such a border barrier would relieve the agents of the necessity of being everywhere at once, and they could instead form rapid-response to attempted incursions before they actually succeed instead of tracking illegals once they've crossed the border. It appears that Congress has not learned from the Israeli experience at all.

Recent demonstrations in Los Angeles and elsewhere seems to have rattled the Republican majority, but they have taken the wrong lessons from these spectacles. The message given by the massive demonstration is that when the government fails to take action in enforcing its own laws and securing its borders, those who break the law start believing they have an entitlement to continue doing so. And why not? They learned that lesson in the amnesty program of the mid-1980s, when the Reagan administration and the Democratic Congress decided that offering those already here an easy path to citizenship would somehow deter further illegal immigration. They also promised strict border enforcement, but somehow Congress never really got around to implementing it. Twenty years later, we're talking about giving a free pass to the next generation of illegals.

One definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. Congress appears ready to establish itself as the 109th Asylum, with its fantasy walls and their insistence on granting amnesty while pretending it doesn't exist ... again.

Sphere It Digg! View blog reactions
Posted by Ed Morrissey at March 28, 2006 10:33 PM

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» Longing for Concentration Camps from Coyote Blog
Of the more partisan blogs I read, I have always enjoyed Captains Quarters for being thoughtful and well-written. Ed Morrissy is clearly as skeptical about open immigration as I am supportive of it, which I am generally willing to put [Read More]

Tracked on March 29, 2006 10:05 PM


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