If the New York Times editorial page did not exist, the Onion would have to make it up for entertainment. Today the Gray Lady tackles the immigration compromise, lauding it for its bipartisan nature — while casting its opponents as vitriolic haters:
The problems with the restrictionist provisions of the Senate immigration bill are serious and many. It includes a path to citizenship for 12 million illegal immigrants, which is a rare triumph for common sense, but that path is strewn with cruel conditions, including a fine — $5,000 — that’s too steep and hurdles that are needlessly high, including a “touchback” requirement for immigrants to make pilgrimages to their home countries to cleanse themselves of illegality. The bill imposes an untested merit-point system that narrows the channels through which family members can immigrate.
And it calls for hundreds of thousands of guest workers to toil here temporarily in an absurd employment hokey-pokey — you put your two years in, then one year out, then repeat that twice and go home forever. It would be massive indentured servitude — colonial times all over again, but without any hope of citizenship for those taking our most difficult and despised jobs.
Those who want this bill to be better are horribly conflicted by it. Their emotions still seem vastly overmatched by the ferocity of the opposition from the restrictionist right, with talk radio lighting up over “amnesty,” callers spitting out the words with all the hate they can pour into it.
It is encouraging that the bill survived several attempts by that camp to blow it apart, including an amendment that would have stricken the legalization section outright. The center held last week. But it will take a real effort to make the Senate bill much better, given that a core group of senators are bound to the ungainly architecture of their “grand bargain” and that any progress in significantly altering or improving it could unravel the deal.
Undeniably, some people have allowed themselves to get too emotional in this debate. It’s a rather broad brush that the Times paints here, however, in that anyone on the right seeking to defeat this bill or change it — as the Times wants to do for its own purposes — are automatically “spitting out the words with all the hate they can pour into it,” which is not only hysterical but ungrammatical. The editors could use some editors.
The truth is that this bill damages the rule of law at the moment while promising to restore it in the long run. Those who object to that approach recall the 1986 amnesty, without the scare quotes, which came before a promised securing of the border. That promise still remains unfulfilled, and those who oppose a second amnesty want more than promises this time around. Even if one disagrees with the position or finds the emotional level disquieting, one has to acknowledge that these opponents have a point.
Furthermore, polls show that most people have an objection to the manner in which this bill attempts to solve the problem. An overwhelming majority of Americans believe that border security is a much more pressing problem than normalization. Does the Times believe that 70% or more of America belongs in that group of “haters” that want to see border security first before normalization?
The Times gets more hysterical than those whom they criticize when they talk about the guest-worker program being a form of “massive indentured servitude”. In the first place, it’s voluntary. If they don’t like it, workers don’t have to enter the program. They’re also free to leave if they do come here and don’t like the conditions. The conditions as they exist today come much closer to indentured servitude, where employers can extort labor with the threat of exposure to the ICE. I agree that the guest-worker program could create a lot of problems, but modern slavery isn’t one of them.
I know most CQ readers don’t bother with the Times, but it’s good to keep an eye on them. They still have influence, although this editorial demonstrates why that influence continues to fade.