Immigration: Why Aren’t Republicans Crying?

May 24, 2007

Republican proponents of the so-called “compromise,” “comprehensive” immigration bill argue the legislation is palatable because it includes important concessions to accommodate conservatives’ concerns. But the more I read about the measure, the more apparent it becomes that it is neither a compromise nor comprehensive and that any concessions offered by Democrats are illusory.

Proponents tout the bill as comprehensive because it allegedly deals with all aspects of the knotty immigration problem, including enforcement, security, immigration-related labor, employment and business issues, the rule of law and even assimilation concerns.

Democrats definitely get what they want: an ever expanding new voter constituency and a lasting supply of fodder for self-congratulation for helping people with other people’s money, but what about Republicans?

If the concessions promised conservatives never materialize, there’s no compromise and no comprehensiveness, just a sophisticated bait-and-switch scam to lure unteachable Republicans — and possibly the nation — into suicide.

One unmistakable sign the bill offers Republicans little is that Ted Kennedy cannot wipe the smile off his face. Why shouldn’t he be smiling?

Let’s consider the sources of his elation.

First, he gets most of what he wants now — instant gratification — while deferring provisions designed to gratify conservatives until much later. As we know, deferred gratification often leads to no gratification, especially where government is the supposed gratifying agent and Democrats are an integral part of the government.

Remember when Bush 41 voluntarily walked the political plank by reneging on his no-new-taxes pledge in exchange for promises of spending cuts from Democrats, only to have them not only renege but excoriate him for compromising with them in the first place and breaking his pledge? Remember how Democrats supported the Iraq war resolution, then betrayed President Bush, saying they never intended to give him unconditional authority to attack Iraq, even though the resolution did precisely that?

Remember the last time the government promised that giving amnesty to illegals would deter future immigration problems? Remember when the government allocated money for a border fence — yet have only completed some two miles of it? Fool me once, shame on you …

National Review Online (NRO) notes that one thing Kennedy and his colleagues will get immediately is that illegal immigrants will become eligible for “probationary” legal status the moment the bill passes, which is exacerbated by the fact that the government will have only one business day to run a background check on such applicants. Columnist Thomas Sowell points out that even if the bill’s requirements on illegals are “tough,” which Sowell clearly doubts, the bill does nothing to address those among the 12 million who simply choose not to become citizens and thus avoid the “tough” requirements.

But more disturbing than either of these points are certain revelations of NRO contributing editor Stanley Kurtz, which further explain and remove any ambiguity from Ted Kennedy’s ear-splitting grin.

One sop to conservatives in the bill is that it supposedly replaces family-based immigration — which has led to uncontrollable inflows — with a merit-based point system that will both make the immigration flow more manageable and improve immigrant assimilation.

But according to Kurtz, not only is this shift toward merit-based immigration very unlikely to happen under the bill, in the meantime, the bill will tilt the current system even more heavily toward family-based immigration by awarding “75 percent of new green cards” — it’s currently 60 percent — “to family members to clear existing backlogs.”

Since the shift to the merit system is deferred — like other positive aspects of the bill — for eight years, immigration advocates would have eight years to “gut” the merit system.

In case you doubt Kennedy and his ilk are inclined to “gut” the promised merit system, Kurtz emphasizes that all stars are lining up in that direction: Hillary Clinton is pushing an amendment now to reinstitute the family-based system, Speaker Pelosi has signaled her desire to revisit (and reverse) the merit-based provision soon, and American employers — of all stripes — seem united against the merit system and, indeed, helped to defeat a similar promised reform a little more than a decade ago.

Doesn’t it strike you as ironic, not to mention utterly maddening, that the only immigration issue truly demanding urgent action — enforcement — is the only one that will be put on the back burner (or completely off the stove), while other non-urgent aspects will be addressed posthaste?

I understand why Kennedy’s laughing. But why aren’t Republicans crying?