Friday, June 08, 2007

The Grand Bargain Fails

The comprehensive immigration reform bill may have been dealt the death blow yesterday in the Senate. I really do plan on blogging about this later in-depth, but frankly, I'm kind of worn out. There has been so much hysteria and distortion in this debate, that one wonders whether anything will get done. Marc Cooper basically calls it on why the bill failed:

Meanwhile, the "grand bargain" immigration reform bill has collapsed in the Senate. For this I blame opponents in both parties. The bill was essentially amended-to-death by a fruit salad of Republicans and Democrats who were cynically trying to smother it.

Shame on them.

Here's the bald truth about comprehensive immigration reform: there were only two real-world choices. Either pass an imperfect bill that would at least begin to improve the current outrage of policy. Or do nothing and conform to the current outrage of policy. Period. Compromise or Death, to paraphrase Fidel Castro. Any body who believes differently is living on a different planet.

Now what do we have? From the perspective of the restrictionist Right, instead of bringing some order and some identification to the sea of undocumented in America, we will continue to have 12 million "illegals" around (whom I suppose will continue to serve as convenient scapegoats). And, take my word for it, they will continue to pour across the border -- fortified or otherwise.

From the perspective of the restrictionist Left, those like Democratic Senator Byron Dorgan who helped kill this bill by objecting to the guest worker program, an equally pyrrhic victory has been achieved. In the name of protecting American workers from job-grubbing braceros, as well as protecting would-be guest workers from becoming super-exploited braceros, they have now guaranteed the continued existence of a 12 million strong pool of low-wage undocumented workers -- most of them bereft of any labor or legal protection and not very different from braceros.

Many are wondering if the system is totally broken, and have called this "a scathing indictment of the political culture in Washington." Mickey Kaus, (whom I disagree with on this--I'm pretty sure he's against the bill) nonetheless has some interesting points on the coverage and politics of the bill, basically pointing out that for various reasons (see above as well as his analysis), that it just wasn't going to pass. The anti-immigrant and anti-guest worker program forces just couldn't agree. The far-right wants to basically deport them all (regardless of how much they tell you otherwise), and regard anything less as amnesty, and many on the Left have issues with the guest worker aspect.

At the end of the day, as one who supports comprehensive reform, one wonders about the future of this thing. I'm continually reminded of the line in Pulp Fiction, in which Marsellus says to Butch:

"You came close, but you never made it, and if you were gonna make it, you would've made it before now."

Sounds a lot like John Edwards' political future, but I'll leave that segue for later in the day.

UPDATE: I want to reiterate how much this debate is totally off-balance. The anti-immigrant right, while refusing to budge on this, fails to own up to its own arguments. Michelle Malkin wishes her critics would stop accusing her and the opponents of comprehensive reform of wanting to deport all 12 million undocumented workers. I'm more than happy to do that, Michelle, but I'm afraid you'll actually have to stop advocating that position first. O'Reilly said on his show that the Left doomed the bill with unpopular amendments. The fact is, the GOP base opposed this bill from the start, and would've found any reason to kill it. As it's been said, they don't want real reform. The opponents of the bill, are the ones who are for amnesty. It's that simple.


DaveG said...

Not that you asked, but I'm kind of Center-Right, and I was happy to see this bill die. I think it was too much, too fast.

I'm all for immigration of the legal variety, but I think the the barriers and bullshit thrown up in front of those wanting to legally immigrate are reprehensible. I'm not willing to go as far as open borders, but I think an efficient and fair immigration policy for all types of people (not just engineers and college professors, as we seem to do now) would be a good thing.

That said, bringing 12,000,000 felons into the mix, given the state of our entitlement economy, frightened the hell out of me. I understand that the bill was not in any way intended to provide immediate amnesty, and that part I was ok with. The problem was that the border controls and the like, intended to stem some of the inevitable tide of even more border jumpers, were deferred, and I have absolutely zero trust that they would have ever been implemented.

The problem needs to be solved, but other issues should be addressed first. When Congress and the President prove to me that they can get important things done like fixing Social Security in a meaningful way, I'll be more receptive to creating a means to legalize those that are already here and contributing to society. Those that are here illegally and are not making a contribution of any type to the greater good should be sent home. But first things first: the gov't needs to prove that they can be trusted, and right now I don't think they can be.

Rafique Tucker said...

Interesting points, Dave. I disagree with you overall point, I do appreciate that as a critic of the proposal, you took the time to lay out your argument, and be upfront about it. Many aren't nearly as rational about this issue