Wednesday, April 12, 2006

You Think?

"Immigrant Bill Fallout May Hurt House GOP" sayz the Washington Post

It won't hurt just the House GOP, either. Jonathan Weisman has the story:
House Republicans rushed through legislation just before Christmas that would build hundreds of miles of fence along the U.S.-Mexico border, require that businesses verify the legality of all employees' status through a national database, fortify border patrols, and declare illegal immigrants and those who help them to be felons. After more lenient legislation failed in the Senate last week, the House-passed version burst into the public consciousness this week, as hundreds of thousands of protesters across the country turned out to denounce the bill.

Yesterday, House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) and Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) issued a joint statement seeking to deflect blame for the harshest provisions of the House bill toward the Democrats, who they said showed a lack of compassion. "It remains our intent to produce a strong border security bill that will not make unlawful presence in the United States a felony," Hastert and Frist said.

Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.) fired back that "there's no running away from the fact that the Republican House passed a bill and Senator Frist offered one that criminalizes immigrants."

House Democrats acknowledged they helped block Republican efforts on the floor in December to soften the Republican-crafted section declaring illegal immigrants to be felons, but they said ultimate responsibility for the bill rests with the Republicans, who voted overwhelmingly for its passage.

"The Democrats were not going to do anything to make it easier for Republicans to pass an atrocious bill," said Jennifer Crider, a spokeswoman for House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.).

Yesterday's maneuvering underscores how the immigration issue has mushroomed into a fierce political debate with potentially large stakes heading into the November congressional elections. The hundreds of thousands of protesters in the streets Monday vividly demonstrated the power of the issue, which some strategists say threatens to undercut President Bush's long-standing hope of making Hispanic voters a GOP constituency.

"There was political calculation that they could make this the wedge issue of 2006 and 2008, but it's not playing out that way," said Rep. Raul M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.). "This has galvanized and energized the Latino community like no other issue I have seen in two decades, and that's going to have electoral consequences."

Republicans say they could accept that sentiment if they believed they had won political points from the GOP's restive base. But for all the negatives, they don't have many positives to show for their efforts.

"From the standpoint of those who would applaud the House's stand, I'd say we have not gotten sufficient credit," said Rep. Phil Gingrey (R-Ga.), a reliable supporter of House leaders. "I'm somewhat distressed that they have not gotten word of what we've done."
Democrats who voted for the House bill with an eye on their political futures or to preempt feared attacks from conservatives are rethinking their position.

Rep. Ted Strickland (D-Ohio), a supporter of the bill, was greeted by protesters and shouts of "Migration is not a crime" in February when he opened his Ohio gubernatorial campaign office in Cleveland. Now, he regrets his vote, campaign spokesman Jess Goode said.

The 36 Democrats who voted for passage included Rep. John T. Salazar (Colo.) -- whose brother, Sen. Ken Salazar (D-Colo.), has railed against the House measure -- and Rep. Harold E. Ford Jr. (Tenn.), who may find it difficult to tap into the mobilizing Latino vote in his run for the Senate this year.

Although much has been made of the failed efforts in the Senate last week to forge a bipartisan measure to toughen border security while creating a system to allow many of the 11 million to 12 million illegal immigrants here to achieve legal status or citizenship, the actions in the House late last year have received little attention until now.

House GOP leaders had rushed lawmakers back to Washington for a rare December session to vote on the immigration measure, hoping to give their members an accomplishment to brag about over the long winter recess. But it was the deft maneuvering of Democrats that preserved the bill's most infamous provision, declaring illegal immigrants felons, and that provision has helped turn the bill into a political albatross for some Republicans, Democrats say.

The bill, written by House Judiciary Committee Chairman F. James Sensenbrenner Jr. (R-Wis.), was passed in a matter of hours, nine days before Christmas. Just seven amendments were allowed to come to a vote, none of them fundamentally altering the legislation.

Sensenbrenner's committee bill included the felony provision, but when he took it to the House floor Dec. 16, he offered an amendment to downgrade the offense of being an undocumented worker from a felony to a misdemeanor.

The Democratic leadership pushed its members to vote against the amendment, and 191 Democrats did. Only eight Democrats voted with Sensenbrenner.
The Democrats' hypocrisy on the House immigration bill will not boomerang on them in the slightest, save for the conservative democrats. The institutional Open Borders organizations, such as the marxist I-ANSWER, will not abandon them. Latinos that disapprove of the felonization of illegal aliens will most likely blame the Republicans for bringing it up in the first place. Those Democrats that sought to placate conservative voters in their home districts, however, risk exposure to opposition from nationally mobilized interests. Still, it's clear that this mess, however complicated by the Democrats, is one mostly of the House GOP's making.

The problem with politicizing such a vital issue as border security and immigration is that law proposals become campaigne promises. The nation does not needs electioneering. It requires secure borders and sensible immigration law and law enforcement. It requires a practical and just way of addressing the needs of some 12 million illegal aliens that our country had done little to keep out. Above all, it requires the serious intention to follow through on ensuring the common good of the US. These vital factors get swept aside in the heat of politicing.

Captain Ed reports that the GOP leaders in the House may finally understand that:
The AP reports that House Republicans are considering modifications in their immigration-reform bill that will make it easier for the Senate to absorb it into whatever version they can pass. The changes involve the two most controversial parts of the House effort, making "illegal presence" a felony and broadening the notion of accessory to potentially include religious outreach and charity workers:
Following huge nationwide protests, Republicans on Tuesday moved to possibly change two key provisions in a get-tough immigration bill passed by the U.S. House of Representatives.

One would turn millions of illegal immigrants into felons and the other has raised concerns that people who provide them humanitarian relief would be punished. Top Republicans insisted that neither is their intent.

Their verbal commitments to revisit those provisions came a day after hundreds of thousands of people held demonstrations nationwide, provoked by the bill that would also erect a fence along much of the U.S.-Mexican border.
At some point, all sides will have to agree to modify their approach enough to get an effective solution to two separate but linked problems: a porous border that represents an unacceptable risk to national security while we are at war with Islamist terrorists, and how to reasonably deal with the estimated 12 million illegals already in the country. The House legislation dealt with the first problem but essentially ignored the second, while the Senate bill focused on the second but offered nothing new for the first. The best we can expect when both chambers return from their recess is that the two bills can be merged in committee in a manner that will satisfy the most pressing of the issues for both sides without necessarily delighting anyone.
A compromise bill that establishes the foundations of a solution will do the most to undo the political damage that the House Bill may have caused. While it won't satisfy the extremists, and even some centrists, it should satisfy enough of the American public...for the moment. More work needs to be done, and our leadership--regardless of party--had better seriously address immigration and border security.

While they're at it, they should consider a primer on Catholic Social Teaching. Might help them discern some principles that could actually provide a just solution.