Legislative travesty in the Senate

Rich Lowry:

The Senate is being praised for its bipartisan stewardship of a “comprehensive” immigration bill to passage. Supporters of the bill never discuss it without that adjective, which is supposed to denote a courageous commitment to solving the immigration problem in its totality. What comprehensive means in this context, however, is dishonest, unworkable, and radical.

The Senate bill pretends to do what it doesn’t truly intend to do—tighten up enforcement—while really doing what its supporters hope no one will notice: conducting a vast social experiment that involves extending the benefits of the welfare state of the world’s richest country to tens of millions of poor, uneducated inhabitants of Latin America, through the expedient of importing them into America.

The Senate bill—which the House, thankfully, is resisting—requires that a system for employers to verify the legal status of employees be created in 18 months. That sounds admirably rapid. Only it’s a fantasy. The people who will be charged with meeting the deadline at the Department of Homeland Security told the Senate prior to passage that it couldn’t possibly happen. The Senate went ahead anyway because what it values most is the facsimile of enforcement.

The 18-month requirement will surely be another in a long line of blown enforcement deadlines. The real intent of the senators is clear from their rejection of the idea of waiting to see enforcement measures actually implemented before doing anything else. Local law enforcement is effectively prohibited from enforcing immigration laws, and an illegal alien can’t be deported so long as he has a claim to stay that is being adjudicated. This can mean an indefinite stay; claims are still being adjudicated from the 1986 amnesty.

The Senate’s attitude is, to paraphrase St. Augustine’s famous prayer, “Oh, Lord, give us immigration enforcement—just not yet.”

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There follows a discussion on amensty or something like it. The test for whether it is amnesty should be whether what the senate proposes is easier, quicker and cheaper than the current system of legal immigration. By that standard, it is amnesty.

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