The people prevailed in Senate vote on immigration

Scott Rasmussen:

Scott Rasmussen’s first law of politics is that America’s politicians aren’t nearly as important as they think they are. That law was clearly demonstrated earlier today when the United States Senate finally surrendered to the American people on immigration. Politicians may make things messy for a while, but over the long haul it is the American people who determine the nation’s fundamental policies.

The final Rasmussen Reports national telephone poll before the vote found that just 22% of Americans supported the legislation. No amount of Presidential persuasion, Senate logrolling, and procedural tricks was able to overcome that solid bi-partisan lack of public support (although it’s breathtaking to consider how close a determined leadership could come to passing such an unpopular bill).

The real mystery in all of this is why the Senators and their cheerleaders didn’t anticipate the public response. Perhaps they fell in love with their own rhetoric and forgot how it might sound to others.

Near the end of the debate, supporters of the doomed legislation often stated that the status quo is unacceptable. Most Americans would agree on that point. In fact, they might even hold that feeling more strongly than the Grand Bargainers of the Senate--72% of American voters believe it’s Very Important to reduce illegal immigration and enforce the borders. But controlling the border was never a focal point of the Senate debate. Instead, the Senators spent most of the time debating the fine points of various approaches to legalizing those who are here illegally. For voters, those topics were definitely a second-or-third tier aspect of the issue.

Because the Senators and the White House never showed much enthusiasm for reducing illegal immigration, only 16% believed the Senate bill would accomplish that goal. Forty-one percent (41%) thought passage of the legislation would actually lead to more illegal immigration. In other words, even though voters consider the status quo unacceptable, they had every confidence that Congress could make a bad situation worse.

It is impossible to overstate the significance of this basic fact. Outside of 46 Senators, hardly anybody thought the legislation would work. That’s why it was defeated. It wasn’t amnesty or guest-worker programs or paths to citizenship that doomed the bill. Each of those provisions made it more difficult for some segments of the population to accept. However, a majority would have accepted them as part of a true compromise that actually gained control of the border.

In that environment, the only way for political leaders to prove they are serious about enforcing the border and reducing illegal immigration will be to do it. That’s the next logical step in the immigration debate.

...

That appears to be the approach Secretary Chertoff is taking from the defeat of the legislation. It is a good start. I think a vigorous approach to enforcing the law at the job sites will lead to significant self deportations that will make border enforcement more effective. If we enforce the law at the job sites more people will leave and fewer will come. The enforcement does not have to be heavy handed to work. There is substantial anecdotal evidence that just showing up makes a difference. Send the ICE agents out in vehicles that are marked with the name of the agency and have them fly over sights with their choppers.

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