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It looks like nobody is too keen on immigration reform, even the “Democrats.” Earlier this month, shortly after Senator Charles Schumer brought up the subject at a news conference, Senator Harry Reid, the Senate majority leader, quickly said that it wouldn’t be addressed during this Senate work session. He didn’t offer an idea of when the “Democrats” would bring it up.
It appears that both parties are afraid of it. An opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal recently suggested that immigration reform is the new political third rail for Congressmen. Even Senator John McCain, who backed President Bush’s plan to give illegal aliens a glide path to citizenship, is talking about border security. McCain is facing a Republican primary challenger.
Any effort at immigration reform is fraught with serious problems.
One problem is stopping them from coming. Even talking about legislation to require police to check the immigration status of suspects if they have probable cause to believe that they are in the U. S. illegally brings howls of protest from Hispanic groups. Most illegal immigrants cross our long land border with Mexico and, as most illegals are Hispanic, Hispanic groups worry about profiling.
Drying up the job opportunities that induce people to enter the United States illegally is also a problem. I’ve already mentioned, in a previous column, a horrible idea floated by Schumer and Senator Lindsey Graham. This dynamic duo wants to force all American workers to have to carry a biometric identification card in order to hold a job. This “mark of the Beast card” solution is worse than the problem. It would be better to just put up a big sign at the border that reads “¡Bienvenidos!” than to give the government a powerful new tool that it can use to mess with all of us.
Then there are all those illegal immigrants that are already here. What do we do about them? Back in the ‘80s, Ronald Reagan proclaimed an amnesty for illegal immigrants. Nothing was done to try to secure our border afterward and the result was millions more illegals. Besides, amnesty for illegals is really unfair to would-be immigrants who play by the rules. It’s also unfair to would-be immigrants who live in countries that do not share a land border with the United States.
While giving them amnesty, again, is unfair, trying to deport them en masse could be ugly. Assuming we can identify them, we would be deporting something like 12 million people. Some of them have been here long enough to have school age children who were born here.
And, speaking of children who were born here, we also have the issue of anchor babies. Shortly after the War Between the States ended, the 14th Amendment to the Constitution was ratified. Its purpose was to ensure that all the newly freed slaves were counted as U. S. citizens. Courts interpreted the amendment’s language as conferring U. S. citizenship on the children of foreigners if those foreigners happened to give birth in the United States. These children are often called anchor babies because, upon claiming American citizenship, they can potentially bring other members of their extended families, legally, to the U. S. They also create an ethical dilemma with mass deportations of illegal aliens. Do we deport these children, who are technically American citizens, along with their parents? Do we deport the parents without their children?
Finding a solution to this would take an honest effort by Congress. Don’t hold your breath as “honest” seems to be missing from most of what Congress does. “Democrats” will only be interested in scoring points with Hispanic voters without actually doing anything. Republicans will be looking for something with which to bash “Democrats” over the head in the fall.
Most likely, nothing will be done, but that may not be so bad. Sometimes I think that, the less Congress does, the better off we all are.