...Borne Back Ceaselessly Into the Past

It looks like a decision on immigration reform has just receded further back into the future. Now that competing bills have come out of each House of Congress, our national legislators have decided to check in with the voters before beginning to work towards a final bill to send to the White House. They say that "several committee chairmen will hold field hearings in congressional districts in the Southwest, the South and other areas where the issue of illegal immigration is especially potent", according to The Washington Post. (One wonders if any hearings will take place in blue areas of concentrated immigration like New York or California.) Only then -- after the summer recess -- will real discussions begin.

Some think this will push a decision past the November elections. That means that legislators can run on a tough immigration-enforcement platform -- or a path-to-legislation platform -- to get votes without having proven anything by an actual decision.

The question arises as to why Congress didn't hold public hearings before they drafted their bills and why they have not held -- nor plan to hold -- any substantive informational hearings on immigration. Consider this progression: Congress drafts bills. Congress then asks the public what it feels about immigration. No one gathers or substantially considers data and factual evidence.

Seems a bit backwards. How about this alternative: Gather information. Share it with the public. Ask what the public thinks after considering the information. Then draft legislation.

Pro-enforcement Rep. Tom Tancredo (R-Colo.) and pro-comprehensive-reform Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.) both see these hearings as the death knell of any immigration bill -- at least until after November, according to the Los Angeles Times. Meanwhile, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.), who has apparently known about the plan for several weeks, denies the hearings are an attempt to kill the immigration bill.

But, considering the push behind the plan for hearings comes from the same legislators who drafted a draconian enforcement-only bill (H.R. 4437), the move does seem to serve as an attempt to disrupt passage on the Senate's bill, S. 2611, which includes a path to legalization, and to maneuver the debate to profit those representatives up for re-election in November.

The guise of polling the people directly seems admirable; but, if Congress truly respected the intelligence and desires of the people of this country, they would first present them with ample information on the subject rather than spoon-feeding them self-serving rhetoric.


Anonymous Mickey J. Ellis said...

Thank you for your clear and well thought out comments and observations.

To me, it appears the Right Wing has seized on the fear of immigrants as a way to avoid noticing we are not winning Bush's lethal war in the Middle East.

The sudden embrace for Bushs' war by the Republican looks to me like well timed Roveian politics.

Match Pro-War Politics with Anti-Gay, Special Rights Homophobia, throw in Pro-American-Anti-Immigration Fears, add the Cut & Run Traitor-to-America definition of the Democrats mixed with the Democrats own timidity at taking any real stand against the war, the dwindling of rights, the inability to define itself or produce any meaningful Democratic Unity and it looks like a recipe for the Republicans to stay in power.

If the Republicans stay in power, the posturing over the immigrants will disapear until the summer before '08 elections.

Then the Republicans will do the same thing over and over and over until it no longer works.

Why change tactics when fear mongering, homophobia and anger at the immigrants continue to work so well for the Status Quo.

I sincerely hope my cynicism proves to be totally incorrect. I sincerely do not believe this will be the case.

2:56 PM, June 22, 2006  

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