House of Ill Repute

The House continues its attempt to backpedal on immigration reform with its plan for 21 hearings around the country in August, according to this article by Rachel L. Swarns in The New York Times. Even Senate Republican Arlen Specter (Penn.) derides the hearings as useless; while Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.) accuses House Republicans of attempting to stall progress and political posturing to boost their chances in the November elections.

Consider this from the article:

"Representative John A. Boehner of Ohio, the House majority leader, said the hearings, which will take place in 13 states, would expose what he described as “troubling provisions” in the Senate’s immigration bill."

So even Rep. Boehner implies that these are less hearings than stumping stops for House Republicans to promote themselves and their immigration "solution". These hearings will be declamatory rather than exploratory. They will serve to tell the American people what to think, rather than finding out what the people want.

Earlier this week, Rep. Pence (R-Ind.) and Sen. Hutchinson (R-Tex.) put forth a new proposal that includes a temporary worker program that could begin only after the President certified the borders were secure, which he could do only after two years. That would mean two more years of chaos and no solution. Perhaps the most ludicrous part of the plan would require all who wished to apply for the program to leave the USA and apply for the visa. Guess how many would actually do that and risk denial of reentry? You got it. The chance of compliance looks even smaller when one considers the rest of the provisions: The temporary visa would last only two years, though it could be renewed. Only after 12 years could the applicant achieve eligibility for permanent residence -- and after five more years could he apply for citizenship. Seems like it would be easier to just hide beneath the radar.

But some of the Republican House leadership likes this plan. Again, from Swarns's article:

"'Before we can look at other immigration issues, we must first secure the borders,' Speaker J. Dennis Hastert, Republican of Illinois, said at a news conference. 'I’m not endorsing any one plan, but that does start to look at a pathway, that type of a solution, possibly to get this job done.'”

On the first point, as The Dude would say, "That's just, like, your opinion, man." And it sounds nice and tidy, as reductionist statements often do, but it's not necessarily correct. Frankly, in my opinion, man, the border will become more secure when we reform the immigration system -- and when we stop scape-goating immigrants for all of our other fears. And ignoring all other facets of immigration reform in favor of focusing solely on securing the borders seems pretty ignorant -- but a nice set up to play on voters' fears of the "invasion" and the terrorist threat through our southern border of which our law enforcement has no evidence, according to at least one Border Patrol spokesman.

Hastert's second point seems to reinforce his purely political aspirations here. He won't endorse a plan, but he likes that the Pence-Hutchinson plan will "start to look at a pathway...possibly to get this job done." What ringing support for actually reforming things. Kinda. Sorta. Maybe. At least until November.


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