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Monday, April 26, 2010

Get Ready for the Immigration Debate

The new Arizona immigration bill is likely to be the first serving for a much larger national debate on immigration. Already, the first casualty is likely to be the climate change bill.

Mr. Graham, Republican of South Carolina, said in a sharply worded letter on Saturday that he would no longer participate in negotiations on the energy bill, throwing its already cloudy prospects deeper into doubt. He had been working for months with Senators John Kerry, Democrat of Massachusetts, and Joseph I. Lieberman, independent of Connecticut, on the a legislation, which they were scheduled to announce with considerable fanfare on Monday morning. That announcement has been indefinitely postponed.

In his letter to his two colleagues, Mr. Graham said that he was troubled by reports that the Senate Democratic leader, Harry Reid of Nevada, and the White House were planning to take up an immigration measure before the energy bill. Mr. Graham has worked with Democrats in the past on immigration matters and was expected to be an important bridge to Republicans on that issue, as well as on energy.

Mr. Graham said that any Senate debate on the highly charged subject of illegal immigration would make it impossible to deal with the difficult issues involved in national energy and global warming policy.

The new Arizona bill has laid down the markers for a national debate not seen since health care reform. On one side are those that believe that most tough immigration techniques are inherently racist and violate civil rights.

It is nothing short of astonishing that Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer Friday signed a bill that could make it dangerous just to look Hispanic. That's not the purpose of the new law, of course. As The Post reported, the law "requires authorities in Arizona to question people about their immigration status if there is reason to suspect they are in the country illegally." The Arizona Republic notes that it "would require anyone whom police suspect of being in the country illegally to produce "an alien registration document,' such as a green card or other proof of citizenship, such as a passport or Arizona driver's license."

On the other side, it is those that are fed up with a situation that is out of control.

Mr. President, are you listening? Secretary Napolitano, remember us?

If you or your predecessors had done something to close the nation's back door, we wouldn't be in this fix, where U.S. citizens are left to wonder whether they'll be asked for their papers simply because of the color of their skin. Where our ranchers live in a war zone and our largest city is the kidnapping capital of the planet.

Where everybody is now dug in to whichever foxhole they've chosen in this fight – alien invader or noble immigrant -- with little room for middle ground or rational discussion.

The Democrats see an opportunity. That's why Harry Reid has shuffled his schedule and moved up immigration reform. They see an opportunity to cement the perception that Republicans are racists and anti Hispanic. Of course, the Democrats also thought that health care reform would be a good political move as well once.

The latest Rasmussen polls show that both in Arizona and in the U.S. at large this law is overwhelmingly favored. That should surprise no one. The border is out of control and most Americans, Hispanics included, think something drastic must be done. The problem for Republicans the last time this debate occurred was that they wound up backing a bill that wasn't tough enough. So, not only did they not appease their own base but their opponents painted them as racists anyway.

Any party that proposes tough immigration measures: putting the national guard behind the border patrol, building a fence that spans the entire border, an ID card to identify all citizens, and tough penalties for hiring illegals, will win this debate. Most people want the border under control. That's the next national debate.


AG said...

A national ID Card? Wasn't that what the REAL ID Act was supposed to do? I'm not sure if that went over too well.

The important thing for the Republicans is they cannot be seen as supporting summary deportation of every undocumented immigrant. Its not particularly practical and its a quick way to alienate Hispanic voters. Remember, if you could say anything about George W. Bush, it was his ability to appeal to Latino voters. You could make the case that a large reason why McCain lost was that Latino support for the Republicans collapsed in 2008.

mike volpe said...

I was thinking of something more along the lines of the SAVE Act.