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The wobbly Republicans

- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is expected to bring the immigration "compromise" bill back to the floor for debate as early as tomorrow, and Mr. Reid wants to ram something he can plausibly spin as "reform" through the Senate by the the Fourth of July. But Mr. Reid, President Bush, Sen. Ted Kennedy and the Democratic and Republican politicians supporting this bill have a little problem called the American people, who are speaking by phone, fax and e-mail in one voice: Give us a bill that actually improves border security. Americans are rejecting the hodgepodge of restatements of existing policies and some genuinely harmful provisions that sound like they were concocted by Mr. Kennedy's Senate staff in conjunction with the ACLU.

Earlier this month, Mr. Reid and the president came up more than a dozen votes short of getting the 60 votes necessary to cut off debate on the immigration bill. It's clear that, in terms of stopping a very bad bill, Senate Democrats are a lost cause. Aside from a few Democrats from Southern and border states (including lawmakers like Sens. Mark Pryor of Arkansas and Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, who are up for re-election next year), the Democrats either support the bill or believe it is insufficiently generous. The fate of the bill lies with Senate Republicans, who are divided into three categories: 1) Staunch opponents of amnesty and open borders; 2) supporters of the same; 3) a large bloc of wavering Republicans who are coming under intense pressure from Mr. Bush (29 percent popularity rating and all) to ignore their constituents and vote for the bill.

Some Republican lawmakers who should know better are resorting to buffoonery and slurs in an effort to ensure their colleagues know their place and remain on the open-borders plantation. Sen. Trent Lott, for example, has heaped praise on Mr. Kennedy's work for passage of the bill, suggested that Senate Republican critics of the legislation are "mice," and indicated that talk-radio critics of the bill are a problem that will need to be "dealt with" in some way. With his own poll numbers slipping in South Carolina, Sen. Lindsey Graham suggests that critics of the bill are nativist bigots. "We've been down this road before. No Catholics, no Jews. Irish need not apply That's not the America I want," he told ABC Television's George Stephanopoulos on Sunday. "I want an America that enforces its laws, but also respects its culture, and respects people. We can make this a win-win for America if we're courageous."

But there is nothing "courageous" about enacting a bill that endangers national security and public safety. Yesterday, Kris Kobach, who served as Attorney General John Ashcroft's top adviser on immigration matters, published a Heritage Foundation paper outlining in detail how Mr. Graham's "win-win" bill will make it easier for for illegal aliens — including three of the six men arrested for the terrorist plot to bomb JFK Airport in New York — to conceal themselves and operate inside the United States. To cite just a few of many examples of how terrorists will benefit from the Senate immigration bill cited by Mr. Kobach: "With his newly acquired legal status, a terrorist can operate with a great deal more freedom, secure in the knowledge that a traffic violation will not lead to deportation. He can also exit and re-enter the country, allowing him access to international terrorist networks. The Senate immigration bill literally opens up a world of possibilities for illegal alien terrorists."

The bill can be stopped. Following are 19 Republican senators identified by the group Numbers USA as possibly being willing to switch and vote for cloture in exchange for giving the Senate a chance to vote down one of their amendments: Lamar Alexander (Tennessee); Robert Bennett (Utah); Saxby Chambliss (Georgia); Thad Cochran (Mississippi); Norm Coleman (Minnesota); Susan Collins (Maine); Larry Craig (Idaho); Pete Domenici (New Mexico); Judd Gregg (New Hampshire); Orrin Hatch (Utah); Kay Bailey Hutchison (Texas); Johnny Isakson (Georgia); Jon Kyl (Arizona); Trent Lott (Mississippi); Mitch McConnell (Kentucky.); Lisa Murkowski (Alaska); Olympia Snowe (Maine); Ted Stevens (Alaska); and John Warner (Virginia). These lawmakers will likely decide the fate of the amnesty bill in the Senate.