- The Washington Times - Sunday, June 3, 2007

With the Senate returning today to take up the immigration amnesty bill, there is no sugar-coating the ugly reality: The bill before the Senate contains massive loopholes that will make it easier for terrorists and criminals to enter and remain in the United States. It will facilitate the migration of much of Mexico’s illegal-alien underclass to the United States, resulting in trillions of dollars in additional federal, state and local spending on welfare programs and other public services along with considerable tax increases over the next three decades or so to pay for it all — tax increases that will largely take effect after most of the current membership of the Senate is dead.

While Senate Democrats thus far have remained largely united in favor of amnesty and open borders, Republicans are sending a muddled, confused message of their own. The fact that Republican senators on May 24 voted 25-20 against a commonsense amendment introduced by Sens. David Vitter, Louisiana Republican, and Jim DeMint, South Carolina Republican, stripping amnesty from the immigration bill (the Senate as a whole voted 66-29 against the amendment) sends a message of disdain to core conservative Republican voters — members of the Republican “base” who were an essential component of the coalition that that won seven of the last 10 presidential elections. President Bush added fuel to the fire last week by accusing critics of the Senate immigration bill of trying to “frighten people” into opposing it.

The president has sent his message, and in response the Republican grass-roots are sending one of their own to the president and Republican supporters of the “reform” bill currently before the Senate: If the GOP leadership continues down the road of supporting open borders and amnesty, it can kiss their support good-bye. This newspaper reported on Friday that the Republican National Committee, hit by a 40 percent falloff in small-donor contributions resulting from anger over the Senate immigration bill, fired all 65 of its telephone solicitors. In recent weeks, two Republican lawmakers who support the Senate bill, Sens. Saxby Chambliss of Georgia and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, were booed by activists in their home states. (Mr. DeMint, by contrast, has constituents coming up to him in line at the grocery store to thank him for opposing Mr. Bush on the issue.) Rep. Tom Tancredo tells us that any Republican senator who votes for the bill deserves a primary challenge and has offered to come into any state to campaign against these incumbents. This kind of scenario is anything but desirable — but bad votes have real-world political consequences, and any senator who votes for this bill needs to take these realities into account.

Perhaps the one bright spot is that a number of conservative Republican senators who support the bill have made statements suggesting that they want to give themselves “wiggle room” to vote against it if the Senate’s open-borders majority acts to make the legislation even more objectionable — a virtual certainty given the current composition of that chamber. Two of the worst ideas could be voted on as early as tomorrow. One, Senate Amendment 1183, introduced by Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, New York Democrat; along with Sens. Chuck Hagel, Nebraska Republican, and Robert Menendez, New Jersey Democrat; would perpetuate and expand the current destructive practice of “chain migration” — that is allowing someone who has already immigrated to the United States to bring many of his relatives into the United States — regardless of whether these people can support themselves. Senate Amendment 1194, introduced by Mr. Menendez along with Mrs. Clinton; Sen. Chris Dodd, Connecticut Democrat; and Sens. Barack Obama and Dick Durbin, Illinois Democrats; and Mr. Hagel would reduce the “backlog” of family-sponsored immigration applicants by increasing the number of green cards beyond the 600,000 additional ones agreed to by negotiators of the “compromise” — who included Mr. Menendez.

Do not be surprised if these amendments are accepted by Sen. Edward Kennedy — the Massachusetts Democrat whose fingerprints are all over the bill — and are rammed through the Senate. Then those Republicans who had thought they could vote with Messrs. Bush and Kennedy and spin their way out of trouble with their angry constituents by talking tough about “enforcement” will have an even more difficult political decision to make.

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