Supporters of comprehensive immigration reform tell us, over and over, that the immigration system is "broken," and they're in a hurry to fix it. They don't tell us how the system fell apart in the first place, the result of the reformation of 1986 — a reform this newspaper, perhaps naively, supported. The Gang of Eight has brought back an '80s-style immigration bill that will go to the Senate floor Tuesday. We're supposed to trust this time that the turkey is properly cooked.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid wants the 867-page immigration compromise bill passed before members leave town for the Fourth of July recess. This is the same Leader Reid who has been sitting on every bill the House has sent over to the Senate, but now speed is the order of the day. The Democrat-controlled Senate Judiciary Committee has sprinted the measure through the process, approaching the speed of Usain Bolt, dodging 170 amendments that were raised and mostly rejected after little consideration.
We should have learned our lesson about legislative haste from Obamacare. Nancy Pelosi told us as the speaker that the House had to pass health care reform to find out what was in it. We did, and, alas, we found out. We're uncovering hidden new taxes and special-interest breaks that went unnoticed because nobody had a chance to read the bill. With something as consequential and far-reaching as immigration reform, Congress has an obligation to get it right before it tries to set a speed record.
Haste is often needed when there's a danger participants in a delicately crafted deal will back out. Sen. Mike Lee of Utah says the "the Gang bill was negotiated in secret by insiders and special interests, who then essentially offered it to Congress as a take-it-or-leave it proposition." Mr. Lee and fellow Republicans say that's unacceptable because the compromise lacks certain essential features. "The bill does not secure the border," Mr. Lee wrote in an op-ed essay in the Salt Lake City Deseret News. "It doesn't build a fence. It doesn't create a workable biometric entry-exit system. What standards and benchmarks it does set, the bill simultaneously grants the secretary of homeland security broad discretion to waive."
Mr. Reid won't discuss any of those options. The backroom deals would unravel if any of the provisions were taken out or new ones introduced to meet the concerns of Mr. Lee and other senators. Mr. Reid said in an interview on the Spanish-language Univision network on Sunday that he won't allow "big changes" to the legislation.
The Gang of Eight's handiwork is shaping up as a repeat of the 1986 law, which granted amnesty to 3 million illegal aliens, and the result would likely be four times as bad, since there's an estimated 11 million illegals here today. If this bill is all Congress can do, we'd be better off doing nothing.
The Washington Times
© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.