- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 15, 2006

Where’s Big Mama when you need her?

Allthetalk about immigration has quite a few folks scratching their heads when trying to figure out who stands where on border security and illegal immigration. It’s not as difficult as you might think.

It doesn’t matter whether you are a Southerner or a Yank, hail from a Red State or have the DNA of a Blue Dog Democrat, the pols and pundits want to sway policy-makers and public opinion by playing race cards, resurrecting Ronald Reagan and John F. Kennedy and fanning Lady Liberty’s skirts.

America is, in fact, “a nation of immigrants,” as Sen. Ted Kennedy reminds us by using the title of JFK’s book at every possible turn of the immigration debate. But the turning points in the debate don’t spin, as they did when the senator’s brother was president, on racial quotas. Indeed, unlike a century and a half ago, when the Kennedy great-grandparentspassed through Boston’s Immigration Hall and tens of millions of immigrants passed through Ellis Island before and after the Holocaust, millions of illegals today reject the very notions of immigration, arguing instead that it is their right to come to America and do as they please.

Securing America’s borders and punishing illegal aliens and their enablers are at the very heart of the immigration debate. The fight is over America and its sovereignty.

Look at the two pieces of legislation that now must go to a House-Senate conference committee. Both bills have three components: border enforcement; proposals that would affect immigrants and illegals already here; and proposals that would affect future illegals, immigrants and the businesses that employ or would employ them.

The House legislation is tough — though not tough enough — on immigrants, illegals and their enablers. But even it looks at race — non-Mexicans, to be precise — in proposing mandatory detention of illegals. The House measure also proposes making a drunken-driving conviction a deportable offense. Every crime committed by illegal aliens should be a deportable offense, since they’re in the country illegally to begin with.

The Senate bill, on the other hand, goes wobbly. It would grant amnesty to illegals already here, encourage more illegal border crossings, establish a bureaucratic nightmare of various levels of leave-and-return policies and — and this really burns me up — lets employers of illegals off the hook with a measly $20,000 fine.

The only notable aspect of the Senate measure is the proposal to declare English the national language.

If Big Mama were majority leader of the Senate, she would have marched Ted Kennedy and John McCain, the chief authors of the Senate legislation, straight to the woodshed, where she would have promptly deployed her hickory switch.

Mr. McCain wants to be president,andMr. Kennedy long ago gave the presidency his best shot. The Kennedy vision thing is as dastardly as the immigration laws that got us into this fix during the Reagan administration. (And to know that Mr. Bush and Mr. Kennedy agree on such a vital issue as immigration is a frightening prospect.)

Keeping America American is not a Republican thing, and Democrats aren’t renown for opposing racial quotas.

Border enforcement is as crucial in post-September 11 America as it was when the Reagan White House and Democrat-controlled Congress last passed “comprehensive immigration reform.” And look where that got us.

House Speaker Dennis Hastert, the former wrestling coach, is tutoring his team on the fine art of procrastination regarding the Senate version. “We’re going to take a long look at it,” he said Tuesday. And his franchise player, Majority Leader John Boehner of Ohio, is on the same page of the playbook. “I think we should know clearly what’s in the Senate bill.” Meanwhile, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, the doctor, is coaxing his colleagues on deep-breathing exercises.

They’re all nervous nellies, afraid they’ll be called anti-Hispanic when the immigration crisis isn’t even about Hispanics. By mid-August, though, it won’t matter an iota. They’ll all be in full summer mode, and even if you scream, “The hurricane is coming, the hurricane is coming,” they won’t hear you.

Are you going to continue to let the Bush administration and Capitol Hill lead you to believe that a Mexican can pour cement better than a peckerwood? Or that somebody named Maria makes a better nanny than somebody named Shaquita?

As Big Mama would say, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but stereotypes will never hurt me.” Name-calling is a distraction.

I could use historical references urging the gentlemen and gentlewomen on the Hill not to go wobbly on illegals. But as I said at the outset, where’s Big Mama when you need her?

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