- The Washington Times - Friday, May 26, 2006

On Thursday, by a vote of 62-36, the Senate passed a reckless immigration bill which, among other things, grants amnesty to the estimated 11 million illegal aliens already in the country; paves the way for a projected 66 million additional immigrants by 2026; creates a temporary-worker program which Sen. Jim DeMint rightly called “neither temporary nor work-based”; allows illegals to enjoy Social Security and tax-credit benefits for illegal labor; lacks the tougher border controls proposed by Sen. Johnny Isakson; cuts by nearly half the 700-mile barrier the House proposed for the southern border; guts what little immigration-enforcement powers local police might wield; increases long-term federal spending by an estimated $30 billion or more; and might even require consultation with Mexico to construct barriers along the border. If this isn’t immigration abdication, we don’t know what is.

The reaction among sensible immigration observers was rightful distress. “The Senate isn’t serious about enforcing the nation’s immigration laws,” wrote National Review’s editorialists. The Hoover Institution’s Thomas Sowell wrote that it “will give the illegals more rights than the average American citizen.” The Heritage Foundation’s Robert Rector called the Senate’s Social Security angle “remarkably foolish” and would “make the finance books of government worse.” Sen. Rick Santorum said the bill is well nigh “the worst possible way to reform our immigration system.”

This bill needs to change drastically if any immigration reform is to happen. There is a yawning gap between this bill and the House’s tougher approach, which the Senate must bridge or risk stalling immigration reform. “If you are a Republican member of Congress and you’re concerned about illegal immigration, do you really want to say to your constituents: You know, I’m going to wait a couple of years before I take up the issue” of illegals? asked White House spokesman Tony Snow. Actually, voters are sufficiently informed on this subject to realize that a failure of action on immigration would be better than the slate of “reforms” resembling the Senate proposals here. The constituents of conservative and moderate lawmakers can figure out what a move in the wrong direction looks like. They would not forgive a move so cynical.

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist said Thursday that the bill represents “the very best” of the Senate. “This is a success for the American people.” Mr. Frist said. Nonsense. This is proof of how far the Senate lies from the mainstream of public opinion.

In conference, Senate lawmakers will need to capitulate. There will be no “immigration reform” if the cure is worse than the disease.

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