Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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October 26, 2010

THE PERILOUS FATE OF IMMIGRATION REFORM.... In the abstract, when thinking about the kinds of key issues where compromise is possible in 2011 and 2012, immigration reform looks like a compelling option. President Obama's approach is largely in line with the Bush/Cheney policy, and it's not ridiculous to think some kind of deal could be reached with some Senate Republicans.

So, why does everyone assume an immigration reform package is doomed? Because House Republicans are an extreme bunch.

Immigration reform would not only be dead in a Republican House; the policy debate would take a decidedly rightward turn in the House Judiciary Committee, which could become a hotbed of conservative activism on one of the most volatile issues in U.S. politics.

Chairman-in-waiting Lamar Smith (R-Texas) has been an advocate of national Arizona-type immigration laws, implementing a mandatory verification program and revisiting the birthright citizenship guaranteed by the 14th Amendment. Smith's wingman on the Judiciary Committee would be Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa), one of the fiercest critics of illegal immigration, who would chair the immigration subcommittee.

It's unrealistic to think of voters making choices on such a meta/strategic level, but by electing a Republican House majority, Americans would put some real radicals in key positions of authority. This is especially true on immigration. Steven King is easily one of the craziest people to serve in Congress in my lifetime, and any immigration bill would start in a subcommittee he'd chair.

Smith's long-term cause has been a national mandatory verification program, which he has included in at least three bills since the early 1990s. One got through the House in 2005 despite the qualms of business groups. Smith has also been a longtime supporter of revising birthright citizenship so children can be U.S. citizens only if they have at least one legal parent, and he has conducted several hearings on the issue. [...]

King, on the other hand, is well-known for headline-grabbing claims. At a tea party event in Colorado in June, he said he would support a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants only if "every time we give amnesty for an illegal alien, we deport a liberal."

In an interview with POLITICO, King promised to interrogate Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, Attorney General Eric Holder, Immigration and Customs Enforcement Director John Morton and Border Patrol Chief Michael Fisher about enforcement of immigration laws.... King rattled off a list of legislation he'd like to push to the floor: a birthright citizenship bill, legislation to reaffirm states' right to enact Arizona-like immigration laws, a bill to take away deductions from employers who pay illegal immigrants and legislation to crack down on cities that don't go after illegal residents.

I've seen a few pieces lately suggesting the lawmaking process won't necessarily be a trainwreck in the event of a Republican-led House, and it's still possible worthwhile bills might pass.

Under the circumstances, and with GOP figures publicly vowing to deliver gridlock and increased partisan strife, optimism is in short supply.

Steve Benen 12:30 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (14)

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If we had an objective media, they would continuously talk about how crazy conservatives are acting.

Instead, we have one that provides instead continuous cover for conservatives, portraying them and their actions as imminently reasonable.

The desires outlined in the Powell Memo have been realized.

Posted by: terraformer on October 26, 2010 at 12:49 PM | PERMALINK

On the other hand, according to the 'Tenthers', restrictions on immigration aren't mentioned in the Constitution so immigration laws of any kind are unconstitutional.

So the whole issue is moot.

Posted by: SteveT on October 26, 2010 at 12:53 PM | PERMALINK

I don't live in the "I'm so disappointed in Obama" camp, but one thing I am disappointed in is, why couldn't we have just stomped these guys into oblivion while we had them on the mat?

Jesus. They're like evil, mutant, giant cicadas. They don't die. They don't go away. They just return and return and return to wreck the republic. I just don't get it. Why are americans SO FUCKING STUPID?

Lamar Smith is dumb as a post. He's not even the turtle on the post. He's just the post.

Posted by: fourlegsgood on October 26, 2010 at 12:59 PM | PERMALINK

Immigration is just one symptom to the overall disease commonly known as TBA (Tea Bagger America), and the only cure for TBA will be the "shock therapy" of having nearly the entire planet move into a global hate-America mentality. The world can simply refuse to buy our stuff, and refuse to sell us their stuff. They can refuse to acknowledge the value of our currency. They can refuse to participate in our investment schemes, and call in every last dime of our debt that they own.

So---maybe "letting the inmates run the asylum" for a while is the best long-term treatment for a political malaise that's akin to a terminal disease....

Posted by: S. Waybright on October 26, 2010 at 1:05 PM | PERMALINK

Smith was my congressman until I recently moved. His district, thanks to Tom DeLay, includes the northwestern San Antonio suburbs, a swath of rural Hill Country, and the western Austin suburbs. He may well be as dumb as a post, but his arrogance is his most distinguishing feature. He actually replied to an e-mail once, only to question the plain language of the Fourth Amendment. True story.

Posted by: smedley on October 26, 2010 at 1:12 PM | PERMALINK

It's all part of the plan, a path to legalization and better policies would mean more people paying into Social Security which would help shore up the miniscule shortfall it's not really facing. So hating brown people and making sure to NOT correct for minor inbalances in Social Security is a win-win for republicans.

Posted by: Matt on October 26, 2010 at 1:16 PM | PERMALINK

Last year, as the debate over health care reform intensified, Obama not only embraced the individual-mandate idea that he'd campaigned against, he also desperately tried to make it as essential as possible. That meant repeating one message over and over again: if you don't get the individual mandate, HCR will not work.


Although it is not the worst thing that Obama has done, his flip-flop on an individual mandate particularly irritates me because it was probably the deciding issue for me between Obama and Hillary.

Posted by: square1 on October 26, 2010 at 4:49 PM | PERMALINK

It is difficult to see how you can classify as "extreme," people who, like a large majority of Americans, are opposed to illegal immigration, and actually support "Arizona-like" legislation (which, after all, is based on existing federal legislation). Of course, if your view of "reform" is legitimizing illegal immigrants (AKA "criminals"), then I can see why you might be concerned. If America followed international standards - or even emulated Mexico - in its immigration laws and enforcement, then you'd probably start calling us "Amerika." Difficult to reason with people like that.

Posted by: INTJ on October 26, 2010 at 4:49 PM | PERMALINK

Not everybody is pro-crime, and illegal entry is a crime. Just liberals with their low morals are pro-crime.

Posted by: Lawrence on October 26, 2010 at 4:49 PM | PERMALINK

Without exception, everyone of the "extreme" Republican positions on immigration just happens to be supported by a majority of the American people.

Who are the nut cases here? The Republicans who want our laws and borders enforced... Or the Open Borders crowd who have never seen an illegal they didn't want to either make money from or provide welfare to.


Posted by: Frank Youell on October 26, 2010 at 6:26 PM | PERMALINK


Here is where I show my bi-partisan/moderate colors.

The problem with immigration reform is that we are dealing with the SYMPTOMS not the causes.

In truth, illegal immigration has dropped during Obama's tenure. Is it because he is better enforcing the border?
Why leave Mexico when the economy here sucks almost as bad?

See the 12-20M Undocumented/illegal aliens in the US is like a patient going to the hospital with a 103 degree temperature.
The 750,000 person flow is like that patient's temperature steadily rising to 104 while in the waiting room.

Now, of course the Doctors need to arrest the temp before it hits that fatal 106 ( Build a wall? ) and do what they can to actually bring the temp back down to 98.6 ( amnesty? ) ... but the Doctors will do one thing our politicians haven't done.
Ask "What is causing this?" because if they don't deal with the cause, the patient will be back in a week or a day ... and that time may have no temp cause he is dead.

What causes the immigrants to flee Mexico?
Based on size, population, and natural resources ... Mexico SHOULD be between the 6th and 8th richest country on earth.
As of 2005 ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_GDP_%28nominal%29 ) they were 14th.
I believe they have since dropped some.

If Mexico were to raise up to 10th ( Canada ) or higher ( they should ) the flow across the border would plummet. Many in the US would be happy to return to the country they love because they can work there ... so on and so forth.

What are the solutions to this? Well two ... one at least symbolic and the other long term.

Symbolic : The US and any immigrant wanting amnesty must acknowledge that all undocumented aliens are in fact economic refugees seeking asylum.
It needs to be driven home ... these people are here BECAUSE their government is so corrupt, so incompetent, so SOMETHING that they are here as VICTIMS of persecution. Economic persecution.

The second is long term.
Mexico currently provides only education to 6th grade.
Yep. 6th grade.
Not 10th ... not even Jr high. Just 6th grade.

That must change.
I personally know an undocumented worker living here who came not to make more money ... her and her husband effectively make less ( after cost of living ).
But her son got a B in 5th grade.

Which meant at the end of 6th, because they were not rich he was told "Get a job ... you are not good enough."

They are here to let him get an education and get himself and his heirs out of the poverty cycle.

Mexico should be removed from the "favored trade nation" status until such time as they fix this. Maybe two years on probation once they add 7th and then two years probation for every year they add until 10th.

Now this all may seem harsh ... but believe me. I have spoken with lots of latinos. And they love it.
They HATE Mexico consistently underproducing economically and they hate even more only 6th grade education.

Posted by: Chromehawk on October 26, 2010 at 7:12 PM | PERMALINK

"resident Obama's approach is largely in line with the Bush/Cheney policy"

I guess Bush/Cheney were really great guys who brought peace and prosperity to America... Who knew how great they were? Why weren't we told? Why didn't Obama himself vote for their rightful heir (McCain)?

Why is that supposed liberals and Democrats turn into Chamber of Commerce Bushbots when the subject is immigration (and trade for that matter)?

Can't get enough cheap servants and votes I guess.

Posted by: Frank Youell on October 26, 2010 at 10:11 PM | PERMALINK

Come November Americans will once again have control in Washington. With luck the next law related to illegal immigration will include a mandate to round up all illegals and put them in cattle cars for the trip back home.

Posted by: CW on October 27, 2010 at 11:23 AM | PERMALINK

Frank said:

"Without exception, everyone of the "extreme" Republican positions on immigration just happens to be supported by a majority of the American people."

Hey, don't worry the Progressives' pretty little heads with actual facts. It could be hazardous to their mental health.

Come to think of it, they already appear to be going psychotic over the fact that their extremist agenda is going to be stopped in its tracks after the November election.

Don't push these guys over the edge. It will drive up national health care costs even more than the Pelosicare bill.

Posted by: lance sjogren on October 27, 2010 at 1:11 PM | PERMALINK



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