Fred Barnes of the Weekly Standard has a good summary of the Republican favorable view on the Senate "Comprehensive Immigration Reform" plan.
It is absolutely worth a read, so go to this link and then come back.
I like Fred Barnes a lot, and I trust his opinion enough to give this article a fair read.
But the core problem is that the underlying premise of this view is the antithesis of Reagan Conservatism: it contains an implicit trust of Government efficiency and execution of complex law.
We should not expect the Government to execute the provisions of this bill effectively. Do Federal Government bureaucracies generally operate efficiently and correctly?
We've been told this week that patrol at border gates aren't fully processing all IDs because the sheer number of them would cause a massive delay at entry. So now we need to believe that our Government can cope with processing 12 to 23 Million new workers, and do a REAL due diligence background check?
We're told that the government can't enforce existing law and deport illegal workers back to their home countries in Europe, North America, Asia, South America, et al. But now we should believe that the government can force these same people to "touch base" in their home country? Does that make sense?
So rather than pick apart the specifics of a bill not released to us "regular people," I'll at least address the odd faith in big governement that some Reaganites are displaying in this.
Some more points on the specifics of the article:
The most striking gain is the "trigger" proposed by Republican senator Johnny Isakson of Georgia. It requires that all measures to secure the border be in place and functioning before any other immigration reforms are implemented, such as bringing in 400,000 temporary foreign workers and issuing visas to illegals. Chertoff said it might take 18 months to get all the security improvements in place, but that's wildly optimistic.
The trigger idea is nice. But most Conservatives just don't believe it. It'll be easier to waive triggers or pass a small modification to loosen this requirement in the future where public awareness is less. So that's why fighting this bill NOW makes sense.
Regarding temps, Kyl emphasized that their stints in the United States will be "literally temporary." They must leave after two years, stay away for a year before returning, and won't be eligible for citizenship. Hispanic groups are angry about this.
The Government isn't able to force those who have overstayed their visa to leave the country, including recently highly publicized terrorists. So we're to trust that the government can all of a sudden get "temporary workers" to leave? If we can't enforce the current number of Visas, there's NO WAY we can enforce the larger number of temporary worker permits. Trusting the government on this point seems out of character for Barnes.
And while the bill offers the possibility of citizenship for illegal immigrants, it's hardly guaranteed. Once the border is certifiably secure, an illegal must qualify for a four-year visa and later renew it for another four years. Then the immigrant must return to his home country to get a green card, which allows him to return and opens the path to citizenship. Meanwhile, there's a $5,000 fine to pay, plus the requirement to learn English. When those and other conditions are met, the person is permitted to go to the back of the legal immigrant line and wait.
All this sounds better than past bills -- but again most Conservatives don't trust that this will actually happen. We expect Democrats (and apparently now, Republicans) to loosen restrictions and allow "hardship" waivers. Those fines will end up being waived. The English requirement will be allowed to "slip" by sympathetic bureaucrats.
The immediate response of immigration critics was Pavlovian. It's an amnesty bill, they said. But allowing those who are here illegally and aren't being deported to stay is, at worst, a kind of temporary amnesty. They must qualify for visas or, a White House official says, "they'll be deported."
Wait a second -- proponents of this bill keep telling us that deporting people who are currently here illegally, including those violating the terms of visas is not practical. So now we need to believe that all of a sudden, we are going to take this at face value? We're going to believe that deportations will actually be near 100% applied to those who don't qualify to stay? Riiiiight. Is this April 1st?