The fight over “comprehensive” immigration reform in Congress isn’t so much between Democrats and Republicans as it is between conservatives and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.
Reid’s “Gang of 8” bipartisan group of senators patched together and passed a bill (Senate Bill 744) that The Wall Street Journal has described as having “no chance of House approval.” Indeed, the Republican-led/conservative-dominated House of Representatives may or may not pass their own immigration reform bill, but the Senate’s Amnesty Now/Enforcement Maybe bill is DOA.
As Montgomery Scott (“Scotty” to his friends) — philosopher and chief engineer of the Starship Enterprise — so famously put it: “Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me.”
As such, conservatives who were burned by the promise of tough border enforcement in President Ronald Reagan’s 1986 amnesty bill won’t get fooled again.
So while 14 Republicans in the Senate played political “Hispandering” by voting with Reid and the Gang of 8 — including, regrettably, our own Sen. Dean Heller — the more conservative members, the kind that presently dominate the House GOP caucus, just said, “No mas.”
“This bill is a historic missed opportunity for the United States Senate,” declared conservative Sen. Tom Coburn (R.-OK). “It is a $48 billion border stimulus package that grants amnesty to politicians who want to say they are securing the border when in fact they are not.
“I very much wanted to support an immigration reform proposal that balances our fundamental American values of legal immigration and the rule of law,” Coburn continued. “Sadly, this bill fails that test. Speaker (John) Boehner and House Republicans now have all the justification they need to start over.”
Conservative Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama said, “The amnesty will occur, but the enforcement is not going to occur and the policies for future immigration are not serving the national interest.”
Conservative Sen. Jerry Moran of Kansas added, “Rather than focusing on tackling the problem in manageable increments and delivering the reforms Americans are asking for, the Senate chose to lump every immigration and border security problem together into one massive and flawed bill.
“Americans are keenly aware of where this irresponsible method of legislating has gotten us in the past, but the Senate has clearly learned nothing from the failure of the 1986 immigration reform bill, and more recently the rushed passage of Dodd-Frank and Obamacare.”
As the saying goes, the first Rule of Holes is that when you’re in one, stop digging. In the immigration reform debate that means the first thing you do is plug the holes that have allowed some 11 million aliens to illegally sneak into our country. Then, and only then, do you address what to do — short of mass deportations — with those who are already here.
Let’s hope the House agrees.
Chuck Muth is president of Citizen Outreach, a conservative grass-roots advocacy organization. He can be reached at email@example.com.