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Thursday, May 24, 2007

The Immigration Plan

I'm still not quite sure what I think about the compromise immigration plan that's in the Senate right now. I think it's got more holes than a swiss cheese factory, but also plugs a few than need to be fixed. On some parts I think it goes to far, on others it's not going far enough.

The two major arguments against the bill are that it is basically providing amnesty (from the right), and that it's too cold hearted (from the left).

Neither arguement is 100% true or false, which is what happens when you have a compromise. Those arguements though are easier for folks to digest, as the Washington Post notes, than the actual 300 pages of legislation that the bill contains.

The right is angry over the "amnesty" portion of the bill, which really doesn't exist as amnest from what I've read so far. To be eligible to stay here you first have to leave, then reapply to come back, and pay a $5000 fine. After that it's about an 8 year path to a permanent resident green card, and five more to citizenship.

As today's Wall Street Journal points out, anyone following that path will become INELIGIBLE for many federal benefits that some critics are claiming they'll suck up immediately at the expense of others.

The other side argues that this plan is too mean spirited, by using skill sets instead of family status to decide who can come back when they leave and reapply for legal entry. The problem being that children born to illegals are legal citizens; so if Mom or Dad doesn't have a skill needed on the new VISA list, the family could be busted in half. The up side is that the bill concentrates on getting workers that we are actually short of as opposed to opening the gates to anyone.

Both arguements are reasonable, but again, narrowly focused at one part of a big bill. I don't like amnesty programs, I think that they have done nothing but encourage more illegals to come here when we've used them before. And ripping families apart appeals to no one. However, I don't think either provision is removable without killing the whole bill, and leaving us with no immigration policy, again.

A few changes that could, and should be made though, are common sense. Yesterday a funeral was held in Kenosha, Wi. for Frank Fabiano Jr., a deputy sherriff gunned down by an illegal, with 6 different ID's and Social Security numbers and half a dozen previous arrests and misdemeanor convictions in various states. A conviction during the naturalization process that has a (possible) penalty of a year or more in jail should result in deportation immediately after the jail portion of the sentence is served.

There is no political will for the other change that needs to be made; a federal law ending birthright citizenship. The idea was floated last year in the House, but didn't gain any traction even with a Republican majority. Getting it through with Democrats in charge would be even tougher. It would also lead to a long court fight over it's Constitutionality, which no one wants to deal with. Unfortunately, it would be one of the biggest deterrents to illegal immigration, but has no chance of getting into law.

Overall, I guess I'd have to agree with both the Post and WSJ, with all it's flaws, this is probably the best compromise we'll get any time soon. Warts and all it's better than the status quo. Neither side of the debate is going to get everything they want, that's why it's a compromise, but neither should scuttle it because they didn't.

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