Sunday, June 23, 2013

Bipartisanship Is Not Compromise

Mickey Kaus, a conservative Democrat whose blogging on The Daily Caller website has pertained primarily to comprehensive immigration reform, contends

Schumer, Durbin & Co. have offered a deal to Corker, Hoeven, and conservatives. In essence, it’s this: You’ll immediately legalize 11 M immigrants who are unlawfully in the country. They’ll get work permits renewable ad infinitum–we call it “provisional,” but basically they’re in. Yes, we know that in 1986 we passed an amnesty and promised enforcement that never happened, but this time we promise to … militarize the Southern border! Hire 20,000 new agents! That’s the ticket. Double the Border Patrol! Spend $20 billion. Quadruple the budget.  Drones in the sky–triple the number of drones. Drones! Sensors on the ground!  700 miles of fence! 100% use of E-Verify! ”I don’t know what more to do, short of just shooting people,” says Gang of 8-er Lindsey Graham.

Just try and collect.

Nothing this Congress does, remember, can prevent future Congresses from reneging on the back end of this “legalize first” deal. Budget considerations alone will mean the advertised ”surge” won’t be sustained–as Obama’s earlier 1,500 man National Guard surge wasn’t sustained.  Future lawmakers will be looking around for “offsetting” spending cuts and that bloated 40,000 man border patrol will stick out like a nail that wants to be hammered. Plus, once Democrats have eaten their meal  illegal immigrants have their legalization in hand, Democrats will lose 80% of their motivation to make good on the law’s elaborate promises. They’re already unhappy with the back end of the deal–Sen. Leahy calls it “a Christmas wish list for Halliburton.”  Meanwhile, militarizing the border is drawing immediate protests. Business interests–especially farmers–can be expected to oppose the requirement that they use a computerized system to check new hires. There will be little to stop these forces–the ones that have blocked enforcement until now–except some Republican pols saying “But … but you pwomised!”

The money quote:  Nothing this Congress does, remember, can prevent future Congresses from reneging on the back end of this "legalize first" deal.  But that door swings both ways.   If a future Congress is not bound by continuing the "surge" of border control agents, increased number of drones, and expansion of a border fence, it also is not bound by the requirement to allow illegal immigrants to gain permanent legal status in ten years nor citizenship three years after.

And that is one of the dirty little secrets of this "bipartisan" bill crafted by the bipartisan Gang of Eight.   Few of the details take effect immediately.   The Washington Examiner's Byron York, in fact, maintains

the Hoever-Corker amendment includes a provision that has been in the bill from the start, which says that if litigation or some unspecified act of God delays implementation of the new security measures, immigrants will be given permanent status in ten years no matter what. Of course most observers expect the bill to spark lots of litigation — for example, there will be lawsuits claiming that immigrants should be eligible for federal benefits — and it’s entirely possible that litigation could tie up at least parts of the bill for years. So the catchall clause, still in the bill after the Hoeven-Corker amendment, guarantees that immigrants will win permanent status in the long run.

This is one way in which the anti-reformer crowd, if the bill were to pass, could get shafted. But so could the pro-reform contingent.   If a future Congress (both of whose houses may be controlled by Republicans) and President (who may be a Repub) yank the citizenship provision, millions of illegal immigrants, their numbers perhaps swollen by promises of this legislation, will be in limbo.  They will be competing for jobs with native-born Americans but without the opportunity to become citizens, thus lacking bargaining power in the marketplace.  Citing budget constraints, a GOP-controlled legislative or executive branch may threaten cuts in the social safety net while agreeing to bypass them if the path for citizenship is removed.

That would be a lose-lose for America, though a win-win for some businesses, large and small, eager to take advantage of a large labor pool, much of which would be at their mercy.  Comprehensive immigration reform is no compromise and will prove to be no compromise, bipartisan or not, but will grossly favor one side or another.

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