Sometimes, Compromise Is A Four Letter Word
"The only thing in the middle of the road," famed Texan Jim Hightower once reputedly quipped, "is a dead armadillo." Apparently, Jim Hightower actually said "The middle of the road is for yellow lines and dead armadillos." Either way, it was not meant as a compliment to the middle of the road, unless Hightower suffers from an unhealthy attraction to dead armadillos.
The aphorism is nowhere more true than in the manner of immigration reform. Six weeks ago, U.S. Representative Loretta Sanchez of southern California, asked by MSNBC host Alex Wagner whether "Democrats" would be "willing to accept a path to legalization and not a path to citizenship," eventually conceded "There's always room for debate... There's always room to talk and we'll continue to talk with them."
Sanchez's response was not only dangerous strategy- "negotiating against oneself," is the cliche- but disturbing policy. More reassuring and inspiring, though less sincere, was the comment of Gang of Eight member Chuck Schumer (tough guys- they were part of a "gang," with no fear of being stopped and frisked). The New York senator stated "America has stood for citizenship, we have a Statue of Liberty here. It never has said, 'You come here and you'll be second class. We will not stand for it. It will not happen."
The GOP is hinting that its opposition to illegal immigration is negotiable. On August 16, the Republican National Committee issued a resolution (text, here) which advocates eligibility for two-year renewable work permits- but no path to citizenship- for illegal immigrants who came to the U.S.A. at 18 years of age or older. It also
calls upon the President and Congress to create a new work permit program that will allow foreign nationals who are currently in the country and have not violated any other laws of the U.S. to come forward and register and be allowed to remain and work in the U.S. The work permit will not result in application for citizenship nor any family members entering the U.S. and will require renewal every two years upon roof of continuous employment with no more than two (2) months per two (2) year period unemployed or conviction of a crime.
Well, there you have it. We would gladly welcome immigrants to come to the U.S. to compete with citizens for a scarce number of jobs. Our economy is increasingly dependent upon part-time work, temporary employment, paid and unpaid internships, "job training" for non-existent jobs, and any other scheme to replace full-time, permanent employment with benefits. But it must more resemble a servant economy. And not only can the newcomers work- with no hope of citizenship- they will have to renew the work permit every two years. Don't ever, ever cross your employer!
Legalization without citizenship is, as comprehensive immigration reform opponent Mickey Kaus identifies it, "the worst of both worlds." It would create two class of citizens, as former Harry Reid aide Jim Manley has argued.
Kaus suggests the nation "Stop importing unskilled immigrants until labor markets tighten and wages rise as employers compete for harder-to-get workers. Then admit immigrants only to the extent it won’t deny workers at the bottom reasonable wage increases." That would, obviously, run counter to the insistence of Democrats, Sanchez and Schumer alike, to encourage further immigration and simultaneously deny Republicans their dream of a pitilessly paid, permanent, underclass. It would have only the nation's welfare to commend it and thus is highly unlikely.
One way or another, this does not end happily.