As the son of immigrants to this country, and as a student of American history, I’m an unapologetic advocate for immigration. I believe immigration is crucial for the health and growth of our nation. That’s why it’s so troublesome to see Washington in the process of botching immigration reform for the umpteenth time.
Across the country, we see the ramifications of the broken status quo. Reform is necessary for the future health of the economy and to ensure our border’s security. Business owners are sick and tired of struggling under the current system to make ends meet while keeping on the right side of the law. Immigration policy represents a major breakdown in governance, and we are wasting enormous human resources that could be powering our economy.
I am for immigration solutions now. But that’s not what Washington’s current approach seeks. The problem begins with bad motives. Politically craven electoral concerns and the interests of big businesses and unions should not drive legislation. Washington as usual is focused on what’s good for political parties, instead of focusing on what’s right for America.
That’s how you end up with another thousand-page bill full of pork, regulations, and new powers for bureaucrats to manage the economy. This isn’t a solution any more than the last thousand-plus-page bill that President Obama forced on the nation was. Obamacare is already collapsing under its own weight, with delays and broken promises — yet the Gang of Eight is employing the same approach on immigration.
The Gang of Eight bill includes some bacon for Majority Leader Harry Reid in the form of taxpayer-funded travel promotion for Las Vegas and declaring Nevada to be a border state; some sausage for Hollywood in the form of free visa applications for aliens with extraordinary ability in the arts; and some ribs for avowed socialist Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont in a $1.5 billion “jobs for youth” scheme, which is another Obama-style stimulus program.
The truth is, many Democrats don’t really care about meaningful reform of our immigration system. They are pushing a pork-laden Big Government power grab and hoping to demonize the Republican party in the process. If it fails, they get to demonize Republicans among Latino voters in the next election; if it passes, they will happily grant amnesty to millions of people without solving the fundamental problems with the current system. They see the Senate bill as a win-win.
So we find ourselves in a familiar cycle: Washington produces a massive bill full of pork and needlessly complex and unworkable rules and regulations that create more problems than they solve; then governors, businesses, and citizens are left to try to make sense of it and clean up the mess.
If and when the folks in Washington want to successfully reform our immigration system, they will have to accept the simple fact that it needs to be done in stages. An all-or-nothing approach will likely yield what it usually yields — nothing. It just takes three simple steps.
Step 1: Secure the border. Do this first. It’s time to get it done. We cannot trust bureaucrats or agencies to determine when the border is secured, so we should instead adopt a goal that can’t be manipulated — such as complete implementation of fencing, technology, and other security methods — and only then should we decide whether that approach has worked or not. We should consider the border secure only when the properly elected representatives of the people agree it is secured. Border-state governors and the U.S. Congress must be the ones who verify that our borders are finally secured.
As George Will noted in a recent column, the Senate bill includes 222 instances of a discretionary “may” and 153 of “waive.” Will then argues persuasively that “such language means that were the Senate bill to become law, the executive branch would be able to do pretty much as it pleases.”