THE THREE IMMIGRATION...

THE THREE IMMIGRATION BILLS. Mickey Kaus has a cute op-ed in the LA Times comparing Bush's thought process on the immigration bill to his thinking on Iraq. This part, however, struck me as weird:

4. Both envision a complicated, triple-bank-shot chain of events happening on cue. Iraqis were going to be grateful to their American liberators, come together in peace and give us a stable "ally in the war on terror," setting off a democratic domino effect in the region -- a scenario that seems like highly wishful thinking in retrospect. Latinos, in the Bush immigration scenario, will be grateful to Republicans for bringing them out of the shadows, etc., ensuring a large, growing GOP Latino vote for decades to come. Meanwhile, a program of legal guest workers will somehow stop new illegal workers from crossing the border to join them.

Is whether the immigrant start voting for more Republicans really comparable to whether the Iraqis keep placing improvised explosive devices under the tires of our tanks? That said, the article does make some good points on the difficulties of enforcement and administration. I'm a little puzzled, though, on why enforcement is so impossible. You can't drop migration to nothing, to be sure, but the utter pessimism as to its reduction strikes me as peculiar. It's also vaguely beside the point. If nothing can be done to lessen illegal immigration, than you just have to decide if you want more of the immigrants to be legal.

That gets at a central dynamic in the immigration bill, which is that it's really three bills, aimed at three different constituencies. There's an amnesty bill, aimed at liberals, Hispanics, and other pro-immigrant types. There's the immigration bill, which increases the number of visas and adds the guest worker program, which is aimed at business. And then there are the enforcement mechanisms, which are aimed at restrictionists. Too often, the bill is being presented as possessing three interlocking parts, when what you really have are three separate bills each designed to buy off a particular constituency crucial to any immigration legislation's passage.

--Ezra Klein

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