June 18, 2007 [LINK / comment]

Bush persists on immigration

As we know from his conduct of the war in Iraq, President Bush is nothing if not resolved to persevere in the face of adversity. It should come as no surprise, therefore, that he is not giving up on his "comprehensive" immigration bill. After intensive lobbying of congressional leaders by President Bush, Sen. Harry Reid agreed to put the immigration measure back on the agenda; see Washington Post. I would agree with GOP Senators Jim DeMint (SC) and Johnny Isakson (GA) that there is no reason to tie border enforcement to amnesty. I wonder if those who insist on such a linkage are really trying to sabotage border security by making it harder to pass. I am certain that such is the motivation of most senators who have been attaching amendments to the immigration bill, to "muck it up."

Back in the real world of immigration, meanwhile, there are more and more signs of policy breakdown. Yesterday they reported that the backlog of pending FBI background checks on applicants for naturalization has doubled in the past two years, to nearly 330,000. This validates my frequent argument that anyone who is serious about enforcing our immigration laws must be willing to pay for extra bureaucratic screeners. That implies higher taxes.

Another example of the routine abuse of "amnesty" is that the special waiver for Central American refugees continue to get their "temporary" resident permits renewed, even though the security situation no longer warrants it. The problem is that the economies of El Salvador and Guatemala would face immediate crisis if the flow of remittances from workers in the United States were cut off all of a sudden. (Of course, such a prospect is not remotely realistic, but it's worth contemplating, anyway.) Washington Post

Congressman Bob Goodlatte was interviewed for WHSV TV-3 this afternoon, and made clear his opposition to President Bush's immigration proposal, especially the amnesty provisions. Good!

To me, all the posturing and maneuvering over the immigration issue is tragic and almost too painful to watch. I think a big part of the problem is that President Bush forfeited credibility by adopting the hardball expedient tactics of Karl Rove, which often help to win elections in the short term, but generally fail to address the underlying policy dilemmas in the long term. (That is the same problem I had with the immigration policy of defeated Virginia senate candidate Scott Sayre.) Without strong leadership and a clear strategy, sooner or later, all those short-term compromises on principle come back to haunt you. And that is why I think this country is just not ready to face up to the hard choices on immigration and social policy that will be necessary for true "reform" to work.