Under the leadership of Senator Ted Kennedy (D-MA), various Senators and Bush Administration officials pulled an all-nighter behind closed doors on Wednesday. By noon Thursday, the bleary-eyed politicos had concocted an illegal alien amnesty (a.k.a., "comprehensive immigration reform") bill.
"It's disappointing and even ironic how the deal announced today skirts the democratic processes of Congress. It was cut by a group of senators operating outside the committees of jurisdiction and without public hearings on key components." [A 'Troubled' Immigration Reform Proposal | President Bush and the Democrats reach a compromise on immigration reform, by Lorraine Woellert and Eamon Javers, BusinessWeek, May 18, 2007]
As of early Saturday morning, May 19, the public has not even been shown the text of the bill. The ultimately failed amnesty legislation the Senate passed last year was 118,277 words long. This may well be more complicated. A photo of the first draft shows it to be almost twice as thick as a Bible.
So reading the new bill carefully will likely take at least 10 uninterrupted hours, and quite possibly twice that, a span of time that few Senators have readily available. To truly understand how the legislation would work and what its long term implications are would take weeks of questioning and debate.
It is utterly impossible for the United States Senate to exercise the due diligence commensurate with the importance of major immigration legislation without extensive hearings.
The pro-amnesty Senate hearings spearheaded by McCain in early 2006 aroused tremendous opposition among the public. Although an amnesty bill passed the Senate in May, House Republican leaders wisely refused to be lured into a conference committee to reconcile their enforcement-only bill with the Senate's diametrically opposed bill. Instead, they held additional hearings on immigration last summer around the country. Foolishly, Senator Arlen Specter (R-PA) tried to hold his own hearings in favor of the Senate bill, but the result of the dueling hearings was the collapse of any chance for amnesty last year.
From a good government standpoint, what we are witnessing is perhaps the most irresponsible and shameless attempt to hustle a pig in a poke past the public in recent memory. Of course, that's the whole point of the exercise—to not let us simple citizens in on the process of deciding who our fellow citizens will be.
It's only a modest exaggeration to call this an attempted coup against the American people.
Of course, the Main Stream Media finds this elite putsch admirable. U.S. News' Political Bulletin commented on Friday: "Media Revels in Bipartisanship Bliss The bipartisan process that led to the Senate deal is being celebrated in media reports." Today's press probably would have spun the 1939 Nazi-Soviet Pact as a triumph of bipartisan bridge-building. Who cares if the American people have to play the role of the betrayed Poles?
Why this obscene haste? According to the Boston Globe, [Adversaries praise a relentless Kennedy, By Susan Milligan, May 18, 2007] the reason is that "an immigration pact would need to be finished by summer or it would collapse in the heat of campaigning."
In other words, the government wants to elect a new people before the people start to elect a new government.
Tellingly, the increasingly out-of-touch Senator John McCain (R-AZ) and the half-Hispanic governor Bill Richardson (D-NM) were the only two of the countless Presidential candidates currently running to endorse the scheme immediately.
While many of the candidates appear to lack enthusiasm in their hearts for rigorous border control, they at least know what the voters want to hear. Thus, Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) noted that the Kennedy-Bush plan would "replace the current group of undocumented immigrations with a new undocumented population ... and potentially drive down wages of American workers." Former Senator Fred Thompson said we "should scrap this bill and the whole debate until we can convince the American people that we have secured the borders."[How candidates line up on the immigration bill, By Mark Z. Barabak, Los Angeles Times, May 19, 2007]
The track record of the principals behind the deal is not reassuring. The last time Senator Kennedy and President Bush teamed up, the result was the absurd No Child Left Behind act, whose mandate that every child in America be "proficient" (i.e., above average ) in reading and math by 2014 can be met only by fraud on the most colossal scale.
If Kennedy is successful, this will be the third generation of Senators that the Massachusetts Democrat has hoodwinked into passing a bad immigration bill, beginning with the epochally disastrous 1965 immigration act, and continuing with the laughable 1990 Diversity Visa law. Despite (or possibly because of) this history, the Bush cabinet secretaries gushed about their night with Senator Ted. "He's awesome," exclaimed Homeland Security supremo Michael Chertoff. Commerce Secretary Carlos M. Gutierrez effused that it was "a real privilege" to work with the Democratic warhorse.
While Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) has claimed that she would only pass comprehensive immigration reform if President Bush delivers 70 Republican House members to her side, Slate's Mickey Kaus wisely counsels:
"Opponents of the GOP cave-in on immigration would be fools, I think, to rely on Nancy Pelosi's House to kill the legislation. … What are the bill's opponents going to do when Pelosi decides that, hey, 20 or 30 Republican votes are enough?"
As I've pointed out before, the Age of Ideology—when the big questions were simple ones, such as Communism vs. Capitalism —is over. We live in the Age of the Fine Print, where the devil is in the details.
We saw that with the 1986 immigration compromise that mandated both amnesty for current illegal aliens and workplace enforcement to discourage new ones from entering.
While most of the participants in that fiasco were reasonably sincere—unlike now, after 21 more years of immigration degrading our political culture —they were confounded by the difficulty of anticipating the consequences of their legislation. Thus they failed to set up effective enforcement mechanisms to prevent employers of illegals from demanding that the Congressmen to whom they gave campaign contributions badger the INS into ignoring lawbreaking at their factories and farms. So, due to rampant corruption, the 1986 compromise ended up in practice being amnesty-only.
The 2007 law's employer enforcement clauses would likely be as ineffectual - but for even more cynical reasons.
Only a massive and absolutely immediate response from an outraged public will stop this week going down as one of the most shameful in American political history.