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Immigration Deal Set to Simmer

May 18, 2007 - by Donny Shaw

It has been more than a day since the above line-up of senators emerged from their closed-door negotiations to announce that they had struck a deal on a comprehensive immigration reform bill. Now that there has been some time to mull over the many facets of the deal, people are beginning to think strategy and take sides on how to proceed. Here is a taste of what is being said in the blogosphere:

Greg Anrig, Jr. is categorically against the guest worker program that the bill proposes:

>It may be true that the current political situation could be the best climate for many years to reach a deal that enables undocumented workers to come out of the shadows. But the guest worker proposal violates fundamental principles that define what it means to be a liberal, and what it should mean to be a Democrat. The issue isn’t the quantity of guest workers or some other programmatic detail that could be tweaked at the margins. Importing cheap labor for temporary use to be returned when no longer needed is dehumanizing and will only exacerbate existing problems related to illegal immigration when the guest workers behave rationally and find a way to stay here.

Ezra Klein disagrees somewhat. He doens’t like the guest worker program, but he is willing to accept it and the rest of the bill as the best Democrats are likely to get any time soon:

>Putting aside the tweaks Reid and Pelosi can make through the legislative process, the choice looks to me like this bill or nothing. My hunch is that a solid Democratic government couldn’t get this far out on immigration without potentially provoking a nativist backlash, and so they wouldn’t. And nor does it look like any of the Republican contenders would be substantially more liberal or independent on this issue than Bush has proven himself. The 12 million undocumented immigrants are a pressing problem, and I would, if this were my only choice, bring them into the light of American society and labor laws even at the cost of a guest worker program.

Ed Morrissey is not for granting blanket amnesty, but he thinks that the alternative that some Republicans favor — mass deportations — is an impossibility:

>There are 12 million illegals in the US. Let me explain how difficult that would be. In the first place, the ICE has to find them, usually where they work. They then have to build a probable cause for a raid and search warrants (unless we want to toss out the 4th Amendment). That takes quite a bit of time; it might take months to build that kind of a case against an employer, but at least it will take a few weeks. Then they raid the shop, arrest everyone without proper identification, and start the deportation process — which requires a hearing for each person in court to determine their status. During that period, we have to house and feed them.

Matthew Yglesias thinks that, since the bill essentially grants amnesty, it should do so more efficiently:

>Now, look, this is an amnesty. But instead of being a well-designed amnesty, it’s one where, as Atrios says, we’re adding useless epicycles in order to enhance the plausibility of the “don’t call it an amnesty” line. Much better to do the thing properly, even if that runs the risk of being forced to call a spade a spade

Mark Kleiman agrees with Yglesias and points out the excess and absurdity of the touchback provision:

>"Touch-back" — the requirement that heads of household must return to their countries of origin at some stage in the process — may be the single stupidest idea I ever heard of. It does, as far as I can see, no actual good, and much harm. Apparently it was a concession to the “anti-amnesty” forces; by symbolically making those who entered illegally go back and apply, it provides the illusion that they didn’t manage to jump the queue. But what a stunning amount of waste motion to require for such a transparent fig-leaf!

Warner Todd Huston argues that by creating the guest worker program, “The Democrat Party is angling to destroy the economic and societal balance of the United States by creating a permanent lower class that it can exploit for votes”:

>Now, before you go off castigating me for going off into tin-foil hat territory, I am not saying that this is their stated goal. I do not believe that the Democrats think they are creating a permanent lower, slave class. But, they are looking to create a permanent class of voters who will keep them in power because those voters would ostensibly be forever dependent upon Democrats’ control of government handouts. And that, when all is said and done, is just the same as intending to keep lower class, uneducated (currently) illegal aliens in thrall and enslaved to Democrat Party operatives and in a permanent status as lower class citizens unable to rise from their downtrodden position on the lowest rungs of the ladder of success.

Dana Goldstein suggests that guest worker program and the path to citizenship plan will cross each other out in the long run:

>The bad news, though, is that there will still be a large population of undocumented workers in this country. The combination of amnesty for undocumented immigrants already here and the creation of a guest worker program is akin to hitting a “reset” button — really only a temporary fix. Does anybody realistically think many of the proposed 400,000-600,000 “guests” won’t stay on in the U.S. as undocumented laborers, recreating an underclass that brings down wages?

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