Saturday, June 16, 2007

The Immigration Debate

I read a great column by Charles Krauthammer on Friday, June 15 ( I don't always agree with his views, but he writes clearly, concisely and thoughtfully on a variety of issues. He raises an excellent point in his column "Good Fences." Apparently one of the few parts of the immigration bill that everyone can agree on is the building of a physical barrier along the US/Mexico border. A bill was passed (and signed by the President) last year authorizing the building of such a fence. Border security, including a fence, is stated as a precondition for some of the guest worker and path to citizenship provisions in the current bill (and any bills that will likely be forthcoming).

Seems like a no-brainer folks. Why not pass Immigration - Part I? Agree to build the double-line fence along the entire border while we work out the details on the rest of the bill. Let's do the fence part right at least. Ah, but those pushing for "comprehensive" legislation will argue that once a fence bill is passed the Congress will rest on their laurels and not move the other issues forward. This is a false arguement. For one, it's the Democrats and the President that most want the comprehensive provisions, and don't they currently hold the power in their respective branches of government? If you really want to find a resolution then let's show some leadership folks. And second, they can easily include a schedule for debating the remaining and most contentious topics in the fence bill. Is it so hard to say that the Congress shall identify by 3 months after the fence bill is signed a list of topics that need to be debated, that these topics will be debated openly for a set period (say 1 month for each big issue in succession), and that a goal will be set for developing a reasonable comprehensive legislation by the end of the year (or by March, or by spring, or by whatever date seems reasonable for an open and honest debate to occur)? This would allow one key provision to move forward now (the fence) while the other difficult issues are discussed and a path forward negotiated.

Think about it.

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