Government & Politics

The 'Urgency' of Amnesty

Democrats push Republicans to "do something" this summer.

May 28, 2014

In 1986, a Republican Senate and Democrat House passed the Simpson-Mazzoli Immigration Reform and Control Act. It contained three major components: amnesty for three million aliens in the country, closing the border and strict enforcement of laws barring employers from hiring illegals. The Democrats’ compromised on the latter two provisions to win amnesty. Citizens received the sincerest, cross-our-hearts-and-hope-to-die promises that that the laws would be duly and vigorously enforced.

So the bill became law, three million people received legal status, closing the border was forgotten, another wave of illegals swept across the border and enforcement of employer sanctions disappeared like Grandma’s apple pie.

Twenty-eight years later, a new immigration bill is on Congress’ agenda. Amnesty is again the chief provision, this time for 13 million aliens. The second provision is “border security.” How many times have we heard that promise? This bill has no employer sanctions. Although that section of the 1986 act has never been repealed, it seems to have drifted into the Potomac fog, still there but conveniently out of sight and out of mind.

Disrespect for law has been the hallmark of immigration for 40 years. In the 1970s the LAPD secretly instituted Special Order 40 forbidding police from asking anyone they stopped about immigration status. While illegal immigration ballooned in the ‘70s and '80s, it was ignored by politicians. Citizens’ anger finally awoke the walking dead. In 1986, Simpson-Mazzoli was adopted, and in 1994 California’s Proposition 187 passed only to be overturned by a single judge. Still, she left parts intact, and they too have never been enforced.

Today, some Republicans say they won’t pass immigration reform because they cannot trust Barack Obama to enforce it. That’s hardly surprising. After Fast and Furious, Benghazi, the VA scandal and on and on, Obama deserves no trust. And he has directed his administration either to leave the law unenforced or to act upon a bill that isn’t law – the DREAM Act – provoking a flood of young illegals. Yet Harry Reid, Chuck Schumer and Dick Durbin all threaten that if Republicans don’t act by the August recess, Obama will be forced to act on his own.

But why is the bill so urgently needed? It isn’t, really. Democrats want it because they reliably capture two-thirds or more of the Latino vote, and an infusion of soon-to-be voters could well ensure them a very long-lived congressional majority. Republicans want the bill passed both for cheap labor and in an effort to woo Latinos. A generation ago Latino voters were fairly conservative, but in the interim, the Left has succeeded in Balkanizing this nation. New Latino immigrants are very unlikely to adopt the values of their grandparents. In the 40 years since Democrats succeeded in convincing blacks that Republicans are the bad guys, blacks have consistently voted 90% Democrat.

Unfortunately, the ultimate reason the bill is needed is that the federal government has simply ignored the law. Of course, laws have been flaunted in other arenas, but immigration will have as profound an impact on our nation as any issue on the table today.

And political reality requires us to deal with these people who plan to stay here regardless of the law. But instead of a comprehensive bill resembling ObamaCare, let’s do this in small steps. We need to triage the problems. The worst mistake would be creating yet another entitled group. Immigrants should have to progress through the same steps as their forebears in years past. One step is studying American history; another must be achieving a modest fluency in English.

Tens of thousands of people around the world desperately want to emigrate here but weren’t fortunate enough to be born within walking distance of our southern border. They’ve followed the law, and however possible should be rewarded for it. The trick here is what’s meant by the word “reform.”

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