Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
February 14, 2016

A Deal on Immigration Is Still Possible, if Both Sides Back Off

The chances passing a sensible immigration bill in this Congress appear to be next to zero. But, as with the endless search for Middle East peace, it’s a cause worth pursuing. And, conceivably, there’s a deal to be had.

The Senate’s comprehensive bill is a monstrosity compared to what an ideal bill would look like, especially calling for spending nearly $50 billion militarizing our border with Mexico to secure the votes of a measly 14 GOP senators.

Mexico is a friendly country, illegal immigration is at a 40-year low and the U.S. border patrol has been doubled and redoubled, but the Senate bill still calls for building a Berlin Wall, patrolling it with drones and re-doubling the border patrol yet again — and still the measure, according to the Congressional Budget Office, will reduce illegal immigration by only a third to a half.

And while they’d be instantly legalized, only half or less of the 11 million residents here illegally would be able to attain U.S. citizenship — after a 13 year wait!

Beyond that, the Senate bill has been declared dead on arrival in the Republican House, whose leaders are determined only to bring measures to a vote which can command a majority of GOP members. With tea party exclusionists holding sway over the GOP conference, this is likely to mean that anything that emerges will be punitive, restrictive and destined for rejection by the Democratic Senate even before it gets to the White House for President Barack Obama’s veto.

And yet, there’s just a chance that scaled-down (but sensible) immigration reform might eke its way through.

For instance, what about this package: Democrats (and some Republicans) realize it’s inhumane and economically mindless to deny citizenship to people brought to the U.S. as children and raised here, the so-called Dreamers. Republicans (and many Democrats) realize it’s economically stupid to limit entry of high-skilled professionals and to educate foreign PhDs in engineering and medical science, then force them to leave when their studies are completed. Both Republicans and Democrats understand that crops are rotting in the fields and that temporary farm workers are needed to pick them, who could return home when their work is done.

So a Dream Act, Skills Visa Act, Agriculture Act combination might just have a chance.

Would Republicans insist that the package had to contain some border security add-on? Probably. Democrats might insist on a speed-up of the legal immigration process.

Such a less-than-comprehensive package would leave adult illegals still in the shadows — a human tragedy — but it would avoid an ideological war over “amnesty” and the need to fortify the Southern border as though Mexico were North Korea.

  • c. willie

    Mort Kondrake has long been one of the least honest voices in Washington on immigration (and that’s saying a lot).

    Mort, for starters, there aren’t any crops “rotting in the fields”, buffoon.

    • No Mass Amnesty

      And if there are “crops rotting in the fields” it’s because Americans are getting paid more by our welfare state government to sit on their fat butts and BE potatoes rather than DIG potatoes.

      End the perpetual unemployment and the massive disability fraud, and they’ll work in those fields when they get hungry enough.

  • vikings55

    The Dems would go for that. They get some of what they want and keep the hammer to pound the GOP into minority status with. Win, win for them. The GOP is getting eviscerated on channels like telemundo- this won’t change that. Obama has already said they can stay. Now the GOP says they can stay permanently but your parents are leaving. Right…..

  • Lance

    Let’s face it, this immigration thing is a 20th century issue that has slopped over into the 21st century. The time has come to finally resolve it in an intelligent fashion, as three-fourths of Americans favor and Obama confronts head-on. An interesting new worldwide book/ebook that helps explain the role, struggles, and contributions of immigrants and minorities is “What Foreigners Need To Know About America From A To Z: How to Understand Crazy American Culture, People, Government, Business, Language and More.” It paints a revealing picture of America for those who will benefit from a better understanding. Endorsed by ambassadors, educators, and editors, it also informs those who want to learn more about the last remaining superpower and how we compare to other nations on many issues.
    As the book points out, immigrants and minorities are a major force in America, as Mr. Romney and the GOP recently discovered. Immigrants and the children they bear account for 60 percent of our nation’s population growth and own 11 percent of US businesses and are 60 percent more likely to start a new business than native-born Americans. They represent 17 percent of all new business owners (in some states more than 30 percent). Foreign-born business owners generate nearly one-quarter of all business income in California and nearly one-fifth in New York, Florida, and New Jersey. In fact, forty percent of Fortune 500 companies were started by an immigrant or a child of an immigrant, creating 10 million jobs and seven out of ten top brands in our country.
    More importantly, they come to improve their lives and create a foundation of success for their children to build upon, as did the author’s grandparents when they landed at Ellis Island in 1899 after losing 2 children to disease on a cramped cattle car-like sailing from Europe to the Land of Opportunity. Many bring skills and a willingness to work hard to make their dreams a reality, something our founders did four hundred years ago.
    In describing America, chapter after chapter chronicles “foreigners” who became successful in the US and contributed to our society. However, most struggle in their efforts and need guidance in Anytown, USA. Perhaps intelligent immigration reform, White House/Congress and business/labor cooperation, concerned citizens and even books like this can extend a helping hand, the same unwavering hand that has been the anchor and lighthouse of American values for four hundred years.
    Here’s a closing quote from the book’s Intro: “With all of our cultural differences though, you’ll be surprised to learn how much…we as human beings have in common on this little third rock from the sun. After all, the song played at our Disneyland parks around the world is ‘It’s A Small World After All.’ Peace.”

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