Now that action (or lack thereof) has moved over to the House, the anti-immigration reform crowd is determined to keep up the steady drumbeat of platitudinous objections. Some are downright silly:
1. “The Senate bill is DOA.” So what? For months, the House leadership has said it would come up with its own bill. The question is what that is and whether it can be meshed with the Senate’s effort.
2. “The Senate bill isn’t strong enough on border security.” That’s inconsistent with the complaint that the Senate threw money at the problem. Which is it? The current situation is either horrible (in which case the bill is a big improvement) or the statistics are to believed and we don’t have much of a border problem anymore (in which case what difference do the border provisions make?). Besides, what isn’t in the bill that should be?
3. “The bill is long.” One hardly knows what to say. Most bills are long; the issue is what is in them.
4. “The Obama administration won’t enforce it.” Even if that is true, is there a greater chance obtaining border enforcement with or without the bill? Moreover, Obama isn’t going to be president in three and a half years.
5. “It doesn’t wall off illegal immigrants from getting benefits.” Well, there is no effective system in place to keep them from getting various government benefits now. Besides, conservative supporters of immigration reform are fine if more bells and whistles are added. (“The Senate bill includes some serious welfare restrictions, but an amendment proposed by Senators Hatch and Rubio would have applied a five-year waiting period for green card holders to apply for Obamacare benefits. Actions such as this to wall off the welfare state are a responsible part of immigration overhaul.”)
6. “You can’t bring in low-skilled workers.” Actually, as we saw with Bracero program in the 1950s and 1960s, programs that allow low-skilled and seasonal workers to come in actually reduces illegal immigration. Moreover, with declining birth rates and more Americans going to college we are going into a period where there is a shortage of these workers.
7. “There aren’t enough high-skilled workers being allowed in.” Fine: Increase the number of H1-B visas.
8. “Republicans don’t need to pass immigration reform to keep their House seats.” Actually, they don’t have to do anything. The House is so gerrymandered few members are at risk no matter what they do. Besides, I thought we were concerned about good governance.
9. “It was passed too quickly in the Senate.” I think this talking point is past its due date. The Senate had weeks of hearings and debates. The House can be methodical. What’s the problem?
10. “We should have solid conservative immigration reform legislation.” Swell, now the House has its turn.
The arguments are so frivolous and insincere, the only conclusion is that the opposition is largely an effort to soothe an imaginary base. But actual GOP voters, as we have seen in poll after poll, would like border control and are agreeable to a pathway to citizenship so long as conditions like those in the Senate bill are.
But the real shocker for conservatives who ostensibly care about national security is that we do have a problem that needs urgent attention: Terrorism. We don’t know who is here, when they leave and who they are. If they’re fine with that then I guess the war on terror really is over; however if you believe the world remains a dangerous place and it is important to figure out who the bad guys are, maybe the House should do something about it. Just saying.