Hugh Hewitt had Glenn Reynolds (Instapundit) and Mickey Kaus (Slate) on his show yesterday discussing some more the idea of getting an immigration reform bill going in Congress, so as to avoid the “amnesty-lite” bill that will surely pass with a Democrat controlled Congress. This is what we were talking about a bit in InfidelEsto’s post on Hugh v. Tancredo, and in the conversation that went on in the comments of that post. InfidelEsto saw Hugh as a defender of GOP amnesty-lites, and I disagreed. In the show, Reynolds and Kaus had similar assumptions of Hugh, but Hugh clarifies that its all about the imminent security threat, and making something happen NOW.
It still seems to me that we are all agreed in the basic anti-immigration sentiment, we just differ on how best to artfully play the politics at this point.
Here are the main points that came out of the show:
Hugh says anti-immigration people need to have a “floor”, or minimum they will accept in immigration reform, and get a bill going with those criteria. He believes this is the best way to prevent an amnesty-lite bill from passing, and could have the most support from GOP:
[...] the bulk of political power is on the side of amnesty-light– and it telegraphs how difficult it will be for amnesty opponents to halt immigration reform this year because the opponents of immigration reform cannot agree on the essentials that such a bill would have to include. Given that the Democrats control both Houses, and the likelihood that there are at least ten Republican senators who will join the pro-reform 50 Democrats (I am still not counting Senator Johnson in this number), the prospects of a amnesty-light bill are growing every day that the opposition does not organize around a set of principles.
Hugh’s suggestion for the “floor”:
I would think a bill that mandated rapid construction of the 700 miles of double-fencing, significantly hiked fines on employers paying illegals who could not mount an affirmative defense based upon a tamper-proof ID, and the stipulation that citizenship could never be available to anyone who had entered the country illegally and who had either not returned to their country of origin for a legal entry that was separated by a period of at least some months from their exit or had served in the military. I think it might also be possible to insist on a constitutional amendment being sent to the states on the subject of birthright citizenship for the children of illegal aliens.
Reynolds and Kaus don’t think any “floor” exists, and think any compromise would increase illegal immigration (an opinion I believe InfidelEsto and some of our readers have as well). Hugh’s response:
At a minimum they seemed to say that no regularization of any sort could happen until after the fence and sanctions had been in place for some time and the effects on illegal immigration had been studied. What I can’t persuade them of is that the inflow is a massive problem that has to be dealt with asap –especially because of security reasons– and that a “pox on everything” approach guarantees the amnesty-light bill passing without anything useful in it at all.
This is my opinion, too. Refusing to compromise based on principal, won’t succeed in this case. There are politics to be played, like it or not, and smart people need to come together instead of bickering their way to a result of zero.
Regarding Hugh being a GOP shill on this issue, here’s his response:
Mickey suspects my concern is all about the GOP, and while I do see the potential for the GOP to split as deeply as the Tories did over the Corn Laws or the Liberals over Irish Home Rule (I wrote about this at length in Painting The Map Red) my primary concern remains security in a time of WMD. The 14 million illegals can easily be absorbed into our culture and economy –most already are in the former– but we can’t simply resign ourselves to “absorbing” a serious attack that begins in the crossing of packages and people over a largely porous southern border.
Hugh is trustworthy, so we can believe that he really feels this way (despite what you Tancredo supporters who were rubbed the wrong way by Hewitt may be thinking). I only hope some people in power are listening, otherwise the illegal immigration problem is doomed to get worse.