The world's greatest deliberative body, the U.S. Senate, is
expected to move with blazing speed this week to vote on a massive
immigration reform bill that grants amnesty to 12 million illegal
aliens. It doesn't matter that no bill even existed prior to Friday
or that senators were given little time to read the 1,000-page
tome. Like it or not, America is about to be saddled with Sen. Ted
Kennedy's solution for immigration reform.
Chief negotiator for the Amnesty Now crowd, Kennedy exacted so
many concessions from the White House and Senate Republicans that
the bill ought to carry his name. If you thought the
Kennedy-crafted No Child Left Behind Act was devastating, well, you
ain't seen nothin' yet.
Conservatives will be especially disappointed. They've already
watched President Bush sell out to Kennedy on education and
Medicare reform. But Bush's collusion with the Massachusetts
Democrat on immigration reform threatens to alienate them
permanently. Heaven forbid that Bush try to reform anything else in
his remaining 20 months in office.
Of course, the President doesn't bear all the responsibility.
Many Republicans in Congress are equally responsible for failing to
protect the principles that voters sent them to Washington to
defend. Conservatives have come to expect such behavior from
Republicans such as Sen. Arlen Specter, the Pennsylvania moderate.
The shocker is that conservative Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) went along
The GOP's failure on immigration reform is most astounding
because the issue is crystal clear: There are those who follow the
law and those who break it. If one issue galvanized conservatives,
this was it. Some have even traveled to the U.S.-Mexico border to
safeguard our country. Two Republican members of the U.S. House,
Reps. Duncan Hunter (Calif.) and Tom Tancredo (Colo.), launched
long-shot presidential bids because of the issue.
As defenders of the rule of law, conservatives have always
maintained that anyone wanting to enter the United States -- much
less reap the benefits of citizenship -- must do so legally. The
deal that Kennedy negotiated violates that principle.
More than 20 years ago, President Ronald Reagan and Congress
experimented with amnesty. It failed miserably. Nearly 3 million
illegal aliens were legalized in 1986. Former Attorney General
Edwin Meese III, who served under Reagan when the law was enacted,
regrets the deal today.
Unfortunately, Bush is repeating the mistake -- only this time
the consequences are even more significant. The deal cut by the
White House grants 12 million illegal aliens immediate and
As Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) said last week, "This rewards people
who broke the law with permanent legal status, and puts them ahead
of millions of law-abiding immigrants waiting to come to America. I
don't care how you try to spin it, this is amnesty.
Kyl, the lead conservative involved in the immigration
negotiations, tried to spin it. "I think because of the influence
that I and other conservatives brought to the table this time, the
bill is far more conservative, more restrictive than the bill that
passed last year," he told CNN's Lou Dobbs after the compromise was
That's not saying much, especially since Kyl's partner last
year on immigration legislation, Sen. John Cornyn (R-Tex.), was
among the first to criticize the compromise.
Cornyn expressed hope that senators would have an opportunity to
amend the bill once it reached the Senate floor. But with Majority
Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) eager to pass it before senators leave
town for their week-long Memorial Day vacation, conservatives face
an uphill battle.
That's one reason 15 conservative senators began demanding last
month that they have at least a week to review the bill before it's
brought up for debate. They also wanted it posted online in order
to give the public an opportunity to critique and analyze it before
Almost as bad as what's in the 1,000-page bill is the way Reid
plans to ram it through the Senate, skirting any semblance of
meaningful debate in favor of political expediency. It begs the
question: How fast does the average senator read, much less
deliberate these days?
Robert B. Bluey
is director of the Center for Media & Public Policy at
The Heritage Foundation and maintains a blog at
First appeared in TownHall.com
The world's greatest deliberative body, the U.S. Senate, is expected to move with blazing speed this week to vote on a massive immigration reform bill that grants amnesty to 12 million illegal aliens.
Robert B. Bluey
Director, Digital Media, and Director, Center for Media and Public Policy
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