June 21, 2007 | Commentary on Immigration
Like a villain in a cheesy horror film, the Kennedy Amnesty Bill is back from the dead.
In fact, one could call this "Freddy Krueger Legislation," after the fictional character in the Nightmare on Elm Street movies. Freddy, a serial killer with a disfigured face and a metal-clawed leather glove, attacks his victims in their dreams. This legislation is ugly, like Freddy, and it could be just as frightening.
Two weeks ago, the bill appeared to be dead when it was pulled from the Senate floor. Republicans had demanded more time to debate and amend the bill, which seemed reasonable. It would, after all, be the biggest change in immigration legislation in the last 40 years. But when Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid was unable to force a speedy vote, he yanked the bill rather than allow a robust debate about what it would (and wouldn't) do.
This week, conservatives will watch in horror as Reid and Republican Leader Mitch McConnell give a wink and a nod to amendments approved by the drafters of the bipartisan amnesty approach to immigration reform in anticipation of a final deal.
The American people don't want amnesty for illegal aliens, a fact shown by poll after poll. Perhaps lawmakers' haste to ram an unpopular bill through explains why poll numbers for Congress are also diving. President Bush hasn't been faring well either in surveys. In a recent Rasmussen poll, only 15 percent give him good or excellent marks on immigration.
Oh, but in this amnesty nightmare, proponents of the grand deal argue that, "the poll numbers are going down because Congress needs to pass something, anything. The American people really don't care about what is in the bill; they merely want something, anything, to be done." But let's wake up to some facts. In another Rasmussen Poll taken June 11-12, merely 20 percent of the American people polled said they want this bill passed. The poll further showed that 51 percent wanted smaller steps towards reform and 16 percent said that Congress should wait until next year.
For some unexplainable reason the Senate seems intent on becoming more unpopular than Freddy Krueger himself. A NBC News/WSJ poll indicated that 35 percent favor allowing illegal workers permanent U.S. residency if they return home and pay a fine, while a whopping 55 percent opposed. The same poll found that 30 percent favored a plan that gives illegals who arrived in the U.S. before January of this year a work visa if they pay a fine; 64 percent opposed.
Amnesty, it's also worth noting, would kill the rule of law. This proposal may be changed to make some legalized individuals "touchback" outside the United States before getting permanent amnesty, but the core of the bill still rewards lawbreakers with legal status and citizenship (as long as they pay a few fees and wait long enough).
Nor should conservatives allow themselves to be bought off by the "new" $4 billion promised to pay for already authorized improvements in border security. This bill does not strengthen our national security, and because of various loopholes may well place it in jeopardy.
Furthermore, this bill is so expensive it will massacre the federal budget. Robert Rector of the Heritage Foundation estimates that this bill will cost the taxpayers $2.6 trillion dollars in retirement costs for the beneficiaries of this bill.
Not only should these costs be factored into the budget, but the public should expect to see a broad array of new liberal spending proposals and programs designed to help recipients of amnesty move upward economically and socially in the United States. The trillion dollars in new expenditures is staggering and would cause taxes to increase. Even Freddy Krueger couldn't butcher the wallet of the taxpayer as effectively as this bill.
Next time somebody tells you that "amnesty is dead," remember the Nightmare on Elm Street movies, where the refrain "Freddy's Dead" was never the case. Conservatives are hoping that somebody will wake them from this amnesty nightmare, where President Bush and Senate Republicans seem determined to drive away any semblance of conservative support for immigration reform.
Somebody wake us from the masterful effort by key Senate liberals to continually set up circumstances where Republican-on-Republican political violence permeates the Senate floor. Wake us when "conservative" members of the Senate stop attacking conservative voters, claiming they're nativists and xenophobes. Somebody take out Freddy for the final time -- and end this "Nightmare on Amnesty Street."
Brian Darling is director of U.S. Senate Relations at The Heritage Foundation.
First appeared in the National Review Online