Doing nothing beats doing something awful

Regular readers know that I am not especially enamored of Newt Gingrich. However, I have to say that I agree with a lot of what he said here (via Glenn Reynolds) about the immigration bill they're trying to put through Congress.


In 1986, I voted for the Simpson-Mazzoli immigration bill. We were promised that in return for amnesty for far fewer than three million illegal immigrants we would get:
  • Control of the border;

  • Enforcement of laws requiring employers to know someone is here legally before hiring them; and

  • No more amnesty and no more tolerance of illegality
  • The government broke its word on every one of those provisions.

    We eventually amnestied three million people who had broken the law, and we sent a signal to the world that it is okay to break the law and come to America.

    Now, 20 years later, we are told to trust Washington while we amnesty 12 to 20 million more people who have broken the law.

    It's insane, and it doesn't require being a supporter of draconian legislation or hardline law enforcement strategies to oppose this law.

    The problem is that very little has been done by way of law enforcement. While continuing to do little or nothing might be bad, granting amnesty to lawbreakers is IMO, a lot worse. It's a complete abrogation of the responsibility of this country to take its laws seriously and it would create a vast new class of people legally entitled to taxpayers' assistance.

    Glenn Reynolds also links Fred Thompson, who says he doesn't think the bill will pass

    CHICAGO - The immigration reform bill worked out late last week by Senate Republicans and Democrats likely will fail, former senator and possible presidential candidate Fred Thompson said here Sunday. Thompson, speaking at the National Restaurant Association annual show, said the bill will not win the support of the American people because they don't trust senators' promises to block illegal immigrants from crossing the Mexican border into the U.S.

    "Nobody believes them. It goes to the bigger issue of the lack of credibility our government has these days," said Thompson, who was greeted with hoots and applause from the 2,300 convention attendees who filled a ballroom at the McCormick Place convention center.

    I hope he's right about the bill failing.

    I also like Fred Thompson's no-campaign style.

    People like him just for not running.

    MORE: Has any human being actually read this bill? I mentioned earlier that according to TTLB, "it's 400 pages, but the final version may expand to 1000+ once it's printed in the 'official format.'"
    I asked whether the geniuses who run our lives should be voting on something that none of them will have so much as taken the time to read!

    I think it's dereliction of duty, and via Glenn Reynolds, Rand Simberg has more and supplies a link that goes to a single, mind-numbing page, with an equally mind-numbing "handwritten additions."

    In the legislators' defense, I'm somewhat sympathetic, as I can see why they don't want to read it. (I don't either.) But that's no excuse for passing it.

    posted by Eric on 05.22.07 at 11:27 AM


    Let me get this straight: you don't want to do anything about immigration? You don't trust the government to enforce the law, so you just want to throw up your hands and give up?

    Froblyx   ·  May 22, 2007 11:40 AM

    I throw up my hands and give up!

    Eric Scheie   ·  May 22, 2007 11:54 AM

    You have an alternative, Froblyx? A bill that creates a bad situation to rectify another bad situation is not a good solution here.

    S Wisnieski   ·  May 22, 2007 12:11 PM

    I think that the bill under discussion is the perfect bill for a democracy: a compromise that everybody hates but most people can live with. Democracy isn't about getting your way on everything; democracy requires that everybody learn to live with what is just barely acceptable, so that they can all get along together. You guys are insisting that this bill is terrible because it doesn't punish the illegals. I agree, that's not good. But the people on the left hate it because it is too harsh, in their view, on immigration. Now, how are you going to resolve this difference of opinion? Start shooting at each other? You have to ask yourself, can I live with this bill? Does it get me anything? Yes, it definitely gets you something: better policing, better fencing, and more agents. That's good, and you know it. Does it have bad things? Well, yes, from your point of view it does. But this bill represents the best compromise you are going to get. After 2008, it can only get worse. So, there are just two questions to ask:

    1. Does it offer anything of value?
    2. Can you live with the bad parts?

    If the answer to both questions is yes, then you should support it. If the answer to the second question is no, then you better prepare yourself for losing in the long run. Because you can't have what you want.

    Froblyx   ·  May 22, 2007 12:33 PM

    Throughout the history of the United States, negotiations have always been the first step to a better future. Both the liberals and conservatives need to compromise and work together in order to make this work. First steps, no matter how small, NEED to be taken so that the immigration can be solved in the near future.

    Jeff   ·  May 22, 2007 2:06 PM

    You'd have a point except for being wrong. Did you not notice the lawmaker in the post mentioning that the things you promise the Right didn't materialize last time? What's the saying? Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me.

    Anyway, my solution is simple: ignore what people want and do what makes sense. By the way, my view of that is different from Eric's, but that's really neither here nor there. I hate democracy, and I fear that is what we are getting, rather than a constitutional republic run by democratically-elected representatives of the people.

    I firmly believe that the system would work if we had better men in office, or more respect for the spirit of the founding fathers, or even if we scrapped the seventeenth amendment. They'd look at the issue, decide on a solution, and it would either work and they'd be re-elected, or it wouldn't, and they'd be thrown out, which is the way the system is supposed to work.

    Instead, because of the spineless men in Washington and the constant barrage of opinion polls we have, we are greeted with little more than mob rule wedded to the excesses of big government.

    Finally, I have to wonder how you come to the conclusion that if this deal is not accepted, the Right isn't going to get anything. From everything I've seen, right-wingers are having more children and low population density areas are having a population boom as people drift away from cities in increasing number; but, because of the size of the country, the population density in these areas isn't increasing. Both items tend to suggest that the right is going to have more power in the future, to my mind.

    Jon Thompson   ·  May 22, 2007 2:21 PM

    This is not another typical left-right-divide type of issue, Froblyx. The vast majority of Americans (including leftists) don't want mass immigration, or at least that's the impression we can sift from hundreds of opinion polls returning fairly consistent results over several dozen years. Very few outside the extreme fringe you characterize vaguely as the left oppose this bill on the grounds that it's too harsh. The only place where the left is uniformly pro-immigration is inside the Beltway.

    S Wisnieski   ·  May 22, 2007 5:12 PM

    Jon, my reference to the prospects for the right wing applies only to the 2008 elections, which most tea-leaf readers see as giving even more power to the Democrats.

    As to the matter of whether the law will be implemented, well, that's a matter of trusting the government. I admit that the government of the last few years hasn't done much to instill trust, but if you don't think the government is going to do anything, why do you even care about this bill?

    This is not another typical left-right-divide type of issue, Froblyx.

    I agree. The left and the right have different concerns about this bill, though. The right seems more concerned than the left with punishing illegals; the left seems more concerned than the right with providing immigrants with legal protections. Everybody has their own axe to grind. Which is why compromise is necessary.

    Froblyx   ·  May 22, 2007 5:49 PM would create a vast new class of people legally entitled to taxpayers' assistance.
    A great many subsidized services are already available to illegals: free health care, at ER's and hospitals not yet closed; free education, in Spanish no less; low rent housing.
    And you know that children born in this country of illegals are citizens entitled to those government goodies anyway.

    If you intend to live in California in the future, you would be wise to learn Spanish. And to that end, the banks, phone companies, and most retail stores like Wal-Mart are here to help you in your day to day grammar lessons.

    Diga: Si, hablemos Espanol!
    See how easy that is?

    Frank   ·  May 23, 2007 1:33 AM

    That's an argument against welfare, not immigrants.

    Jon Thompson   ·  May 24, 2007 12:58 AM

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