Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, a Tennessee Republican, appeared with Reid and said "We have a great opportunity to deliver to the American people what they expect, what they deserve," a comprehensive border security and immigration reform bill.Harry Reid certainly is familiar with compromising--his beliefs, that is. In 1993 he sponsored a resolution that never made it out of the Senate Subcommittee on Immigration. It almost puts Tom Tancredo to shame:
The deal, which would include a temporary worker program backed by President George W. Bush, would allow illegal immigrants who have been in the United States more than five years a chance to become citizens if they meet a series of requirements and paid a fine. Other rules would apply to people in the country less than five years.
S.1351 Title: A bill to curb criminal activity by aliens, to defend against acts of international terrorism, to protect American workers from unfair labor competition, and to relieve pressure on public services by strengthening border security and stabilizing immigration into the United States.It details deportation procedures, withholds all benefits to those failing to show up to asylum hearings, increases penalties for VISA fraud, and brings back the venerable public charge designation:
(4) PUBLIC CHARGE- Any alien who cannot demonstrate to the consular officer at the time of application for a visa, or to the Attorney General at the time of application for admission or adjustment of status, that, taking into account the alien's age and medical condition, he or she has assets, education, skills, or a combination thereof that make it very unlikely that he or she will become eligible for means-tested public assistance of any kind (including, but not limited to, medical care or food and housing assistance) or will otherwise become a public charge is excludable.'It also caps total immigration at 300,000 minus the number of refugees given asylum and puts the maximum number of work-related Visa grants at 40,000.
Fast-forward to 2006, carcass of S1351 a distant memory:
Reid said the overhaul must include heightened border enforcement, a "guest worker" program and a "path to citizenship" for the estimated 11 million people in the United States illegally. He called legislation by Sens. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., and John McCain, R- Ariz., a "good place to start."Reid used to be an ardent supporter of immigration reform. He was elected into the House as a representative from Las Vegas in 1982 and became a Senator in 1986. As the turf changed, so did old Harry:
Nevada is one of three states that had a foreign-born population increase of more than 200 percent during the 1990s. Nevada's foreign-born population increased 202 percent...
101,000 illegal aliens resided in Nevada as of 2000, according to INS figures. This is 321 percent higher than the previous INS estimate in 1996 and 461 percent higher than the estimate for 1992.
I guess Ed Gillespie is right. If Republicans will just accept massive amounts of impoverished Hispanic immigrants and all the problems this embraces, they too will retain power for twenty years. The only catch is that they will all have to become Harry Reid simulacrums, and they'll have to be able to out-pander the real Senator.
Demographic shifts close our window of opportunity a little more each day. The issue has to be our electoral priority. Indeed, it should be the sole arbiter. We cannot afford to let anything else take precedence. Vote against your House member if he didn't vote for HR4437. Give your Senator the boot if he signs on to the guest worker atrocity. Let Sam Brownback know you will be casting a ballot against him in the primaries and in the '08 Presidential election if you're a Democrat. Cross party lines. We have competent, cogent leaders at places like VDare. The public is on our side. We just have to have it transfer to the polls. That means putting capital gains, abortion, and even Iraq on the backburner. It's now or never.
++Addition++Rather than having to rely on the House staying tough, we got the Senate locked in intercine bickering:
Agreement over a highly touted Senate compromise on illegal immigration fell apart Friday as lawmakers lashed out at each over who was to blame for the present impasse over the bill...
The compromise reached Thursday sought to divvy the estimated 11 million or so illegal immigrants into three groups: those who have been inside the country for more than five years; those who have been in the country for between two and five years; and those who have been in the country for fewer than two years.
How is the time spent in country going to be tracked? This sounds fallacious on its face. The government knows little about these people now--how we would go about verifying how long they've been in the US is obviously problematic. Steve Sailer is right--the best thing that can happen for immigration sanity is no bill now so that it can be primary issue in '06.