And He Doesn't Call Anyone A Bigot!

Fred Barnes says Conservatives are nuts not to like the immigration bill. He says it's pretty good, and could get lots better with amendments. Quoting him for the next two bullets:
  • "Significantly strengthened border security.And that's just what's in the initial bill negotiated by Republican senator Jon Kyl and Democratic senator Ted Kennedy. Without blowing up the Kyl-Kennedy compromise, border enforcement can be further strengthened through amendments. Indeed, it was strengthened, in the first week of debate in May, with an amendment by Republican senator Judd Gregg that requires "demonstrated" operational control of the entire border with Mexico."
  • "Then there's the "trigger," a brainstorm of Republican senator Johnny Isakson. It delays further reform--including issuance of Z visas allowing the estimated 12 million illegals in the United States to stay indefinitely--until all the steps to tighten border security have been taken. "

Barnes acknowledges the gov's lack of credibility on this point, but argues:

  • "the bill can be improved, notably by adopting a suggestion of columnist Charles Krauthammer that success in securing the border be quantified--he suggested a 90 percent reduction in illegal immigration--before the trigger is activated."

More to love (this is the stuff that appeals to me and seems like a major course correction) --my summary:

  • Guest worker program sends workers home first, denies them special path to citizenship granted in previous versions of bill, limits # to 200,000.
  • No more chain migration --immediate families only, not one guy and his 15 siblings, and not 2nd and 3rd cousins.
  • No more green card lottery -- the guy who shot two people at LAX got in that way.
  • Merit-based entrance (point system)
Then he gets to the politics of the matter, which is too much to excerpt but very worth your reading. His main point is that Conservatives get far, far more of what they want from this bill than libs do:

In negotiations with Kennedy, Kyl got the four major reforms favored by conservatives: border buildup, the trigger, temporary workers, and an end to chain migration. Kennedy got the Z visas to legalize 12 million people who've broken the law. The Z visas may be the single biggest accomplishment. But, cumulatively, what Kyl achieved amounts to much more. He--and conservatives--got the better deal.

Look at it this way. Kennedy's triumph is in allowing 12 million illegal immigrants to stay here indefinitely and pursue citizenship (only if they're ready to return to their home country). But it's not as if these people were going to be tossed out of the country otherwise. Even conservatives unhappy with the bill surely recognize this.

In essence Kennedy's being allowed an apparent victory in exchange for an actual philosophical defeat, Barnes is saying. And that sort of strategy is classic Bush (although the Prez gets criticized for untoward remarks about his opponents).
Every now and then, an issue comes along that causes politicians and their followers to lose their sense of proportion. That's what the war in Iraq has done to liberals and Democrats. My fear is immigration is having that effect on many conservatives. It doesn't have to, though, and it won't, if conservatives take a fresh look at the immigration reform bill and realize where their true interest lies.