Wednesday, December 08, 2010


I really don't understand the insiders and wonks who think this kind of bill can pass in the foreseeable future:

In a last-ditch showdown on immigration relief for illegal migrants, the Democratically-controlled House of Representatives on Wednesday narrowly approved the so-called DREAM Act that would offer a pathway to citizenship for undocumented young people who attend college or serve in the military.

The House passed the bill 216 to 198.

The Senate is scheduled to vote on the bi-partisan legislation, which would potentially legalize hundreds of thousands of young people, on Thursday. Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nevada), majority leader, is not expected to have the 60 votes needed for passage.

Republican leaders said the bill is just another form of "amnesty"....

The legislation would give hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants a chance at becoming legal. The requirements state that, to be eligible, a person must have been brought to the United States before he or she was 16, been in the United States for five years, earned a high-school degree and be attending college or be in the military.

In recent days, Democrats had aimed to pick up some Republican support by dropping the maximum eligible age from 35 to 29, extending the waiting period for a green card from six to 10 years and eliminating the requirement that DREAM Act youth pay tuition at in-state rates rather than out-of-state rates....

Forget it. It's an exercise in futility.

See, here's the problem: voters say they want "comprehensive immigration reform" but oppose "amnesty." That sounds promising, but what it really means is that anything you propose that isn't "round 'em all up and deport 'em" is automatically described as "amnesty" by the right. And then swing voters hear that it's "amnesty" -- whatever the proposal is -- and assume they should be against it.

As long as right-wingers control the debate, you can't propose anything that won't fall victim to this sequence of events. You could write a bill that mandated fifty years at hard labor before the opportunity to apply for citizenship kicked in, and right-wingers would still call it "amnesty." And the public, not knowing any better, would just nod in agreement.

Someday this will change, I suppose. But not anytime soon.

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