The Senate has issued its immigration reform bill which is a mere 844 pages. In the coming days, analysts will be poring over the legislation. The New York Times' editorial board has reacted favorably thus far. Their editorial yesterday though gave me pause. The editorial noted that $6.5 million dollars would be thrown at the southern border. Then the editorial said:
Though foolishly costly, this border fixation will be tolerable as long as it is not fatal to the heart and soul of the bill: legalization for 11 million. The bill includes arbitrary benchmarks, or triggers, that have to be achieved before legalization kicks in. These cannot be allowed to justify delay in getting immigrants right with the law.
The way the Times editorial board is thinking about this is exactly what I am worried about, that pro-immigrant forces will tolerate draconian and frankly impossible enforcement benchmarks that cannot be met-- all to get legalization. It is a mirage. The southern border can never be fully secured.
Wedding enforcement to benefits serves a pragmatic political purpose, but the two concepts are a match made in hell. One can argue that the two should be separated, that enforcement policy should be about how best to make sure the people who need to be in the U.S. are admitted and those who are not, are kept out or removed. Enforcement should not be the bitter pill that can be made bigger because it must be swallowed with benefits. Enforcement measures are being aggrandized because they are tied to benefits.
Immigration benefits should be assessed based on a broad assessment of what the nation's priorities are, what the economy needs, what American families need. Instead it is now held hostage to enforcement.