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Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Secure the border first: to be "comprehensive," immigration reform must be a 2-step process

Newt Gingrich risked his standing with conservatives last night by calling for a "comprehensive approach" to immigration reform. "Comprehensive immigration reform" is a poisonous a term to conservatives because of the reckless dishonesty with which it has been applied to a long series of bills that have been anything BUT comprehensive. In particular, these bills have promised to both secure the border and establish a path to citizenship for those illegals who are already here (amnesty), while only actually providing amnesty, which together with our still unsecured borders dramatically increases illegal immigration. It's like hosing gasoline on a burning house and calling it "a comprehensive approach to firefighting." Comprehensively dishonest and comprehensively disastrous perhaps.

It took a huge fight to turn back the last such attempt (the McCain-Kennedy Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2007). Newt had been asked about his vote for the first such phony-comprehensive bill and stepped in it by making a renewed appeal to comprehensiveness:
I did vote for the Simpson-Mazzoli Act. Ronald Reagan, in his diary, says he signed it -- and we were supposed to have 300,000 people get amnesty. There were 3 million. But he signed it because we were going to get two things in return. We were going to get control of the border and we were going to get a guest worker program with employer enforcement.

We got neither. So I think you've got to deal with this as a comprehensive approach that starts with controlling the border, as the governor said.

A comprehensive approach vs. a comprehensive bill

It is a tricky rhetorical question: how to call for a genuinely comprehensive approach to immigration reform when the term "comprehensive immigration reform" has been systematically used in the most dishonest fashion as cover for what are actually pro-illegal-immigration policies? But there is a simple answer. Truly comprehensive immigration reform MUST be a two-step process. The border must be secured FIRST. Until that is accomplished, even to talk of amnesty, never mind legislate about it, only increases illegal immigration.

In other words, a "comprehensive immigration" BILL is the diametric opposite of a comprehensive immigration APPROACH. Anyone who talks about a comprehensive immigration reform bill (McCain) is a anti-conservative fraud who should be routed out of the party.

Newt's control-the-border-first statement shows he understands the problem, but does he understand the solution? Does he understand that a comprehensive approach to immigration requires, not just that legislation to control the border comes first, but that actual achieved control of the border has to come first, before any other steps can be taken?

It is not a good sign that Gingrich spent most of his "comprehensive" immigration reform comment talking about the need to provide a path to citizenship for long-term illegals. A lot of us agree with him that such a path should be enacted AFTER the borders are secure. But if Newt would try to achieve it through the same bill that initiates border control it's a total fail, it's hosing the burning house with gasoline. If Newt wants to keep from terrifying his would-be supporters, he needs to be specific that by comprehensive reform he does not mean a comprehensive bill, but a comprehensive approach that enacts and achieves border security before any amnesty legislation is considered.

UPDATE: Details of Gingrich plan make him sound like another McCain, or worse (if that is possible)

See Ace's critique here. A tidbit:
Gingrich proposes, goofilly, that we'll have "Community Boards" to decide on whether or not illegal immigrants within specific communities will be granted amnesty or deported.

For starters, it is very odd to say that ordinary citizens will essentially be elevated to the position of judge -- without any sort of standards binding their decisions -- to essentially grant illegal immigrants an immunity from the operation of the law, or to order them deported.
Could he really support such an arbitrary and STUPID process?
...illegal immigrants would just game the system by moving to the blue areas where they know the Commmunity Boards would give them amnesty.
What is worrisome about Newt is that he is as confident in his stupidest ideas as he is in the things he actually understands and gets right. How is that possible? But he does get a lot right.

The other week I posted a comment on why I support Newt's candidacy at this point, regardless of his (sometimes glaring) imperfections. This in response to an astute analysis of Newt's pretend walk-back of his global-warming love-in with Nancy Pelosi (where he actually only said that his advisors had convinced him that he should distance himself from the issue, regardless of his beliefs):
Seems like you've hit on the most likely interpretation. Well, Newt has a lot of flaws, which can pretty much all be attributed to his being bullheaded on things he is wrong about. He gets an opinion in his head and is absolutely uninterested in hearing any contrary reason and evidence. BUT, we don't need the president to be right about everything, or even reasonable about everything.

If Republicans can get control of Congress, then Congress can keep Newt's failings in check. As long as he is competent on enough important things, and will spend the bulk of his energy on them, he'll make a good president, and Newt has the one strength that is missing from pretty much all other Republican pols: he knows that our deepest problem, what has allowed all of our problems to proceed, is our lying Democrat controlled media, who spin absolutely everything for maximum partisan advantage.

Newt is willing to fight that enemy and he has the skills to do it effectively. Bush was a great war president but decided not to fight the Democrat media, effectively handing the presidency to the Democrats. With EVERYTHING on the line, he decided not to campaign AT ALL in the 08 election. Insane. Newt is a different animal entirely, and will fight that most important battle.

He doesn't need to get everything else right. I would rather have Bolton or Palin but, inexplicably to me, both bowed out early. Of the folks still in, Gingrich has the best combination of competence and conservatism. So we'll have to fight him on a few things. What else is new?

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