A Consensus on Immigration
Congress is back in session and the battle over immigration reform has resumed.
For the past month or so, GOP House members have taken the issue on the road and held town hall meetings discussing the topic in congressional districts all across the country. What has been confirmed by such meetings is that a true consensus of public opinion does exist on the immigration issue. More specifically, that the majority of the American people want better enforcement of our borders and our current immigration laws. Further, they are opposed to laws that reward illegal behavior.
Some pollsters and politicians have attempted to confuse the issue by combining various reform proposals in their presentations to the public. They cleverly propose amnesty oriented versions of reform combined with nods toward better documentation and border enforcement. And they make such combined proposals as though they are necessary in order to build a majority consensus on how to approach the issue.
What they neglect to point out however is that there already is a stand alone majority of public opinion on how to approach the immigration problem, and that it favors a border enforcement approach. For example, the latest Fox News poll suggests that 77% of Americans think our border security is too lax, a healthy majority by any definition.
Further, when the additional aspects of the "comprehensive" proposals (which is code for providing amnesty to illegal aliens) are accurately described, the public is decidedly opposed.
When the public learns that the comprehensive approach would mean legalizing those who have come to this country illegally, they're opposed. When they learn if would mean pardoning those that have committed Social Security fraud, they're opposed. And when they learn that it would mean allowing illegal aliens to legally collect government benefits, they are opposed.
The proponents of comprehensive reform know that the only way they can enact amnesty related proposals is to piggy-back them along with a healthy dose of tough talk, or an enforcement related bill. And the only thing standing in the way of the success of that strategy is the House Republican leadership.
Fortunately the Founding Fathers saw fit to have at least one chamber of our legislative branch elected in its entirety every two years, ensuring that members would constantly be exposed to public sentiment and hopefully be more inclined to represent it, given that they would likely wish to keep their jobs.
This fact is not lost on a House leadership that would like to remain in leadership. And they are keenly aware of what the White House and some in the Senate seem to have missed (or just ignore) that the party's core constituency is opposed to anything that resembles amnesty.
At a recent GOP leadership meeting reporting on the results of their immigration field hearings, Republican Homeland Security Committee Chairman Peter King stated, "I have never seen such a disconnect between the American people and the elite". Michigan Republican Peter Hoekstra highlighted the issue's national security implications, saying "There is a simple reason why we need border security. We are a nation at war. We face a dangerous enemy that is intent on attacking us again." Exactly.
The House Republicans have resolved to propose and pass several border and immigration law enforcement measures in the coming weeks, attempting the put the Democrats on the political defensive as well as on the wrong side of public opinion just prior to the November elections. At this point, it seems each of the bills will focus on a single aspect of the immigration problem in order to focus attention, create more recorded votes and prevent opponents (or amnesty supporters) from watering things down with a comprehensive bill.
The fact is that illegal immigration is out of control, and the number of aliens entering the country has been increasing every year. They're beginning to show up in large numbers in states and rural areas where people didn't expect them, and where the infrastructure is unable to accommodate them. Education, law enforcement and health care systems are heavily effected, and the result is a great burden on taxpayers.
Then there is also the issue of the fairness of proposals which would grant amnesty to those who have broken our laws. Not to mention the fact that such a proposal was tried before in 1986 and helped create the illegal immigration problems we have today. To make it worse for conservatives, it's being supported by a Republican President and Republican Senators.
The result is the crystallization of a major political issue that the majority of Americans are beginning to see as relevant to their everyday lives.
For an issue to "cut it" in politics, it must be salient and relevant to large numbers of people. This issue has that in spades, and then some. And the House Republicans understand.