Immigration reform or just another amnesty?

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Column by Jim Flynn

At this writing congressional lawmakers are reported to be “cautiously optimistic” about producing a new immigration law. That’s Washington talk meaning the effort could collapse if Congress or the White House has an ego tantrum.
Getting through the political BS (baloney stuffing) makes it difficult to keep track of what Congress and the president are really up to. Senator Richard Durbin of Illinois, the #2 Democrat in the Senate, started off the work by saying “We are committed to a comprehensive approach to finally have an immigration law we can live with.”
The senator said we’ve had no clear statement of immigration policy for 25 years. He’s having convenient memory problems We’ve had clear immigration laws which successive presidents decided not to enforce for political reasons.
Put bluntly, Congress, the White House, and their political friends and supporters created the immigration mess. Eleven million illegal immigrants didn’t just wander over the border on a foggy weekend.
The basic elements of a proposed new immigration law are clear – a pathway to citizenship for 11 million illegal immigrants; more severe penalties for hiring undocumented workers; tighter border security; and a sensible limit to the number of immigrants who can be admitted annually without disrupting the job market for American citizens and legal immigrants who are already here.
Bumps in the road to a new immigration law include protecting the places in line of legal immigrants who have been awaiting citizenship for months and sometimes years, and over 300,000 spouses and children who want to reunite with non-citizen immigrants who are already in the U.S. legally. Also, Republicans want preferences for technology graduates, while Democrats want to keep visas available for 50,000 less-educated immigrants from Africa and Asia.
Meanwhile, back at the White House, the president made a cheerleader-in-chief trip to Colorado to praise the efforts of Congress and to state a few of his concerns about a new immigration law, such as a more speedy path to citizenship and whether same-sex couples would be included.
There are several potential flies in the ointment once any new immigration system becomes law. Back in 1986 after Congress and President Reagan created an amnesty for existing illegal immigrants, there was widespread document fraud. The number of illegal immigrant applicants far exceeded expectations. The border was not secured and a new flood of illegal immigrants began coming north almost immediately.
In his recent rally speech in Las Vegas, President Obama said he will submit a plan of his own if he doesn’t like what Congress produces. He should be taken at his vague word. Just before the November election and without legal authority, he granted temporary amnesty to young illegal aliens.
Four successive presidents chose to wink at our immigration laws, including Mr. Obama. Our most important question now is whether the president will treat a new immigration law as just another amnesty, and decline to enforce provisions with which he disagrees.