The Senate has killed the immigration bill, and there will not be a second try—not until we have a new president. It won't happen because the anti-immigration activists are the right's answer to the "angry left": a wing of the right that has become irrational and unhinged on a single issue.
Although the immigration bill was a normal, god-awful Washington compromise, I have no sympathy for the anti-immigration advocates who demanded that it be killed, not improved. As I have argued before—and as some of them have admitted—every argument they make against illegal immigration is an argument against immigration as such.
Below, pro-immigration conservative Linda Chavez offers bitter congratulations to the angry right for their victory.
Note, also, how much energy and grassroots mobilization the right has poured into this issue, while we are facing crucial deadlines in the demands for withdrawal and surrender in Iraq—a fact nicely captured in a new cartoon by Cox & Forkum.
"A Pyrrhic Victory," Linda Chavez, Jewish World Review, June 29 Immigration reform is dead. But before conservatives who killed this bill start popping champagne corks, they ought to consider the following.
Our borders will be less secure, not more. Employers who want to do the right thing and only hire legal workers won't have the tools to do so. The 12 million illegal aliens who are here now will continue to live in the shadows, making them less likely to cooperate with law enforcement to report crimes and less likely to pay their full share of taxes. In other words, the mess we created by an outdated and ill-conceived immigration policy 20 years ago will just get worse.
But you won't hear this if you tune in to talk radio over the next few days or read conservative blogs. There will be lots of gloating over having killed "amnesty." There will be claims that senators finally "listened to the people." And, no doubt, some conservatives will be emboldened to consider the next step in their war against illegal immigration, namely to deport those now here illegally….
The United States creates 1.5 to 2 million jobs every year, but without immigrants—legal and illegal—we'd have a hard time filling all those jobs…. Not enough young Americans are studying engineering, science and mathematics to fill all the jobs that require those skills. And Americans are over-educated to fill the jobs at the lowest end of the skills spectrum.
But none of this matters to the radio talk show hosts who encouraged their millions of listeners to shut down the congressional phone system with calls protesting "amnesty."…
Meanwhile, the real majority of Americans will have to wait for genuine immigration reform. And Republicans who believe this is going to help them at the polls in 2008 may well find themselves sitting on the back benches for years to come.