April 6, 2006

Heck, Big Lizards Can Break This Silly Logjam

Hatched by Dafydd

According to AP, there are now two competing Senate immigration-reform proposals, one pushed by Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Las Vegas), the other by Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Nashville). Hey, it's Lounge vs. Country!

They're both pretty similar at this point. Here's AP:

In general, both bills would increase border security, regulate the flow of future immigrants and offer legal status to many of the men, women and children who came to the United States unlawfully or overstayed their visas.

The rival plans differ on the details, though, and so far, at least, attempts at a bipartisan compromise have failed.

Each side is filibustering the other's bill; that means each bill has to get 60 votes to move on, you'll pardon the phrase. Since there are only 55 Republicans and only 45 Democrats (counting Jumpin' Jim Jeffords as a Democrat, since that's who he caucuses with), without some crossover voting, neither side can budge an inch. It's an impasse!

So what exactly are these demonic "details" that evidently contain the Devil?

In general [AP seems to like that meaningless prepositional phrase], the measure backed by Democrats would grant most of the 11 million immigrants legalized status and the opportunity to apply for citizenship after meeting several conditions. They include payment of a fine and any back taxes, passing a background check and learning English.

By contrast, the Republican approach requires illegal immigrants who have been in the United States between two years and five years to return to their home country briefly, then re-enter as temporary workers. They could then begin a process of seeking citizenship.

Illegal immigrants here longer than five years would not be required to return home; those in the country less than two years would be required to leave without assurances of returning, and take their place in line with others seeking entry papers.

If we were brokering this debate, we'd have a workable compromise in about two minutes. We warned about this "poison pill." Remember what Big Lizards wrote in an earlier post?

And even here, the main bone of contention seems to be pretty simple: the McCain-Kennedy camp wants to be able to regularize them in situ, after they pay a fine and all back taxes; but the Cornyn camp wants them to do all that, but still be required to return to their country of origin and then be readmitted here legally.

I think the reason the McCainiacs (which includes me on this one, special issue) are so opposed to forcing the illegal immigrants -- and I do mean immigrants, not workers -- to return and then try to be readmitted is their sneaking suspicion (which I share) that what the Cornynites really want is to trick them into returning to their countries of origin... so they can say "ha ha, you're never getting back in... never!"

Clearly, that same fear will occur to illegal immigrants. Without some sort of legal assurances, they won't leave; they would rather stay here illegally than return "home" without any hope of being allowed back into what they consider their real home, the United States.

If your goal is to get illegal immigrants to exit and then be readmitted legally, you must guarantee they will, in fact, be readmitted, assuming nothing disqualifying arises during the reentry security checks. Without such assurance, the reentry provision is just a poison pill to kill the whole deal, and the demand for it is dishonest.

The fix appears pretty simple. Here is the compromise bill that could gather 35-40 of the Republicans and maybe half or more of the Democrats (that's a low of 57-58 in favor, if you're counting; close enough that they can probably break the filibuster -- since this is one of those rare occasions where both sides really do want a bill):

The Senate should go with the Frist bill, with one change: those illegals who have been here less than two years still have to exit and re-enter the country legally... but they're guaranteed readmission, unless the background check turns up something really bad, like a felony conviction.

One interesting side issue: earlier today, Sen. Reid threatened to filibuster against an amendment, offered by Johns Kyl (R-AZ) and Cornyn (R-TX), to permanently refuse citizenship to illegals who were convicted of a felony. Power Line covered this; here is the pertinent passage:

This is astonishing: Blog of the Week Right Wing News notes that Senate Democrats have successfully blocked an amendment to the immigration bill now under consideration that would have prevented aliens convicted of felonies from becoming citizens:

Democrats said the amendment would "gut" the immigration bill under consideration in the Senate and refused to allow a vote on it.

So now the Democrats are using the filibuster to protect the "right" of convicted felons who have emigrated to the U.S. illegally to become citizens. How can they possibly justify that, you ask? Beats me:

"I do not have to explain in any more detail than what I have as why I don't want to move forward," Mr. Reid said. "I don't agree with the amendment. I don't think it's going to benefit this legislation that is pending before the Senate and I'm going to do what I can to prevent a vote on it."

Later, Mr. Reid added, "We're not going to allow amendments like Kyl-Cornyn to take out what we believe is the goodness of this bill."

Big Lizards has sussed this one out, too: in the poisoned atmosphere of the Senate, Sens. Reid, Kyle, and Cornyn are simply not talking to each other... and Harry Reid believes that the "felony" rule, in conjunction with the House bill making it a felony to be in the country illegally at all, is meant to sneakily bar all illegal aliens from ever becoming citizens.

So how about restoring the felony rule for re-entering illegals... but write right into the clause that it only applies to felonies other than being in the country illegally or "smuggling aliens" -- which Right Wing News notes is actually one of the felonies in question. (Smuggling aliens could be interpreted to mean an illegal alien bringing his wife and kids into the United States along with himself.) Maybe we could bar professional "coyotes" but not aliens who "smuggled" in other aliens for non-monetary, non-felonious reasons.

That legal assurance should allay Democrats' fears that this is just a backdoor way to bar all illegals from re-entering once they've left in order to re-enter -- which would be a dirty trick indeed, and would make Republicans look just like the racists the Democrats always accuse us of being.

There. Problems solved. It's amazing how easy this all is... when you're not a thin-skinned, hysterical, hyperpartisan, foaming-at-the-mouth D.C. politician on the warpath, I mean.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, April 6, 2006, at the time of 5:48 AM

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The following hissed in response by: hunter

That the dems woud show their true agenda so blatantly in trying to get felons to be citizens is refreshing. They usually slink around and sneak their real agenda in through a reconcilitation committee.
With this latest behavior of the defeatocrats highjacking the Senate, we just how poor a leader Frist is and how sneaky the Reid is. This country is ill served by our bloviating Senate.

The above hissed in response by: hunter [TypeKey Profile Page] at April 6, 2006 6:07 AM

The following hissed in response by: BigLeeH

A brilliant suggestion, Dafydd, which I full support. It also suggests a solution to another problem that has been bugging me for years.

During the time of the 55 mph speed limit I don't remember seeing a single car on I95 that had New York tags and was traveling at less than 15 over the limit. That means that they could make the 1230-mile trip from NYC to Miami Beach in 17 hours while a law-abiding driver would take 22. I don't think it is fair that they repealed the 55 mph limit without making every car in Miami Beach with NY Plates return to, oh say, Savannah and tag up, just to make it fair.

The above hissed in response by: BigLeeH [TypeKey Profile Page] at April 6, 2006 11:42 AM

The following hissed in response by: levi from queens

I don't have any problem with keeping out people who have committed serious crimes. I feel the same way about removing the franchise. The problem is that the definition of felony has been defined down such thay many non-serious crimes are felonies. I don't know if the problem can be helped by limiting the prohibitions to Class I felonies.

Here is the original list of felonies at English Common Law -- Murder, Manslaughter, Rape, Robbery, Sodomy, Mayhem, Arson, Larceny (of what today would be ~$10,000), and Burglary (defined as what we today would call a home invasion at night). A list closer to this one (although sodomy is now not a crime) would go a long way towards making provisions banning felons palatable and would ease the demands to allow felons to vote.

The above hissed in response by: levi from queens [TypeKey Profile Page] at April 6, 2006 2:44 PM

The following hissed in response by: Papa Ray

"assuming nothing disqualifying arises during the reentry security checks".

This would have to be a couple of page document, single spaced in 8 point.

Which if I remember (I saw some of the existing documents that are in use now), the existing rules cover now. I'm not sure about the felonys, but if you look at our daily FELONY police blotter, here in my home town, 90 percent or more (every day) are latin, mexican or otherwise latino people. Of course it doesn't say if they are legal or illegal because that is above our local law enforcement's pay grade.

As far as what is a felony (or what class felony), I think the list is pretty short in Texas. In fact I remember we had legislaton not too long ago to re-classify some criminal behaviour. I believe it had to do with DUIs, like first offense, second offence and such.

But, I don't want to get upset or expect anything out of our congresscritters right now. They are all too scared of the upcoming elections to do anything of any import or have any teeth that can be enforced.

I expect nothing on a fence until after the Presidential election, just a few more Border Patrol with a few new toys to lose and break.

Hellva note isn't it when you can't expect good things out of our elected representives in this Great Republic of ours.

Papa Ray
West Texas

The above hissed in response by: Papa Ray [TypeKey Profile Page] at April 6, 2006 3:07 PM

The following hissed in response by: Dafydd ab Hugh

Papa Ray:

[I]f you look at our daily FELONY police blotter, here in my home town, 90 percent or more (every day) are latin, mexican or otherwise latino people.

But the question is not "what percent of felons are Latin immigrants;" it's "what percent of Latin immigrants are felons?"

Those two statistics are entirely unrelated. Suppose, out of a thousand people you studied, 900 were immigrants with 200 of those illegal. Suppose in a given month, one of those 1,000 people is convicted of committing a felony... and he is one of the illegals.

  • Percent of immigrants who are felons: 0.11%
  • Percent of illegal immigrants who are felons: 0.5%
  • Percent of felons who are illegal immigrants: 100%

The last figure is somewhat interesting, but it's the first two figures that should be used to formulate policy.


The above hissed in response by: Dafydd ab Hugh [TypeKey Profile Page] at April 6, 2006 4:06 PM

The following hissed in response by: cdquarles

Yep, today a felony is any crime punishable by a term in prison of at least one year and a day (12 30 day months plus 6 days, 7 for a leap year) a fine (generally at least $1000) or both. This definition cheapens the word felony. I suspect that if you asked the average Joe who'd never had any dealings with the criminal justice system for the definition of a felony, he's say rape, robbery or murder, and maybe kidnapping or arson. I don't think said average Joe'd know what larceny, mayhem, sodomy, or manslaughter means.

The above hissed in response by: cdquarles [TypeKey Profile Page] at April 7, 2006 3:36 AM

The following hissed in response by: Papa Ray

"But the question is not "what percent of felons are Latin immigrants;" it's "what percent of Latin immigrants are felons?"

Well, I'm not too sure you would ever find that out. Its not like they are going to tell you. If you think the record keeping is bad here, you should try it south of the border. There is little cooperation between states and and between states and the Federal government in Mexico.

Besides that, I am almost positive they wouldn't tell us if someone was a felon unless he was an "escaped felon". You do know that they don't just want their workers to come north don't you?

My point (I admit difficulty most times making one) in my observations here locally over the years is that: In a small town in Texas with a (disputed) percentage of 38% to 76% population of Mexican legals and illegals, they seem to be doing a good job of representing themselves in the Felony business. I should note that a lot of them are repeat offenders (already on probation).

Other than that, I had also meant to convey, that someone filling out a few dozen forms and those documents being sent to their home country (verified, ignored whatever) guarantees nothing.

Also (I should have mentioned) that once a felony is committed here by a person here on a green card,student visa or if they are illegal, I think they should serve their time and then be deported with NO chance of return. My reasoning for that... is best left unsaid, but it is well founded in fact and personal experiences.

BTW, the Texas Sheriff's Assoc. is pushing for a broader association with all the Border Sheriffs.

Papa Ray

The above hissed in response by: Papa Ray [TypeKey Profile Page] at May 5, 2006 1:32 PM

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