Thursday, June 28, 2007

The Next Step on Immigration

It's obvious, right: an enforcement-only bill.

But if you're the President -- or another advocate of an amnesty (or earned legalization, or a guest worker program, or what have you). Then push for a 'Fast Track' vote on your favored solution. That is, pick a time after passage of the legislation -- perhaps 2 or 3 years -- and provide that the President has the right to send legislation to Capitol Hill to deal with the illegal immigrant population. And require that if the President so chooses, the House (and then the Senate) are required to vote on the legislation -- with no amendments or alterations -- within 90 days.

Many will recognize this as the format used under 'Fast Track' for consideration of trade legislation. It can be dressed up however you want -- with studies on the effectiveness of enforcement, consultations with Congressional leaders... whatever. But give the President (whoever he or she may be) the right to get a vote on a plan.

This is the best half-a-loaf I see out there for the President's side in this debate. You'll get credit for enforcement, and you'll have salvaged something on legalization. Plus, if the enforcement measures actually make a difference, people will be much more inclined favorably toward 'adjusting the status' of illegal immigrants. If enforcement was as successful as promised, then 'voluntary deportation' will have begun, and the problem will not be as great.

Perhaps most importantly, this shifts the debate to where (I believe) the American people are: in favor of enforcement first, but not necessarily opposed to 'earned legalization' after enforcement has been given a chance to work.

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