The almost-stealth immigration bill light-speeding its way through Congress represents all that is wrong with politics and an elitist political class that is too far removed from its constituencies.
There is so much wrong with this bill procedurally, and substantively, that one can barely scratch the surface in a short column, but I'll recapitulate some of the most egregious concerns and share a few pet peeves.
First, we are bogged down in a semantic debate over whether the bill constitutes "amnesty." Open-borders apologists take umbrage at the term, saying the bill does not constitute amnesty because illegal immigrants will be punished, never mind how inconsequentially.
But I would argue that those insisting it is amnesty are, in a sense, understating their case. In certain respects it's worse than amnesty. Not only will criminal violators of the immigration laws receive a mere wrist-slap for their infractions; they will be rewarded for them.
Consider the treatment of those convicted of other crimes -- take stealing, for example. The convict not only faces criminal penalties; the law seeks to restore him and his victims to their status prior to the crime, to the extent that's practicable or possible. The bank robber is not allowed to retain the fruits of his crime. He must pay restitution, if applicable, in addition to whatever fines or jail time to which he is sentenced.
By contrast, millions of illegal immigrants under the bill would not be sent back home but would become legal permanent residents of this country. By being allowed to stay, they would be, in effect, keeping the fruits of their crime. More importantly, many of them would become recipients of federal government largesse via a smorgasbord of entitlements.
As reported in the Washington Times, the Heritage Foundation's Robert Rector calculates that during their lifetimes, they will likely receive "$2.5 trillion more in government services than they will pay in taxes." Among those benefits are Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, SSI, public housing, subsidized college education and Social Security Disability Insurance. So those persisting in challenging the amnesty characterization should be reminded that many illegals will be receiving an enormous economic windfall to accompany their anemic wrist-slapping.
Second, many of the bill's proponents have long resorted to ad-hominem assaults on the opponents, falsely portraying their valid, prudent, noble and patriotic opposition as racist, nativist and ultra-restrictionist.