The effort to secure the borders and reform immigration law is about to enter a crucial month at the end of which the fate of the bill will almost certainly be known.
The bill as it emerged from the Gang of 8 can probably not pass the Senate and certainly wouldn’t pass the House, nor should it.
But the Gang of 8 draft was only, as Senator Marco Rubio has said repeatedly said, “a starting point.”
A policy and political disaster awaits if a bill emerges from the Senate that cannot generate enough momentum to get even an amended version through the House and into a conference committee. The House will not be able to salvage a badly disfigured bill coming out of the Senate, so key amendments must be made in the Senate or Republicans in the Senate should say no to the effort and do so quickly.
The three key areas for amendment are (1) the border fence; (2) E-Verify; and (3) provisions to study and implement biometric screening and recording of people entering or leaving the United States.
The first fix is the easiest. As Charles Krauthammer told me on my radio show Friday (transcript here), we need “a fence from left to right, from east to west, except obviously the mountainous areas.”
Almost everyone from the center-right knows the truth of what Krauthammer says, and given that he is probably the single most influential commentator on the center-right, it is pure stubbornness for the Senate GOP to refuse to listen to him and scores of others saying the same thing: Build the fence.
Don’t “study” where it should go. Mandate where it should be built, and how it should be built, and when it should be built if any temporary residence permits are to be issued.
If the Senate’s bill does not mandate the construction of a thousand miles or more of double-fencing with an access road –with specified construction design and schedule, with appropriated money and with “notwithstanding any other law” authority to override the various laws like the Endangered Species Act, the Clean Water Act, NEPA etc.—it isn’t serious.
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