Kathleen Parker

When President George W. Bush consults Catholic bishops and Hillary Clinton invokes Jesus, you can bet politics are in a prayerful heat.

The issue that sends politicians on both sides of the aisle scurrying to the pulpit for direction is illegal immigration. Few issues are as tricky.

How does a nation of immigrants criminalize the human yearning for freedom and a better life? On the other hand, how can we absorb all those millions who want to come here and who, by their actions, disrespect our laws?

More to the heart of most Americans' concerns, how can a nation fighting a war on terror NOT seal its borders?

In search of answers, the White House has been consulting with Catholic leaders, who have a special interest in illegal immigrants, given that Hispanics - who comprise a majority of the estimated 12 million illegal immigrants in the U.S. - are mostly Catholic.

Hillary Clinton went to an even higher source as the U.S. Senate prepares to debate immigration reforms next week. Voicing her opposition to some of the more draconian measures under consideration, Clinton dropped the J-Bomb.

Jesus.

Clinton specifically took aim at a House bill passed last December that takes a hard line against illegals, including making it a felony (instead of a misdemeanor) to be in the U.S. illegally. The House bill also provides for a 700-mile border security fence, an electronic verification system with fines up to $40,000 for failure to comply, and has no allowance for guest worker permits.

Said Clinton: "It is certainly not in keeping with my understanding of the Scripture because this bill would literally criminalize the Good Samaritan and probably even Jesus himself."

Well, the lady did say back in 2004 that Democrats had to take religion back from the Republicans. As a lifelong Methodist, Clinton may be one of the few Democrats who can pass the straight-face test when she summons Jesus to her kitchen Cabinet.

If Americans thought they were tired of Biblical recitations during the last couple of presidential elections, they may want to take an extended vacation through November 2008. Given that Clinton is the likely Democratic presidential candidate - and given that she will be aiming to out-witness Republican evangelicals - Jesus probably isn't going anywhere.

Meanwhile, of the various bills up for debate next week, the one most likely to be well-received is a bipartisan bill proposed by Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.), which includes provisions for Bush's own proposal for a guest worker program.


Kathleen Parker

Kathleen Parker is a syndicated columnist with the Washington Post Writers Group.
 
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