I confess that I haven't read the text of the compromise immigration bill agreed to by Sens. Edward Kennedy and Jon Kyl, and I request the right to, in congressional language, revise and extend my remarks.
But at this writing, apparently nobody has read it -- the final text is still not available. Many Americans have been complaining that the Iraqi parliament has been taking too long to come to agreement on sharing oil revenues and other big issues. But the same thing happens in the United States Congress. Members mull important issues and seem to do nothing for long periods of time and then are stirred into sudden action -- so sudden it's hard to keep up with it -- when a deadline looms. This is the way of representative democracy, which as Winston Churchill remarked, is the worst system of government except for all the others that have been tried over time.
This strikes me as a long step forward. We have long needed to regularize the flow of immigrants into this country -- it is a failure of government to have some 11 million or 12 million people illegally here. To regularize the flow, we need to do several things that it appears this compromise bill attempts to do. We need to have a form of tamper-proof identification for immigrants, as obnoxious as it seems to those of us who have long flinched at the idea of a national identity card. With modern technology, this should not be impossible -- Mexico has come up with a reliable voter registration card.
With a tamper-proof identity card, sanctions on employers of illegal immigrants could be enforced, as they are not at present. An identity card has this additional advantage: In a time when we are threatened by vicious terrorists, it makes it much easier for the government to keep track of foreigners within our borders.
To regularize the flow, we also have to do something about the illegal immigrants already here. The bill, as I understand it, would provide them immediately with a chance to regularize their status without putting them on the road to citizenship. They would have to pay a fine and would be subject to deportation for criminal offenses, but if employer sanctions were known to be enforceable they would have an incentive to regularize.
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