The "compromise" immigration bill now before the Senate is a complicated piece of work, and nobody is happy with all of it. It may well fail to pass, at least when it reaches the House of Representatives. But it raises the whole question of what to do about illegal aliens in its starkest form, and studying it carefully is the beginning of wisdom on this difficult subject.
On one side is a solid majority of the American people, who have -- at last, and probably only temporarily -- woken up to the fact that their country has been overrun with about 12 million Spanish-speaking aliens, most of them Mexicans searching for jobs and the many other benefits of living in a generous and compassionate foreign country. The public realizes that this inundation is going to continue unless somebody stops it, and that the upshot will be, in a few more decades, a brand-new United States, with a powerful bloc of Spanish-speaking residents and a culture to match.
On the other side are two powerful groups of Americans who are benefiting from this process. They connived at its inception in the 1960s, but were forced to accept an effort at "reform" in 1986, under which the illegal tide would henceforth be stopped at the border, in return for a legal amnesty for the 3 million or so already here. Then they managed to prevent any serious border enforcement, and the tide flowed on to its present 12 million.
One group is a large number of American businessmen who depend on cheap Mexican labor and frankly don't give a hoot if getting it involves transforming the United States into something unrecognizable after they're dead. The other group is the Democratic Party, which is well aware that a large majority of the illegals will vote Democratic for generations if they get the chance (knowing that it will be the more "compassionate" party in matters of welfare, etc.), and is accordingly all in favor of putting them on a fast track to citizenship.
Between them, the businessmen and the Democrats run the government of the United States, and can easily overwhelm the big majority of Americans (represented, for this purpose, only by a wing of the Republican party not in thrall to business) that wants the illegals stopped. Even if a bill gets passed that appears to have real teeth in it, you can bet that in a year or two, when the public has gone back to sleep, most of those "teeth" will be adroitly pulled by small bits of legislation that escape wide attention. And "border enforcement" will again be as laughable as it has been since the "reform" of 1986.
William Rusher is a Distinguished Fellow of the Claremont Institute for the Study of Statesmanship and Political Philosophy and author of How to Win Arguments .
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