The editorial pages of the Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal – which usually disagree with each other – are in lock-step on the border security bill passed by the House early last week.
From the Post’s piece:
Before leaving town the House of Representatives passed a terrible bill designed to shore up American border security — or, at least, to appear to do so. The bill, sponsored by Judiciary Committee Chairman F. James Sensenbrenner Jr. (R-Wis.), is dangerous because of what it does and what it doesn’t do. It contains any number of mindless criminal penalties for immigration violations, and it would make both detention and deportation of illegal immigrants easier. But it would do nothing to rationalize U.S. immigration policy. The Bush administration, which has rightly argued for a more sensible approach, disgracefully got behind the bill. And House members, many of whom know better, passed it 239 to 182.
I think the “many of whom know better” comment is exactly right. As I argued earlier here and here, we’re still in the early innings on this legislation, and for many members of Congress this was a consequence-free vote.
The Wall Street Journal is even harsher on the bill:
Tom Tancredo has done everyone a favor by stating plainly the immigration rejectionists’ endgame–turn the United States into the world’s largest gated community. The House took a step in that direction this month by passing another immigration “reform” bill heavy with border control and business harassment and light on anything that will work in the real world.
…The legislation is aimed at placating a small but vocal constituency that wants the borders somehow sealed, come what may to the economy, American traditions of liberty or the Republican Party’s relationship with the increasingly important Latino vote.
Clearly the business community is going to be more engaged in the next stages of border legislation and will try to moderate its contents.
At the end of the day, I think the most likely outcome is a relatively modest bill that strengthens border staffing and technology, improves the detention and removal process, and makes modest improvements to workplace enforcement, but doesn’t include a Southern border fence or a guest worker program. There’s a chance that these latter two items could be packaged together as part of a grand compromise between the key factions on this issue, but there is a rhetorical chasm between these factions right now, so compromise will not be easy.