Homeland Security Watch

News and analysis of critical issues in homeland security

December 29, 2005

WSJ and WaPo editorial pages don’t like the border bill

Filed under: Border Security,Congress and HLS — by Christian Beckner on December 29, 2005

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.

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Pingback by A Special Report on Immigration - Beyond Borders Blog » Editorials on Immigration

December 30, 2005 @ 4:15 am

[…] Homeland Security Watch says the Washington Post and Wall Street Journal agree that the immigration bill recently passed by the house isn’t a good one. Their arguments seem rather weak to me. Filed under:Immigration— Conor Friedersdorf @ 1:15 am […]


Pingback by Homeland Security Watch » Blog Archive » Specter introduces Senate border bill

February 26, 2006 @ 10:51 pm

[…] The Judiciary Committee will take up the draft bill on Thursday. As I’ve noted previously, there’s still a long way to go in the process of passing a border bill. I’d say we’re now in the fourth inning. […]


Pingback by Homeland Security Watch » Blog Archive » Sen. Frist introduces his own border bill

March 20, 2006 @ 1:19 am

[…] The bill looks a lot like what I predicted as the “most likely outcome” in this post in late December: “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.” We’re likely to see a strong push from the proponents of these latter items to bring them into the Senate’s legislation, but Frist is calculating (correctly, in my judgment) that he doesn’t have the votes for a bill that includes either a fence or a guest worker program (or both), and wants to ensure that something passes this year rather than nothing. […]

Pingback by Homeland Security Watch » Is the border bill dead?

June 22, 2006 @ 1:59 pm

[…] I’ve been describing the border legislation using baseball metaphors from time to time over the last six months. This is the legislative equivalent of Alfonso Soriano’s refusal to play in the outfield for the Nats during spring training – a position that he relented on a few days later, after public pressure. […]

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