Morton Kondracke writes about the immigration and border security issue in this week’s edition of Roll Call (available by subscription only). He urges President Bush to expend political capital in support of a comprehensive bill that includes a guest worker program, rather than seeming to vacillate on the issue, as Kondracke argues he did in December when the vote on the House bill was approaching.
Kondracke also writes about the expected scenario in the Senate for the border bill in the coming weeks:
Chairman Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) has drafted a comprehensive bill that includes beefed-up border controls, stricter internal employment checks and a work permit system to allow new immigrants and illegals to have legal employment in the U.S. for up to six years.
It’s a far better approach than the House bill, but business and pro-immigrant groups are concerned that the bill will contain a provision sponsored by Sens. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) and John Cornyn (R- Texas) that would require workers to return to their home countries after their six-year work visas expire.
That would disrupt employment patterns and family life and discourage illegals from reporting for work permits in the first place.
A far better solution would be for the Senate to adopt “earned legalization” provisions of the bill sponsored by Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.), which would allow illegals and temporary workers to stay in the U.S. if they pay fines, back taxes, learn English and pass through a clearance procedure.
He then predicts stalemate in Congress between the House and Senate this year if the President does not expend real political capital in persuading the reluctant elements of his base to support a comprehensive bill.
I think this analysis is essentially correct, and it’s consistent with what I’ve previously written here and here. We’ve got a long way to go still – I hope you brought a large coke and a large bag of popcorn for the show.