CNN’s Lou Dobbs Tonight aired one of the most asinine, slanted pieces I’ve heard in a long time tonight, on the state of play of the immigration and border legislation. The transcript is here – the segment by correspondent Lisa Sylvester is about 1/3rd of the way through the document. She begins (emphasis added):
Lou, the Senate passed its immigration legislation after only 10 days of full debate. Many questions were never answered, including, how would the federal government screen the millions of illegal aliens and what guarantee is there that terrorists could not exploit the system? Today, the House took up some of those issues.
Ten days? Hmm, how many days did the House spend debating H.R. 4437 on the floor last December? TWO.
And later, at the end of the segment, Sylvester says:
Supporters of the Senate bill want to settle these issues in conference committee. Members of the House say the issues are too large and too important to be decided behind closed doors. House members are concerned the amnesty provisions are so generous, the United States would still have less, not more, control over its immigration system. As one witness put it, he said, “The Senate bill almost ignores that there ever was such a thing as a 9/11 attack on the United States”
Hmm, so the negotiations on the Bill of Rights in 1789 were suitable for a House-Senate conference, but this bill is “too large and too important” for doing things the way that Congress is supposed to do them? And this last sentence is bunk. Both bills contain relatively strong border security language that would add more guards, fencing, and technology; the main dispute at this point is over the temporary worker program, which is primarily an immigration and economic issue, not a terrorism-related issue. So how exactly does the Senate bill ignore 9/11? Did illegal immigrant Mexicans carry out the attacks of 9/11 and no one told me?
The debate on immigration and border security is getting to the point of shrillness where I’m beginning to think that it’s undermining the #1 mission of DHS: preventing terrorism. So much of the DHS senior leaders’ time is spent these days doing photo-ops at the border and at worksite crackdowns that I’m starting to wonder whether they’re taking their eye off the ball. I’ve supported the passage of border security legislation this year because I do there are important terror-related vulnerabilities at our land borders, given the statistics about the number of people from “countries of interest” who have been intercepted trying to cross the border. That’s why I think certain provisions in the House bill (i.e. more border fencing) are better than the Senate’s bill. But I worry that the highly-politicized, demagogic debate that’s emerged on these issues over the last six months is creating an unhealthy dynamic that is distracting us from our fight against the real enemy: al-Qaeda.