This week the Senate passed a test vote for their Immigration Reform bill. It would allow for a (very long and difficult) pathway to citizenship for currently illegal immigrants living here in the United States, and would literally double (from 20,000 to 40,000) our “boots on the ground” in terms of border security, finish a 700 mile long fence along the US-Mexico border, and invest $3.2 billion in technology upgrades that are things more likely to be seen in use by the military in Iraq and Afghanistan than in the US.
The test vote passed with 67 votes, which is a promising sign considering we can pretty much only get that many votes for the naming of a post office. It’s one of the few bi-partisan bills that actually means something I’ve seen since Obama has taken office.
So even though this is bipartisan, and both parties have had to swallow some major ideals for this to happen, namely Republicans swallowing “amnesty” and Democrats ramping up border security, who’s the real winner here?
So here’s my take: What are the Republicans really giving up? They are in a win-win scenario for this. Illegal immigrants (aka Mexicans if you’re a GOP member of Congress), can gain temporary legal status to work and pay taxes immediately, likely being forced to pay back taxes if they’ve been here for several years.
Maybe it’s not a win-win if your whole view is they never should have been here to begin with, but that has got to be such an easy thing to accept when you get literally everything else you’ve wanted in an immigration bill, and a significantly increased chance of claiming a bigger percentage of the hispanic vote.
So the GOP gives up deporting all 11+ Million illegal immigrants. Great. But then they get a completed 700 mile long fence whose militarization will rival that of the Berlin Wall (according to John McCain below).
On top of that they are using their favorite tactic over the last 10 years (well, besides obstructionism) by creating a border “surge.” Remember the surge in Iraq and Afghanistan? Yeah those worked so well over there the Republicans just said “Fuck it, lets do that here!”
So we are getting another 20,000 troops(?, border security agents?, National Guardsmen?) to go along with the current 20,000 we have now. That’s nearly 1 every 200 feet (someone check my math…its probably wrong, but you get the point. Woo Liberal Arts Degrees!).
So, again, what are the republicans really losing? Not much by my count.
The bigger question, though, is what does this bill (that likely won’t pass the non-functional house. ….Thanks, Tea Party) say about the United States? We’re willing to build a 700 mile long fence with militarized troops along a single border, yet the rest of the country is open for business. We’re willing to let someone from Canada, Europe, Asia, etc etc. come here on student or tourist visas and overstay their time with little to no consequence.
However, when it’s a hispanic person coming over the border illegally in order to build a better life because they have been driven out by the intense violence, corrupt governments, and dangerous drug cartels that are chopping people’s heads off they get treated like criminals who are going to have babies that will all vote Democrat.
I’m not going to claim I have the solution for this. I honestly have no idea how I could make this bill better while also still being passable in today’s congress. Both parties are going to tout this as a bipartisan bill (if it passes…which it won’t), to try to either a) say they got immigration reform done under a democratic president, or b) in a desperate attempt to capture the hispanic vote.
But this isn’t who we are as Americans. We are supposed to be the country that welcomes everyone with open arms, not build a wall to keep them out. Our country’s most patriotic symbol reminds us of this.
So with both parties only doing this for their own gain (color me shocked), is this something we as a people are going to praise, or even accept?
I hope not, because we can do better.