June 11, 2007

Death Of A Bad Bill

One of the greatest courtroom dramas of all time was Anatomy of a Murder., and over the last 48 years, I must have watched it at least a dozen times. Jimmy Stewart plays a small town lawyer who gets Ben Gazarra off of a murder charge by getting the jury to believe in an "irresistible impulse."

An Irresistible Impulse, one that far to many senators succumbed to in authoring and/or supporting a bad bill. Last week, America watched enthralled as the United States Senate debated, and ultimately killed the latest iteration of immigration reform. Earlier "comprehensive" reforms occurred in 1952 and again another in 1986. In the 1986 signing, President Ronald Reagan noted:

Distance has not discouraged illegal immigration to the United States from all around the globe. The problem of illegal immigration should not, therefore, be seen as a problem between the United States and its neighbors. Our objective is only to establish a reasonable, fair, orderly, and secure system of immigration into this country and not to discriminate in any way against particular nations or people."

"The act I am signing today is the product of one of the longest and most difficult legislative undertakings of recent memory. It has truly been a bipartisan effort, with this administration and the allies of immigration reform in the Congress, of both parties, working together to accomplish these critically important reforms. Future generations of Americans will be thankful for our efforts to humanely regain control of our borders and thereby preserve the value of one of the most sacred possessions of our people: American citizenship." [emphasis added]

"Regain control of our borders." Well, that didn't happen as any one with a lick of sense could have told you (and many of us did.)

The fact of the matter was that when you handed out citizenship to earlier illegal immigrants, you did exactly what Pavlov proved would happen. Reward a behavior and you will get more of the same, in this case somewhere in the neighborhood of 12 to 20 million additional illegal immigrants since 1986. That should be tattooed on the inside of the eyelids of every man and woman that wants to be a United States Senator, let alone on the inside of the eyelids of each and every current U.S. Senator.

The latest "comprehensive" immigration bill was fraught with difficulty, hence, the multiple votes on amendments to the bill. Each amendment as proposed was to "remove a significant fault" or to add a "significant enhancement" either to the bill, or conversely from the bill, and the American people were up in arms.

The media kept telling us that a "majority" of Americans wanted a comprehensive immigration bill, and that is probably true, but like always, the devil is in the details. Just prior to the final ignominious defeat of the bill, a Rasmussen poll showed some 70 + percent of those polled did not like this particular bill or its multitude of provisions for an alphabetized system of visas. Indeed, they were probably perplexed by the bill.

George W. Bush, Harry Reid, John McCain (who probably tossed his presidential candidacy into the toilet) and Ted Kennedy all fought for the bill and ultimately, the people said "no." And it is a good thing they did. As I commented on another site (see, I don't spend ALL of my time here):

I’m surprised (as perhaps were other) that Marc, who touts polls left and right doesn’t mention that the most recent Rasmussen Poll indicates that a majority of Americans (presumably legal ones) do not indeed support “the Bush backed plan to grant legal status” to the illegals rather, a whopping 74% oppose this bill, many on just those grounds (and this includes Democrats, Republicans, independents and not a few legal immigrants from Mexico and other Hispanic countries.).

You can call them undocumented workers, illegal aliens, illegal immigrants, or as the sublimely stupid Harry Reid said “undocumented Americans,” but the fact of the matter is that the majority of them are hear [sic] because of the last “flawed bill.” A flawed bill is not “better than nothing,” a flawed bill is bad law. [emphasis added, link to the exact quote added]

You read correctly, Harry Reid said, and I quote:
This week, we will vote on cloture and final passage of a comprehensive bill that will strengthen border security, bring the 12 million undocumented Americans out of the shadows, and keep our economy strong. [emphasis added]
By the way, Dennis Miller did a wonderful take-down of "shallow Harry Reid" here (via Glenn Reynolds) but I digress. Those who were interested in establishing a "legacy" by passing this bill were shot down by the blogosphere (H/T to Danny Glover) both the left and the right calling it a bad bill, by individuals of the left, right, center and no stance at all wrote, telephoned, faxed, emailed and otherwise let their Senator know that this bill was no damn good, and 50 Senators responded. Now, despite what you have heard, the vote was NOT to defeat the bill, the bill was "defeated" because Harry Reid pulled the bill from further consideration (feeling, I guess, that discretion is the better part of valor here). The actual vote was merely to cease debate or not to cease debate. If the vote had been for cloture (that is ceasing debate) then the Senate could have voted in the affirmative (passed the bill - in which case it would go to conference committee to hammer out any differences between it and any bill passed by the house) or voted in the negative which would have effectively killed the current bill.

A vote to continue debate would have added amendments, removed amendments or otherwise bastardized an already bastardized bill. But the underlying principle of rewarding behavior remains unchanged. Once again, gentle reader, if you reward (visas, citizenship, voting rights, pathways, what ever you want to call amnesty without calling it amnesty) a behavior (illegal immigration), you get more of the same behavior. The are only a few real ways to stop the inflow of illegal immigrants (and don't call them undocumented Americans please).

  • Adopt a draconian set of laws modeled almost exactly after Mexico's laws (and wouldn't that be a fine kettle of fish?)
  • Fines and prison sentences for anyone caught crossing the border a second time after already being deported once for illegal crossing.
  • Fines and prison sentences for those hiring more than a few illegal immigrants (big business has always supported illegal immigration, it allows them to pay substandard wages).
  • Changing our constitution to eliminate the "anchor baby" phenomenon, thus, if you're illegal, any offspring born in the United States would not gain citizenship by dent of being born here.
  • Please understand, I am not advocating any of these positions, I'm merely saying that we will never gain control of illegal immigration unless we adopt some manner of gaining control of the borders and the American people understood that, even if 45 Senators did not. It seems as though, for once, 50 senators listened to either their conscience or their constituents. And I'd have to guess that in the outpouring of disdain to the U.S. Senate an awful lot of Americans succumbed to an "irresistible impulse."

    Posted by GM Roper at June 11, 2007 08:25 PM | TrackBack

    Pavlov? That name rings a bell...

    The 14th Amendment was intended to only include children born to people who had an allegiance to the US as either a citizen or an emancipated slave. The authors of it made that clear and pointed out who would not be a citizen and that included children of LEGAL non citizens of our country and therefore, logic dictates that extends to ILLEGAL entrants.

    Great piece GM. This bill is bad stuff.

    Impeach Bush if he signs

    If you visit please signe the petition against amnesty. A link is in the right sidebar.

    Posted by Big Dog at June 12, 2007 05:16 AM

    I pray each morning that the bill really is dead. But it won't be the first zombie sighting in Washington when it returns.

    Posted by Ogre at June 12, 2007 05:39 AM

    I fully expected our Democrat Senator Bill Nelson to rah-rah this bill, but we voted for Martinez and it seems we only got the lesser of two evils when he ousted that horrid woman, Betty Castor. Most of us are sorely disappointed with Mel and his record. This is just another in a long string of disappointments.

    Posted by Oyster at June 12, 2007 10:02 AM

    As I commented one other blog, the immigration act of 1986 proves that the law of unintended consequences is alive and active.
    Prior to 1986, an illegal could come to the US, work for a few months, picking peaches, apples etc. and them go home to his family. 1986, made the trip too dangerous, so the illegal stayed and took other types of jobs for year round support. Since he couldn't go home, with any certainty of being able to get back into the US, he merely brought his family to the US, because family is important to illegals.
    The unintended part of the act of 1986 is that instead of having illegals (mainly working males) in this country for a few months each year, we have them plus their families forever. The Immigration laws have penned them into this country.
    My thought (extreme liberal that I am) is to tell each family that will return to Mexico, or other Central/South American country, that one member of the family can have a work visa and can enter the country as a laborer.
    Believe it or not, I think most of those illegals would prefer living in their country.
    That's my thought.

    Posted by James S Melbert at June 12, 2007 10:10 AM

    You know, Big Dog, that is a perfectly plausible idea you have; Bush is charged with enforcing the law by the United States Constitution, and his willfull refusal to do so is clearly an impeachable offense. If the Democrats wanted to nail him on that, they would have a solid case.

    Great Post, guys!

    Posted by Tim Birdnow at June 12, 2007 04:15 PM

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