That you now have Democrats scrambling to do something about immigration, and are now touting border control as the top priority, is pretty remarkable - and hilarious given their reluctance to do anything serious when the GOP raised the issue.
But Dick Durbin, the Senate's No. 2 Democrat, said Arizona's move last week taking immigration enforcement into its own hands left Congress no choice but to act.A national ID wont solve the matter - as most states now have to comply with federal requirements for strong ID protections. The problem is that once someone gets into the country illegally, it's a matter of time before they can obtain illegal ID that could pass muster.
"It's worth quoting what the Arizona association of the chiefs of police have said, "we strongly urge the U.S. Congress to immediately initiate the necessary steps to begin the process of comprehensively addressing the immigration issue, to provide solutions that are fair, logical and equitable."
In their proposal, Democrats acknowledge widespread concern about violence along the U.S.-Mexico border and the need to get things under control.
"Our framework is fix the border first, but don't just fix the border," said Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY), who succeeded the late Ted Kennedy as chairman of the subcommittee dealing with immigration laws.
Schumer is now the leading advocate for a broad rewrite of those laws. The centerpiece of his proposal is making sure all employees are in the U.S. legally, and to do that, it calls for a biometric version of a familiar document.
"Our framework creates a fraud-proof, hi-tech version of the Social Security card every one of us has," Schumer said. "New hires must show this card to their employers who will swipe the cards through a machine to confirm their identity and immigration status."
Hence, the need is to deal with controlling the border, and then gradually rolling back the number of illegal aliens (which by their very label are here illegally - and efforts to mask that very nature by calling them undocumented aliens ignores that these people are breaking federal immigration law every day they're here). Now, that could mean a mix of an amnesty or deportations, but also stronger border enforcement and enforcement of existing employment laws will provide a disincentive for illegals to enter the US in the first place. It's stronger employment enforcement that has the potential to do the most - although it will also mean an increase in costs of doing business since one of the reasons that illegals are hired is because they're willing to work off the books, for less than minimum wage, and do menial labor that folks aren't necessarily willing to do.
None of this should affect legal immigration except as to expand it to allow more legal immigration - permanent visas, green cards, and naturalization. We should make it easier for others to come to the US legally, while discouraging illegal aliens.
Whether the Democrat proposal fits the bill remains to be seen, but it's nice to see that they're now pushing the same kind of border control rhetoric that the GOP was doing just a few short months ago.
On its face, the Democrat proposal is something that the GOP should be able to work with and pass, even if it means giving the Democrats a political victory. As always, the politics will make working on this issue more difficult than it need be given that Democrats are even focusing on the border control issue. The GOP has been pushing for stronger border control for years, and for them to end up opposing the measure because it might deign the Democrats a political advantage would be political suicide. It is in their (and our national interest) to get this done.