Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Suddenly, the GOP Displays Common Sense

After six months of watching their poll numbers plummet, Senate Republicans, sensing a bounce from renewed GOP polling strenght regarding terrorism, have apparently decided to help themselves by moving toward enforcement first immigration policies.

With the congressional session barreling to a close and politicians eager to hit the campaign trail, Republicans moved with new determination Tuesday to seal off the U.S. border and impose strict new immigration controls.

The accelerated pace means the Senate is expected to consider as early as today Republican-sponsored legislation that would stretch 700 miles of fence along the U.S.-Mexico border.

And while key Democrats said they will try to attach provisions that would legalize undocumented immigrants, they also vowed not to block the bill if Republicans force it to the floor without amendments.

If the Senate approves the bill, it will go to President Bush for his signature.

Its passage would mark a significant step forward in months of legislative haggling over immigration reform and would open the door for Republicans to push through a flurry of additional get-tough border measures aimed at bolstering their base and turning up the heat on Democrats.

'What Republicans appear to be doing is passing all the things for which there is a lot of support among the public and leaving the rest,' said Steven Camarota, research director for the Center for Immigration Studies, which favors a more restrictive immigration policy.

As for the border fence, Camarota said, 'In an election year, my guess is that Democrats are not going to fight it very hard. It's not what they wanted, but they might go along.'

For most of this year, Republican senators have been blithely ignoring the wishes of their constituents and promoting President Bush's "comprehensive" (read: AMNESTY) immigration reform program. It appears to have finally occured to the GOP's senate leadership that the collapse in their poll numbers (and re-election chances) correlated strongly with their embrace of Bush's amnesty agenda. With the possibility of Democrats recapturing the Senate becoming palpable in late August and early September, it seems that the GOP is awakening to the unpopularity of illegal immigration and voter anger over the governments REFUSAL to stop the tidal wave of illegal immigrants sweeping over the border.

The Democrats, of course, support illegal immigration, since they sense that the hordes of newly arrived Latinos will naturally harken to their genetically ingrained platform of economic redistribution, regulation, social engineering and class warfare. But even they understand the mood of the electorate and are wisely choosing to keep to the sidelines of this debate.

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid and California Sen. Dianne Feinstein said they expect many Democrats to support the Secure Fence Act of 2006.

'Democrats are solidly behind controlling the border, and we support the border fence,' Feinstein said.

'This is all meant to box Democrats in to voting `no' and we're not going to fall for it.'

Of course, just because the Senate seems to be siding with the majority of American citizens who want their borders defended, doesn't mean they really mean it.

Several Republicans insisted that passing the border fence separately will not hurt chances of voting on a broad immigration reform down the road.

'We only have about two weeks left, and I think we ought to get pragmatic about what we can finish,' said Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas. 'People like me are committed to comprehensive reform.'

Added Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., 'I think we've seen here that complete reform or comprehensive reform is not moving ahead until we can guarantee the American people that we can secure our borders. The only way to get comprehensive reform is to do this first.'

Translation: If we don't do something that looks like border enforcement, we'll lose the Senate in November. But since we really don't give a damn what the people want, we'll come up with a half-assed 700 mile fence that will look good in news reports and photo-ops, and when we return next year we can still vote for an amnesty, making the fence thing irrelevant. (Assuming they don't kill the fence outright in the next Congress.)


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