EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Opinion

July 3, 2013

Column: Senate immigration bill borders on reckless

Explain to me, please, why I should be enthusiastic about the Republicans coming up with a way to spend $46.3 billion on border security that will gain us very little while helping the Senate pass an inane immigration bill they mainly favor for political reasons.

Supporting this fraud will supposedly help them win Hispanic votes, but it almost surely won’t. Despite some people strangely calling immigrants conservatives, most have not been and their mostly liberal voting patterns aren’t likely to flip-flop because of blatant GOP opportunism.

If enacted in its current 1,200-page, loophole-ridden indefiniteness, the Senate bill would likely flatten the party while walloping the country. You might say the party deserved it if it were not for some House Republicans harboring workable ideas that could come to fruition. Yes, we need to find a way gradually to legalize and ultimately make citizens out of the most deserving of the 11 million or so illegal immigrants here now. I grant the move rewards law-breaking. Then there is the Heritage Foundation’s estimate that, over the next half-century, governmental expenditures would be trillions more than if they were not legalized. While a precise figure is debatable, the cost would assuredly be huge.

But the problem needs to be resolved, some systems of deportation would be ugly beyond us carrying them out, and I am not sure officialdom will ever get behind anything effective. I do think that, before anyone is legalized, we need a definitively proven system of identifying illegal immigrants in the workplace to make sure the illegal inflow from here on out is tiny. And to offset costs, we also need to go to work skills and education as the chief criteria for being allowed in.

So what did the Senate cough up? For one thing, we got this GOP-inspired plan to hire another 20,000 border agents, invest in fancy new technology and build a 700-mile fence that still leaves plenty of crossing space on the 1,954-mile U.S.-Mexican dividing line. Put it all together and you have tens of billions dedicated to further aggravating a monster debt — and an estimate by the Congressional Budget Office that this and other efforts will reduce the expected illegal inflow by no more than 25 percent as workers with temporary work visas stay past their expiration.

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