The WSJ has reported that the Senate and White House have reached a compromise on immigration. All I can say is that it's about time. Fortunately Democrats have been holding on to common sense here in the face of GOP idiocy. The structure would look something like this:
The proposed agreement would allow illegal immigrants to come forward and obtain a "Z visa" and -- after paying fees and a $5,000 fine -- ultimately get on track for permanent residency, which could take between eight and 13 years. Heads of household would have to return to their home countries first. They could come forward right away to claim a probationary card that would let them live and work legally in the U.S., but could not begin the path to permanent residency or citizenship until border security improvements and the high-tech worker identification program were completed.This is truly a unique issue in the sense that opposition and support are all over the map. You have labor unions, fearmongers, and racists on one side and common sense, moderates, economic conservatives, and bleeding heart liberals on the other. It's really the only issue that I know of that splits groups like this. Unfortunately, as Alan Greenspan said, "We used to be a melting pot but now seem to have some trouble with that. I think that's sad."
A new temporary guest worker program would also have to wait until those so-called "triggers" had been activated. Those workers would have to return home after work stints of two years, with little opportunity to gain permanent legal status or ever become U.S. citizens. They could renew their guest worker visas twice, but would be required to leave for a year in between each time. Democrats had pressed instead for guest workers to be permitted to stay and work indefinitely in the U.S.
What's my take? I think it's the best we can hope for. I'd love to have the permanent worker program, but I do like the increased emphasis on getting skilled immigrants. I also like that we're not going to pull a Tancredo and ship them all back to Mexico, which is far too expensive, prohibitive, and impractical to ever do. We can get these people out of the shadows of society, which may make our hamburgers and tacos a bit more expensive, but what it will also do is reduce crime. Mark my words, if this does indeed pass, you will see far less crime by illegal immigrants. The reason for this is because allowing illegal immigrants to become part of society will effectively neuter the organized crime syndicates (not Mafia crime, but the organizations that work to bring these people in and then exploit them) by allowing them to climb out from under whatever rock they have been hiding under to avoid the authorities. It's the equivalent of cutting out the middle man - now they can buy their products directly from the factory instead of having the crime markup that society has imposed on them.
Will there be opposition? Undoubtedly. I'm sure that the anti-immigrationistas are already working to kill the bill, but hopefully we'll see it pass. I know that Chris Cannon would like to see that as every anti-immigration Republican in Utah's 3rd district is already lining up to try and take him out. Of course what Chaffetz, Cook, John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt, and Leavitt don't seem to understand is that they're all going after the exact same group of people: those who don't like Cannon's stand on immigration. Who's ready for some free meals from candidates who will ultimately kill each other in the convention? I know I am!