Desert Invasion - U.S.

When Will the Senate Learn From Its Immigration Mistakes?

By Ian de Silva, Human Events Online

As we watch the tragicomedy in the U.S. Senate on immigration reform, it behooves us to hark back to the last time the Senate debated major immigration reform. It was in 1985.

Why does it behoove us to learn this history? Because the promises being made today are exactly the same promises made back then. The bill that the Senate produced in 1985, which became law in 1986, was ambitiously titled the Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA). It is probably the most fraudulent legislation in American history, for it neither reformed nor controlled immigration. In fact, it actually exacerbated illegal immigration and, in many ways, directly led to today's immigration crisis.

The IRCA is informally known as the Simpson-Mazzoli Act, named after its main author, Sen. Alan Simpson (R.-Wyo.), and Rep. Romano Mazzoli (D.-Ky.), who helped shepherd it through the House. Though neither Simpson nor Mazzoli is currently in office, a few key participants of that debate are still in office, such as Sen. Teddy Kennedy (D.-Mass.).

Introducing the bill on the Senate floor on Sept. 11, 1985, Simpson confidently assessed his long involvement in immigration issues:

"Today I urge my colleagues to support S. 1200, which is the culmination of the substantive and political fine-tuning of a 6-year involvement in this issue…I wish all of my colleagues could have shared in that rich 6-year learning process, for I assure them that the longer one is in it the more one comes to understand that this is the approach we must take." (1)

The "approach" referred to the simultaneous enactment of employer sanctions and amnesty for most of the illegal aliens then living here. It eventually amnestied three million illegal aliens.

Twenty years later, today we have almost zero worksite enforcement and more than 10 million illegal aliens -- but the Senate wants another amnesty. The Senate fraudulently calls it "earned legalization" or "comprehensive reform," but it is amnesty nevertheless. By the Senate logic, a burglar who held on to stolen goods for a long time would get “earned ownership” of the goods.

Even in 1985, it was known that several hundred thousand illegal aliens were entering the country each year. Thus, Simpson acknowledged:

"The United States cannot perform the most basic function of a sovereign nation, which is to control the entry of aliens across its borders, and to enforce whatever conditions are imposed on the aliens who we do allow to enter. Immigration to the United States is out of control…."

Again, that is not a quote from the current Senate debate -- that is a quote from the Senate debate from over 20 years ago. Immigration to the United States was out of control even then, and the Senate knew it, yet it initiated and passed a bill that eventually exacerbated the situation.

Per Simpson's bill, the legalization (i.e., amnesty) of illegal aliens was to begin three years after the bill's enactment into law. The intention was to institute adequate enforcement measures during those three years so as to discourage a further influx. But this was not enough for Kennedy, the putative guardian of those who are down-trodden and of those who have trodden down on the law. He wanted amnesty to begin right away. He insisted:

"There simply is no valid reason to take the unnecessary and regrettable step backwards that this bill does in failing to immediately authorize a legalization program."

The bill required employers to ask for valid identification from new hires and contained sanctions against non-compliant employers. But Kennedy, in true liberal fashion, thought that would set off mass xenophobia across the country..

The senator's jeremiad turned out to be misguided, nay, utterly and ridiculously wrong....

Two days later, on Sept. 13, 1985, Kennedy again insisted on immediate amnesty for illegal aliens:

"Mr. President, legalization is an essential corollary to the implementation of employer sanctions. As we institute new enforcement policies, legalization allows us to wipe the slate clean, to deal humanely and responsibly with the problems of the past as we begin to deal more effectively with future illegal migration."

Wiping the slate clean, dealing humanely and responsibly with the problems of the past, having effective measures against future illegal immigration -- is this not the same rhetoric we are hearing today, 20 years later?...

Yet today, 20 years later, the Senate is rehashing ad nauseam -- the same defeatist nonsense about amnesty being the only practical way to handle the illegal aliens already here. How many times must the Senate make the same mistake before it learns anything? How long should we the taxpayers tolerate such an incorrigible body of public servants? Specifically, how long should conservatives abide such perfidious compromises as the McCain-Kennedy and the Hagel-Martinez pacts?... a naturalized American, I can freely point out the damage that the 1986 amnesty inflicted on our country. To aliens considering illegal entry, it meant that, given enough time, there would be another amnesty. Thus they continued to come. Today they are 10 million strong, are bold enough to march in our streets, and have turned our leaders into eunuchs. Only the House Republicans have fought off the castration.

Many of today's vociferous advocates of another amnesty are those who were legalized under the 1986 amnesty and are now citizens, enfranchised with full political rights. They organize protests and prod elected officials to enact yet another amnesty. If you think such protests are formidable now, just imagine what would happen to the rule of law in America if we amnestied 10 million more illegal aliens and their relatives, amounting to 30 million or more altogether. Do you seriously expect them, when they obtain political rights, to support immigration enforcement?

And, given such a large constituency against immigration enforcement, do you seriously think that future politicians will even consider, let alone pass, strict enforcement measures?

So, you see, the current debate is not just another immigration debate. This could very well be the last chance for America to change course and have an immigration policy that means what it says.

Unlike the Senate, the House has learned from the 1986 amnesty. Hence its enforcement-first approach, exemplified by the bill it passed in December...

Read the complete article.

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