Too Many Getting Onboard?

What a difference an election can make.  This week an ad-hock Senate bi-partisan group offered recommendations on comprehensive immigration reform.  Sweeping away the double speak, these Senators were proposing a method for some 11 million undocumented aliens (mostly Mexicans) to obtain “papers” and become US citizens.  There was still a lot of huffing and puffing rhetoric but the heart of the bi-partisan proposals was truly a step forward.

President Obama made a campaign stop in Las Vegas yesterday.  Unlike the Las Vegas advertisements, “what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas, the President’s speech was meant for national consumption.  He too had a plan for immigration.

This immigration problem (aka Mexican problem) is a problem that underscores the worst of governing.  Politicians have lined up to express how tough they are on these undocumented “law breakers” although these same pols are no where to be seen when it comes to enforcing gun laws.  Many politicians demand deportation even in the face of the complexity and cost of deportation.  (Think about it.  If you could locate and round up all these Mexicans, it would require over 200,000 buses to transport these undocumented individuals to the boarder.  This would take years.  And what about the flow of undocumented workers flowing back?)

But even more amazing is that undocumented workers are just that.  They are unknown to government agencies.  Taxes are not being collected.  The US born children of the undocumented are US citizens.  So what happens if one or both of the parents is deported?

Stranger still is the Mexican culture.  They are hard working, family and church oriented people.  They possess the cultural markings of what we profess to be American values.  Mexicans, one would think, would be sought after.

Sure there are gangs (like in LA) where Mexican youth lead purposeless lives.  These gangs, however, do not represent the vast plurality of undocumented Mexicans any more than gangs composed of caucasians or african-americans represent their races.

Immigration throughout the years has always caused friction.  Immigrants compete for jobs, usually entry level ones.  Those job holders resist, and there is friction.  Clever politicians, of course, see demagoguery as an opportunity and join the chorus shouting down immigrants.

Popular opinion in the US seems to have shifted in favor of a comprehensive solution.  It is now more likely the Senate will pass immigration reform in the coming months.  The House’s response is still unclear.  A majority of the majority is very unlikely but a majority of the House may be possible.  So what can go wrong?

Too many (with different motives) getting onboard.

The GOP change of heart in the Senate is about recognizing reality.  The last election demographics punished Republicans and is project to punish them even harder next time if they don’t modify some of their positions.  Politicians, however, always strive to have it both ways.

Senate GOP members will try to pass the least generous form of comprehensive reform possible, while Democrats will try to liberalize the path to citizenship in hopes of more votes.  Each party will try and portray the resulting bill as their work (rather than our work).  Tit will lead to tat and gridlock could return.

I wonder whether “real” Senate leaders will see this a test case for bi-partisanship while improving a broken system.  Inherently there is nothing Democrat or Republican about undocumented workers.  They are more similar to “potholes”.  Fixing potholes does not know whether the fixer is a Democrat or a Republican.

Over the next weeks we will see if too many politicians try “to get onboard” for whatever their personal ambitions might be and not for reasons of fixing the pothole.

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