The politicians in Washington are repeating the bromide that we need to pass Comprehensive Immigration Reform so often that they are beginning to sound like the sheep in Animal Farm. Any issue or concern we raise about mass legalization before enforcement is implemented is met with the chant “we need it to be comprehensive.” Well, passing legislation with comprehensive and disparate components is an anathema to conservatives, and should never be pursued with regards to any policy. That is the eternal lesson of Obamacare. Here’s why:
1) Too Long: Nobody can fully digest the intricate details of a long bill with so many components.
2) “Insider Trading”: What was so bad about the practice of earmarking? It allowed crafters of legislation to insert one small provision that would garner support from a legislator in an effort to support a broader, undesirable bill. The way special interest politics works is that each person gets thrown a bone in the form of their pet provision in a massive bill, enticing a broad coalition to support the bill out of self-interest. Every special interest under the sun is supporting the Gang’s bill because it has their special provision in it. The Wall Street Journal – of all news outlets – has a good roundup on this dynamic. Ironically, even libertarians are supporting a bill that creates wage and labor controls, creates new government bureaus, and penalizes those who employ too many H1-B workers, because they like the amnesty on the illegal side. Why should we pass bad components just because some will get their provisions passed? Have they even read the bill? Do they even care about some of the other provisions?
3) Too Much Subterfuge: It is a lot easier for politicians to cook the legislation when it is full of multiple, semi-intertwined proposals. This bill contains 400 waivers, exemptions, and exceptions, many of which are pursuant to the cumbersome Immigration and Nationality Act. This makes it easier to misrepresent the effect of the bill. See Obamacare.
4) Proper Order: There are often times when it is necessary to pass several laws regarding a specific issue. But it is important that they be implemented in the proper order. Even if you support a process of legalization at some point, it is simply absurd to do so before the enforcement is implemented, especially in light of past history and in the context of the crafty way the “triggers” were drafted. Each provision should be able to stand on its own merit.
5) Hostage Taking: Why should provisions of a bill that have broad support be held hostage for passage of controversial components? Why should something like the visa tracking system be held hostage for a broader amnesty and increase in immigration? That should pass Congress on its own merits. While some might think it’s prudent to grant amnesty or to let in an unlimited amount of legal immigrants across all visa categories, we are not required to do that. We are, however, required to secure our borders and protect our sovereignty. That should not be held hostage for the other provisions. Also, some of the legal reforms, such as merit-based legal immigration and the repeal of the diversity visa lottery should not have to wait until we decide what to do with a 25-year-old problem with regards to illegal immigration.