Like the proverbial bad penny, some retired politicians keep showing up especially when the topic is immigration. They just can’t help but add their unsolicited two cents.
Take George W. Bush, for example. More than anyone, Bush should know that amnesty legislation is Capitol Hill’s most toxic issue. Bush’s personal memories of attempted immigration reform would include his resoundingly embarrassing 2007 defeat when Republicans turned against him to reject the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act (CIR).
In the final moments before the Senate cloture vote, Bush frantically called influential Senate veterans trying to secure their support. But they abandoned Bush in droves including 37 of the 49 Republicans. Just like the Border Security, Economic Opportunity and Immigration Modernization Act, S. 744, CIR would have granted amnesty to millions of aliens with the promise, certain to be broken, of future border security.
After the bill went down, Senator David Vitter said:
“The proponents did not get even a simple majority. The message is crystal-clear. The American people want us to start with enforcement at the border and at the workplace and don’t want promises. They want action, they want results, they want proof, because they’ve heard all the promises before.” [Immigration Bill Fails to Survive Senate Vote, by Robert Pear, New York Times, June 28, 2007]
More than six years later and despite American sentiment unchanged, Congress is trying to push through another similar bill. Bush commented in his Washington Post op-ed using the usual tedious bromides about why legalizing 11 million aliens and issuing tens of millions of work visas is a good idea. [Mr. Bush’s Sensible Words on Immigration Reform, Washington Post, July 9, 2013]
Without specifically referring to S. 744 but clearly endorsing it, Bush said:
“The reason to pass immigration reform is not to bolster a Republican Party, it’s to fix a system that’s broken. Good policy yields good politics, as far as I’m concerned.”
Two things from Bush’s advocacy jumped out at me.
One, the immigration system is broken but not in the way that Bush or any of the others in Congress who repeatedly use this tired refrain. Immigration is broken because Congress and the White House, working in tandem, refuse to enforce existing laws or pass new laws like the Legal American Workforce Act that would help remove the jobs magnet.
Second, S. 744 is bad policy and bad politics that would hurt American workers and, from the perspective of Republicans like Bush, diminish the GOP’s chances at regaining White House or Senate control. Even keeping a majority in the Republican House would be a challenge. Immigrants overwhelmingly vote Democrat. No amount of pandering will change that cast-in-concrete political dynamic.
Like most of the Senate, Bush hasn’t read S. 744. Bush must be relying on summaries from the bill’s advocates to form his misguided conclusions.