Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Immigration Gives the GOP a "Wedgie"

I forgot that Julie Myers had a hearing before the relevant Senate committee but that Carl Levin (D-MI) put a hold on the appointment, which strikes me as putting the country ahead of politics, unless he wanted to delay the confirmation until 2006. Anyway, I got an angry email about that sentence at the end, so I said I'd be delighted to make a correction this week. You bet I'm delighted to talk about Julie Myers every single chance I get. I've changed the sentence to correct it, but if you want to read my mistake as it appeared in the newspaper, the link is here.

Not only did my editor go for a somewhat less, well, discomforting headline, he also deleted the "GOP House Speaker Jim Weiers" paragraph, which makes absolutely no sense to me, so I've put it back in and started wondering about my new editor.

East Valley Tribune, Jan. 15, 2006

It’s “Immigration Week” in state and national politics, but before considering what it means in Arizona and in D.C., here’s your bonus question: Who is Julie L. Myers? (No fair peeking; answer below.)

Gov. Napolitano led her State of the State address with putting National Guard troops at the border and penalizing employers who intentionally hire undocumented workers. But it was noisier outside the Capitol, where an estimated 4,000 protesters demonstrated against Napolitano as being too anti-immigrant.

The day-long protest, organized by Inmigrantes Sin Fronteras (Immigrants Without Borders) and conducted largely in Spanish, targeted Napolitano. Not Russell Pearce, R-Mesa, or the GOP legislative leadership, and certainly not any of the nonentities currently seeking the GOP gubernatorial nomination. For the Napolitano campaign, having 4,000 people demonstrate, in Spanish no less, against your candidate as being too tough on immigration isn’t exactly a bad thing. You might try arranging such an event yourself, but it would have been too hard to verify the attendees’ Social Security numbers.

The National Guard proposal probably can’t go anywhere, because it requires approval by Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, who knows that letting Arizona use Guard troops on the border means other states will ask, and as Rumsfeld needs those troops ready for Iraq, he can’t agree. Hey, maybe that’s the point!

But the real wedge issue here -- yes, Democrats can do wedgies, too -- is the employer sanctions proposal, because that’s where the business Republicans can’t agree with the cultural Republicans. The cultural Republicans recognize that only an online federal verification system can stop illegal immigration; we can expand the Border Patrol forever and never control the border as long as businesses have plausible deniability in hiring illegal aliens.

Businesses, however, are very, very opposed to online verification and employer sanctions (but are very, very nervous about letting cultural Republicans know it). You see that with the squishy responses the Home Builders Association and state Chamber of Commerce representatives gave to Napolitano’s proposal. The homebuilders have a real problem with labor shortages now; an effective, secure verification system could make roofers rarer than emergency room physicians, and block developers from taking full advantage of what’s left of the housing boom-or-bubble.

GOP House Speaker Jim Weiers tried to straddle, saying he supports employer sanctions as long as there are “safeguards” for employers who “sincerely” tried to screen out illegals, because “overly punitive” measures could "cramp" the economy. Can you hear them wishing and hoping that this issue would just go away? Can’t we just focus on banning gay marriages and flag burning by illegal aliens instead?

This division also is playing out in the U.S. Capitol, where Reps. Roy Blunt and John Boehner are competing to replace Tom DeLay as GOP Majority Leader. Boehner is somewhat less tainted by lobbyist connections, but was one of only 17 Republicans to vote against the doomed House immigration bill. Blunt is part of the DeLay cash-and-carry crowd, but he may best Boehner by bashing illegals.

Boehner justifies his vote by claiming that the online verification system is a federal “Big Brother” snooping into personal information, which seems kind of quaint, knowing that Bush claims the right to listen to your personal conversations without a warrant. Honestly, if you’re already willing to give away your rights to fight terrorism, what’s the problem with giving away your rights to fight illegal immigration? In for a dime, in for a dollar.

Finally, the answer to our bonus question: Ms. Myers is 36 years old. She’s the niece of the former chair of the Joint Chiefs, Gen. Richard Myers, and is married to John Wood, chief of staff to Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff, now her boss. But to win our quiz, you needed to know that President Bush chose her to head the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement -- making her responsible for securing our borders.

Yes, immigration is so crucial that Bush picked someone who has to stretch like a contortionist to pretend she's had the required 5 years of law enforcement experience. It’s so embarrassing to Republicans that they’ll keep pretending that immigration is somehow the Arizona governor’s responsibility. Apparently, that’s the best the GOP can do.

1 comment:

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.he who is known as sefton