The summer of our discontent officially kicked off yesterday in SoCal with the House Thugs and Hoodlums hearing on immigration. The title? “Border Vulnerabilities and International Terrorism.” Remind me, how many of the Sept 11 hijackers came through the Mexican border? Oh, yeah, that’s right, zero. And in 2000 when plotters who wanted to blow up LAX tried to come through the Canadian border (you know, the other border), they were caught.
This novel approach to governing – seeking public input on bills after they have passed – reflects a cynical gamble that linking immigration and terror will upend the Senate bill and give House Republicans a short-term electoral boost.
Meanwhile, back East, Senator Specter held a hearing to support comprehensive immigration reform at the Constitution Center in Philly.
Specter presided at the hearing with Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D., Mass.). Taking advantage of their location near Independence Hall, both men emphasized that America’s founding fathers were immigrants. They also invoked their own immigrant forefathers. Specter’s father, Harry, emigrated from Russia and served in the U.S. Army during World War I.
President Bush, who addressed the nation in support of the Senate’s approach to immigration reform, appears to be backing away from it. Mr. Bush is now said to be open to compromising on an “enforcement-first” approach, under which any of the more complicated parts of immigration reform would wait until the border was declared sealed, which could be in a year or two, or never. Arlen Specter, a main architect of the Senate bill, has sent similar hints about caving in to this approach, though he also held a dueling hearing yesterday to counter the House Republicans’ hard-line message.
Mr. Bush has long talked a good game on the need for comprehensive immigration reform and the foolishness of focusing only on border security. But he is now at the head of a conga line moving backward.
I, for one, have had about enough of Specter backing down.
Andy in Harrisburg