Frist's Immigration Compromise

| Thu Apr. 6, 2006 1:15 PM EDT

I'm not sure I understand the point of this "compromise" immigration bill floating through the Senate. In the latest version, all immigrants that have lived here illegally for more than five years could apply for citizenship; anyone that has lived here less than five but more than two years would have to leave and apply for "guest worker" status—or indentured servant status, if you prefer—and any illegal immigrant that has lived here for less than two years would have to leave, period.

Okay, so why would any of those undocumented immigrants who have lived here less than five years ever show their faces? They wouldn't, and this bill will only push those immigrants even further underground. Meanwhile, how will the Department of Homeland Security, which now handles immigration, know which immigrants have been here how long? After all, these immigrants are all undocumented—that's the point. Someone who has been living here ten years illegally might have a hard time proving it.

Then there's another concern. As Jean of Body and Soul observes, the last time the United States cracked down on immigration, in 1929, officials "made no distinction between people of Mexican ancestry who were in the USA legally and those who weren't." There was a lot of intimidation and harassment and shipping people off on trains. All this for a policy that almost certainly won't stop illegal immigration. Moreover, the latest Senate "compromise" will only get worse once it gets compromised further, in conference with the draconian House bill. It's probably time to scuttle immigration "reform" altogether and wait for a more sensible Congress to come to power.