Amnesty Slipping Through Their Fingers

By Mark Krikorian on September 9, 2013

They must be cursing Assad at the Chamber of Commerce and La Raza. If only he'd held off gassing his enemies (assuming it was, in fact, him) until after the House passed an immigration bill, it wouldn't have been so bad.

As it is, "Immigration Reform Falls to the Back of the Line," notes today's New York Times:

Congress is likely to postpone consideration of an immigration overhaul until the end of the year, if not longer, even as advocates are preparing for an all-out, urgent push this fall to win their longstanding goal of a path to citizenship for millions of immigrants here illegally.

In Washington, the sudden debate over military action in Syria and a looming face-off with President Obama over the budget and the nation's borrowing limit have shot to the top of the legislative agenda, while Republican angst about losing Hispanic voters in the 2012 presidential campaign has faded.

The Washington Post reports that one Wall Street consulting firm "has advised its clients that the chances of an immigration bill being completed by spring have fallen from 60 percent to 30 percent because of the Syria debate, and warned that the fiscal battles will be even more inflammatory." I would have put it at 30 percent or less before Syria, and maybe 10 percent now, but the point is the trend.

Even the Roman Catholic Church's lobbying campaign for amnesty and doubling immigration has been sidelined by Syria. Sunday was supposed to be amnesty day at churches across the country, with priests instructed to focus their sermons on the need for parishioners to call their congressmen and demand they vote for an amnesty/increased-immigration bill. While no doubt some of that happened, it doesn't seem to have been as universal as planned. One reader sent this in reponse to my Twitter request for information on what people were hearing at mass:

Also, I saw your tweet about wanting feedback about any pro-amnesty homilies today. I attended mass tonight (Catholic) at St. Mary's in Old Town Alexandria, and the priest didn't say a word about amnesty, or anything remotely like code language (i.e. "welcoming the stranger") for supporting illegal immigration. I asked my parents if it was mentioned where they go (St. XXXXXXX, in Pennsylvania, outside Philadelphia) and they said the same thing, no mention of amnesty. However, both my priest and my parents' priest briefly discussed Syria, which my priest mentioned all Catholic priests were instructed to address "Catholic doctrine on just war." Perhaps Syria and the possibility of war trumped amnesty for illegals and they nixed their immigration lecture plan for this week?

You might wonder what the rush is. The current Congress, and thus any legislation passed by one house or the other, remains alive until the end of the current 113th Congress, which doesn't end till January 3, 2015. So there's all of next year to tackle the issue. But, as McCain told the L.A. Times, "It's very important that we try and act before the end of this year, as we move into next year and an election season." In other words, all the claims about the popularity of the Senate bill are lies because the politicians are terrified to have a debate on immigration right before the pesky voters go to the polls. Sure, people are willing to amnesty war-hero geniuses brought here when they were a week old, but not if the government is up to its usual tricks in gutting enforcement and not if a doubling of legal immigration accompanies it.

Politico noted that "Until a few weeks ago, Hill strategists in both parties had said they thought immigration had a chance in 2015. Now, the smart money is on 2017." In other words, after the next presidential election. That's as it should be — in the last election, we had more discussion of immigration in the abstract than we've had for a while, but nothing concrete. In 2016 (assuming the candidates actually disagree on immigration, as has too seldom been the case) they can debate the actual outline that's been considered by Congress: amnesty before enforcement, plus increased low-skilled immigration.

The doesn't mean nothing will happen over the next year. The NYT says of the open-borders advocates, "As they feel momentum slipping away, their anger is likely to intensify this fall." And more:

In that case, some immigration groups have signaled that they could become more aggressive. In Phoenix last month, young undocumented immigrants who call themselves Dreamers chained themselves to a fence at an immigration detention center and sat in front of a police bus carrying immigrants to be deported. Church and immigrant groups have promised fasts and protests in the coming weeks.

Astroturf efforts like this aren't going to persuade any congressmen to change their votes — but they can backfire. An unruly group disrupted a town meeting by Representative Pete Olson of Texas (career grade of A from Numbers USA), leading to applause from the actual constitutents in attendance when the police finally ejected the group. I'm hoping for even more entertainment along these lines; blocking the bridges from Virginia into Washington during morning rush hour would be a great move for these jokers. The SEIU, as part of its Justice for Janitors campaign, did just that on the Teddy Roosevelt Bridge in 1995, something the resulting congressional hearing descrbed as "traffic terrorism." In fact, if they did it during afternoon rush hour, I imagine the frazzled commuters taken hostage by these antics wouldn't wait for the police to arrive.

It seems like the real question is not whether this Congress will pass an amnesty and double immigration — there wasn't much chance of that anyway. Rather, the question is whether the hotheads, who believed all the lobbyist press releases about impending victory, will be able to maintain discipline when they encounter reality. I'm looking forward to the show.