The bill may be dead but the issue remains

Bob Myer
While the defeat of S-1639, known as the immigration reform bill, in the Senate may be loudly praised by many, I hope that this is not that last that we’ll hear from our elected officials on the issue.  It is too important.

As elected official after elected official proclaims time and time again, immigration is a complicated issue, which seems to imply that it requires a complicated solution – something on the level of 800 pages worth of solution.  There are also claims that the solution must be “comprehensive”, meaning that every aspect of the problem and eventuality of implementing the solution must be accounted for in a single legislative stroke.  That the solution concocted by the Senate was distilled behind closed doors and then forced into essentially an up or down vote belies the supposed complexity of the problem and the comprehensiveness of the solution.  It was, therefore, rightly defeated.

And now there are claims by pundits that no elected official will even consider addressing the illegal immigration issue until 2009 because of its “political sensitivity”.  50 members of the Senate, 435 members of the House, 2 members of the executive, and all the American people will get this year is one “comprehensive”, take it or leave it plan?  Read: take it, or else the status quo remains until we get around to feeling like taking another glance at the problem, if it makes “political sense”.  This is what goes for political leadership?

Any “comprehensive” bill is a hard sell, I believe.  Look at the proposed Social Security reform put forth by President Bush in 2005.  It went down the tubes, and there hasn’t been a thought of addressing it since, although I know that every dollar I “contribute” into the pit that is Social Security is one that I will never, ever see again.  But, again, it’s a complicated problem, demanding compromise, bipartisanship and comprehensiveness…all leading to a “solution” somewhere off in the future, really, it’ll happen, just wait.

So in an effort to do something leading to progress on issues, perhaps the federal government should drop the “comprehensive” approach and take a “baby-step” approach.  Take a problem, like illegal immigration, and find something that can be done about it, something concrete and definable, like controlling the borders or tracking down and repatriating people who overstay their visas.  There.  Two things that can be done to address the problem of illegals in the US.  Then come up with a plan (the simpler the better), fund it, implement it, and see what happens.  That process is what is taught in every management course.  Surely some in Congress know of it.

Will there be problems?  Of course there will be.  But that’s all the more reason to take the “baby-step” approach.  There are always unintended consequences.  Solving a problem as “complicated” as immigration reform is will take time and effort.  Starting small will help to move continually in the right direction.  That’s why the next step in the Senate should be the introduction of two bills: one to tighten the borders and another to tighten visa oversight and control.

Once again, our elected officials have the opportunity to show leadership.  Defeating S-1639 is not the war, it’s just a small battle.  Creating laws and policies which are definable, enforceable and fundable and which address the real problem in the US – illegal immigrants – is the challenge put forth to our Senators and Representatives.  Let’s see if they can meet the challenge while listening to the will of the citizenry.


While the defeat of S-1639, known as the immigration reform bill, in the Senate may be loudly praised by many, I hope that this is not that last that we’ll hear from our elected officials on the issue.  It is too important.

As elected official after elected official proclaims time and time again, immigration is a complicated issue, which seems to imply that it requires a complicated solution – something on the level of 800 pages worth of solution.  There are also claims that the solution must be “comprehensive”, meaning that every aspect of the problem and eventuality of implementing the solution must be accounted for in a single legislative stroke.  That the solution concocted by the Senate was distilled behind closed doors and then forced into essentially an up or down vote belies the supposed complexity of the problem and the comprehensiveness of the solution.  It was, therefore, rightly defeated.

And now there are claims by pundits that no elected official will even consider addressing the illegal immigration issue until 2009 because of its “political sensitivity”.  50 members of the Senate, 435 members of the House, 2 members of the executive, and all the American people will get this year is one “comprehensive”, take it or leave it plan?  Read: take it, or else the status quo remains until we get around to feeling like taking another glance at the problem, if it makes “political sense”.  This is what goes for political leadership?

Any “comprehensive” bill is a hard sell, I believe.  Look at the proposed Social Security reform put forth by President Bush in 2005.  It went down the tubes, and there hasn’t been a thought of addressing it since, although I know that every dollar I “contribute” into the pit that is Social Security is one that I will never, ever see again.  But, again, it’s a complicated problem, demanding compromise, bipartisanship and comprehensiveness…all leading to a “solution” somewhere off in the future, really, it’ll happen, just wait.

So in an effort to do something leading to progress on issues, perhaps the federal government should drop the “comprehensive” approach and take a “baby-step” approach.  Take a problem, like illegal immigration, and find something that can be done about it, something concrete and definable, like controlling the borders or tracking down and repatriating people who overstay their visas.  There.  Two things that can be done to address the problem of illegals in the US.  Then come up with a plan (the simpler the better), fund it, implement it, and see what happens.  That process is what is taught in every management course.  Surely some in Congress know of it.

Will there be problems?  Of course there will be.  But that’s all the more reason to take the “baby-step” approach.  There are always unintended consequences.  Solving a problem as “complicated” as immigration reform is will take time and effort.  Starting small will help to move continually in the right direction.  That’s why the next step in the Senate should be the introduction of two bills: one to tighten the borders and another to tighten visa oversight and control.

Once again, our elected officials have the opportunity to show leadership.  Defeating S-1639 is not the war, it’s just a small battle.  Creating laws and policies which are definable, enforceable and fundable and which address the real problem in the US – illegal immigrants – is the challenge put forth to our Senators and Representatives.  Let’s see if they can meet the challenge while listening to the will of the citizenry.