Immigration reform, one step at a time

The incessant media barrage over the "gang of eight" immigration reform is reminiscent of the lead-up to Obamacare, in the attempt to jam through the current massive, 844-page backroom bill at any cost.

Obamacare's 2,700 pages and Dodd-Frank's 2,300 pages should be lessons in the perils of passing enormous "comprehensive" bills that generate ten times their weight in bureaucratic rule-making and unforeseen consequences, while giving unrestricted powers to unelected bureaucrats.

The House Judiciary Committee, in a fit of common sense, is taking a better approach, announcing that they will be "introducing a series of narrow immigration reform proposals," according to The Hill:

Saying the committee would examine immigration reform "in a step-by-step approach," Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) said Republicans would introduce agricultural guest-worker program, while the other would create an employment verification system for businesses.               

"This process can be long, but it allows every representative and senator to have their constituents' voices heard," Goodlatte said at a Capitol news conference Thursday. "And by taking a fine-toothed comb through each of the individual issues within the larger immigration debate, it will help us get a better bill that will benefit Americans and provide a workable immigration system."

The Hill also notes that while step-by-step bills may have a better chance of passage "in a conference wary of lengthy, complex proposals," some Republicans favor the comprehensive approach because the immigration components are "too interconnected" to be dealt with individually.

Which sounds a lot like, "how can we include amnesty if the public knows each step we are taking?"

Further underlining the furtive nature of the rush to pass something labeled "immigration reform" is the recognition that it better get done long before voters start paying attention in 2014:

Goodlatte ... acknowledged the difficulty of achieving major legislation in an election year if it is not finished in 2013. Rep. Raúl Labrador (Idaho), a Republican in the bipartisan House immigration group who also sits on the Judiciary Committee, has said if reform does not get done this year, it won't get done at all.

House Republicans claim to recognize that voters will not accept "broad legislation that grants legal status to undocumented immigrants if they feel it has been rushed into law," but the proof will be in the pudding as the pressure mounts to pass a big reform bill, and the President ramps up his usual campaign-style rhetoric.

Regardless of what the President or Janet Napolitano says, we will know a secure border when we see one.  And an employment verification system that works is another big, but straightforward, step, as would be improvements in the legal immigration process and the guest-worker program.

Where it gets complicated is that gang of eight spokesman Senator Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) says any immigration bill without a "pathway to citizenship" is a "non-starter."

To which Senator Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) contends that the insistence on citizenship for illegals "jeopardizes the likelihood of passing any immigration reform bill."

The last thing the Democrats want is an educated public knowing what is in the bill before they pass it.  As usual, exposure to sunlight is the best disinfectant.