If the immigration bill that passed the Senate on June 27 dies the death of previous reforms, it will not be because of the angry Democrats quoted above. It will be the familiar obstructionism of House Republicans, and particularly Speaker John Boehner, who may refuse to let the measure even come to a vote. That is why the news coverage has focused on the hostility of Republicans. But if you scroll down from The Times’s news article to the 522 reader comments, you will find plenty of unhappy Democrats as well — not on Capitol Hill, but Out There. The howls of betrayal sampled above reflect the main complaints from those on the left: The bill, they worry, will steal jobs from American workers by admitting new streams of both low-skilled and high-skilled competitors. It wastes more than $40 billion to militarize the Southern border. It makes the 11 million unauthorized immigrants already here wait 13 years for full equality. And, by the way, how can any self-respecting liberal be for something that enjoys the support of Grover Norquist, the Koch brothers, the Chamber of Commerce and the Fox News commentariat?
There is a strong conservative case for the elaborate contraption called the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act of 2013. And no, it is not just about neutralizing the hostility of Latino voters. For the conservative brief, I refer you to David Brooks (here and here) or Douglas Holtz-Eakin (here). My aim here is to address some of the liberal misgivings. Like virtually every milestone in the history of Congress, the Senate bill choreographed by the tireless liberal legislator from New York, Charles Schumer, is a package of compromises, enticements, marketing (see the title), electoral calculation, micromanaging and kitchen sinks (such as SEC. 4503. ENCOURAGING CANADIAN TOURISM TO THE UNITED STATES). The question that troubles liberals is, did Schumer give away too much in the quest for Republican votes? After slogging and scrolling through the 1,198 pages of devilish details, I think the answer is no. Specifically, the aims of comprehensive reform are three: to impose some regulatory order on a legal immigration system that is dysfunctional and illogical; to assert greater control over our borders, for reasons of economics and security; and to deal humanely with the 11 million who came here outside the legal channels. Despite imperfections, the Senate bill accomplishes all three.
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