"For true change to occur on the state and national level on key issues, it takes Republicans and Democrats working together, not simply using the various issues as great dividers that build one party up while leaving the other in the dust.
Frankly, my hope was that the debate over illegal immigration would lead to the sort of grand compromise that would stand as a testament to our ability to reach across party aisles and work together on complicated issues. That didn't happen, but the fact that the issue, and not the party, was the driving force in this debate is still worth a nugget of hope."
I would argue that true change did occur on a key issue. I would argue that Republicans and Democrats did work together and they worked together all across the country. I would argue that the true hope that was discovered was that the people, as a whole, set aside partisan politics and reached across party aisles to effect the outcome of policy. I would argue that Tony, in his wish to see comprehensive immigration reform passed, failed to see what he wished come to full realization.
People stood up for America rather than political parties! People stood up for what they believed, and stood up passionately, and stood up because they did know what was in the bill, not because (as the News-Leader has implied in the past) they are ignorant, emotional, racist, bigoted, xenophobes! People knew better than the politicians in Washington what was good for the country and could not be denied their voice and when their voices were heard in such large numbers their "representatives" were forced to listen.
We could have a celebration in watching the system work as it should, in true representative fashion, but for the fact that in the end, after the dust has settled the proponents of immigration reform lost and the proponents of border security and law enforcement lost.
When we ask the questions, "What's next? Securing the border so that the American people will be more receptive to the idea of immigration reform in the future?"
We'd be logical to think that securing the border would be next, but that isn't going to happen. That isn't going to happen because just as the American people suspected all along, politicians were just trying to appease us and get us to shut up long enough to pass this legislation.
Nothing much was being done to enforce our immigration laws until the proponents wanted to pass this comprehesive immigration reform bill. Wasn't it convenient that, all of a sudden, when there was the hope of passing this legislation, that there were numerous ICE raids of businesses employing illegal aliens across the country, that there was all this "tough" talk about securing our borders, that there was all this talk about pouring billions of dollars into homeland security coffers to take care of the illegal immigrant problem?
So, you'd think that if border security was so important in the lead up to the debate on comprehensive immigration reform that it would be that important today, right? Uh huh.
President Bush Disappointed by Congress's Failure to Act on Comprehensive Immigration Reform:
Congress really needs to prove to the American people that it can come together on hard issues. The Congress needs to work on comprehensive energy policy and good health care; make sure health care is affordable without inviting the federal government to run the health care system. We've got to work together to make sure we can balance this federal budget, and not overspend or raise taxes on the American people. We've got a lot of work to do.
When they come back from the summer -- from the July recess, before the summer break begins, we'll be focusing on the appropriations process. And I look forward to working with Congress to balance our budgets and to be wise about how we spend the people's money.
Bush is ready to move on. No more talk about how important it is to secure our borders in the interest of national security.
On FOX News Sunday, July 1, Chris Wallace interviewed Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff and I think this excerpt of that interview is telling:
WALLACE: Mr. Secretary, we have about a minute left. Clearly, what came out of this debate and the failure of immigration reform is that a lot of people in this country don't trust you, don't trust the government, to enforce the border.
So why not take the lesson from this failure and go for enforcement first, resubmit the president's agreement to spend $4.4 billion on new enforcement?
You say you don't have some tools when it comes to employer verification. Why not resubmit all of those and challenge the Democrats on enforcement first?
CHERTOFF: Well, Chris, first of all, anybody who says we haven't been enforcing is woefully blind to the facts. We have done more in terms -- and unfortunately, it's been some painful stuff in terms of arrests, 700 criminal cases against employers, raids involving thousands of people, unfortunate pictures of crying children. ...
WALLACE: But, Mr. Secretary, we're running out of...
CHERTOFF:... whose mothers are being...
WALLACE:I don't mean to interrupt you. I mean, are you going to submit the $4.4 billion? Are you going to resubmit the tamper- proof card? Are you going to resubmit the employer verification or not?
CHERTOFF: I think we're going to say to the members of Congress who think they have a better way that they should produce legislation and pass legislation, which they have not done for the past two years.
They've tried enforcement only. That didn't pass. We've tried comprehensive. That stalled. I think it's now time for Congress, which has the power to legislate, to make a determination about how it wants to help us solve this problem.
WALLACE: But the government, the president, is not going to submit his own plan.
CHERTOFF: Well, we've submitted a budget. We submitted a comprehensive immigration plan. We agreed on $4.4 billion which was going to be secured by the payments made by the illegals so it would not bust the budget.
In the absence of that plan, I think now those who have a better way ought to come forward with that better way. We're still going to work on our part to enforce the border using the tools that we have. (emphasis mine)
We will see just how diligent you will remain, Secretary Chertoff, now that you aren't trying to convince the American people that securing the border is important to you in order to pass comprehensive immigration reform.
The sad thing is that even though the American people were heard loud and clear, nothing tangible will be done to secure our borders. Those who supported the comprehensive immigration reform will say it is the fault of those who opposed that legislation.
Those who opposed it because they wanted to see if the government could enforce the laws it already has on the books before considering another amnesty will be validated by the continued lack of effort on the part of our federal government to secure our borders and enforce those existing laws.
Our representatives will return to status quo.
Nothing substantial will be done to enforce our laws because the carrot that was being held out in the form of comprehensive immigration reform has been put back in the bushel basket and there's no longer any need to prove to the American people that the federal government takes it job to secure our borders seriously.
To those representatives:
Don't blame the opponents of the bill, do your job of securing our borders and then come back to us in a couple of years. The "ball's" still in your court and the "carrot" can be replaced but not unless you prove you are willing to do your job and do it consistently and do it long term.
Author's note: This post has been edited for content and the title changed.