Teaching the Elephant to Eat ItselfIt figures that one of the few pieces of legislation garnering support from both the new Congress and the White House would be the immigration bill Minority Whip John Boehner describes as "a piece of shit". Rather than being the "everyone gets a little something" compromise that supporters claim, it's instead a "glass fully empty" compromise where no one gets anything except a morass of confusing and unenforceable rules that benefits no one.
There's near-universal agreement that our complex immigration policies are broken. Nearly everyone agrees it's a problem ignored too long and covered with enough patches to keep a retread bicycle tire spinning. There's also great support for beating the problem into submission now, rather than waiting for another administration.
But that's where the agreements end.
The Same Old Same Old
The current bill follows the same pattern as previous failed bills. Despite the complex task, lawmakers tried to solve the whole mess in toto rather than breaking it into smaller initiatives that would be easier to implement. In business, they call this eating the elephant one bite at a time.
In government, they call it screwing the pooch.
Illegal immigrants don't leave their families because they like July forth fireworks or love apple pie. They come here to find work. They trade one poverty-stricken existence for a not-quite-so poverty stricken existence so the family can eat. They do backbreaking work that Americans won't do (at least at the sub-poverty slave wages offered by agribusiness and one-percenter families needing maids and pool boys). Top that with the complicity of the US and immigrant nation governments and you guarantee an illegal immigrant tsunami that easily overwhelms unarmed National Guardsmen and fences in the middle of nowhere.
Illegal Immigration Reduction is Job One
Priority One should be reducing the tsunami to a more manageable trickle. We need tougher labor laws and enforcement coupled with helping immigrant nations boost their own economies so their economic woes aren't offshored to America. Fewer immigrants will come if they can make a living wage back home and everyone would be better off.
Lawmakers could tackle the thornier problem of what to do with the millions already here as a separate debate. When they do, they must see that putting those masses yearning to work almost free onto Tijuana-bound Greyhounds isn't logistically practical, amnesty be damned.
Sadly, this pickle shows the futility of it all. The same lawmakers that complicate matters now will resist cutting the elephant up. Even if Congress and the Decider Guy could agree on doing it, the needed economic legislation would look like Dasani in deference to powerful lobbies that benefit from an indentured servant labor pool. And even if lawmakers rammed through the economic reforms, deciding what to do with the immigrants already here would bog down in academic arguments about the "rightness" of amnesty and how steep the fine would be. Oh, and word to the pols - it doesn't matter if the fine is $50 or $5000, when you have no money you can't pay either one.
Simply put, a rational response simply ain't gonna happen.
Teaching the Elephant to Eat Itself
This debate is a microcosm of the myriad national problems that go unaddressed or are hidden by the real reason for their failures - a lack of foresight and dedication to what's best for the country. In a very American twist, it appears there is no workable way to eat that elephant one bite at a time.
Because the elephant would need to eat itself.
Truth Told by Omnipotent Poobah, Friday, May 25, 2007