Hendricks County Flyer, Avon, IN

Commentary

February 8, 2013

Marco Rubio's bad deal

(Continued)

The Gang's enforcement "triggers" affect only the path to citizenship. In principle, the enforcement provisions - requiring use of the E-Verify system for employers and establishing a system to monitor entries and exits from the country - are worthwhile. But only a naif would have much confidence in their timely and effective implementation.

If we've established a bipartisan consensus on anything during the past 25 years, it is that immigration laws don't matter. As Mark Krikorian of the Center for Immigration Studies points out, Congress has already required the completion of an entry-exit system six times. To no avail. It passed a law in 2006 calling for the completion of a double-layer border fence. Also, to no avail.

In general, the Obama administration picks and chooses which elements of the immigration laws it wants to enforce through "prosecutorial discretion." Does anyone believe it will be zealous in effecting new enforcement mechanisms that are opposed by its base and resisted by employers and civil-liberties groups?

We've been here before, with the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986. Rubio calls the 1986 law a "blanket amnesty," even though, on his terms, it wasn't unconditional or immediate. To apply for legal status, illegal immigrants had to pay a fee and prove that they had good moral character. If approved - and not everyone was - they had to wait 18 months before applying for a green card.

All of this was coupled with fearsome-sounding enforcement provisions to beef up security at the border and crack down on employers hiring illegal workers. In other words, in broad brush, the "blanket amnesty" of 1986 is indistinguishable from the bipartisan principles of 2013. Since the enforcement never happened, the 1986 law stands as a monument to bad faith.

Washington may be about to build another one.

(c) 2013 by King Features Syndicate

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