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October 05, 2006

Half a fence isn't even half a solution

Check out "Dallas Morning News | News for Dallas, Texas | Opinion Columnist William McKenzie" October 3, 2007;

“What's going on in Washington's endless skirmish over immigration is a struggle for home-field advantage, about who'll have the upper hand when Congress returns after November's elections and takes up the unresolved immigration issue.

This is one time when the struggle for power affects more than Washington insiders. It matters to folks on the streets in states like California, Texas and Georgia, who live with daily reminders about why Congress must create a sane immigration system.

The struggle also will impact whether President Bush can generate momentum for his other domestic initiatives next year, including taking a swing at overhauling entitlements and the tax code. If immigration stalls – and after his failed overhaul of Social Security – he will lack any push to get other issues off dead center. Congress may think, "Why bother with this guy?"

More on that in a moment. Here's what happened last week before Congress recessed to go home and campaign: The House got the Senate to go along with 700 miles of border fence, probably between Douglas, Ariz., and the Pacific Ocean. The Senate previously approved 370 miles, but early Saturday it went for the whole House enchilada.

The natural impulse would be to believe the House's shut-the-border, security-first-and-only caucus had gained the advantage. But below the surface, where most of the action really takes place, some bigger-thinking Republican senators actually gained the initiative. Led by Sen. Arlen Specter, they said there was no way the House would force the Senate's hand by dumping a bunch of other border-security measures into spending bills. This wasn't just any group of senators. It included John Warner, Larry Craig and Thad Cochran. They had the seniority and conservative credentials to arm-wrestle House Speaker Dennis Hastert when he muscled his way into the debate.

This Senate group basically told him to take the other border-security measures out of the spending bills or the government shuts down. The speaker blinked, eliminating such proposals as enhancing the authority of state and local law officers to enforce federal immigration laws.

The House's security-only caucus got its fence and more border agents, but that's it. Even the fence isn't fully funded, with money enough to build only about half of the 700 miles. As one immigration advocate put it, House conservatives spent a year pushing for border security and got only a half-funded fence. That's not a lot…”.


Posted by VisaLawyer at October 5, 2006 08:33 AM


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