Tuesday, August 05, 2003

A New Song on Immigration from the GOP?

I'd meant to comment on this earlier, but couldn't manage to get around to it till now. From the New York Times, we learn the following:

For the first time since the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, several Republicans in Congress are pushing for broad legislation that would regulate the flow of foreign workers into the country and potentially legalize millions of illegal employees.

Senator John McCain and Representatives Jim Kolbe and Jeff Flake, all Republicans from Arizona, introduced bills in July that would grant permanent residency over several years to foreign workers who enter the country legally and to illegal workers already in the United States.


Mr. McCain said he expected the plans to be attacked from "both ends of the spectrum" and that the legislation would face many political obstacles.

Advocates for immigrants said that the bills lacked adequate safeguards for workers and created a complicated and arduous legalization process. On the other side, Representative Tom Tancredo, Republican of Colorado, has criticized the plans as an attack on America's borders.

"It's really amnesty on the installment plan," said Mr. Tancredo, the leader of the Congressional Immigration Reform Caucus, which favors reducing immigration. "They are even more ambitious in their amnesty proposal than some of the Democrats I've seen. We have to watch this carefully."


The bills would allow the number of worker visas to be determined by the demand for workers. Jobs listed on a Labor Department registry for 14 days and not filled by Americans could be given to an immigrant guest worker. The jobs would be advertised every three years to ensure that American workers were not interested.

Foreign workers who apply for temporary work visas while living abroad could apply for legal permanent residency after working in the United States for three years. Illegal immigrants already here would have to pay a $1,500 fine and wait for three years before applying for permanent residency if an employer sponsored the application, or six years without an employer sponsor.

In my eyes, there can be no greater recommendation for this bill than that Tom Tancredo doesn't like it; no doubt he'd been hoping instead to ride the "terrorism" bandwagon in his crusade to tighten immigration laws even further.Thank goodness there are Republicans like McCain, Kolbe and Flake, who are able to ignore Tancredo and his ilk - it's about time that the GOP broke with the immigrant bashing not only is it distasteful and hypocritical in a nation of immigrants and their descendants, but it is also simply bad politics over the longer term. Those Hispanic voters who Tancredo and company wish to make out as an invading host are going to be voters some day, and the odds are that they won't forget how they'd been demonized when they do.