Wednesday, May 17, 2006


The Senate overwhelmingly approved the Sessions Amendment by an 83-16 vote. The Sessions Amendment mandates the building of 370 miles of border fence in and around urban areas and 500 miles of vehicle barriers. The estimated cost for these barriers, according to Sen. Sessions, is $900 million. During his floor speech, Sen. Sessions said that he’d already gotten estimates from contractors on the project.

Needless to say, this is a major victory for conservatives who’ve been clamoring for a enforcement first bill. Combine that with the immediate deployment of National Guard units to the border, the hiring and training of an additional 6,000 Border Patrol officials, and you have a serious border security system.

These days, conservatives compare the current legislation to Simpson-Mazzoli. How any intellectually honest conservative can reach the conclusion that the curent legislation is just Simpson-Mazzoli II is beyond me. Here’s the Indiana University capsule on Simpson-Mazzoli:

Senator Alan Simpson, R-Wyoming and Representative Romano Mazzoli, D-Kentucky, recognized that illegal immigration could not be stopped entirely at the borders of our nation and proposed a different approach to curbing the problem. The Simpson-Mazzoli Act imposed sanctions on employers who knowingly hired illegal aliens. It also offered legal amnesty to immigrants who could prove that they had been living continuously in the U.S. since 1982, a concession to the reality that illegal immigrants who had been living in the U.S. for a long period of time had submerged in society and would remain difficult to identify.
Do you see anything in that description that hints of beefing up border security? Anything that increases Border Patrol staffing? Anything that builds 370 miles of triple-layered fencing and 500 more miles of vehicle barriers? Simpson-Mazzoli didn’t put in place a series of hurdles in the path to citizenship like this legislation has.

Frankly, conservatives are lying when they call this amnesty. Let me illustrate this anecdotally. Let’s suppose 2 men rob a bank. One is convicted, serves time in prison, then is paroled. The erstwhile bankrobber stays clean during his parole. The other bankrobber isn’t caught, is convicted in absentia and he’s eventually pardoned by the President. I’d submit to you that one made restitution to the bank, paid his debt to society, met all the stipulations that the judge imposed, then stayed clean during his parole. The other was convicted of a crime, then pardoned.

The end result is that they’re both free men at the end of a certain period of time. We’d be intellectually dishonest, though, if we said that they both were pardoned. We’d be laughed at if we said that.

Similarly, Simpson-Mazzoli said that illegal aliens had a relatively simple path to total amnesty. This legislation puts in place a series of conditions that must be met even before they could apply for citizenship.

The other thing that intellectually honest conservatives must shoot down is the enforcement only/first peoples’ argument. As Tony Snow pointed out on Sean Hannity’s show this afternoon, the Senate bill gives the border patrol more officers and more fence than the bill that Tom Tancredo supports.

How on earth a conservative can say that the House bill is superior enforcement-only legislation is laughable.

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