A bipartisan group of senators has released an outline for an immigration bill they plan on introducing, in anticipation of an immigration speech by the president tomorrow in Las Vegas. It's the same package as Bush, Kennedy, and McCain tried and failed to pass five years ago -- immediate amnesty for the illegals plus effectively unlimited future immigration in exchange for promises of enforcement.
Whatever you think of amnesty, it's the enforcement promises that are almost absurd. A key part is the development of an entry-exit system for foreign visitors, since about 40% of illegal aliens entered legally but never left. But Congress mandated the development of such a system 17 years ago, and has reiterated that demand five more times since. Why on earth would the completion of such a system be offered in exchange for amnesty? The government needs to honor its old promises before making new ones.
And that gets to the heart of the problem with the "comprehensive immigration reform" approach. Amnesty for knowing lawbreakers, distasteful as it is, has never been immigration hawks' chief fear; rather, it's the certainty that current crop of 11 million illegals will just be replaced by another 11 million a few years down the road -- at which point the same people will be telling us that we just have to legalized them, too.
Instead, we need smaller, targeted measures, say mandatory E-Verify (the online screening system to check the identities of new hires) in exchange for amnesty for illegals who came here before, say, age 7. Then, if that works, we can discuss what the next step should be. But an all-or-nothing attempt to pass a 900-page law that no congressman will have read before voting on it is guaranteed to end badly.