Nelson Declares Immigration Reform Deadby Kyle Michaelis
The Lincoln Journal-Star reports:
Congress appears headed toward a deadlock that will scuttle immigration reform this year, Sen. Ben Nelson said Friday.
If the Senate approves the comprehensive reform bill currently on its way toward enactment, that will lead to a House-Senate conference committee impasse, Nelson predicted.
“Nothing will happen,” the Democratic senator said...“People will come across the border in record numbers (to) get here while they can. And we won’t solve the problem this year.”
Nelson is not the only Senator raising this concern. Alabama Republican Jeff Sessions, with whom Nelson worked on his own immigration proposal, declared yesterday "The Senate should be ashamed of itself" for the bill it's advancing.
Now, I appreciate that Nelson has not so-explicitly laid the blame at the Senate's doorstep. It's important to remember that House Republicans' unwillingness to compromise will be just as much to blame for Congressional inaction as anything else. Moreover, President Bush - as a Republican President when Republicans control both houses of Congress - deserves a mighty share of the fault as well. This is what happens when a president has no authority, offers no leadership, and has had no domestic agenda for 5 years beyond making the rich richer.
And, although it's going to piss-off the American public - there is some question whether no bill in 2006 is truly worse than a bad bill that neither side cares for very much. Congress should not just go along to get along on an issue of this much importance. Sure, compromise is a good goal to have, but when it's not possible, it's only right that the decision be left to the American people. That's why we have elections, and - lucky for us - the next one's just around the corner.
To be honest, I'd like to see Nelson just as concerned with creating the best immigration proposal possible as with placating the House's right-wing majority. And, he should be more careful of the company he keeps with Senators such as Sessions who are, themselves, more concerned with Crusade than compromise.
Eventually, the immigration debate is going to come down to who we are as Americans and what our values truly are as a nation of immigrants and a nation of laws. Nelson should take care to be on the correct side of that debate when it finally occurs.
For now, inaction may prove outrageous, costly, and even offensive. But, if a chasm exists so deep and wide, what choice do we have? Give it time and, eventually, the people's furor will give us all the answers that we need.
Such is the beauty (and the danger) of democracy.