Morgan Liddick: Immigration bill needs to be torn apart |

Morgan Liddick: Immigration bill needs to be torn apart

Morgan Liddick

Somehow, the language of monster movies seems a good fit when describing the circular-firing-squad, hot-potato, let-them-eat-cake immigration bill of 2007. After all, “It’s alive …” Don’t get me wrong. This is an important subject; probably one of the most important to come down the pike in this long year. It’s going to shape much of the near-term future of our country for better or worse, so it’s understandable that the current bill is going to have more lives than Jason. But in the end it should also suffer his fate, so our solons can go back to the drawing board and come up with something that actually works – and that addresses the concerns of the citizens of our country.The current legislation has been called “flawed but workable” by its authors, who represented a truncated sampling of interests. They should have stopped at the first word.Consider its genesis: cobbled together in secret, in the small hours of night, away from the annoyances of public interference. And you thought the smoke-filled back-room bourbon-and-branch-water stuff went out with Hale Boggs. Silly you.

It was a bill that pleased no one. When dragged into the light of day and presented in a take-it-or-leave-it manner it was torn to shreds, in some cases by the authors themselves. When confronted by public reaction, they quickly repented of their creation.Now, the President and a few supporters in the Senate are working to revive the thing. They might see themselves as heroic surgeons, pulling a patient back from the brink. May I suggest they are another species of doctor, somewhat more akin to Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein? They should let the poor beast die, lest it wreak havoc. And start over, this time taking the American people into their confidence.Except our representatives fear this. We Americans want contradictory things, we are told. We want secure borders, but we also want cheap strawberries and landscaping services at reasonable cost, and we can’t have both. If this is true, get set to pay a lot more for your strawberry Daiquiri, because first and foremost, a large majority of Americans want secure borders. Seventy-three percent, according to the latest Rasmussen poll.But I wouldn’t start buying strawberry futures just yet. I think we can have border security and offer a program which addresses both the humanitarian concerns and economic variables bound up in the immigration question. I think we might even be able to offer a partial and temporary solution to the needs of citizens of countries too debased and dysfunctional to offer hope of reasonable opportunities. But, since it is not the function of the United States to provide everyone in the world a job, there will have to be limits, and enforcement. And our citizens must have a voice in determining how our government will do both.

The current immigration reform bill is an exercise in cynicism. It was created out of the public eye by politicians who thought the American public was too inattentive, too lethargic and too stupid to be bothered with the complex questions of immigration. When they discovered otherwise, courtesy of a torrent of communications from “flyover country” (that’s us too, folks …) that ran – in a couple of cases – 600-to-1 against the bill, panic ensued and the amendments began.Which is when the real chicanery set in. When faced with a bevy of proposed changes and failure to choke off debate, Senator Reid withdrew the bill, noting that the collapse of take-it-or-leave-it passage would be a “Failure of the Bush Administration.” This clumsy attempt to bash the President for what had been, up to then, a bipartisan and cooperative effort involving the White House and the Congress showed that Democrat leadership will turn on dime to pursue partisanship; not a pleasant sight, and not helpful. But well worth remembering.In the end, any “immigration reform” bill is going to take a lot of negotiating, and it’s going to be tough. But this legislation is too important to be done by political alchemists changing lead to gold behind closed doors. It’s certainly too important to be presented fully formed, like Athena from the head of Zeus. There must be broad input, full debate, the possibility of amendment, and robust public participation. Everyone should be satisfied that, if their specific concerns are not fully addressed at least the game isn’t rigged. The outcome should also suit the broad majority of our countrymen; that’s how one puts the “public” in public policy.

And if our Congresspersons complain this sort of light-of-day lawmaking will stymie any effort to produce a bill that serves the interests of our Republic, well, perhaps it’s time to find more vigorous representatives. While we’re at it – week 25 of the Democrat Congress’ war in Iraq. And counting.Summit County resident Morgan Liddick pens a Tuesday column. E-mail him at Also, comment on this column at

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