John Feehery: Speaking Engagements


Confab on Immigration

Posted on July 10, 2013
Immigration Reform

Republicans are having a confab on immigration as I write this entry.

I imagine that none of them like the Senate product.

I don’t blame them. I don’t like what the Senate produced, even though, had I been in the Upper Body, I would have voted for it.

The bill needs to be fixed.

The border surge is a complete waste of money. The internal security stuff is way too intrusive. I don’t like the e-verify provisions, especially on small businesses.

I don’t think the Senate bill does enough on assimilation. You should have a conversational understanding of English if you are going to be a citizen.

You should understand the basics of personal finance if you get your citizenship. You shouldn’t be eligible for welfare benefits for an extended period of time (maybe five years), if you were once an illegal alien.

But we need more than sticks to fix our immigration laws. We need some incentives to get the undocumented to go through the sometimes painful process of getting their citizenship. The whole point of this exercise is to get people out of the shadows and into the mainstream of society.

The Senate bill is pretty bad, but it is the start of the process. Like most things that come from the Senate, there is plenty of bad stuff in there.

But there is some good stuff too, and as the process unfolds, protecting some of that good stuff will be paramount.

Rich Lowry and Bill Kristol released a joint op-ed where they both came out against the Senate bill. That didn’t take a lot of courage, since they are preaching to a base that is virulently against the bill.

The question today is what’s next?

Should the House do nothing and let the Senate bill die along with it? Or should the House pass something and then go to conference with the Senate and hammer out something that is more workable?

Our immigration system is broken. We don’t allow enough farm workers in, nor high-tech workers. We have 11 million people in this country who live in the shadows. They don’t have any legal protections, so they are often exploited by unscrupulous employers. That drives down wages for all Americans.

Having so many here who don’t have a solid hold on the American dream destabilizes this nation. It leads to pockets of people walled away from the mainstream. It breeds suspicion. It makes it harder for law enforcement to do its job.

It also leads to higher health care costs. Illegal aliens don’t have insurance so when they get really sick, they go to emergency rooms. They don’t get shots because they live in the shadows.

People who live in the shadows seek protection from wherever they can get it, and if it isn’t law enforcement, it is criminal gangs. Immigration reform will help with disrupt gang recruitment.

If we fix the immigration laws, we make it easier for Hispanics and Asians to assimilate into America. If they assimilate and gain a piece of the American dream, they just might give the Republican Party a second look, especially if it is the Republicans who help make that assimilation happen.

But if Republicans continue to express disgust with illegal immigration, if they continue to oppose comprehensive immigration reform, if they continue to show disrespect for folks who should be their natural political base, they will be a minority party at the national level, and they will never win back the White House.

I hope somebody says that at the Conference today.