Crafted as a compromise, the bill would
- legalize foreigners who entered the USA without authorization prior to Jan. 1, 2007;
- increase border barriers;
- alter the family unification visa system to favor those with skills or assets.
Some say the border barriers will make the country more secure. Others point out that the open border, Canada, has been the gateway for would-be terrorists, whereas the patrolled border with Mexico has not coughed up one single such operative.
Some say that it's high time we stopped (other people's) family chain migrations. Other point out that changes will separate families.
Still, the politics being what they are, this is probably the best bet -- unless the Senate amends it beyond recognition.
The problem in this country are the millions of hypocritical and downright mean people who love to make life difficult for others and evade responsibilities themselves. They are easily recognizable as conservatives and Republicans.
They shout about "family values" but get caught with affairs and multiple, messy divorces -- some even with minors. They tut-tut about abortion, but they only impede the choice for poor women, who don't vote Republican if they vote at all, while leaving the possibility open for middle class and wealthy women, some of whom do vote Republican.
That's the hypocrisy part. Now comes the meanness part.
It is amply clear that the immigrants unauthorized to work hold jobs employers are happy to hire them for and that the loss of these people would be an economic setback. See, for example, this study for a snapshot of the situation in California that is representative of the national picture.
Despite the popular misconception, immigrants do not steal jobs from native workers. See here.
Yet nonetheless, there are burgeoning groups of chauvinist nativists who harass immigrants with vigilante tactics and are the backbone of the anti-immigrant movement.
There's no rhyme or reason here. It's just pure meanness. (Mixed with a generous dose of racism, which is also plain mean.)
Solutions that occur to me -- expelling the South from the Union or deporting nativists back to their beloved white, European homelands -- are either impractical or unworkable for the present.
The only solution is to give the irrational segment of our society, which unfortunately is much too large for a nation that stakes a claim to lead the world, some emotional satisfaction in exchange for a saner immigration policy.
That's what Sens. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass) and John Kyl (R-Ariz) did last Thursday when they cobbled the present bill before the Senate.
It's time to move this nation toward a more reasonable and open policy, as open to the immigrants we will increasingly need in the future, as we were in the past to those who came before.