Repub­li­cans pan Specter im­mi­gra­tion com­pro­mise plan

The Washington Times Weekly - - National - By Ralph Z. Hallow

Some Repub­li­can lead­ers say they smell a rat in Penn­syl­va­nia Sen. Arlen Specter’s com­pro­mise pro­posal to get an im­mi­gra­tion-re­form bill through the Se­nate this year.

Mr. Specter now sug­gests the 12 mil­lion il­le­gal aliens he says are al­ready here should be given the equiv­a­lent of “green card” sta­tus but “with­out the au­to­matic path to cit­i­zen­ship” that crit­ics la­beled “amnesty.”

For­mer House Speaker Newt Gin­grich called the Specter pro­posal a form of con­gres­sional ex­tor­tion.

“Specter is as­sert­ing that the Congress is black­mail­ing the Amer­i­can peo­ple,” Mr. Gin­grich said. “The Congress will not en­force cur­rent law and will not in­sist on em­ploy­ers obey­ing the law un­less we give an un­known num­ber of peo­ple le­gal sta­tus. This is amnesty by black­mail — af­ter the Amer­i­can peo­ple ve­he­mently re­jected amnesty a month ago.”

Texas Rep. Ron Paul, a can­di­date for the Repub­li­can nom­i­na­tion, said flatly he won’t sup­port the pro­posal.

“I fun­da­men­tally dis­agree with Sen­a­tor Specter’s premise that we need to le­gal­ize th­ese peo­ple,” Mr. Paul said. “That is the very thing we should not be do­ing.”

Mr. Paul said that al­though “it may be marginally bet­ter to pro­vide peo­ple here il­le­gally with a green card in­stead of cit­i­zen­ship, this is sim­ply a dif­fer­ent type of in­cen­tive for those who en­ter il­le­gally.”

An im­mi­gra­tion mea­sure that would have granted le­gal sta­tus to mil­lions of il­le­gal aliens died last month in the Se­nate.

Ari­zona Repub­li­can Party Chair­man Randy Pullen, who led a suc­cess­ful fight at the Repub­li­can Na­tional Com­mit­tee an­nual sum­mer meet­ing in Min­neapo­lis to have the com­mit­tee en­dorse only border se­cu­rity with­out amnesty or any other pro­grams, said the Specter plan is not ac­cept­able to him or to grass­roots Repub­li­cans.

“There is noth­ing new here, ex­cept for the new coat it is wrapped in,” Mr. Pullen said.

For­mer Arkansas Gov. Mike Huck­abee, also a Repub­li­can pres­i­den­tial hope­ful, said the prob­lem with Mr. Specter’s plan is that it “starts at the wrong end of the equa­tion.”

He com­pared the Specter approach to ar­riv­ing at the scene of a car ac­ci­dent and start­ing first to clean up the blood in­stead of stop­ping the bleed­ing.

“This is the rea­son the Amer­i­can peo­ple have no con­fi­dence in the Wash­ing­ton’s so­lu­tions for im­mi­gra­tion,” Mr. Huck­abee said. “They don’t un­der­stand it and, there­fore, can­not fix it. It has to start with a se­cure border. Un­til then, it’s like try­ing bail wa­ter out of a sink­ing boat by us­ing a larger bucket in­stead of fix­ing the hole.”

In an opin­ion col­umn pub­lished Aug. 6 in The Wash­ing­ton Post, Mr. Specter ar­gued that il­le­gal aliens in the United States should be given “the com­pany of their spouses and mi­nor chil­dren and [. . . ] other indicators of cit­i­zen­ship short of the right to vote (which was al­ways the deal­breaker).”

The prospect for pass­ing any im­mi­gra­tion law is un­der­mined by deep dis­trust in the fed­eral gov­ern­ment’s will­ing­ness to en­force the law.

“We’ve spent a bun­dle of dough on border se­cu­rity,” said Bruce Ash, a Repub­li­can Na­tional Com­mit­tee mem­ber. “It just has not been very ef­fec­tively spent. [. . . ] Our gov­ern­ment has spent the bil­lions of dol­lars but not ex­er­cised the will to solve this prob­lem.”

Mr. Specter ar­gued that giv­ing green-card sta­tus to il­le­gals aliens “leaves open the op­por­tu­nity for them to re­turn to their na­tive lands and seek cit­i­zen­ship through reg­u­lar chan­nels. Or, af­ter our borders are se­cured and tough em­ployer sanc­tions have been put in place, Congress can re­visit the is­sue and pos­si­bly find a more hos­pitable Amer­ica.”

At least one Repub­li­can state party leader, though not sup­port­ing the Specter plan, said Congress can re­store its cred­i­bil­ity on im­mi­gra­tion.

“Many Repub­li­can ac­tivists just want to see Wash­ing­ton take border se­cu­rity se­ri­ously, while ask­ing ev­ery­one to show re­spect for the law,” Cal­i­for­nia Repub­li­can Party Chair­man Ron Nehring said. “If Congress demon­strates a new, se­ri­ous com­mit­ment to border se­cu­rity, it will reap the cred­i­bil­ity and flex­i­bil­ity nec­es­sary to deal with the more com­plex el­e­ments of the is­sue.”

Rick Bel­tram, chair­man of the Spar­tan­burg County, S.C., Repub­li­can Party, said Mr. Specter’s pro­posal “seems to prop­erly deal with the is­sue” of amnesty for il­le­gals.

“How­ever, it must be clear that felons would be ex­cluded,” Mr. Bel­tram said. “The other con­cern would be en­force­ment. The 1986 law [that pe­nal­izes em­ploy­ers who hire il­le­gals] has not been en­forced.”


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