Friday, May 18, 2007

The Scrambled Politics of Immigration

America’s two leading Nazis, George Bush and Ted Kennedy...

Sorry, is there some confusion here? The rest of that sentence was to be about the White House and Senate agreeing on a sweeping new bill to reform immigration, but a Lou Dobbs-like voice intervened with the Third Reich reference.

The confusion is understandable, since immigration reform has scrambled polarized American politics beyond recognition.

"I really am anxious to sign a comprehensive immigration bill as soon as I possibly can," the President said after the agreement. “Today we took a good step toward that direction.”

Kennedy agreed, saying the bill “is the best possible chance we will have in years to secure our borders, bring millions of people out of the shadows and into the sunshine of America."

While the two symbolic figures of the American Divide are in accord, other politicians are all over the place. Republicans praised Kennedy for his efforts, but House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Leader Harry Reid expressed “concerns” over the need to “improve the bill.”

Presidential candidates are in similar disarray. John McCain agreed it was “a first step but important step,” while Barack Obama warned that "the proposed bill could devalue the importance of family reunification.”

Mitt Romney called it “the wrong approach.” Ever tactful Tom Tancredo said Bush was so “desperate” that “he is willing to sell out the American people and our national security."

But confusion is a small price to pay for seeing Congress get back to serious debate over an important issue. Maybe “serious” is putting it too strongly. How about “almost grownup?”

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