The Spectacle Blog

Penc-iveness on Immigration Bill

By on 5.24.06 | 4:12PM

Okay, finally my report, belatedly, on the terrific speech Mike Pence made at Heritage yesterday -- about which, by the way, he also will talk in a few hours on these shows: The Sean Hannity Radio Show, 4:30 p.m. EST
Fox News' Big Story With John Gibson, 5:00 p.m. EST

CNBC's Kudlow and Company, 5:15 p.m. EST

What Pence proposes really is the best solution so far to the immigration dilemma. It combines two things: 1) the already-passed House bill, MINUS the provision making illegal immigrants into felons (which would overwhelm our court and prison system) and minus the provision that Catholic bishops feared (the fears were WAY overblown) would punish good Samaritans; and 2) the basic thrust of the proposal by Helen Krieble to which I've linked before, favorably but vaguely, about which more in a moment.

My handwritten notes highlighted the following quotes I found most valuable from the speech (please check the accuracy of my shorthand against Pence's prepared text):

"I disagree with the president that amnesty is the middle ground," (and the Senate bill is indeed amnesty)."First and foremost, let us be clear on this point: We CAN control our borders." "A nation without borders is not a nation." (the president's proposed 6,000 National Guardsmen is not enough to do the job)

Pence proposes "a no-amnesty program... run by the private market instead of government."

"Let me say emphatically that this has nothing to do with race or ethnic background.... (It's about) LAW and ORDER."

We must "encourage illegal aliens to self-deport." "Their visas will only be issued outside the United States of America" (at what he calls "Ellis Island Centers" run by private corporations which contract with employers to match available jobs with applicants)

Employers who continue to employ illegals would be subject to STRICT fines and penalties ("To continue to employ an unverifiable person will be subject to serious penalties and fines"), and the number of guest visas would be limited after the first three years, plus the visas would only be for a specified time limited period. Also, the guest workers would have to bass a basic English proficiency test after two years.

There would be a nationwide electronic verification system combined with foolproof biometric ID cards for the guest workers, and there would be "enforcement at the workplace first." "All this technology is possible because we aren't looking to government to do it." Instead, private companies competing with each other would develop the program to allow cross-checks (here's the only place the government really comes in) with the national crime registery and the homeland security terrorist watch list (or something like that; my notes are a little vague here).

Okay, now I've gone to the prepared speech text itself for Pence's own shorthand summation:

I see the solution as a four-step process. Securing our border is the first step. The second step is to make the decision, once and for all, to deny amnesty to people whose first act in the United States was a violation of the law. The third step is to put in place a guest worker program, without amnesty, that will efficiently provide American employers with willing guest workers who come to America legally. The final step is tough employer sanctions that ensure a full partnership between American business and the American government in the enforcement of our laws on immigration and guest workers.

The point of all this is to give you a taste of what Pence is proposing. Especially when compared to this terrific Pence bill, it's no wonder that some senators and critics have labeled the existing Senate bill little better than garbage ("the worst piece of legislation to come before the Senate since I've been here," said Alabama's U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions, as quoted by the WashPost's Dana Milbank). Take a look for yourself at the whole Pence speech. Perhaps his bill may need some tweaking along the way, but it's the kind of rare proposal from which real legislative accomplishments come.

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