Now that the incredibly ugly “immigration reform” bill is thankfully dead (for now — Harry Reid might pull yet another Dr. Frankenstein play), a lot of people are asking “what next?”
First off, let me say that I am glad the bill died, and in the Senate rather than the House simply because that was faster. The bill had serious problems, the greatest of which was that almost no one knew just what was in it. The rush behind it was so great that only a handful of people had the slightest clue what it contained, and they were not exactly honest about the details.
The biggest concern I have about this bill is the same I have about almost any new law. There is a very seductive power behind the authority to legislate. It’s most common among liberals, but no one is really immune. It’s the concept that problems are solved by passing a law.
That’s often a good step towards solving the problem, but far too often it’s the only step. And the books are filled with laws that are never enforced. My favorite example is Massachusetts’ 1974 Bartley-Fox law, which mandated a one-year sentence for illegally carrying a gun. I don’t think I’ve heard of anyone being prosecuted for it in decades.
Had the bill passed, in any form, then the pressure would have been off them. They could point to the law and say that they had addressed the issue.
The main problem with these solutions is that simply passing the laws is only half the cure — or less. The real cure comes when you actually enforce the law.
In 1965, Ted Kennedy was a sponsor of the Immigration and Nationality Act. During the debate, Kennedy (D-Chivas) declared “…our cities will not be flooded with a million immigrants annually…. Secondly, the ethnic mix of this country will not be upset…”
Teddy’s little “reform” worked out so well that the illegal alien population shot from under one million to around six million in 1986, when the Immigration Reform and Control Act was passed. At that time, Ted proclaimed that “(t)his amnesty will give citizenship to only 1.1-1.3 million illegal aliens. We will secure the borders henceforth. We well never again bring forward another Amnesty Bill like this.”
Let’s fast-forward another 21 years. Ted Kennedy is once again trying to “fix” our immigration problem, after his last two efforts worked so swimmingly.
But enough about Kennedy. While kicking around that bloated, drunken sot is always appropriate, it’s not always the most productive thing.
The real point is, we already have plenty of laws on the books. Most of what would have been addressed by the most recent bill is already covered.
I offered, on several occasions, to accept the bill under pretty much any form passed, under one condition: that it actually be enforced. Based on their past performance, I have come to the conclusion that politicians rarely have the stomach to enforce the laws they pass, as that tends to make people unhappy.
Unenforced laws are caustic things. They erode respect for not only themselves, but all laws in general. Simply passing a new law almost never makes things better, especially when the situation is already covered by other laws — in fact, it most often means that there will just be another unenforced law on the books, while the problem goes merrily along.