Bay State Smoke And Mirrors

There’s a hell of a lot of buzz going around about a bill passed by the Massachusetts State Senate yesterday. It’s a sweeping crackdown on illegal aliens in the Bay State, with some actual, serious, real enforcement of existing laws. Among its highlights:

  • Forbidding companies convicted of hiring illegal aliens from bidding on state contracts.
  • Makes punishable using a false ID to get work with a business that holds a state contract.
  • Requiring all businesses contracting with the state to verify the legal status of all employees.
  • Requiring a driver’s license to register a motor vehicle.
  • Increasing the penalties for driving without a license.
  • Increasing the penalties for forging a driver’s license, learner’s permit, or state non-driver ID.
  • Requires MassHealth (the state’s local version of ObamaCare) to verify immigration status of all applicants.
  • Gives priority to legal residents of the state over illegal ones for public housing. (Sorry, Aunti Zeituni!)
  • Sets up a hot line where people can anonymously dime out those employing illegal aliens.
  • Authorizes reinstating a policy where the state cooperates directly with ICE on identifying and detaining illegal aliens (instituted under Governor Romney, canceled by Governor Patrick).
  • Requires all criminal defendants’ immigration status be determined.
  • Denies in-state tuition at state colleges to illegal aliens.
  • Requires all applicants for state educational financial aid to prove both financial and citizenship status.

Sounds pretty good, right? You betcha.

Too bad it’s all a crock.

Oh, the bill did pass the Senate. And as written, it seems like a good move. But it ain’t going nowhere.

What this is is an election-year stunt. No more, no less.

Let’s remember our Schoolhouse Rock. That was talking about the federal system, but it’s pretty much the same on the state level. In order for a bill to become a law, it has to pass both houses of the legislature, then be signed by the chief executive. This measure is barely one-third of the way.

Next, it’s on to the state House of Representatives, where it will in all likelihood die an ignominious death. Significantly less likely is that it will be passed with some serious amendments, meaning that it has to go to a conference committee between the two Houses to see if they can find a mutually agreeable version.

The last possibility — that the House will pass the Senate’s bill unchanged — is not even worth mentioning. So the odds are it will die in the House.

But let’s play along with the fantasy and say it does get the approval of both houses. Then it goes to the governor’s desk. Deval Patrick is best described as “Obama’s Mini-Me” — a significantly less substantial version of the president (as impossible as that concept might seem to be). There’s no way in hell Patrick will sign this law.

At that point, it’s dead unless the legislature overrides his veto. That takes a two-thirds vote from each House. It passed the Senate 28-10, which is barely over that threshold. All the liberals have to do is to get one Senator to switch their vote — and the Senate is currently 35 Democrats and 5 Republicans. All the Republicans and 23 Democrats voted yes (two Democrats did not vote, including the Senate President), so all they have to do is get the abstainer to vote no and one Democrat to flip, and there goes the veto override.

Or in the House, where the Democrats hold 144 of 160 seats. (For those playing at home, that means that the Democrats hold 87.5% of the Senate and 90% of the House. In addition, they also hold 100% of the statewide elected offices, all 10 of the US House seats, and one of the US Senate. Republican representation in the Bay State is Scott Brown, five state Senators, and nineteen state Representatives.) To think that the insanely liberal Massachusetts Democrats couldn’t muster 54 members of the House to preserve a Patrick veto is ludicrous.

So, what does this bill mean, in the big picture? That even in the bluest of blue states, there is a growing discontent with the illegal immigration problem — so much that the legislature that is usually quite happy to flip the bird to the general populace with impunity (and gets away with it) feels it needs to make even this slight token gesture to public sentiment.

But don’t for an instant think that it will actually achieve a damned thing. Remember, this is Massachusetts here.

One quick side note: this will no doubt be portrayed as “anti-immigrant” and, of course, “RAAAAACIST!” (But that’s a given). But that, as usual, is a load of crap. Not a single provision of this law will have the slightest effect on legal immigrants. Indeed, it will likely make their lives easier, as some the “bad apples” who give them a bad name will be weeded out.

No, the real anti-immigrants and racists here are those who oppose these reforms, because they lump legal immigrants and illegal immigrants into the same category. This law — and this movement in general — are no more “anti-immigrant” than speeding and drunk driving laws are “anti-motorist.” In both cases, the laws are aimed at those who are endangering those who are obeying the law.

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