So, now that the Senate has acted, we are told that the House of Representatives must get down to business and deal with this irretrievably broken immigration system. Why?
What is broken about it? Are our laws too harsh? Too lenient?
Do we refuse entry to too many decent, law-abiding visitors? Do we expect more of those who want to cross our borders than other nations expect of us when we cross their borders?
We are told that we need to know who these people are. Why? There were thousands of Americans who drove home drunk last night and had the good fortune not to get caught breaking our laws. Are we looking for them? What will we do to them if we catch them?
If we have no intention of sending illegal immigrants home or punishing them for breaking our laws as their first American act, why do we care who they are?
We are told that we cannot fix our borders without a comprehensive reform of our immigration laws. Why? What is stopping us from just building a fence to close the border? Indeed, if we do not close the border, what difference does it make what our immigration laws are? What will stop future illegal immigrants from just crossing the border?
Nothing. Nothing at all.
We are told that we have "de facto amnesty" today. Therefore we need to pass "de jure amnesty" to bring them "out of the shadows." Which is it?
Amnesty is defined as officially pardoning past offenses and forgiving and forgetting those past offenses. Thus -- "de facto amnesty" -- by definition, means that for all practical purposes those here illegally have been pardoned and forgiven. Then who is in the shadows?
But the Senate decided that it must act. And so it did. And those who voted against the bill are cold and heartless. It is as though those poor innocents in the shadows need some love and caring.
Meanwhile, who is caring about the American people? You remember them. They are the ones paying off the bonds that built the schools. They are paying for the food for the children who bravely come out of the shadows for free breakfasts and lunches in those schools.
Those Americans pay the taxes so that one in six of us, including those in the shadows, can get food stamps. (I know we've changed the name of that program to reduce the stigma, but who cares?)
Those same taxpayers are footing the welfare bill so the folks in the shadows aren't second-class citizens -- oops, I mean visitors. In California, more than 80 percent of the households headed by illegal immigrants are on welfare. Only about 60 percent of the homes headed by legal immigrants are on welfare.
And while we're settling them in, of course, let's get them registered to vote. How thoughtful.
Politics has become a very important part of this legislation, too. Democrats Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi are deeply concerned about the future of the Republican Party should comprehensive immigration reform not pass. Between them they have served nearly 60 years in Congress. You just know that they wake up every day wondering what they can do that day to strengthen the Republican Party.
So the Senate has done what they do best -- they acted. It seldom matters what the Senate acts on, so long as it acts.
It is now up to the House to determine whether our deep-felt concern is for those in the shadows or those who are picking up the tab. The House promises to deal with the issue piece by piece.
Good idea. For starters, why don't we enforce the immigration laws we already have on the books?
John Linder represented Gwinnett County in Congress for 18 years. He retired in 2010 and he and Lynne live in North Mississippi on a lake they share with their four grandsons. Their daughter, Kris, son-in-law, Jim, and son, Matthew, are around too, but they just get in the way. John writes, reads and takes care of the farm and the dog.