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Bloggings: Can Immigration Reform Survive the Border Security Poison Pill? By Roger Algase

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In 2007, immigration opponents had a simple and effective strategy for killing immigration reform. They only needed to rely on a four-word slogan: "No Amnesty For Illegals!".  


These four words were enough to express all of the fear, hate and racial stereotyping of non-white immigrants which have dominated America's immigration policy for more than a century, from the Chinese exclusion laws beginning in the 1880's, up to the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 (IIRIRA), if not up to the present.


This slogan itself was reminiscent of the notorious "No Irish Need Apply" cry of hate against Irish immigrants earlier in the 19th century. The "No Amnesty" slogan has certainly not gone out of fashion in the 2013 battle over reform, but no one would dispute that it has lost some of its potency since the November, 2012 election.


Hence the search for other slogans to defeat immigration reform. For a while, "Legalization will cost $6.3 trillion" sounded like a good one, until its co-author was exposed as a racial bigot who had suggested in his Harvard Ph.D thesis that Latinos are genetically inferior to whites. (By the way, why hasn't Harvard revoked his degree yet on the grounds of mistake? What is taking the university so long?).


Then it looked as if the slogan "Boston Bombing" might help to delay or kill reform. But that didn't work either. Neither did absurd slogans which had nothing to do with immigration such as "Benghazi" and "IRS".


But the people who want to kill reform have one good slogan left - "Border Security".


"Border Security" has two meanings. The first is from the world of reality, namely that the Obama administration has spent billions of dollars on fences, manpower and high tech surveillance in order to reduce illegal crossings along the Mexican border, and has by all accounts succeeded in doing so. 


But that is not the meaning of "Border Security" for CIR opponents. Their meaning is for this term to serve as a symbol of fear and hate, conjuring up endless "hordes" of less educated, unskilled Mexicans and other immigrants of color (according to the popular racist stereotype). 


The strategy of CIR opponents who want to use "Border Security" as a pretext to gut reform is clear. It involves insisting on impossible to achieve border protection goals, and then making not only the "pathway to citizenship" for 11 million unauthorized immigrants contingent on reaching these impossible goals, but also making even "provisional legalization" (i.e. relief from deportation) depend on accomplishing them.


A June 3 Politico article: Immigration reform deal hangs on border security, explains this as follows:


"Under the bill passed by the [Senate] Judiciary Committee, unauthorized immigrants could not transition into a probationary legal status until DHS had laid out a strategy for the Southern border."


However, according to the same article, even this condition, which might delay provisional legalization for years while this strategy is being developed, is not enough for CIR opponents, especially those within the Republican party.


According to the same article, GOE Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) who has evidently been anointed as the final arbiter of everything that goes into the CIR bill, wants Congress, not DHS, to draw up the border security plan right at the outset. Even if this is only a way of trying to appease hard right immigration opponents so as to stop them from filibustering the bill, it would virtually guarantee that even provisional legalization, let alone the pathway to citizenship, would never take place.


How can anyone ever expect Congress to agree on a border security plan? As another GOE Senator, Lindsey Graham (R-SC) states according to the same article:


"I'm just afraid that given the politics of the border, we're going to have a partisan vote every time we do this."


Can immigration reform survive the "Border Security" poison pill?





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