Sunday, June 03, 2007

The Immigration Bill

Now to the issue of Immigration.

Interestingly, Fred Barnes and Charles Krauthammer are both supportive of the Immigration Bill. Of course they would like some changes, but they do think that this is better than nothing.

Conservatives are sometimes blind to what's in their own best interest. This is especially true on immigration, all the more so on the narrower matter of the bipartisan immigration reform bill now before the Senate. The bill gives conservatives a large chunk of what they've wanted for years, plus some things they don't want. The balance is heavily in their favor, though, and they're crazy to oppose this once-in-a-lifetime chance to stop illegal immigration and enact sensible policies for legal immigration.
Krauthammer discusses the media distortion of the polls related to the immigration topic overall.

But the campaign for legalization does not stop at stupidity and farce. It adds mendacity as well. Such as the front-page story in last Friday's New York Times claiming that "a large majority of Americans want to change the immigration laws to allow illegal immigrants to gain legal status."

Sounds unbelievable. And it is. A Rasmussen poll had shown that 72 percent of Americans thought border enforcement and reducing illegal immigration to be very important. Only 29 percent thought legalization to be very important. Indeed, when a different question in the Times poll -- one that did not make the front page -- asked respondents if they wanted to see illegal immigrants prosecuted and deported, 69 percent said yes.

I looked for the poll question that justified the pro-legalization claim. It was Question 61. Just as I suspected, it was perfectly tendentious. It gave the respondent two options: (a) allow illegal immigrants to apply for legalization (itself a misleading characterization because the current bill grants instant legal status to all non-criminals), or (b) deport them.

Surprise. Sixty-two percent said (a). That's like asking about abortion: Do you favor (a) legalization or (b) capital punishment for doctor and mother? There is, of course, a third alternative: what we've been living with for the past 20 years -- a certain tolerance of illegal immigrants that allows 12 million to stay and work but that denies them most of the privileges and government payouts reserved for legal citizens and thus acts as at least a mild disincentive to even more massive illegal immigration.

I believe his point is very important. The MSM cherry picks information without bothering to point out the differences in how the questions are asked. Frankly, I find this a drastic failure of the pollsters. They provide multiple questions asking very similar things, but supply different answer sets. Then the press picks the poll question that meets their political agenda and publishes.

And here is his conclusion:
Indeed, unless the immigration bill is fixed, that alternative is what the country will in essence choose when the bill fails. My view is that it could be fixed with a very strong border control provision. But let's make sure we know what's really in the bill and not distort what the American people are really demanding, which is border control first. And for God's sake, keep Einstein on the fast track.
Krauthammer also finds issue with how the Visas are issued, which I find really odd. But you can read that yourself.

There is little chance that I'll read the immigration bill. At 380 pages of political/legal contortive text, I think I'll pass. Fortunately, there are commentators on both sides that can help with understanding the issues.

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