Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Immigration Nation

Here’s what happens when you poll people on a complex, emotional issue the vagaries of which they know little about,” writes Allahpundit at Hot Air who, having already parsed the views of Muslim Americans, now dissects The New York Times/CBS News expansive poll on attitudes toward immigration reform.

The survey found that 62 percent of respondents were in favor of allowing illegal immigrants who have been in the U.S. for more than two years a “chance to apply for legal status.” Then, Allahpundit tells us, things get a bit contradictory:

Only 37 percent overall approve of a citizenship track for guest workers as opposed to 55 percent who either oppose a guest worker program entirely or insist that workers go home at the end of their term. (Or is it the temporariness of the program that those 30 percent in question 69 oppose? It’s not clear.) … If we’re unwilling to let guest workers who’ve lived here for a few years assume legal status, why let non-guest-worker illegals who have lived here for more than two years enjoy that privilege?

Taking all the results thus far together, we find that Americans are willing to grant legal status to illegal aliens so long as they’re not here as part of a duly enacted guest-worker program, and only if we also get to prosecute them. Super.

The clear message: “Just keep asking the same questions with slightly different phrasing,” says Allahpundit. “Eventually you’ll get the answer you want.”

The pollster Scott Rassmussen compares his own survey results to the Times/CBS poll (very similar) and offers a little political insight:

First, the debate in the Senate has focused on how to legalize the status of illegal aliens. For most Americans, that’s missing the point (just 29 percent of American voters see legalizing the status of illegal aliens as a Very Important issue). Second, there is enormous skepticism about the government commitment to enforcing the borders (as the Times survey noted, only 14 percent believe the government is doing all it can at this time). To most voters, immigration reform is all about border control. Until voters are convinced that the enforcement is both real and effective, there will be no popular support for reform.

How will the politics play out? The Republican candidates don’t seem to be clear. “The McCain campaign — staying all over Romney on immigration like stink on [the stuff that fell on Bush’s arm yesterday] — says that Romney didn’t use the word ‘amnesty’ in Florida yesterday,” according to Jonathan Martin at The Politico. “The insinuation, of course, being that Romney is softening his tough talk on borders in a more diverse state where many top Republicans (Jeb, Martinez, Crist) take a more moderate stance on the issue.”

Mark Steyn is most concerned about the fast-track system for visas favored by supporters of the Senate bill.

The more you look at this bill the more it seems just the usual Beltway kabuki. Secretary Chertoff says in a time of war we need to know who’s in the country. Okay. But is dumping a gazillion new applications on a sclerotic immigration system the way to do that? Mohammed Atta was the second most famous terrorist in the world and on the front page of every American newspaper but the then I.N.S. still sent him a valid U.S. visa six months to the day after he died, and without even updating his address from that Florida flight school to Big Hole In The Ground, Lower Manhattan. And the excuse the agency made was, oh well, we’re only issuing visas to dead terrorists not living ones - which Americans pretty much had to take on trust and which seems a distinction far less likely to be maintained once there’s another 15 million in the system entitled to next-day service. If I were Mullah Omar, I’d apply for a Z-visa. The odds have got to be better than even.


Tales of the Somewhat Surprising

Mark Noonan at Blogs for Bush is (somewhat surprisingly) pleased that the Democratic House passed a law against gasoline price gouging.

He feels it sends the right message to the oil companies:

It is time to be pro-active: drop the price of gasoline, or eventually face the wrath of the American people who will go along with price controls, perhaps with a veto-proof majority. That would screw up the whole energy business and it would lead to scarcity and higher prices…but that will be poor consolation to you as your companies get soaked with windfall profits taxes which will hit you just as your current income is in the dumpster.

There’s nothing wrong with making money. Heck, there’s [nothing] wrong with making a whole lot of money - but there is a time and a season for everything, and if you don’t want it to be time for a major assault on the oil and gas industry, you might want to cut your profits down to a dull roar for a few months.

On the other side of the divide, Big Tent Democrat at TalkLeft is (also somewhat surprisingly) not upset that the Democrats were forced to pass a supplemental spending bill that didn’t contain an Iraq withdrawal date.

Big Tent writes:

Ironically, unlike most everyone else, I am not so discouraged about what can happen next. For I believe, after this hard lesson, for Democrats in Congress, for progressive activists, for the Netroots, we can now go forward with a PRAGMATIC, realistic plan to end the Iraq debacle AND play smart politics. Yes, from these ashes should rise the Reid/Feingold/ McGovern Dodd/Kerry/Edwards/Obama/Clinton/Boxer, et al. NOT funding after a date certain framework.

— Tobin Harshaw

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