Why it failed
We should not remain indifferent to immigration reform in U.S.
Jamshid S. Irani
June 11, 2007
As key players of the Comprehensive Immigration Reform (CIR) negotiations, including the team of two-party leaders and the White House attempt to bring back the CIR bill on the Senate floor, we will have to look back at the inherent failures in the compromise bill that eventually killed the CIR process last week. Without defining the causes of the failure, they will not be able to go anywhere when they return to resume the CIR process in the Senate. Clarification of causes of problems should be a starting point for a diagnosis for correction of the failures.
We submit that the compromise CIR had two inherent failures: One was the basic concept that the system would legalize 12 million illegal aliens, and as a solution to control immigration in the future, the system should reinforce the borders against the inflow of illegal aliens (allegedly half a million a year) while at the same time reforming the legal immigration system.
The second failure was the misguided concept of "compromise" producing a "mosaic" of completely unworkable and incompatible far-right and far-left political agendas rather than finding a solution that moved to the middle of the spectrum. The first failure has produced a sense of injustice in the legal alien community: the people who had abided by the laws were punished by the compromise bill and those who broke the law were rewarded. The legal immigrant community felt that such a compromise would encourage rather than discourage illegal immigration in the future.
This sense of injustice was brought about particularly by the concept of "elimination of chain immigration" and " point system or merit system" as the two pillars for control of future immigration. The negotiators had wrongfully focused on devices to punish and control legal immigrants rather than focusing on resolving the current illegal immigrants and the devices to prevent such flows of illegal immigrants in the future. That was the most critical failure in the compromise bill.
It was funny to review the bill as it was a simple accommodation of the far-right political agenda and the far-left political agenda side-by-side rather than a solution to truly compromise the differences and produce workable solutions that involved some give-and-take, which is the basic political skill of negotiation and compromise. This phase of failures further deteriorated during the process of debates and amendments last week. It was deplorable that the far-left Senators assaulted the compromise bill from a wrong direction and not in a direction to rectify the inherent flaws in the compromise bill. Accordingly, these Senators behaviors made the bill more "unworkable" rather than "workable."
One wonders why this happened. The Senate could have just picked up the bill which they passed last year and try to amend it through the debates and negotiations. Or, the Senate could have just picked up the bi-partisan bill of STRIVE in the House and tried to amend it by the art of negotiation and compromise.
As the New York Times editorial appropriately classicized, the leaders involved in the compromise and Senate majority and minority leaders and the White House totally failed. There was a vacuum in the nation's leadership. The other serious vacuum was evidenced by introduction of ridiculous concept of point system when the negotiators' job was to produce compromises based on programs which had already been identified by the last year's CIR bill and the bi-partisan House bill.
Sadly, there is a sense of impotence in the country at this time as to how the Senate would be able to rectify the problems at this point of time. The Senate may have two options. Option one will be to return to the amendment process for the existing compromise bill. Option two will be to replace the compromise bill by either the last year's CIR 2006 or the STRIVE bill in the House.
All of the foregoing three options are not that easy to achieve at this point of time and requires a courage and strong leadership in the nation. This is the time when the nation needs a true leadership. We should get in touch with our elected officials and encourage them to step forward and stand up for causes, however, unpopular. Our voices must be heard.
We should not remain indifferent in such critical times. Although no federal laws have been, or can be, codified against Americans of Iranian heritage, passage of laws do and will affect us all. Thus, it becomes incumbent upon each of us to participate in and formulate our future for ourselves and our future generations. Let the Iranians be heard too. Comment