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Sunday, March 26, 2006

Betwix and between


Not a good sign, is it?

A G.O.P. Split on Immigration Vexes a Senator

By RACHEL L. SWARNS
Published: March 26, 2006

WASHINGTON, March 25 — The telephone lines in the unassuming Houston offices of Senator John Cornyn, Republican of Texas, have been sizzling in recent weeks as anxious Republican voters call to find out precisely where their tough-minded senator stands on illegal immigration.

Senator John Cornyn speaking to a Houston group about immigration.

Mr. Cornyn is a former state attorney general and a fiscal conservative, a Texan who wears cowboy boots with his pinstripes and prides himself on his 100 percent approval rating from the American Conservative Union.

But as the Senate prepares to wrestle this week with the question of legalizing much of the illegal immigrant population, Mr. Cornyn, like many Republicans, finds himself squeezed by warring factions in his own party.

President Bush focused on the issue in his weekly radio speech on Saturday, a day after protests in three cities by immigrant rights advocates. As Mr. Bush spoke, people gathered at rallies across the country, including hundreds of thousands of immigrant rights advocates in Los Angeles and a few hundred demonstrators in New York. [Page 31.]

Mr. Cornyn has been criticized on conservative talk radio and labeled a "sellout" on some Web logs for promoting legislation that would allow millions of illegal immigrants to remain in the United States for five more years. The proposal would also create a temporary worker program that would allow those immigrants and hundreds of thousands of foreigners abroad to work here legally for up to six years.

At the same time, business groups have been pressing him to go further by supporting legislation that would put their illegal workers on the road to citizenship.

The legislative battle has pitted Republican against Republican, with conservatives deriding guest worker programs as an amnesty for lawbreakers and calling for a wall to be built along the border with Mexico, and with business leaders pushing for legalization of the illegal workforce and the admission of thousands of foreign workers.

With the Senate expected to start voting on legislation as early as Tuesday and Congressional staff members negotiating furiously over the fine print, some lawmakers are struggling to find middle ground.

In his radio talk, Mr. Bush acknowledged the difficulty that lawmakers faced. "This is an emotional debate," he said. "America does not have to choose between being a welcoming society and being a lawful society. We can be both at the same time."

But finding that balance has been enormously difficult. When asked how he felt on a recent day when he had shuttled from a telephone interview on Fox News Radio to a luncheon with business executives, Mr. Cornyn said, "In between."

"I have people come to see me who say, 'The wall is the answer,' " Mr. Cornyn said as he settled into a leather couch in his office in Houston. "I hear others say we ought to be sympathetic, we ought to just let them stay and call them legal and declare an amnesty. And I don't think either of those alternatives are possible or viable.

"Sometimes they end up yelling at me," he said of his conservative constituents. "But my job, and our job in Congress, is to see the whole picture and to come up with a realistic consensus."

Mr. Cornyn acknowledged, however, that it would be difficult to reach given the deep divide within his party. "It's the hardest thing," he said. "I honestly don't think we'll know the outcome until we get there."
Too bad this debate is mostly informed by fantasy. We can't wall up the Mexican border and have it mean anything. Millions of employed, tax-paying immigrants aren't going anywhere except under dire force.

Everyone wants the illegals to solve this problem by going home, yet they still give them work. Pete King is an especially noxious person here. He plays the xenophobe card while Nassau has a booming Latino population, legal and illegal. If the locals didn't hire day laborers, would they be in the burbs? No.

Making illegal immigration a felony is the stupidest fucking idea I can imagine. What are they going to do, set up concentration camps to hold the guilty?

posted by Steve @ 7:25:00 AM

7:25:00 AM

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