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Thursday, April 13, 2006

That was a bad idea




Immigrant Bill Fallout May Hurt House GOP
Strict Provisions Are Uniting Critics

By Jonathan Weisman
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, April 12, 2006; A01

In the wake of this week's massive demonstrations, many House Republicans are worried that a tough anti-illegal-immigration bill they thought would please their political base has earned them little benefit while becoming a lightning rod for the fast-growing national movement for immigrant rights.

House Republicans rushed through legislation just before Christmas that would build hundreds of miles of fence along the U.S.-Mexico border, require that businesses verify the legality of all employees' status through a national database, fortify border patrols, and declare illegal immigrants and those who help them to be felons. After more lenient legislation failed in the Senate last week, the House-passed version burst into the public consciousness this week, as hundreds of thousands of protesters across the country turned out to denounce the bill.

Yesterday, House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) and Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) issued a joint statement seeking to deflect blame for the harshest provisions of the House bill toward the Democrats, who they said showed a lack of compassion. "It remains our intent to produce a strong border security bill that will not make unlawful presence in the United States a felony," Hastert and Frist said.

Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.) fired back that "there's no running away from the fact that the Republican House passed a bill and Senator Frist offered one that criminalizes immigrants."

House Democrats acknowledged they helped block Republican efforts on the floor in December to soften the Republican-crafted section declaring illegal immigrants to be felons, but they said ultimate responsibility for the bill rests with the Republicans, who voted overwhelmingly for its passage.

"The Democrats were not going to do anything to make it easier for Republicans to pass an atrocious bill," said Jennifer Crider, a spokeswoman for House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.).

Yesterday's maneuvering underscores how the immigration issue has mushroomed into a fierce political debate with potentially large stakes heading into the November congressional elections. The hundreds of thousands of protesters in the streets Monday vividly demonstrated the power of the issue, which some strategists say threatens to undercut President Bush's long-standing hope of making Hispanic voters a GOP constituency.

That idea is dead. Not only have they lost a shot at converting Hispanics to the GOP, they have radicalized the under 30 set. They now have all the evidence they ever need that the GOP hates them and wants them to disappear..

The fact is that the GOP made this mess for internal politics and will pay externally for it.

The next move, a May Day strike from work and school.

Even if it's only of limited effectiveness, it's far more radical than anything seen since the early 1960's.

And the GOP had so much room to finnesse this issue and they went to the worst possible, most racist solution possible.

posted by Steve @ 12:08:00 AM

12:08:00 AM

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