Immigration ‘compromise’

When President George W. Bush and a few Democrat and Republican senators first announced a “compromise” bill to legalize millions of unlawful immigrants, I knew trouble was a-brewin’.

First, they wanted to put the “compromise” bill to a vote pronto — within days and, if possible, without people really knowing what was in the legislative package. When leaders try to act before people can examine the details of what they are doing, that’s always a big, fat red flag.

Second — and this especially turned me off to the whole immigration “reform” effort of 2007 — I asked some smart political people why we would gang together scores of highly controversial immigration “reforms” into one bill when we could just as easily deconstruct the issue into individual reforms and take each one to a separate vote. For example, all in favor of a big, long wall along the border of Mexico say “Aye.” Same thing with a guest worker program, amnesty, etc, etc.

Do you know why?

It is because each of the so-called immigration “reforms” in the Senate “compromise” bill would likely fail if they came up for votes individually.

Now, take a deep breath and let that idea settle in for a moment.

All this means that this bill was not only an unholy deal unworthy of passage, it probably was going to make things worse, not better.

If not one of the provisions in it could pass individually, why in the world would we want to pass a “compromise” bill that included all of them?

Yes, immigration reform is an issue we must address. But, please, let’s stop calling this a “compromise” bill. It’s an embarrassment to the real art of finding political middle ground.

Compromise means that one group gives a little and gets a little, while another group gives a little and gets a little. The bulk of the deal, however, is made up of items upon which most can agree.

That’s not what comprised this bill. It had no consensus, either as a whole or in pieces.

I hope our national leaders take up the issue soon, I sincerely do. My humble advice, however, is to start with ideas upon which everyone can fundamentally agree. Get a consensus on that majority of items, then work toward compromise on the minority of controversial items.

For me, the starting point to find something upon which we can all agree is not the issue of the wall or amnesty, but this simple idea: In a post-9/11 world, America needs to know who is within her borders.

We ought to start addressing that matter today. Now what exactly we do with a person who is found to be here illegally is an item for compromise. I think that we, as the great country we are, ought to err on the side of human compassion.

But before we get to compassion, can’t we all agree that in this age of terrorism we must — absolutely must — know who walks among us in our malls, our schools and our businesses?

Special report

The Review-Journal’s Special Projects team today begins a three-week examination of illegal immigration in Nevada. It starts on page 1J. Over the course of the series, you will find one common thread: No one in Nevada really knows how many illegal immigrants walk among us — and, alarmingly, no one seems to want to make the effort to keep track.

Sherman Frederick is publisher of the Las Vegas Review-Journal and president of Stephens Media. Readers may write him at sfrederick@

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