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Dems Punking On Border Debate | The Nation

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Dems Punking On Border Debate

Let's extend the discussion we're having here on immigration reform another round or so. Below this post you can read of my colleague Sam Graham-Felsen's hopes for the much-needed DREAM act to come to fruition.

Frankly,just as the Senate starts marking up its immigration reform bill before a March 27 deadline, the lights on the whole border enhcilada are alarmingly dimming out. Dreams are more likely to end as nightmares. Yes, the Republican restrictionists on Capitol Hill are doing a fine job of sandtrapping more moderate reformers.

But let's stop for a moment and ponder what a piss-poor job the Democrats are also doing.

First there's the case of Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano picking Wednesday as the day to annouce she is ordering more National Guardsmen posted on the border. NO accident this comes on the very same day that the Senate debate begins. Even less doubt that this is the most numb-skulled sort of political demagogy. Napolitano knows very well that sending down a couple of hundred Guard members to simply ride along with Border Patrol agents and back them up on techincal and administrative affairs is gonna have a 0.0% effect on plugging up illegal immigration leaks. But the dispatch of the troops sure reads great in those headlines -- ain't that right Governor? On a day when when we need maximum clarity, we get cheap grandstanding and pandering to the other side.

More flummoxing are the political declarations today of Hillary Clinton. After a long studied silence on the immigration issue, Ms. Clinton finally spoke out today saying that some of the Republican border reform plans currently out there would set up a "police state." (My, my America is an accelerated decline -- moving from plantations to police states in barely a months time!)

The truly offensive part of Ms.Clinton's remarks derive not so much from her well-known cowardice on this issue, but more so from the ghastly border policies enacted by Mister Clinton last decade. In the mid-90's, President Clinton imposed draconian lockdowns on traditional urban crossing points from San Diego across to El Paso. The macabre result was to re-route the flow of the udocumented out into the most hostile and unpopulated deserts. The death toll of those trying to cross rose from 30-50 year in the first two years of Clinton to 300 and 400 where it remains today. Worse, in the wake of the Oklahoma City bombing, Clinton passed a set of immigration regs that immediately led to the summary deportations of tens of thousands of immigrants, some of them legal residents. So you know what? I really don't want to hear a word out of Hillary on this issue except, mayb,e "I'm sorry."

Finally, the wire reports inform us that on this, the first crucial day of Senate Judiciary Committee mark-up on the proposed reform, the Dems were basically AWOL. The San Jose Mercury News reports that:

No more than eight of the 18 members on the Senate panel were ever in the meeting room at one time Wednesday. Under the committee rules, it takes eight members to vote on amendments and 10 to actually vote on the total bill. And at least two members from each party have to be there.

For much of the time, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., was the lone Democrat although Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., came and went as did a few others.

Specter, R-Pa., repeatedly asked the staff of the absent senators to summon them and said if this continues he will start asking those not showing up if they "really" want to be a member of the usually coveted panel.

A DREAM act? More like Deam On! The growing consensus of expert immigration watchers is that this whole process -- years in the making-- seems headed for a crash and burn over the next few weeks. There just aren't enough Republicans who will fend off the wackos from their right fringe. And the President, who once had honroable positions on this issue, has retreated back into his bubble. And there aren't enough Democrats out there ready to make common cause with the likes of McCain or even Bush to get something done that might be actually good for the country.

Here's the early line from the consulting oddsmakers I keep retained on my mammoth staff: They'll offer you today about 6 to 1 that there will be no comprehensive reform and that within a few months we will be back to where we were a year ago -- nowhere.Said one smarty pants immigration lawyer I know: The Republicans are on the verge of doing to immigration what Hillary Clinton did last decade to Health Care -- Set it back several decades!

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