The Sacramento Bee sent out a PM Alert email last night entitled "'Mean-spirited bills will accomplish nothing." I immediately thought "Okay, that's code language. What are we blaming Republicans for this time?" since we rarely see "mean-spirited" as an adjective before Democrats or Democratic bills. My guess was something related to immigration and sure enough, I was right; it's the last line in their editorial today. I'll let you decide for yourself whether the Assembly bills are "mean-spirited," the right approach or don't go far enough. I was just having a Lakoff/Luntz moment.
The Sacramento Bee
Saturday, March 29, 2008
Say this for President Bush: He understands the roots of illegal immigration in the United States. As he has said, citizenship lines are "too long, and our current limits on legal immigration are too low." He tried to work with Congress to increase the number of green cards that can lead to citizenship.
Congress, alas, failed to enact reforms, so illegal immigration continues to be driven by perpetual backlogs and unrealistically low quotas. Not surprisingly, many families and employers take matters into their own hands, evading the law due to a lack of legal options.
But instead of pressing the president and Congress to create a workable national immigration system, Republicans in the state Legislature are promoting bills that would have California take it upon itself to punish employers seeking workers and foreigners seeking U.S. residence.
Here's a sample of the proposed craziness: Revoke business licenses for employers who hire undocumented workers (Assembly Bill 2421); make illegal immigration a trigger for the governor to declare a state of emergency (Assembly Bill 2812); forbid Los Angeles and San Francisco from declaring themselves "sanctuary cities" (Assembly Bill 2420); forbid local governments from providing services to undocumented residents (Assembly Bill 3X20). And don't forget to punish children: Support repeal of birthright citizenship in the Constitution (Assembly Bill 44); forbid California high school graduates from paying in-state college tuition if their parents entered the state illegally (Assembly Bill 1758).
Fortunately, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger isn't playing that game. He said Wednesday, "There is, you know, always a time like this where you start pointing the finger at various different elements. … I can guarantee you, I have been now four years in office in Sacramento. I don't think that illegal immigration has created the mess that we are in."
If legislators want to reduce illegal immigration, they should press Congress to reform the nation's legal immigration system. Their mean- spirited bills will accomplish nothing.