Anyone vaguely familiar with the internet might already know that, on Twitter at least, Chuck Grassley is a deeply, earnestly, unpretentiously silly man. But wouldn’t you believe it — the same holds true for his conduct as a United States senator
Years back, there was the time he obliquely sanctioned talk of death panels by decrying a hypothetical government mandate to “pull the plug on granny.” Now we have this, his first legislative salvo in opposition to immigration reform:
Senator Charles E. Grassley, Republican of Iowa, said he worried that the current bill is “legalization first and enforcement later.”
“We need to work together to secure the border first,” said Mr. Grassley, the ranking Republican on the committee. “People don’t trust the enforcement of the law.”
Mr. Grassley has offered 77 amendments, including one that was approved Thursday that would require continuous surveillance of 100 percent of the United States border and 90 percent effectiveness of enforcement of the entire border. Currently the 90 percent rate applies only to high-risk sectors of the border.
Deploy government resources sparingly, precisely, and intelligently — no, no a Republican would never advocate such a thing. So why only 90 percent effectiveness? Why settle? Go for 110 percent, I say! No — make that 125! Until the border is patrolled by drones who have their own drones; and until all the drones’ drones have heat-seeking lasers, we cannot go forward with immigration reform. Thank goodness Chuck Grassley is around to make sure that doesn’t happen.
Check out the video above, if you can, to see Senator Durbin have a relatively congenial back-and-forth with Kansas Secretary of State (and intellectual star of the anti-immigration reform lobby) Kris Kobach over DREAMers and “self-deportation.” As you’ll see, part of the reason it’s rather civil is because Kobach lets Durbin dominate the conversation (usually the best way to keep a politician on the sunny side); but Kobach is a smart dude who lives this issue, so he holds his own, despite making what is at base a rather noxious argument.
And that argument is: people are nationalities first, human beings second. I don’t think Kobach actually believes this, but his take on what to do with DREAMers — which, remember, refers to people who are here illegally but came not on their own volition but with their parents — is callous and legalistic enough that it’s an obvious conclusion. It’s a fallacy to argue that voters always know right, but in this case Durbin is correct to note that Kobach’s “self-deportation” idea was up for referendum last November.
And it lost, badly, for a simple reason: only in the rigid, bloodless world of legal theory does Kobach’s argument that children are no different from adults, just so long as they’re both “illegals,” carry water. It’s principled, I suppose, in its way. It’s certainly logical. But it’s not, as Durbin says, compassionate. Politically, anything opposite from George W. Bush is seen as a good move for Republicans. But compassionate conservatism was a great sales pitch, the only one that’s worked for the GOP outside of appeals to 9/11 in quite some time. Republicans continuing to embrace Kobach do so at their own peril.
Here’s a pretty good New York Times piece on whether or how the Boston Marathon bombing has affected their views on immigration reform. (It’s got a touch of Jane Goodall with the plebes; but, well, it’s the Times.) If the piece is anything to go by, it looks like most folks’ opinions haven’t been changed one way or the other. People who hated immigration reform before hate it even more now. Those that supported it before still support it now. Surprise!
It’s nice, though, that there’s a wide-ish swathe of support for reform of some kind. As tends to be the case with large political coalitions, however, there’s a lot of variation among people’s understanding of what, exactly, they’re supporting. This gentleman from Malvern — near where I grew up! — probably doesn’t envision a post-reform America the same way, say, Jose Antonio Vargas does:
Like nearby Wayne, Malvern is part of a suburban belt that has grown more Democratic in recent elections. Attitudes toward immigration reform seem to be changing, in part along generational lines. Frank Cunningham, a 27-year-old accountant, said that he, unlike his father, favors a path to citizenship for the estimated 11 million illegal immigrants in the country.
“The way I was raised, my dad says, ‘If you come into the country illegally, you don’t deserve to be here,’ ” Mr. Cunningham said. “But I’m wondering who is going to do those jobs?”
It is what it is, as they say. Or: politics makes strange bedfellows. Whichever.