October 2, 2006
With Congress taking October off to campaign for November elections, this Congressional session comes to a close without having meaningfully addressed the immigration question. Despite a presidential proposal, a comprehensive Senate bill, and summer-long hearings by Republicans in the House of Representatives, the cumulative result is essentially this: permission to build a 700 mile fence along one-third of the U.S. – Mexico border. Congress doesn’t know how much it will cost to build 700 miles of fencing, however, so in reality the U.S. is only going to get as many miles as $1.2 billion can afford. No progress made on the undocumented population. No progress made on a guestworker program. No progress made on skilled workers. No progress made on creating a reliable verification system. In other words, Congress did again what it often does: pass its problems on to the next guy. The issue is not going away. As local and state governments rachet up the pressure, the federal government will eventually have to face reality and make some real decisions. Maybe next year.