What's Stopping the Immigration Bill
In 1786, Thomas Jefferson declared the United States "a country where the will of the majority is the law, and ought to be the law.&...
T.J., how wrong you were.
If the majority really ruled, the federal immigration bill would be speeding toward passage. Polls show that a majority of Americans support the legislation, which would allow millions of illegal immigrants to legalize their status.
As it stands, despite President Bush's efforts to resuscitate it, the bill's odds don't look good. The reason is that in politics, breadth of opinion is often less important than intensity of opinion.
There's no better proof of that maxim than the way the gun control debate has played out over the past decade. Overwhelming majorities favor an assault weapons ban and mandatory waiting periods for buyers. But Congress has allowed waiting periods and the assault weapons ban to lapse.
Why? Most gun control supporters have ten or fifteen issues that they care more passionately about, but for, many NRA members, it's number one. As a result, Democrats were losing elections because of their views on guns and decided to back down.
Even after the Virginia Tech shootings, Democrats were reluctant to support a modest measure, providing funding for states to update a federal database that is used to conduct background checks on gun buyers. They did so only after gaining the NRA's blessing -- and making concessions.
Immigration is playing out the same way. Most of the intensity is on the side of those who want more border enforcement and view the bill as amnesty, a situation that's weighing heavily on senators who aren't sure where they stand.
Then again, Jefferson also said, with regard to Congress, "procrastination is unavoidable." Maybe he knew a thing or two after all.
Join the Discussion
After you comment, click Post. You can enter an anonymous Display Name or connect to a social profile.
On Eve of Vermont's Labeling Law, Nobel Laureates Urge Support for GMOs3 hours ago
Abortion Ruling Spurs Planned Parenthood to Target 8 States3 hours ago
Why Christie Ordered All Road Work in New Jersey to Stop2 hours ago
Illinois (Kind Of) Passes First Budget in Almost 2 Years2 hours ago
Calling It a 'Day of Reckoning,' Alaska Governor Slashes Spending2 hours ago
Court Backs Ohio's Cleanup of Voter List2 hours ago