Off the Kuff Rotating Header Image

More immigration division

Yet another Texas poll shows that there’s a roughly even split of opinion over President Bush’s immigration reform plan.

Forty-eight percent of the 1,000 Texans surveyed randomly by telephone endorsed Bush’s plan, 45 percent opposed it and 7 percent declined to give an opinion. The proposal drew the most support among Hispanics — 55 percent — compared with 49 percent among Anglos and 37 percent among black people.


In addition to underscoring the polarized views on Bush’s proposal, the Texas Poll also showed that Texans are increasingly frustrated with the flow of undocumented immigrants across the border. As many as 700,000 undocumented workers are believed to be living in Texas.

The poll was conducted by the Scripps Howard media organization Feb. 12-March 3 for the Star-Telegram and several other Texas news outlets. The margin of error due to sampling is plus or minus 3 percentage points.

Sixty-nine percent of Texans say the government is not doing enough to stop unauthorized immigration, an 11-point increase from August 2001. An almost identical percentage — 68 percent — said the U.S. government should not make it easier for undocumented residents to obtain U.S. citizenship.

The survey also shows strikingly different racial and ethnic attitudes on virtually every category. Hispanics, constituting the nation’s biggest and fastest growing minority, tended to be more sympathetic toward undocumented immigrants, though there was sharp disagreement within that group as well.

I’d love to know how the breakdown was across party lines, but oh well. I’ve talked about this before, and while this is clearly an opportunity for Bush and the Republicans to gain some ground among Hispanic voters, I think it won’t mean anything if they don’t actually succeed in passing some form of legislation; in fact, I believe their failure to do so after making such a public pronouncement of their intentions will do them more harm than passage would have done them good. That’s the thing about controlling both houses of Congress and the Presidency – if you really want to make something happen, you don’t have any excuse if you fail.

And what are the odds of something passing this year?

At a joint news conference during the visit, Bush expressed hope that Congress would pass the measure but conceded that “there’s no telling what’s going to happen in an election year.” Lawmakers in both parties have issued the same assessment.

“The prospects for legislation this year are pretty dim,” said Dan Griswold, an immigration expert at the Cato Institute in Washington.

More on that from Sen. John Cornyn, who has his own immigration reform legislation in the pipe.

Sen. John Cornyn conceded Tuesday that immigration reform, and a proposal to extend the length of stay of Mexican visitors to the United States, are receiving opposition in Congress during a heated election year.

Cornyn, R-Texas, told border business leaders that changes to current laws face an uphill battle because “political extremists” dominate the debate.

“We are having to educate people in Congress and elsewhere,” Cornyn told the Border Trade Alliance conference at the Watergate Hotel.

The senator’s comments came an hour before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee held a hearing on immigration policy and U.S.-Mexico relations.

Yglesias thinks Bush deserves some credit for his immigration reform proposal, and I suppose he does. However short of perfection it may fall, it is an improvement over the status quo, and it’s always good to see immigration and immigrants treated as something other than a menace to the American way of life, again something on which Bush has a good track record. But I’ll say it again: It doesn’t mean diddly until Bush puts some actual political capital on the line and whips his own party into shape on this.

The president’s proposal has received opposition from House Republicans who have characterized citizenship and guest worker programs as amnesty to undocumented workers.

Democrats say the president’s proposal falls far short of providing significant protections for immigrant laborers and workers, and accuse Bush of using the issue as an election-year pitch to Hispanic voters.

Sen. Chris Dodd, D-Conn., argued that if Bush were serious about immigration reform, he’d use the White House to push his proposal through the House over Republican opposition.

Senator Dodd is exactly right. You get partial credit for bringing the issue to the table in the first place, but you don’t get a passing grade unless you act like you really mean it.

And hey, you don’t even have to push for the whole legislative enchilada to call yourself a success. You can advocate for non-controversial things like implementing the proper technology so already-instituted programs can do what they’re supposed to. How’re we doing on that score?

A new entry/exit system to track visitors to the United States is part of the US-VISIT program and must be implemented at 50 land ports by Jan. 1, 2005.

Border business leaders are concerned the new program will bottleneck traffic for Mexican nationals who own property in the United States and shop at American retail stores.

Cornyn has urged the administration to complete technology and infrastructure requirements, and to make sure the program will not harm border economies, before implementing US-VISIT.

“It is bad policy, it is a mistake, to implement a program before we know how it is going to impact the economy,” Cornyn said. “That is what we are risking if we implement US-VISIT on our border before we know what we are doing.”

Cornyn said the Homeland Security Department has yet to determine specifications, plans and costs for implementing the program at most border ports of entry.

“That worries me a great deal,” Cornyn said. “I can assure you we are not going to implement the US-VISIT program in such a haphazard way.”

These are your opportunities, Mr. President. What are you going to do with them?

Related Posts:

  • No Related Posts

One Comment

  1. Oddly enough: on the same day, ran an AP report on the same poll which included the following: “Eighty-six percent of those surveyed… said illegal immigration is a very serious or somewhat serious problem.”

    I guess those are the “political extremists” Cornyn was referring to.

    The Bush/Fox Amnesty is wrong in so many ways. Whether it’s an “amnesty” or not can be debated, but the fact remains that it will be seen as an amnesty. That will encourage further illegal immigration which, as poll after poll shows, is not what the people want. The left and right elites want it for their own reasons, but the vast majority of the people do not.

    In FY2002 just 13 (thirteen) companies were fined for immigration violations. Perhaps we should try enforcing the laws first and see where that takes us.