Is the perfect the enemy of the good?


This was Senator Diane Feinstein’s statement yesterday as she implored stakeholders regarding the Senate’s newly passed immigration bill. Here are the highlights:

Key components of the compromise immigration plan (from today’s Washington Post):

All illegal immigrants who arrived before Jan. 1, 2007, could stay and work after paying a $1,500 fee, passing a criminal background check, and showing a strong work record.

They would also have to pay a fine of $5,000.

After eight years, they could apply for a green card.

A new visa category would be created for parents of U.S. citizens, allowing them to visit for up to 100 days per year.

A temporary-worker program would allow 400,000 immigrant workers to enter on two-year visas, after which they would have to return home for a year before reapplying. The visas could be renewed up to three times.

A new point system would add factors for green-card eligibility to lessen the “chain migration” of family members.

The Border Patrol and interior enforcement would be expanded, and a new security perimeter would be created. Such border enforcement provisions would have to be implemented before immigrant-rights measures take effect.

SOURCES: Office of Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.), Congressional Quarterly, as quoted in the Washington Post

So, is the perfect the enemy of the good?

It all depends on your position on a couple of key aspects to this plan. The first is ending family reunification. Is that something that, as a nation, we should value? Our current “non-immigration” system de facto ignores family reunification in that the quotas are so low, people decide not to wait their turn, and bring their family members here illegally. I’m not sure what the Senators are thinking–that this desire to live with one’s spouse and children will evaporate, and people will stop bringing their loved ones here illegally?

Then there is the elephant (literally) in the plan: the enforcement-first stipulation before any of the termporary visas and amnesty takes place. How is it going to be determined that we ever have sufficient border security? Mr. Chertoff, of Homeland Security, thinks security measures could be implemented as quickly as 18 months, but like so many members of the current administration, it appears that Mr. Chertoff is living is the same fantasy bubble as his GOP colleagues.

Another problem is the temporary visa program, which gives laborers an 8 year visa with no opportunity to re-apply. What do the authors of this plan really think? That after eight years of working here, people will just go home?

It appears that the perfect is not the enemy of the good, but a lack of common sense and looking at past behavior as an indicator of what people are likely to do in the future.

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