Game over for this year?
Kolbe on the immigration reform
Tuesday, February 28, 2006
Immigration reform highly unlikely in 2006, Kolbe says
Immigration reform won't happen this year, Iraq may indeed be on the edge of a civil war and Americans are getting worked up for nothing as outrage flares over a United Arab Emirates firm managing American ports.
So says Republican U.S. Rep. Jim Kolbe, a committee chairman overseeing the U.S. foreign policy budget and a key player in international relations.
Yesterday, Kolbe spoke to the Tucson Citizen Editorial Board for the first time since announcing his retirement in January.
Rep. Jim Kolbe on immigration issues
His prognosis wasn't good on a couple of key issues including immigration.
The U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill that looked solely at tougher enforcement, while the Senate is debating a policy that would allow for guest workers to do jobs that employers have a tough time filling.
Kolbe predicted that House Republicans won't compromise with a Senate bill that seems lenient on illegal immigrants.
"As far as they're concerned, they've washed their hands. They've cast their vote," Kolbe said. "They can go back to their district and say, 'I voted to be tough.' "
The only way an immigration reform plan might happen is if the Senate passes an "enforcement-only" bill that can be reconciled with the House version, he said.
That would be "a horrible turn of events," Kolbe said.
Moreover, he shrugged off attempts by his fellow Republicans in the Arizona Legislature to craft state laws to go after illegal immigrants, saying it made "very little sense."
Kolbe said "there's a grave danger" that Sunni-Shiite violence could escalate into an Iraqi civil war.
If that happens, Kolbe said he's not sure what the next move should be for the United States..
"If it goes to an all-out civil war ... even if we wanted to, could we separate the sides and enforce some law and order?" he asked. "I suppose we could try."
The cost of security in Iraq is eating up money that could be spent on the Iraqi water system and oil production, which is down from where it was two years ago.
The portion devoted to security in the cost of a public works project has risen from 12 percent to 33 percent in the last three years, Kolbe said.
"You are losing so much ground just doing security and then the project gets done (and) it gets blown up," Kolbe said.
He said there's no danger in having the UAE firm managing port operations.
"That's a totally bogus issue," Kolbe said. "It deflects us from talking about the real issue and that's port security."
Fewer than 1 percent of containers coming into the country are inspected and that's the real issue rather than "who owns the company that runs the cranes," Kolbe said.
The UAE has been an ally in the war on terror, and many U.S. troops once stationed in Saudi Arabia now are based there.
"They aren't perfect, but there's no one in the Middle East that's perfect," Kolbe said.
Jim Kolbe has said that before too. Nothing new.
Jim Kolbe and other house members who are in AZ, NM and CA near the borders needed a shield in elections 2006 which they got from HR 4437. That is what he is saying. The house may not have the incentive to do more about this.
But here is the thing: BILL FRIST.
He wants to run for preznit in 2008. He HAS TO be tough on immigration since he wants to run the primaries in fall of 2007 on conservative credentials. He has warned the Senate Judiciary Commt that "If you dont come up with a workable immigration bill" I will introduce HR 4437 in the senate for debate.
So the idea that "Nothing will happen on immigration this year" is very very unlikely.
but the thing is Frist only wants to introduce an enforcement-only bill to the floor, something that will be easier to reconcile with the House Bill and make him look good. As such it will do nothing for skilled, legal immigrants
That bill, if he ever gets to introduce one, should include relief for skilled, legal immigration- which is something different than the controversial guest worker proposal...maybe QGA can help make lawmakers (Frist, in particualr) the urgency of skilled immigration relief!
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