On Fox News Sunday, Chris Wallace asked Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Trent Lott (R-MS) about the immigration reform bill. Wallace asked Feinstein first where the bill stood. She answered, “Right, right. Tuesday there will be a cloture vote on the motion to proceed. It will ripen on Thursday. We’ll see if between the two parties we have 60 votes. Both Senator Lott and I are on the same side with respect to this. And I’m hopeful that we will. Let me point something out that’s a little different this time. There will be mandatory spending, $4.4 billion up front, to do the following before anything else happens — that’s about 600 miles to 700 miles of border fence and vehicle obstructions, UAVs, employer verification, no more catch and release. There has to be detention of people coming across the border. So there will be border enforcement, 3,500 additional border patrols, before any other part of the bill goes into place. People don’t understand that.”

Lott, who has been under attack in his home state of Mississippi for supporting the bill, stood by the bill not as a product, but as a result. “Look, I agree with a lot of what they’re saying, and so does Dianne. I do think we need to secure the border. And when people say, “Well, you haven’t had the law enforced all these years,” no. Going back to the ’80s, beginning with President Ronald Reagan, our presidents and our administrations, Democratic and Republican, have not, in my opinion, sufficiently enforced the law. That’s why a lot of what is in this, you know, changes the law and puts mandates in there to actually do what they say. Yes, we should secure the border first, but there’s more to it than that. We do have people here in the country. We don’t even really know who they are. There are no requirements as to how we’re going to deal with them in the future. We need to do that. They are going to come in here and look for jobs,” Lott said.

He continued, “Look, there’s a powerful force involved here. It’s called freedom and opportunity for economic advancement. We need to harness that. We need to make sure we know who these people are, where they’re going, that there’s a job for them, that they are not treated like animals, and that they have to go back to their homes of origin. I really haven’t changed. But I am trying to get a result here. Look, the people in — I have been in Congress for 35 years representing the people of Mississippi. They know that I would not consciously do anything that would hurt my state, but also I want to do the right thing for my country. And I do think they are compatible in this instance.”

I still don’t see how the argument that Feinstein and Lott are advancing is going to convince anybody that the citizenship path and guest worker programs are not amnesty. I don’t think it helps their argument to say that this bill isn’t perfect, or for Lott to say that he agrees with many of the critics who are unhappy with him for supporting it. If he agrees with his critics on some points, then why is he supporting a bill that could produce a result that he is opposed to? Have our politics gotten to the point where senators will vote for a bill that they don’t like just so that they can celebrate their ability to compromise?

Besides the fact that this is a terrible bill, how do supporters of the bill expect the public to agree with them if they themselves are critical of it? This bill needs to die. A few extra billion border security dollars up front does not change the fact that the citizenship path and guest worker plan are each deeply flawed ideas that could make the immigration problem worse instead of better. I still believe that immigration is a bad issue for both parties, and thus they are trying to pass this immigration so that they can bury this issue and not have to talk about it during next year’s campaign.

The supporters of this bill are in such a rush to pass it that I wonder if they took any time to ask themselves if what they are proposing will actually work. My hunch is that the politics are more important than implementation, so they don’t care if it will work. They just want to get it passed. In my mind the immigration reform bill is a fine example of compromise for all the wrong reasons.

Text of the Lott and Feinstein interview Jason Easley is the editor of the politics zone at 411mania.com.  His news column The Political Universe appears on Tuesdays and Fridays at www.411mania.com/politics

Jason can also be heard every Sunday at 6:30 pm (ET) as the host of The Political Universe Radio Show at http://www.blogtalkradio.com/thepoliticaluniverse
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