The bill was flawed on its merits. For much of the past three weeks, Americans have had a tutorial on the substance of the immigration bill, and many came to dislike what they saw. From providing permanent temporary visas within the space of a business day to all comers before January 1 – including those from “countries of interest” well-known for their terrorist ties – to the “triggers” that could be largely certified without any meaningful improvement in border security, the bill’s opponents identified the significant dangers and disadvantages hidden in the bill.
Other controversial provisions included the elimination of the EB-1 visa, designed to facilitate the entry to the U.S. of those with exceptional gifts, skills or talents, and (especially for those on the left) the creation of a guest worker program unacceptable to labor unions. In fact, the more its provisions came to light, the more that even long-time self-described “liberals” on immigration like Bill Kristol came to oppose the legislation.
The rollout of the bill was misguided. Like Athena springing full-grown from the head of Zeus, the immigration bill arrived directly on the Senate floor as the product of negotiations between a select group of senators. It bypassed the normal Senate committee system, which allows for both a deliberative and orderly process for the consideration of legislation, and the full airing of amendments. What’s more, it’s been reported that Senator Ted Kennedy admitted that special interest group La Raza was offered a veto over the bill’s provisions – before many other senators even had seen them. The closed-door drafting and special interest input only raised suspicions that the bill was being shoved down America’s throat – concerns that were heightened when the bill’s supporters presented the legislation insisting that it be “debated,” voted upon and passed within the space of a week.