Friday, July 13, 2007
Metro Voice column on immigration
I hope you had a wonderful Fourth of July, and that the summer months are going well for you and your family.
I’ve included the text of a column that the Metro Voice printed in its July edition. The Metro Voice is a quality, free monthly paper distributed throughout the Greater Kansas City area at churches and coffee shops.
It covers both immigration and citizen political involvement. The column follows:
The system is working.
A federal immigration bill that had bipartisan support in Washington – but that would be bad for the country – has been badly bruised because a few Americans (proportionally) made the intentional effort to maximize their influence in the political process.
I believe this circumstance demonstrates that our system of government is an excellent one. This is also a reminder that the hard work of a few individuals can truly make a positive difference in the world; in this situation, the positive difference may be a more serious effort by the U.S. Congress to address the nation’s security at its borders.
The immigration legislation had the support of the President of the United States , and it nearly had the support of a majority in Congress. But two things “stood in the way” of this bad legislation from passing: the relentless disapproval by a relative few (thousands upon thousands, in reality), and our structure of government that makes it difficult for bad legislation to be approved.
The legislation was not “all bad.” Many Americans will accept the bill’s goal of allowing most of the millions of illegal aliens to become legal residents and legal workers, as opposed to a mass nationwide expulsion (though I know that this opinion is not universal). But certain details of the bill proved to be unworkable or disastrous.
With regard to the critical issue of border security, Congress took a “trust us” approach. The legislation did not guarantee that the federal government would indeed secure the borders. Since the bipartisan 1986 amnesty, Americans have waited for the government to sufficiently address border security. The government has failed in addressing the issue, and the result twenty years later is that there are twelve to twenty million more illegal aliens in the country. Politicians cannot now simply tell the public to “trust them,” especially when there is an unsatisfactory past record.
What nearly occurred: a majority of elected officials in Congress taking an action against the interests of the majority of Americans. And, again, what prevented this legislation’s passage was our system of government. The system requires legislation to be approved by two separate chambers of Congress. It then requires the support of an independent executive branch. This process can appear slow and inefficient, but it maximizes the debate of ideas, and it minimizes the ability of elected officials to quickly push through poor legislation.
At his “HorseRaceBlog” at RealClearPolitics.com, Jay Cost wrote an essay titled, Mr. Madison Votes Nay. He stated, “We should see, then, the choice that our founders made. They chose governmental ‘gridlock’ and ‘failure’ over programmatic efficiency and ‘success.'”
Temporary political gridlock provides the opportunity for long-term legislative success. With hope, because of the continued perseverance of Americans who are active in the political process, better immigration policy will result from this national debate.
As proven by these recent events, your voice does matter, and your actions do make a difference. Play a role in the American political process. The system works.
Benjamin Hodge State representative, 49th district
Overland Park and Olathe , KS