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Former Senator Alan Simpson Ruefully Recalls 1986 Amnesty
Alan K. Simpson of Simpson-Mazzoli fame (or infamy) is back in the news. The House Judiciary Committee's field hearing Friday, 9/1, in Dubuque, Iowa was on the subject "Is the Reid-Kennedy bill a repeat of the failed amnesty of 1986?," and former-Senator Simpson (R-WY) submitted written testimony, according to an article ("Simpson offers his thoughts on immigration") in the Billings [Montana] Gazette.
For me, the highlight of the Gazette article is Simpson's take on how things went awry after the 1986 bill's passage:
Simpson says the bill never worked properly because Congress, driven by the House, stripped out language for a "secure identifier" that would be issued to all Americans and used by employers to verify that workers had legal status.
Simpson said it could have taken the form of a "slide card, like when you go into the grocery," or like a Social Security card that could have perhaps used the maiden name of the person's mother. But he emphasized that it would never have been used as a national ID and would only be used at the time of a new hire or when applying for government benefits.
"We said right in that bill in essence that whatever it was that was developed would not be carried on the person, would not be used for law enforcement, but would be somewhere in your possession and it would be used twice in your life," Simpson said. "You never carried it, the cops didn't ask you for it."
But critics objected to the measure, fearing it would infringe on civil rights and privacy rights. The idea brought out the "cuckoos" on both sides of the aisle, Simpson said. "The far right was saying it was the mark of Cain. ... The left was saying this was the slippery slope to Nazi Germany," he said.
"It would have been possessed by not just people who looked foreign, but by bald emaciated guys like me, too," Simpson said. "That was totally distorted, totally not even comprehended. That was the saddest thing of all for me, to watch the House rip it out."
Without the identifier provision, a whole industry sprang up to make forged passports and forged green cards, Simpson said, and employers continued to hire illegal aliens in great numbers.
Although Simpson speaks frankly from his experience ...
-- "Anyone who has learned the issue and is really speaking honestly on it will be accused of being a bigot, a racist, a xenophobe and all sorts of other marvelous things. And that's how you keep defeating it."
-- "It's an issue filled with emotion, guilt, fear and racism. And then toss the Statue of Liberty in there with it, and the golden door and the huddled masses, and it all overpowers common sense."
... he apparently hasn't fully assimilated the 1986 catastrophe: "The basic core of the American people would be much more pleased rather than see nothing done, see the border enforcement, the fences and that sort of thing. I understand that, but I still think you leave an undigestible 11 million without dealing with them."
According to the article, Simpson favors "triggered amnesty" for the undigestibles. (Another name for that would be "the Pence bill.")
Regarding the actual House hearing in Dubuque, it's clear that Iowa's Republican U.S. Senator Grassley, who testified, is solidly in our corner and fully learned the lessons of 1986: "We have to learn from our mistakes, and that was one that I made in supporting amnesty last time. That action alone is a major reason why we have up to 14 million illegal immigrants in the U.S. today."
The hearing coverage in the Des Moines Register also contains an interesting quote from a Chicago environmentalist (or, anyway, "environmental consultant"):
"I thought this was going to be a public hearing, and we could have something to say," said Nina Shinn, an environmental consultant from Chicago and adamant opponent of providing legal status to illegal immigrants. "Our laws are strong enough, but we just need to enforce them. I don't need a politician to tell me that. In fact, they should know that themselves."
Sounds like another renegade from Sierra Club political correctness!