I will begin with a Jewish story that must be at least a century old, if not much older: a well known Rabbi in Warsaw announces to his disciples that he has had a vision in which he was able to see all the way to Cracow. His disciples are amazed that in that bygone era of no Skype, texting or instant TV feeds (yes, there was once such a time), the Rabbi can see all the way to a different city.

But unfortunately, the Rabbi has bad news. In his vision, he saw that a famous Rabbi in Cracow had died and his funeral was in process. Greatly saddened, the Jewish community of Warsaw goes into mourning for the Cracow Rabbi.

However, a few days later, a visitor arrives in Warsaw from the Cracow Jewish community and stops by to greet the Warsaw Rabbi. He is met by one of the Rabbi's disciples, who immediately offers his sympathy and condolences for the death of the Rabbi in Cracow.

"What are you talking about?" says the visitor. "The Cracow Rabbi whom you mention happens to be very much alive and is in excellent health!"

When the visitor is told about the Warsaw Rabbi's vision, he laughs and says "I'm sorry, but your Rabbi has no special powers. Everything he told you about our Cracow Rabbi's death was absolutely false."

The Warsaw Rabbi's disciple answers indignantly: "What do you mean? Even if what our Rabbi saw in Cracow wasn't true, the fact that he was still able to see all the way to Cracow is simply amazing!"

I am reminded of this story when I read some of the encouraging reports in the media about how immigration reform is not really in deep trouble in the House, but progress is being made. Just wait a few more months - October at the earliest, we are told - and we will have a "necklace" of piecemeal bills which can then be reconciled in conference with the Senate's CIR bill, S.744, and all will be well for reform.

This is a nice vision, but does it square with the reality of what is going on in the House? Not according to POLITICO's July 19 report: Menu for House GOP: Immigration a la carte. (Sorry, my keyboard doesn't have French accent marks). The link is:


The above article, by Seung Min Kim, one of POLITICO's very able staff of immigration reporters, mentions five immigration bills which House Republicans have already passed in committee and are awaiting votes by the full House. Four of these passed in committee without a single Democratic vote.

The first bill deals with border security. Based on POLITICO's description, this scaled down bill may actually make more sense than the Senate's $46.3 billion hi-tech boondoggle for defense contractors. Unlike the other measures discussed below, it appears to be an improvement compared to S.744.

The second House bill deals with temporary foreign agricultural workers. It has what would appear to be a generous cap 500,000 visas, and unauthorized immigrants who are already here would be allowed to join the program.

But then they would have to leave in three years and there would be no pathway to a green card or citizenship - poison pill number one.

The third is a bill for high-skilled workers. This one is similar to the Senate provisions, except that it would not clear the backlog for green cards. Arguably, this may be another poison pill.

Both the House and Senate hi-tech bills also eliminate the diversity green card lottery, which has helped tens, or hundreds, of thousands of African and Caribbean immigrants over the past two decades. What is the point of this gratuitous racism, except to show how much the Republicans hate black immigrants?

The fourth bill deals with interior enforcement and is loaded with poison pills. It would give state and local officials the power to enforce federal immigration laws, and would make illegal presence in the US a crime.

This is a throwback to the notorious Sensenbrenner bill, H.R. 4437, that the Republican-controlled House passed back in 2005. In some respects, that bill would have made the subsequent Arizona and Alabama anti-immigrant hate laws look mild by comparison.

Passing the current House version would also put Sheriff Joe, with his raids in Latino neighborhoods and desert tent jails, back in business.

Last comes an E-verify bill. This has another big poison pill, if not the most vindictive and irrational one of all: if E-verify is not in place within five years, unauthorized immigrants in provisional legal status would lose their status and go back to being without any status or protection against deportation.

Some people may look at these House Republican poison pills as signs of progress toward immigration reform. The Warsaw Rabbi had his vision too.

Posted by Roger Algase
July 30, 2013