I read with interest your editorial of March 23, 2007 entitled, “McCain-Isakson 2007,” wherein you discouraged Senator John McCain from considering a proposal for “no amnesty” immigration reform that Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison and I developed last year. Apparently, Senator McCain made some favorable reference to our requirement that illegal immigrants be required to leave the country to get right with the law.
Your publication has opposed my proposal from the time I first unveiled it, and while I respect your opinion on the matter, I felt compelled to write to correct an erroneous assertion in your editorial.
In a paragraph criticizing our plan, you wrote: “The Pence plan does beef up border enforcement, but in addition to the infeasibility of its guest-worker scheme it suffers from the fundamental flaw in all “comprehensive” reform plans: Illegal aliens would be rewarded now, while enforcement at the border and the workplace would happen later, if ever” (emphasis added).
This statement is factually incorrect. In every published statement concerning our proposal, we have made it clear that before any temporary worker program could commence, the president must certify that border security measures have been completed first. In all of our editorials and memoranda, we have included a trigger that would initiate a temporary worker program only after border security measures were completed.
Before any new temporary-worker program can begin, our plan requires the president to certify that all mandated border security measures are completed. The Hutchison-Pence proposal embraces the tough border-security measures of the House and Senate bills. It would add border-patrol agents, drug-enforcement agents, and port-of-entry inspectors, end catch-and-release, add security fences and other physical barriers at critical points, and employs American technology such as unmanned aerial-surveillance vehicles.
(NRO, 8/7/06; emphasis added.)
I have been an avid reader of National Review since my college days in the 1970’s. I hold each of you and the fine tradition of NR in the highest personal regard. Thank you for allowing me to correct this matter for your readers.
Rep. Mike Pence
The Editors reply: The editorial did compare Rep. Pence’s “enforcement first” provisions unfavorably with the more detailed and, apparently, more comprehensive enforcement mandates in Senator Johnny Isakson’s immigration-reform bill (S.330). We say “apparently” because the Pence/Hutchison proposal is not yet in bill form. Should it include Senator Isakson’s security measures when it is introduced, we would withdraw our unfavorable comparison. We would, however, continue to oppose our friend Mike Pence’s guest-worker program. And while the Isakson bill’s insistence on beefed-up border enforcement is a welcome improvement over the Senate’s handiwork last year, even it could be improved. Before any amnesty or guest-worker program goes into effect, the government should be able to demonstrate that border control had been achieved—not just that resources had been thrown at the problem.