The Corner

Jobs American government won’t do

From our pal David Frum, over in his own Frumistan province of the National Review ummah, we learn of the President’s remarks earlier today:

Those determined to find fault with this bill will always be able to look at a narrow slice of it and find something they don’t like. If you want to kill the bill, if you don’t want to do what’s right for America, you can pick one little aspect out of it, you can use it to frighten people. Or you can show leadership and solve this problem once and for all.

Speaking for myself, I’m not looking at “a narrow slice of it” but only at its first and most important consequence: The conferring of instant open-ended legal residency and employment rights on just about anybody on the planet who wants them under a visa that, while technically “probationary”, will in practice be all anybody ever needs because (aside from its other benefits) it removes any possibility of deportation. After that’s gone into effect, the “narrow slices” and “little aspects” in Section 739(f) won’t matter.

Any “background check” will be perfunctory and conducted by an agency manifestly unable to cope with its present caseload. When I saw the President a few months ago, he touched en passant on the sclerosis of government departments. I find it hard to believe that as the chief of state he’s not aware that this particular state agency is in no position to “solve this problem”. If he is really unaware, I suggest he visit those CIS processing centers where, due to shortage of space, the adjudicators have to store files at home or in the trunks of their cars. That’s one reason why, for example, an agency which demands original documents manages to lose so many of them.

I respect the President and I appreciate that his sincerity on this issue has been obvious for his entire political career. But I don’t think he should impugn the good faith of those who, equally sincerely, disagree – not on “narrow slices” but on the central proposition: that drive-thru legalization for millions of people subject to desultory background checks by an agency without the resources to conduct them is not “what’s right for America”.

Mark Steyn is an international bestselling author, a Top 41 recording artist, and a leading Canadian human-rights activist.