The Wall Street Journal had an insightful piece over the weekend on Sen. Jon Kyl's role in the effort to pass an immigration reform package. One key point: The lack of trust that people have in the government's ability—or will—to secure the border (which came up in our earlier posting today):
Mr. Kyl has also faced a strong current of skepticism about the bill from those who think it looks like a rehash of the 1986 immigration law signed by President Reagan, which many now blame for the current state of affairs. That experience left many millions of Americans extraordinarily distrustful when politicians come from the federal government to talk about "immigration reform." Of the fierce opposition, he says, "I think it is less a reaction to the bill, because I don't frankly think working people are going to sit down and read a complicated bill. It's more about the fact that they are frustrated with their government's ability to enforce the law in the past. And they don't have any confidence in the government doing it in the future."
Kyl also points out the end result of not having a guest-worker program:
In Arizona, the economic realities are clear and immigrants are part of them. Yuma County, for example, is right next door to Mexico. "As the border has become increasingly enforced in that area, it has become increasingly difficult for growers to get the labor they need there, to get their lettuce picked. Every bit of lettuce consumed in the United States is from Yuma County Arizona, and it's huge. There is billions of dollars worth, and it's a big deal," Sen. Kyl says.
"Everyone says enforcement first, and that's important, but in Yuma County, what that means is you are basically going to send that crop, the melons and the tomatoes and the lettuce . . . to Mexico. So when people complain about outsourcing, well, you're outsourcing a billion-dollar industry because we don't have a system that enables the people to get the work that they need."