In 2006 there was a big bipartisan push for "comprehensive immigration reform." Remember?
In the Senate a few Republican stalwarts joined with Democrat icons to finally solve the American immigration problem.
At first, it seemed like the day had actually come. Sen. Arlen Specter's bill made its way through the Senate with Republican John McCain and Democrat Ted Kennedy on board but with little opportunity to thoroughly discuss what needed to be done.
Regardless of the bipartisan support and the apparent urgency of the situation, a torrent of opposition from the grassroots -- that's you and me -- drove Senate Bill 2611 to the recycle bin when the House and Senate could not agree on a compromise in conference. The voice of the people all across the country could not be denied.
Well here we go again. In the Senate Republican rock star Marco Rubio and the esteemed John McCain and Lindsay Graham have joined with Democrat heavyweights Dick Durban and Chuck Schumer to get "comprehensive immigration reform" done in the 113th Congress.
The Senate probably won't listen to us -- again. But the House will. And I hope they are paying attention.
No matter how crude or inarticulate immigration reform opponents are made out to be, this is the bottom line. We won't support changing perfectly workable laws that have been utterly ignored unless we are guaranteed we won't be in this same predicament 20 years from now.
"Border security" describes the issue in a nutshell. That doesn't mean a fence, per se. Or a checkpoint on Interstate 5 in Oceanside. It means that immigration law will be enforced completely and without prejudice by all law enforcement authorities.
Until the politicians from D.C. to Bakersfield convince us that the law will be consistently, completely and equitably enforced we will remain passionately skeptical of their motives for making so-called comprehensive change.
So, rather than blame the Tea Party or the Kern Coalition for Citizenship, let's put the blame right where it belongs.
The people charged with establishing a uniform rule for immigration have failed us. Foreigner or citizen, we are tossed to and fro by the political winds. We deserve a reliable and stable process for admitting immigrants. Our senators and representatives in Washington should be ashamed of their failure in this regard.
The people charged with enforcing immigration law have failed us. It is the purview of the federal government to enforce the rules the Legislature has established and they have miserably failed.
I will be quick to unequivocally support the agents on the frontline of enforcement. But the bureaucrats have ruined their honorable work. Because the bureaucrats are indecisive, unreasonable and prejudiced, the work of law enforcement is more difficult and less effective.
It drives those who are not authorized to regulate immigration to take matters into their own hands. Local governments and service groups find themselves taking what they believe to be humanitarian action on behalf of undocumented immigrants. Other organizations and governments take action they believe supports enforcement of federal laws.
Then, we the people, find ourselves factionalized based on our own sensibilities about immigration as they relate to the miasma of current immigration policy. It is not necessary nor is it effectual to protest and counter-protest the views of opposing factions. We are only distracting ourselves from the task of demanding fair, consistent administration of reasonable and effective immigration law.
Columnist Inga Barks recently opined that nothing would be done -- again. If we leave immigration reform to Congress she is right.
I don't think the activists representing either opinion are capable of simply discussing immigration policy and legal reform. But we have smart people here in Kern County who could spend time building a comprehensive understanding of the problems we face and develop a framework for dealing with immigration now and into the future.
If we want a real comprehensive solution to the immigration mess we're in, we can't leave it to rabid special interests and fainthearted politicians. We need to propose our own solutions that are the fruit of honest deliberation.
-- Ric Llewellyn is one of three community columnists whose work appears here every Saturday. These are the opinions of Llewellyn, not necessarily The Californian. You can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Next week: Heather Ijames.