Rep. King and the church exchange blows over the immigration bill
March 28, 2006
As thousands march in the streets against an immigration bill that Rep. Peter King co-sponsored, the Seaford Republican has this frustrating sensation: "I feel like I'm shadow-boxing." King, who boxes for real, is also throwing some wild punches in this debate. What is needed on both sides is a calm dialogue and significant improvement in a bad bill.The bill is the Border Protection, Antiterrorism, and Illegal Immigration Control Act of 2005. Among its many features is a 700-mile fence on the border with Mexico. That idea arose on the House floor, King says, but he acknowledges that he voted for it. So did Rep. Steve Israel, a Huntington Democrat, King points out. That just makes the fence a bipartisan bad idea - an expensive one, too. King says it could cost $3 billion.
King would like some points for being a humanitarian, because hundreds of people have died trying to cross this stretch of border. Nice try, Pete, but it's hard to imagine a fence keeping out those who are desperate to get in. As one immigrant advocate put it, "Fences encourage tunnels." Desperate immigrants digging tunnels won't exactly be safer. But the fence isn't even the prime cause of the ruckus. Mostly, the fuss is about the bill's elevation of immigration violations to felonies. King says he voted to downgrade that to misdemeanors, but Democrats and right-wing Republicans voted to keep the felony language. That's ugly politics.
Beyond that, the protests focus on the addition of the word "assist" to the definition of prohibitive actions abetting illegal immigrants. King says it's aimed at fake-identification providers. But church leaders say it could criminalize their daily acts of charity. Cardinal Roger Mahony of Los Angeles said that, if it becomes law, Catholics should disobey it. Swinging back wildly, King threw an over-the-top haymaker about pedophile priests - a punch he should have pulled. The bill's biggest defect is that it doesn't provide any kind of guest worker program to take account of the deep economic need for these workers. King is leaving it to the Senate to fix that. The Senate Judiciary Committee took the first steps yesterday. But much remains to be done.
King hates Newsday anyway. He'll just write a letter blasting the left-wing liberal slant of Newsday and say that they don't know what they are talking about. He won't deal with the issue, he'll just attack.