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By Staff | Jul 12, 2013

The Senate Republicans who worked on the bipartisan immigration bill are extremely frustrated at their inability to convince fellow conservatives in their party to vote for the bill.

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., blasted Sen. Deb Fischer, R-Neb., on the floor for “a series of false statements” he claimed she made about the bill, alleging that it would not secure the border.

He faulted her for not having visited the border, yet making, what he said were, uninformed assertions. Maybe it was the Nebraska border that she was worried about?

Marco Rubio, R-Fla., appeared to be in mental agony over the rebuff he has gotten from conservatives in both Houses saying it was too easy for them to sit back, vote “no” and claim it was not how they would have done the bill. The conservatives are focused on securing the border and opposing “amnesty” in the form of a path to citizenship.

I don’t think that they are prepared to vote for comprehensive immigration reform which would include a path to citizenship under any circumstances.

Two-thirds of Republican congressional districts have less than a 10 percent Latino population, so they are more afraid of a primary challenge than the Latino vote in those districts.

A majority of Americans support a path to citizenship including a small majority of Republicans polled.

Yet the conservatives will vote against a bill, any bill, to get their Tea Party ticket punched. Immigration reformers have been trying to buy the conservative hold-outs votes by adding huge expenditures for border security, yet they are still being told the bill doesn’t secure the border.

That is what has frustrated McCain who knows as much about what it takes to secure the border as anyone in the Senate. He knows conservatives are hiding behind their skepticism of border security as an excuse to vote against the bill.

Concessions given to conservatives in shaping the bill will not secure their vote so why would we bust the bank to placate them? The effort to buy the support of the conservative hold-outs ruined the Senate bill for me.

They had $4.6 billion in the original bi-partisan bill for border security which was a great plenty. They bumped that up to $46.3 billion in the bill passed trying to get conservatives to vote for it.

It didn’t work and frankly offended my fiscal conservatism. That is an absurd waste of money ostensibly to secure the border that was really a fiscal stimulus package for border states. I frankly don’t need that much border security at such a cost.

The entire issue of border security has been grossly demagogued. In 2007 there were 15,000 border guards and there are 21,000 today.

The new bill would add 20,000 more; one per 250 feet of border. We are already spending $18 billion on border security/year, more than all other federal criminal law enforcement agencies combined.

The number of illegal immigrants intercepted through nine representative major-risk crossing points by the border patrol has declined from 1,643 in 2000 to 358 last year.

That is about a 78 percent improvement. Some have set a benchmark of 90 percent before they would declare the border officially secure.

They have made tremendous gains in border security that has been ignored for the sake of political gamesmanship. I think that if they spent $46.3 billion more on border security that any border jumper that gets through that maze and over those hurdles and succeeds should get automatic citizenship.

After all the obstacles that anyone that wants to get here that bad has to overcome, anybody that creative and ingenious to breach our border security ought to be an American.

I think that spending $46.3 billion to try to placate conservative ideologues who have no intention of voting for the bill anyway was nuts. If they were really fiscal conservatives they would be forced to vote against the bill. Whatever the House passes will just be blowing smoke because Senate and House positions are irreconcilable.

The issue will get kicked around to the next election cycle with Republicans willing to endure some penalty for their intransigence on major issues at the polls before they are ready to concede anything.

In other words, they will obstruct until control is lost. The problem then is that it is too late them to shape legislation on several major issues and the political price for this intransigence will be too high in terms of things the Democrats will do when they regain control of the House.

As to the ag sector, there is strong consensus for immigration reform and a path to citizenship is not a problem to ag interests.

They are sick and tired of working with, or around, regulations, rules and laws that nobody can follow preventing ag employers from getting access to the workers that they have to have and the Senate bill has a path to legal functionality in it for the ag sector.

The ag sector has voiced support for the Senate bill, but I don’t think the conservatives are listening.

David Kruse is president of CommStock Investments Inc., author and producer of The CommStock Report, an ag commentary and market analysis available daily by radio and by subscription on DTN/FarmDayta and the Internet.

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