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Deal or no deal?

"Deal or no deal?" Continued...

Issue: "Ideal Idol," June 2, 2007

Over the course of one year, that ratio produces an average shortfall of almost $20,000 per household. Over the next 10 years, Rector projects that the 4.5 million low-skilled immigrant households in the country would generate deficits approaching $1 trillion. "Even if you were to view this as some form of charity, it's a completely irrational form," he said. "If we just wanted to be generous to the poor, why don't we go find people who didn't break the U.S. law and give them hundreds of thousands of dollars?"

One provision Rector supports in the bill would deemphasize the consideration of family ties in granting visas, elevating labor skills as the primary determinant of who is first in line-though that change would remain grandfathered out for eight years. Rector contends that family considerations swell the number of low-skilled immigrants and increase the burden on American taxpayers.

But some Senate Democrats have challenged this deemphasis on family ties and so have some conservatives. Linda Chavez, president of the Center for Equal Opportunity, contends that prohibiting workers from bringing their families would increase the country's number of young, unattached males (a problem demographic) and create a class of workers with no hope or intent for cultural assimilation.

Supporters of the bill acknowledge the diverse and numerous objections but argue that fine-tuning can solve most of the concerns. Kyl warns that significant amendments undoing the plan's basic construction would threaten the delicate compromise and erode support, including his. Many lawmakers on both sides of the aisle fear that such failure could prevent further attempts at solving illegal immigration for years to come. Daniel T. Griswold, director of the Cato Institute's Center for Trade Policy Studies, implores congressional leaders "to seize this opportunity for true reform."

Rector doesn't buy that need for urgency: "The longer this is discussed in the public, the more rational policy we will get." He'd prefer to see the immigration debate play a major role in the 2008 presidential election.

Perhaps it already has: According to widely circulated reports, Republican front-runner John McCain fired colorful expletives at Sen. Cornyn of Texas in a heated exchange over the immigration-reform bill two days before its public release. The incident highlighted the Arizona senator's notorious temper and foreshadowed an impending national showdown over a not-so-grand bargain.

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