Memo for House Judiciary Committee Chairman Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., and House Committee on Homeland Security Chairman Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas:
The political reality behind the need to handle immigration reform the right way is obvious to anyone who reads Jonathan Alter's new book on the campaign of 2012, "The Center Holds." Alter is a lefty, but a fine writer and an excellent reporter.
He devotes considerable time to President Obama's campaign on Spanish-language media, including the statement of Team Obama's belief that "[f]or the Latino market, the messenger is more important than the message. The surrogate Chicago chose was Christina Saralegui, known as the Latina Oprah."
Mr. Chairmen, did you know there was a Latino Oprah?
Alter also provides a bottom-line metric on the campaign of 2012 in a language all politicians understand: "Romney ads were far less visible on Spanish language television ... Obama ran 13,232 spots, Romney ran 3,435 spots."
Alter's book needs to be read in its entirety to grasp the vast geek gulf between the Chicago and Boston headquarters in the last election, and not just Alter's book but all current data on communications in Spanish in America.
The number-one Spanish language radio show in the morning drive slot in Los Angeles is hosted by "El Mandril," Ricardo Sanchez, and, if he isn't first overall, he is in the top five morning drive shows, English included. Twenty-five hours a week, he drives opinions in America's most important radio market. Let's just say he isn't a Republican.
Why all this background? The political reality is that the Congress must address immigration reform because a huge slice of America that is composed of American citizens who speak mostly or at least a lot of Spanish are demanding reform for their family, friends and neighbors.
These demands - for coherence, for fairness, for common sense -- are not unreasonable and in fact are pressing. This is why a broad coalition of the religious community also supports reform, and their numbers are swelling.
Sadly, the Senate has handed you a disaster of a first draft on immigration reform. It truly is Obamacare-meets-the-border, and the Corker-Hoeven amendment that allegedly addressed border security -- the top priority for most conservatives -- in fact gutted the effort to make the border secure via real, visible fencing.
That is where you should begin a House bill, with a short, to-the-point Section One on the mandate and design of a double-layered border fence extending at least two-thirds of the 2000 miles of U.S.-Mexican border, accompanied by an access road. If you do just that one, simple thing, support for regularization of the nation's 11 million illegals will soar on the center-right. Just that one thing: Really, truly, visibly secure the border.
Many if not most Spanish-speaking Americans will support such a fence because they understand the dangers of a porous border, though they definitely do want regularization of the status of the vast majority of the 11 million in the country illegally. Those 11 million don't get benefits and they certainly shouldn't be preferred for hiring because they are free of the enormous burden of mandated Obamacare premiums.
But drafting the set of necessary middle ground reforms isn't a hard task if the absurd Senate bill is just killed quickly and a short, concise set of directions on a border fence included, along with provisions on future temporary work permits and the years until green card and, finally, citizenship. Twelve and 20? Fifteen and 25? The numbers matter less than that they follow completion of border fencing.
Border security follows fencing, and the willingness to welcome the 11 million for many Americans rests upon the assurance that the border is finally being secured against cartels, terrorists and another, even larger wave of desperately poor workers from central and south America.
The humanitarian imperative meets political necessity in the issue of immigration reform, and the solution begins with security in the form of a long, strong, double-layered and fully funded and designed border fence and ends with "malice towards none and kindness towards all." Good luck.
HUGH HEWITT, Washington Examiner columnist, is a law professor at Chapman University Law School and a nationally syndicated radio show host who blogs daily at HughHewitt.com.