Many stores held sales over the Memorial Day weekend. In Washington, the Senate immigration bill has been selling our birthright for a message of political pottage.
Far from "controlling the borders," as advertised, this bill reduces our existing control of the borders. Under a provision inserted at the 11th hour by Republican Sen. Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, the bill forbids the federal government from building a fence without first consulting with the Mexican government.
In fact, state and local governments are also forbidden by this bill to take any border control actions without first consulting with their Mexican counterparts. In other words, if the city of San Diego wants to put up any sort of barrier, it would have to consult with the municipal authorities in Tijuana before doing so.
This legislation was never about border control. The laws on the books permit us to control the borders, to build any fence we choose, without consulting the government of Mexico. The laws on the books allow any illegal alien to be arrested and expelled. Those laws are simply not being enforced.
If a Los Angeles police officer arrests an illegal alien and reports him to the federal authorities, it is the cop who will be in big trouble. Border Patrol agents can knock themselves out capturing people trying to enter the country illegally, but nothing happens to most of those people, even the ones organizing the smuggling of people and drugs into this country.
An Associated Press dispatch reports: "The vast majority of people caught smuggling immigrants across the border near San Diego are never prosecuted for the offense, demoralizing the Border Patrol agents, according to an internal document obtained by the Associated Press."
In other words, we have make-believe border control and the current Senate legislation will weaken even that, all the while talking about "tough" enforcement. That "tough" enforcement is a promise, but legalizing illegal aliens is immediate and irrevocable and its consequences irreversible and lasting far into the future.
"Border control" is just political cover for legalizing illegal aliens. The two things are put together in a package deal that is like horse-and-rabbit stew, whose ingredients are one horse and one rabbit. Border control is the rabbit.
The word games played about "amnesty" deliberately confuse the issue of violations of American law with the issue of acquiring American citizenship.
That the Senate bill has requirements - described as "tough" - for acquiring citizenship is irrelevant to the question of letting the violations of law go unpunished.
Robert Rector of the Heritage Foundation, who has done incisive analysis of census and other statistical data, projects the consequences of legalizing the existing illegal alien population in the United States to extend far beyond the 12 million estimated to be here now.
These 12 million people are not test-tube babies. They have parents and they will have children. Nor are their other family members likely to be kept out after the illegals are made legal.
Over the following 20 years, Mr. Rector projects that the real increase in this population living in the United States to be 103 million, not the 12 million that everyone is talking about.
This is one of the most reckless gambles with the future of this nation ever taken by supposedly responsible members of Congress. The idea that we must consult with Mexico before controlling our own borders is staggering - and revealing.
The Mexican government has shown its utter contempt for our laws by publishing booklets advising its citizens how to enter the United States illegally and how to take advantage of American welfare state provisions.
Mexican President Vicente Fox even has had the nerve to warn that his "friendship" with the United States is at risk if we pass immigration laws he doesn't like. Consulting with his government is truly putting Mr. Fox in charge of the henhouse.
Thomas Sowell is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University. His syndicated column appears Thursdays in The Sun. His e-mail is firstname.lastname@example.org.