Let’s say the improbable happens and Congress passes immigration reform. However it’s packaged — one bill or many — you can be sure it will focus on “sticks,” not “carrots.” That’s what is required to se the cooperation of the “anti-amnesty” contingent in the House and the Senate: They demand a highly militarized border and “enhanced” internal enforcement as the price for a years-long, expensive, hurdle-filled “pathway” to citizenship. There is an alternative to such an expensive, punitive approach. It builds on the compelling fact that the millions who are here illegally cannot be wished away, no matter what. It is bottom-up rather than top-down, and has the advantage of treating immigrants humanely, as befits American values. It also puts into play market forces, as communities and states realize the benefits immigrants provide. To understand what’s wrong with the shape of Congress’ top-down reform, consider the “Gang of Eight” immigration bill the Senate passed in June.
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