Robert J. Samuelson says the immigration bill just passed by the Senate increases legal immigration by 20 million over the next twenty years relative to current law. Samuelson is concerned that this fact has received hardly any mention in news account of the bill:
The Senate passed legislation last week that Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) hailed as "the most far-reaching immigration reform in our history." You might think that the first question anyone would ask is how much it would actually increase or decrease legal immigration. But no. After the Senate approved the bill by 62 to 36, you could not find the answer in the news columns of The Post, the New York Times or the Wall Street Journal. Yet the estimates do exist and are fairly startling. By rough projections, the Senate bill would double the legal immigration that would occur during the next two decades from about 20 million (under present law) to about 40 million.
One job of journalism is to inform the public about what our political leaders are doing. In this case, we failed. The Senate bill's sponsors didn't publicize its full impact on legal immigration, and we didn't fill the void. It's safe to say that few Americans know what the bill would do because no one has told them. Indeed, I suspect that many senators who voted for the legislation don't have a clue as to the potential overall increase in immigration.
Samuelson's claim that politicians and the press have neglected their duty to publicize the bill's impact is fair enough.
Yet this news is the only cheery thing I have heard during the recent immigration debates. If Congress expands legal immigration enough (whether via a guest worker program or permanent residency), all the nonsense about fences and border patrol becomes irrelevant.