What’s in the Gang of Eight immigration bill?
Let us set sail upon a “raft of new regulations” with The Hill’s look at the Gang of Eight immigration reform proposal:
The sweeping immigration reform bill unveiled Wednesday would bring a raft of new regulations and add more layers to the federal bureaucracy.
The 844-page Senate bill calls for a dramatic expansion of the country’s worker verification system, an overhaul of visa programs and a new set of proposed regulations allowing undocumented workers to become “registered provisional immigrants.”
The bill would establish penalty systems for employers and create protections for vulnerable immigrant workers in order to achieve the largest overhaul of the nation’s immigration system in decades.
It’s always lovely to watch these monster bills unfold into thousands of pages of regulations. That’s been so much fun with ObamaCare, hasn’t it?
There’s a “blue card” program for farm workers, the mandatory use of electronic verification systems for all employers (implemented with a multi-year timetable that requires compliance from larger companies first) and a new visa program for low-skilled workers. A “Jobs Originated through Launching Travel” program would “speed up visa processing to help boost tourism.”
The issuance of visas and green cards would change considerably, as outlined by USA Today, as the Gang of Eight bill:
Eliminates the diversity visa lottery, which randomly grants up to 55,000 visas a year to people around the globe, most of which go to African countries.
Ends the practice of allowing U.S. citizens to petition for green cards for their siblings.
Creates a “merit-based” visa, which awards up to 250,000 visas a year based on a point system that measures their education and employment, among other criteria.
Increases the cap on the number of H1B visas, which go primarily to college-educated foreigners in science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields, from 85,000 to 205,000.
Creates up to 200,000 visas a year, known as W visas, for people to work in retail, construction, hospitality and janitorial jobs.
The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services would be transformed into the “Office of Citizenship and New Americans.” (Aha! I’ve been wondering what we would be required to call “undocumented immigrants” once they’re not really undocumented any more, given that we are already forbidden to refer to them as “illegal aliens.” Now they’ll be “New Americans.” Parts of the bill refer to them as “Registered Provisional Immigrants,” or RPIs, but that’s just never going to catch on.)
We’ll also be getting some brand-new political and bureaucratic organisms:
The Senate bill would also create a taskforce of Cabinet members and other high-level administration officials. The panel would begin work 18 months after enactment of the law and establish programs to assist with immigrant integration issues.
A nonprofit corporation, to be called the “United States Citizenship Foundation,” meanwhile, would solicit donations and provide assistance for those seeking provisional immigrant status.
Angelo Amador, vice president of labor and workforce policy for the National Restaurant Association, raised concerns over another new government apparatus that would be created by the bill: a bureau to devise when and where new low-skilled worker visas, or “W Visas,” are needed.
“The bottom line is we don’t want more bureaucracy created on a guest worker program where we already have so much bureaucracy that doesn’t work,” Amador said.
It doesn’t sound as if Mr. Amador’s no-more-bureaucracy bottom line will be met, since there’s $100 million in grants for state and local governments to create “New Immigrant Councils” to assist with integration. (Why not “New American Councils?”) The Agriculture Department will promulgate new regulations controlling pay and housing for itinerant workers.
And of course, there’s the sizable body of regulations to govern the new “pathway to citizenship,” and the thorny business of calculating back taxes and penalties for the 11 to 12 million who may potentially participate. As currently written, the Registered Provisional Immigrant status is available only to those who entered the United States before December 31, 2011, and maintained continuous physical presence in the United States thereafter. They must pass a background check, pay their back taxes plus a $500 fee, and then renew RPI status six years later for another $500. When that runs out, another $1000 gets a green card, and three years after that, full citizenship.
So it looks like the path to citizenship is about 13 years long, and costs $2,000 plus back taxes – but not for the “DREAMers,” illegal immigrants brought into the United States as children. They could get their green cards in just five years.
How about those requirements for enhanced border security? A deeply skeptical Mickey Kaus summed them up for the Daily Caller as follows:
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) must create, fund, and begin a border security plan within six months.
DHS must create, fund, and begin a border fence plan within six months.
DHS must achieve 100% awareness and 90% success in apprehending those trying to cross the border in high-risk sectors of Mexican border within 5 years.
If DHS fails to achieve step three, a Border Commission made up of border-state governors and officials is created and charged with implementing a plan to successfully achieve 100% awareness and 90% success in apprehending those trying to cross the border in high-risk sectors of Mexican border.
A universal E-Verify system [for employers to check new hires] must be implemented within 10 years.
A visa-exit system must be implemented for all international airports and seaports within 10 years.
Here’s the deeply skeptical part:
Of these, 1 and 2 are trivial–they require only that DHS come up with a plan, not that the plan works. Trigger #3–90% success!–seems like a big deal until you get to #4, which reveals that the only consequence of not achieving 90% success is the appointment of a commission. Meanwhile, #6–the requirement of a visa-exit system–has been the law for 17 years, to no effect. The only significant new substantive requirement would seem to be #5, the “universal E-Verify” requirement.
As Kaus goes on to observe, with a hat tip to Conn Carroll of the Washington Examiner, the E-Verify requirements will not be difficult to short-circuit for a decade with litigation, which groups like the ACLU are already vowing to bring.
USA Today notes the bill allocates $7 billion in addition resources for physical border security, including $3 billion for increased manpower and resources such as unmanned aerial vehicles, plus $1.5 million for more border fencing.
Listen to Rubio on the Rush Limbaugh show: