Immigration Bill Must Die

Amnesty is not a “narrow slice” or “one little aspect” of the Senate immigration deal as the President argues.  Awarding amnesty to 10-20 million illegal aliens would be the one sure result.   It will promote more illegal immigration by almost guaranteeing that if you can cross the border, you will be able to become a permanent U.S. resident. 

The outcome of S. 1348 may turn on whether Americans reject it as a bad political bargain between some Republicans and Democrats seeking cheap labor and cheap votes.   It’s outrageous that 69 Senators voted to eliminate public input and begin debate before the bill was even introduced.

Amnesty is a general pardon from the government for law-breaking.  It’s against the law to cross our borders or overstay visas without permission.  It’s against the law to avoid deportation once you’ve been ordered to leave.  It’s against the law to re-enter if you’ve ever been ordered to leave.  And it’s against the law to re-enter if you’ve ever been deported.

My constituents oppose amnesty for illegal immigrants.  Instead, they want the Congress to strengthen border security and enforce our current laws.  We need to turn off the jobs magnet with improved work-site enforcement.  Document fraud has become a widespread problem.  Employers are ill-equipped to detect and authenticate workers’ identification documents.  Currently, there are more than 30 types of identification employers can use to verify employment eligibility.

In a White House document correcting “myths” about the bill, it states that after conducting a mere 24-hour background check, illegal immigrants will obtain “probationary status” if they acknowledge they have “broken the law” and pay a small fine.  Illegal aliens, four to six percent of our population, would be rewarded with our country’s first permanent temporary visa.  The Z visa can be renewed every four years until the visa holder dies.  The bill’s guest-worker program allows guest workers to bring in their families to live with them. 

The Senate immigration bill purports to improve border security and enforcement. In reality, the bill would transform Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) from a law enforcement agency into an amnesty distribution center. There would be pressure to issue new Z-visas on a fast track.  Further, there is no cap on the total number of individuals who could receive Z-visas.

It is important to have effective background checks. The Senate bill would make it extremely difficult for the federal government to prevent criminals and terrorists from obtaining legal status.  The bill would allow the government only one business day to determine whether an applicant is a criminal or terrorist. Provisions to prevent gang members from obtaining Z visas are similarly weak and impractical to enforce.

Adding insult to amnesty, the Senate’s bill would force taxpayers to foot the bill for many illegal aliens’ lawyers.  Under current law, illegal aliens are not eligible for federally funded legal services.  The bill would allow illegal aliens who work in agriculture to receive free legal services.  The bill also allows states to offer in-state tuition rates to any illegal immigrant who obtains the Z visa.  Illegal immigrants would receive a taxpayer subsidy worth tens of thousands of dollars and would be treated better than U.S. citizens from out of state, who must pay three to four times as much to attend public universities.

America is a welcoming nation and there is already a “path to citizenship.”  The U.S. brings in more lawful immigrants than the countries of the rest of the world combined.  Each year, we accept 2 million immigrants legally.  We give a million legal immigrants permanent residency each year. We bestow citizenship on 700,000 people a year and provide almost half a million work-related visas a year.   

Fool me once, shame on you. The 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act provided amnesty and a path to citizenship.  At that time, there were about three to five million illegal immigrants.  Americans accepted amnesty because they were promised that border control and employment enforcement would promptly follow.  Today, that number has steeply increased to 10 to 20 million illegal immigrants, 60 percent of whom have been here five or more years.  Why would the more generous amnesty in S. 1348 reduce, rather than increase illegal immigration?

The Senate bill violates our country’s fundamental commitment to the rule of law and makes a mockery of our motto, E pluribus Unum — out of many, one.  It dishonors the sacrifices by our nation’s founders and millions of our legal immigrant ancestors.  It would be predictably and utterly disastrous for our children and our grandchildren and America’s future.  Kill this bad immigration bill before it kills our country.