Schumer and Graham Offer Amnesty Retread

Pro-amnesty lawmakers have a new outline for immigration legislation.  In actuality, the plan Senators Charles Schumer (D.-N.Y.) and Lindsey Graham (R.-S.C.) rolled out amounts to a retread of the Bush-McCain amnesty plan of 2006 and 2007.  Its main elements include mass amnesty for virtually all illegal aliens, even more legal immigration and meaningless “enforcement.”

The two senators described their outline in a joint Washington Post op-ed.  “Our plan has four pillars:  requiring biometric Social Security cards to ensure that illegal workers cannot get jobs; fulfilling and strengthening our commitments on border security and interior enforcement; creating a process for admitting temporary workers; and implementing a tough but fair path to legalization for those already here.” 

Their legalization of the 11 million illegal aliens hardly lives up to “a tough but fair path forward.”  It would require illegals to meet existing requirements for legalization:  Pass background checks, pay back taxes and learn English.  They’d also have to admit breaking the law, pay a modest “fine” and perform community service. 

We’ve heard this all before.  If the details look anything like those of the McCain-Bush-Kennedy amnesty bill, there’s a lot less than proponents would have us believe.  If they meant business, this plan would leave the legalization until the very end after driving out as many illegals as possible over several years.  It would charge native countries’ visa quotas for each illegal’s visa.  It would prohibit illegals from enjoying the visa sponsorship privileges enjoyed by legal immigrants.

Schumer and Graham propose loading biometric identifying information to Social Security cards.  Anyone applying for a job would have to produce such a card, and employers would supposedly run the card through a machine reader. 

They neglect to explain exactly how someone’s fingerprints or other biometric would get checked against that information on the card.  Nor is it clear how their approach improves on the simple E-Verify program, which doesn’t require any information beyond what someone already provides on an I-9 form and a corresponding ID people already have. 

Rather than building on a system of instantaneous electronic verification over a decade in the making, Schumer and Graham waste taxpayers’ investment already made by going a whole new direction.  E-Verify already screens out illegal aliens from stealing American jobs, where employers use this easy, fast system. 

As for employers facing tough sanctions if they “knowingly hired unauthorized workers,” that’s current law.  Real progress would add “should have known” someone was illegally present to existing sanctions.  That would close a loophole unscrupulous employers can drive a Mack truck through today. 

Beefing up enforcement amounts to nothing, either.  Schumer and Graham boast “zero-tolerance” against terrorists and gangsters.  Guess what?  That’s already the law. 

More Border Patrol and border technology?  Been there, done that.  Of course, the senators won’t empower border personnel with new arrest and investigatory powers.  Nor will they put up border fencing that might actually deter some illegals from entry. 

Want interior enforcement?  Restore tools such as a flexible 287(g) program for state and local law enforcement and mandatory detention the Obama administration has gutted.  Expand expedited removal.

The senators claim they would complete the entry-exit system and cut down on overstaying expired visas.  Congress authorized that in 2003, but Homeland Security has refused to deploy US-VISIT’s exit portion or to make it mandatory.  Again, we’ve heard all this before, but bureaucrats and politicians lack political will.

What about “creating a process for admitting temporary workers?”  Well, we have that already, too.  There are temporary visa programs for farm workers, unskilled labor in nonfarm sectors, and for skilled workers.  We have employment visa categories for both skilled and unskilled immigrants.

These current programs never reduce the flow of foreign workers, even in a recession.  Today, with 25 million Americans unable to find a full-time job, these visa programs continually import 75,000 permanent immigrants and 85,000 temporary foreign workers each month.  That’s right, every single month we admit another 160,000 foreigners to compete directly with unemployed and underemployed Americans in the job market.

The senators’ plan would ensure cheap foreign labor, including those without a high school education.  They would even grant repeat foreign temporary workers a shot at permanent immigration visas!  Do we really need to import an underclass?  Is that what they consider “a rational system for admitting lower-skilled workers?”

Another bright idea the senators put forth is to award foreign graduate students in science, technology, engineering and mathematics with green cards.  If you wanted to incentivize foreign students to hog U.S. graduate program slots and block American students from pursuing these fields, this is the sure-fire way to do so. 

Universities love foreign students because they often pay full tuition; no in-state tuition for imported students.  Big Business loves it because these foreign workers combine a U.S. degree with an eagerness to undercut American pay scales.

Schumer and Graham have presented nothing new.  Their package sells the same rotten combination of mass amnesty, even more legal immigration and smoke-and-mirrors “enforcement” that won’t work.