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A Week In Review: The U.S. Senate Tackles Immigration Reform…But There's A Flag On The Field, Folks
This past week I saw hard work, healthy debate, concerted effort and lots of progress…everywhere in the world save for the United States Senate.
I have said it before: If more people watched C-SPAN instead of QVC, every member of Congress would be unemployed by Christmas in what I imagine would look something like a nuclear election holocaust.
BB Side Note: Except for Senators Saxby Chambliss (R-GA), Jeff Sessions (R-AL), Edward Kennedy (D-MA) and Hilary Clinton (D-NY).
Chambliss and Sessions (cutie pies) would survive because unlike their colleagues, they appear neither retarded nor confused about the country for which they work. As for the other two, see: Cockroaches and Nuclear Holocaust.
As it stands, the Senate bill (S.2611) looks something like this:
- Illegal immigrants who have been in the U.S. for more than five years can stay and eventually become permanent legal residents and/or citizens—they have to pay a fine, learn English and pay back taxes.
- Illegal immigrants who have been here between two and five years have to leave (only to a port of entry) and apply for legal entry, which DHS must grant them unless it can prove that they do not qualify.
(Good luck with that one.)
- Provides for roughly 200,000 new temporary guest worker visas per year...every year. These "temporary guest workers" are entitled to apply for permanent legal residence after working here for four years, and they don't count against the legal immigration caps.
- Provides guest worker visas for 1.5 million people in the field of agriculture—these recipients are also eligible for legal permanent residency.
- Builds a 370-mile fence along the Mexican border with another 500 miles of vehicle barriers.
- Illegal immigrants who have been convicted of a felony or three misdemeanors would be deported immediately, unless their crime was immigration-related.
- Authorizes the hiring of 1,000 additional border patrol agents (for a total of 3,000) and adds 14,000 agents by the year 2011 which more than doubles the current number of agents. (Currently 10,000 for the whole country.)
- Creates more detention facilities and requires employers to verify employment eligibility of new hires via an electronic monitoring system.
- Establishes a penalty of $20,000 and possible jail time for employers who hire illegal immigrants.
From what I have seen, there are a few (innumerable) problems with the existing legislation.
- Illegal immigrants convicted of a felony or
three misdemeanors are not allowed to stay in the
U.S. but there is a giant loophole in that
provision. There are
exceptions for "hardship cases" and those who
were unaware that a
deportation order had been issued in their case.
Hardship is not clearly defined and everybody will claim ignorance of prior deportation notices—this is a worthless amendment (or " compromise" as the Senators called it).
- Those who have been in the country more than
five years could be somewhat motivated to apply for residency
although I doubt they will—it is probably in their best
interest to not apply.
They don't pay taxes, they receive free medical care and a free education for their children without consequence—why should they fix what isn't broke?
- Those who have been here more than two but less than five years have absolutely no reason to leave the country and apply for legal entry—they will see it as too great a risk and again, they haven't had any consequences so far so why rock the boat?
- Those here less than two years aren't going anywhere and everybody knows it.
But these are by far the biggest flaws:
- There is nothing in this bill that requires illegal immigrants to exercise any of these options.
- There is nothing in this bill that establishes a consequence for those who do not.
Seriously, what is the point of all this?
Can it really be called immigration reform if the only reform is to increase the number of visas extended to foreign nationals?
And what are the illegal immigrants, their lobbyists and Mexican politicians saying about all of this?
According to Kathleen Walker Vice President of the American Immigration Lawyers Association, there isn't any incentive for illegal immigrants to follow the proposed schedule.
"For those who feel they have nothing in their home country and have lived underground for years, how is that an incentive for them to come forward?" [ Some Immigrants Fear Guest Worker Program by Juan A. Lozano and Anabelle Garay, Associated Press, May 21, 2006]
My favorite statement (so far) was made by Hector Flores, President of League of United Latin American Citizens ( LULAC). Mr. Flores opposes the Sessions amendment which provides funding for a fence on the border. ( Press Release)
"We are calling upon the Senate to revisit this amendment which is an affront to immigrant communities and will create a permanent scar in the relationship between the United States and our southern neighbors. Building a 'Berlin' style wall between ourselves and our neighbor is un-American, undemocratic, and unacceptable in a free society."
That's a good one! Our fence will scar the relationship between our nations—not the arrogant, criminal behavior exhibited by illegal immigrants—but our border fence.
The fact remains, nobody outside of the Senate is pleased with this bill as written. Personally, I haven't found anything worthwhile except for the deportation of illegal aliens who have resided here less than two years.[Vdare.com note: Of course, given the massive fake documents industry, it may be that no such persons will be found to exist.]
Now if they could just extend that group to include all illegal aliens…
On Monday the Senate debate will resume and Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN) has pledged to pass a bill by Memorial Day.
If the political discourse continues the present track, a bill may find its way out of the Senate—but immigration reform will not.
VDARE.com will continue our live blogging of the Senate all week so tune in for updates…if you can stomach it.
Bryanna Bevens [email her] is a political consultant and former chief of staff for a member of the California State Assembly.