'Gang of Eight' Leads on Immigration

Tuesday, 19 Mar 2013 11:32 AM

By James Walsh

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The Obama administration tends to pick and choose immigration numbers to serve its own purpose, which is comprehensive immigration reform — for all intents and purposes, an open-door immigration policy.
 
In recent months, however, four liberal Democrat U.S. senators and four conservative Republican U.S. senators (three of the latter from heavily Hispanic-populated states) have coalesced behind a more realistic outline on immigration reform.
 
Making up this Gang of Eight are Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y.; Dick Durbin, D-Ill.; Robert Menendez, D-N.J.; Michael Bennet, D-Colo.; John McCain, R-Ariz; Lindsay Graham, R-S.C.; Marco Rubio, R-Fla.; and Jeff Flake, R-Ariz. 
 
On January 28, 2013, these senators held a “Get Real on Immigration” press conference, laying out broad concepts. A day later, President Barack Obama responded to the Gang of Eight by proposing a globalist position, bounding far left of the moderate Senate proposal.
 
The Gang of Eight senators propose the following measures: 
  • A path to citizenship for those illegal aliens presently in the country, only if the federal government first secures the Southern Border and improves the tracking of visa holders
  • Green cards that offer legal permanent residency (LPR) to immigrants with advanced degrees in STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering and mathematics); a tougher employer verification system to assure that companies hire only legal or “legalizing” immigrants; more entry-level workers; incentives for companies that hire “legalizing” immigrants; and a disputed guest farmhand program for seasonal agricultural workers.
Although the Gang of Eight senators outlined only broad concepts, they at least have begun a reasoned and substantive conversation to correct what has become a national security nightmare. Since most of the Eight hold border security as paramount, a good starting point might be a program to modernize the controversial “Bracero program” (1942-1964) that permitted Mexican farm laborers to work seasonally in the United States.
 
Other problems, however, remain unsettled, such as employer verification of immigrant status, family unity, and who determines when the border is secured.
 
President Obama, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, and Attorney General Eric Holder are joined by other Democrat officials in repeating the mantra, “The border is more secure than it has ever been.” Why then did a recent New York Times article report that the border is not secure and that the struggle to secure it continues?
 
The article stated that “. . . every night crossers come. After dark and at sun-up, too, dozens of immigrants scale the wall or walk around it, their arrival announced by the barking of backyard dogs.”
 
A nearby resident says the border crossers come in groups of 10 to 20 people every night. This Times story is a snapshot of one small section of the southern border that stretches 1,969 miles from the Gulf of Mexico to the Pacific Ocean.
 
Democrats and liberals celebrate the border as being secured, which they say is confirmed by a decline in the number of apprehended border crossers. Republicans and conservatives aren’t convinced, nor are Border Patrol agents. Residents living along the U.S. side of the border know the number of drug smugglers and illegal border crossers has not declined.
 
In addition, the Obama policy of “Catch and Release” has BP agents escorting illegal border crossers back to Mexico — without recording them as apprehensions.
 
Proposals for comprehensive immigration reform fail to require health examinations of undocumented immigrants, even though health exams are required of all legal immigrants.
 
Diseases that bar entry into the United States for legal immigrants include tuberculosis, malaria, leprosy, chagas, venereal diseases and others. Illegal border crossers are introducing such diseases unchecked into the United States.
 
Meanwhile, immigration — legal and illegal — flourishes in Florida, where immigrant advocates complain that the state’s main website is only in English. They are concerned that undocumented immigrants who cannot read or speak English will miss out on health benefits and welfare entitlements.
 
An Associated Press story of March 2013 reports that the state’s immigrant population is being “stymied” by the lack of Spanish and Creole speakers in government agencies, resulting in a million non-English-speaking citizens and noncitizens being denied entitlements.
 
Advocates say not only is language a barrier to illegal aliens, but paperwork and waiting times are oppressive and discriminatory.
 
Theoretically, illegal aliens are ineligible for Medicare, whose recipients must have made a monetary payment into the program over time, yet some are being covered. Hospital emergency room services, however, are now free of charge regardless of citizenship, as mandated by the federal Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act of 1986 (EMTALA).
 
As a result, costs have skyrocketed, and hundreds of hospitals have closed, mostly in minority areas. Some surviving hospitals have done so by closing their emergency rooms.
 
The Congressional Budget Office estimates that the cost of Medicaid for illegal aliens in 2010 was $47.7 billion; yet other auditors estimate $76 billion. The Obama administration has successfully floated numbers cast in a favorable light, but the time has come for the president to get real on immigration.
 
James H. Walsh was associate general counsel with the U.S. Department of Justice Immigration and Naturalization Service from 1983 to 1994. Read more reports from James Walsh — Click Here Now.
 
 
 
 

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