Incremental Immigration Reform Is Wise

Monday, 10 Jun 2013 11:39 AM

By James Walsh

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The U.S. Senate began a full debate on its Gang-of-Eight comprehensive immigration reform bill (Border Security, Economic Opportunity and Immigration Modernization Act — S-744) on June 7, 2013. While some form of the bill may pass the Senate, it will not pass the U.S. House.
 
The House may pass an immigration reform bill, but it will not pass the Senate. Following that, a Senate-House Conference Committee will not agree on any comprehensive immigration reform bill.
 
The lessons learned from Obamacare should have impressed the Democrats that a paltry few months of hearings and debate on any massive restructuring of a sensitive law will result in a seriously flawed product. If immigration reform legislation is essential to the nation, then incremental legislation is the better course.
 
A logical starting point for incremental immigration reform legislation would focus on skilled and unskilled worker visas with a modern guest-worker program tailored to each category of labor. While work on border-security legislation continued, the U.S. Congress and the president would need to be mindful of past and current U.S. immigration laws and their intended and unintended consequences.
 
For various reasons, Democrat and Republican legislators, along with most U.S. voters, want new immigration laws to correct the flaws and mistakes of current immigration laws. The Senate and the House need to consider the flaws in the existing Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 (IRCA) (Simpson-Mazzoli bill) — flaws that haunt current immigration efforts.
 
IRCA has impacted U.S. culture, economy, education, fiscal integrity, and national security. It granted amnesty to illegal aliens, but only with the understanding that Congress would provide for complete control of the border.President Ronald Reagan signed IRCA, which granted amnesty to some 2.7 million illegal aliens, but border control never materialized.
 
In addition, IRCA Employer Verification obligations, designed to ensure that only legal immigrants were hired by U.S. employers, went unenforced. The nation’s educational and social welfare infrastructure was overburdened by millions of illegal aliens.
 
President Reagan lamented having signed IRCA, which to date has produced the greatest influx of undocumented aliens in U.S. history along with skyrocketing social and welfare benefits.
 
IRCA has resulted in liberals telling American youth, including legal and illegal immigrants, that they are entitled to welfare and social benefits as a “right.” This something-for-nothing mentality was demonstrated in the 2012 election. As one Washington insider observed, “The takers took, and the workers are on the hook.”
 
The nation needs immigration reform, but border security remains a sticking point for any such legislation. Clearly defined strictures are needed, such as percentage of apprehensions and a state-of-the-art identification system.
 
The Employer Verification (E-Verify) requirement must go hand in hand with border security. Yet the liberal/Democrat position finds unacceptable the contention that defined and provable border security must precede legalization or pathway to citizenship. Their position is that, upon the president’s signing of the Gang of Eight immigration bill, illegal aliens will be “legal” and entitled to any and all benefits of U.S. citizenship. Republicans say, “Border security, then legalization.”
 
Hispanic-Americans are divided on immigration reform legislation, its remedies, and how to effectuate them.
 
Recent demonstrations for unrestricted citizenship for all illegal immigrants and for accompanying benefits were backed and funded by the Service Employees International Union (SEIU). This Union also provided illegal-alien demonstrators. Many Hispanic-Americans, however, take issue with the demonstrators and contend that legal immigration is the only way to enter the country.
 
A little-noticed letter, dated June 5, 2013, was addressed to the Gang of Eight members by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) employees union. It stated that the Senate Gang of Eight bill was not strong enough on border enforcement, making the bill “fatally flawed.” USCIS officials and staff wrote that the bill merely provides for rubber-stamping millions of applications for processing, thus putting public safety and taxpayers at risk.
 
In addition, the Gang of Eight bill fails to require any health examinations for “legalized” applicants, even though lawful applicants for immigration must pass detailed health exams provided only by medical doctors approved by the State Department.
 
The Obama administration, the Democrat Party, and radical immigrant rights advocates pander to Hispanics by placing an open-borders ideology above national security, national health, economic well-being, and the rights of U.S. taxpayers.
 
Today, many Americans have no idea about the impact of immigration, other than what some professor or TV personality like Jon Stewart tells them. Current polls show that Americans vary in their opinions on immigration reform legislation, but most want immigrants to apply legally and to respect and follow U.S. laws.
 
Because some pollsters frame their questions on comprehensive immigration reform to result in desired answers, many Senate and House members still fortunately attempt to follow the will of the people who elected them, rather than the polls.
 
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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