Four liberal Democrat U.S. senators and four conservative Republican U.S. senators (three of the latter from heavily Hispanic-populated states) have joined forces to reform the nation’s immigration policy.
Labeled by the news media as the Gang of Eight, they are Chuck Schumer, D-NY; 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 29, 2013, they announced an endeavor to resolve the chaos surrounding enforcement of the nation’s immigration laws.
President Barack Obama responded to the Gang of Eight with his position on immigration, which had Sen. Schumer suddenly announcing that “border security” is not “that essential” to proposed legislation. Prior to Schumer’s disavowal, there had been agreement on border security.
The Gang of Eight had said that a path to citizenship should be offered to illegal aliens presently in the country, but only after the government secures the southern border. Questions remain regarding who will determine when the border is secure.
The president and his Secretary of Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano, say the southern border already is secure. Their assurances conflict with daily and nightly border crossings by illegal aliens, drug smugglers, and previous deportees, among them criminal gang members.
The New York Times reports that aliens and drug smugglers cross the Southern Border nightly. On March 20, 2013, Homeland Security officials testified under oath before a U.S. House of Representatives Subcommittee on Border and Maritime Security that they had no effective way to measure border security, nor will they have one “anytime in the near future.”
Border security has long been labeled a Republican position. As far back as 1986, Republican members of Congress agreed to the Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA), after Democrats promised “meaningful” border security and employer sanctions in exchange for amnesty for 2.5 million illegal aliens. Congress never delivered on border control or federal enforcement of employer sanctions.
The Gang of Eight proposes that green cards offering legal permanent residency (LPR) be considered for immigrants (documented and undocumented) with advanced degrees in STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics).
Other proposals include a tougher employer verification system to assure that companies hire only legal or “legalizing” immigrants, among them entry-level workers; incentives for companies that hire “legalizing” immigrants; and a guest farmhand program for seasonal agricultural workers.
Republicans, with the support of business and industry, can lead the legalizing of STEM immigrants and guest workers. Republicans can propose modern guest worker legislation covering skilled and unskilled workers for high-tech industries and agrarian businesses.
Payment of taxes and/or fines by illegal aliens may be no more than window dressing to convince U.S. citizens that Congress is tough on immigration.
What criteria will be used to determine taxes owed — yearly income, number of years in the United States, valid identification of applicants? How will taxes be paid, especially by low-skilled applicants? How will accuracy be determined on immigrant claims of payment? How will the government deal with immigrant advocates of “humanitarian” exemptions, when applicants can’t pay back taxes or fines? Watch for Congress to cave and permit waivers, just like the Obamacare waivers.
The congressional requirement that undocumented immigrants learn English is like mandating that they pay back taxes and fines. Who will pay for immigrant-applicant English classes, and who will determine if an applicant reads, writes, and speaks English fluently? If learning English is mandated, then bilingual schooling and business regulations can be eliminated. English, once again, would be the official language of the United States of America.
For legalizing immigrants, what degree of U.S. history and government knowledge will be sufficient, as many schools teach questionable U.S. history, heritage, and government? Who will determine the course matter?
Another red herring in proposed immigration legislation has legalizing immigrants sent to the back of the line behind legal immigrant applicants. After a bookkeeping entry, will legalizing immigrants be free to reside in the United States with the rights and privileges of legal permanent residents (LPR)? What happens if a legalizing immigrant is involved in criminal matters or civil litigation that challenges the moral turpitude required of LPR applicants?
Will legalizing undocumented foreign nationals occur at the signing of a comprehensive immigration reform bill, such as that envisioned by the president? Might such a law entitle legalizing immigrants not just to the rights and privileges of LPRs but to the rights and privileges of U.S. citizens?
Republican leaders may be falling away from border security as a prerequisite for legalizing immigrants. If Republicans hold to their position requiring border security prior to the processing of illegal aliens, Democrats are unlikely to agree, and comprehensive immigration reform may not pass.
Democrats apparently prefer chaos to enforcing immigration laws.
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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