Sen. Marco Rubio makes it awfully hard to like him (which I still do) when he offers America the most lax immigration bill we’ve seen in recent years. His and the Gang of Eight’s falsities on the bill don’t help either: It’s not amnesty! The border will be secured! They can’t collect welfare!
The bill offers all illegal immigrants who maintained presence in the U.S. before December 31, 2011 (and who don’t have felonies or three or more misdemeanors) the chance at documentation, and finally citizenship. You should question the provision’s enforceability. Mediaite’s A. J. Delgado (who has done fantastic, copious work on the Gang of Eight bill) remarks: “how easy will it be to have crossed the border a month ago and falsify some papers, or friends’ testimony, claiming one came in earlier?”
Those who have already been deported still get the chance to apply if they have a spouse, child, or parent in the States with documentation. Nothing says tough immigration policy like “Come to the U. S. illegally and bring your family with you!”
The bill favors those who broke the law above those who took the standard route of applying for citizenship (i.e. not disrespecting our national sovereignty). Once someone achieves permanent residency under the bill, they are eligible for citizenship in only three years, as opposed to the normal five.
Delgado explains: “[T]his bill therefore does grant special treatment to those who will qualify simply because they are or were physically here (provided they meet the fairly easy requirements of a $500 fine and no severe criminal history), versus applicants abroad who must meet one of the special categories or obtain entry via a visa lottery.”
Even those currently undergoing deportation are welcome to apply under the bill.
In an attempt to cajole conservatives into agreeing to the bill, proponents have laid on the “border enforcement” language thick. There are two provisions in the bill that are almost ironically called border enforcement: the first required before those undocumented can gain status of what’s called a “Registered Provision Immigrant,” and the second required before the granting of a greencard.
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has five years to “achieve 100% surveillance of the border and a 90% apprehension rate of illegal crossers” at high-risk areas. If they fail, the bill would create another government commission to take a turn at bat.
The main problem with this is the bill’s language doesn’t require this enforcement to be “fully” implemented, as Rubio claimed. It only mandates that the “Comprehensive Southern Border Strategy” and “Fencing Strategy” be “submitted to Congress and [are] substantially deployed and substantially operational.”
So, no, we don’t get an enforcement first, amnesty later plan. The latter begins almost immediately after the former does. “It’s tantamount to a parent giving the green-light just because you’ve started your homework,” Delgado quips, “not because you’ve completed it.”
Finally, though the bill does say that applicants cannot receive federal welfare assistance, it does leave some things out: (1) they aren’t barred from state welfare assistance, (2) applicants’ American-born children can receive benefits on their behalf, (3) this provision can be undone (if the ACLU has anything to say about it, it likely will), and (4) once applicants gain citizen status, they will be able to collect federal welfare. And they probably will.
One of the main things wrong with our immigration policy is that it is so obsessed with having a firm foundation in family reunification. Family-based policy is great, but in this instance it’s nothing but an extension of the detrimental welfare state.
According to the Center for Immigration Studies: 82-percent of Dominican immigrant households with children receive welfare (Mexico and Guatemala: 75-percent; Ecuador: 70-percent; Korea: 25-percent). Families headed by an immigrant with little or no education collect welfare at a rate of 80-percent, as opposed to only 25-percent for familes headed by an immigrant with a bachelor’s degree.
Combine this with the shockingly high out of wedlock birthrate of immigrant households (highest amongst single Hispanic women), and this plan spells death for the Republican Party (who will not get any noticeable electoral increase in Hispanic support from amnesty — when have they ever?) and American prosperity in general.
Let’s try to get border enforcement well-contained before having a discussion of “getting in the back of the line.” Let’s also focus more on skills-based immigration (we are of no use to hopeful immigrants if we can offer them nothing but a stagnant economy, demoralizing welfare, and the chance at being exploited by companies looking for cheap labor).
I appreciate Rubio and the Gang of Eight’s attempt, but the assertion that it’s a tough, no-amnesty, economically and socially smart bill is una gran mentira: a big lie.
Keith Fierro | Cal State Fullerton | @KJFierro