|Five Reasons to Oppose Latest Senate Immigration Bill|
By Ashton Ellis
Wednesday, June 26 2013
With the Senate gearing up to pass the third version of the Gang of Eight’s immigration reform bill by the end of the week, conservatives in the House of Representatives have five important reasons to let it die and start over.
1. Every version of the bill has been secretly negotiated and hastily considered
No part of this bill has ever been up for debate. All three versions of the bill – the original agreement by the Gang of Eight, the so-called “manager’s amendment” that expanded it and the recently adopted Corker-Hoeven amendment that increased it again – were negotiated outside the normal committee and floor debate process. When they were finally publicized, all three were presented as a done deal.
While hammering out terms in private isn’t necessarily anti-democratic, it was here for two reasons. First, each time a new version of the bill was made public, members of the Gang and their supporters said any substantive changes would kill the bill. The message was clear: Pass our type of immigration reform without any changes or get no reform. Call it gun-to-your-head lawmaking.
The Gang’s process also violated democratic accountability because it repeatedly and deliberately bypassed the deliberation phase of lawmaking. At the publication of each new version, senators were given only two to three days to read a complex bill that grew from 800 to 1,200 pages. Thereafter, fast-track committee hearings and floor votes were scheduled to expedite passage of a bill no one read or understood completely, except the secretive negotiators and their lobbyist co-authors.
Just like ObamaCare, the Gang’s immigration reform plan has become a bill that must be passed in order to find out what’s in it.
2. Liberal activist groups will get access to a $100 million, taxpayer-funded slush fund
Lost amid the immigration bill’s estimated $46.8 billion price tag is a $100 million program set up to enrich liberal activist groups. If passed, the Gang’s bill will create the “United States Citizenship Foundation,” a non-profit government entity able to dodge congressional oversight.
Armed with an immediate $100 million appropriation, USCF would be shielded from relying on Congress for funds for at least five years. Although the bill’s statutory requirements say USCF’s grant money will go to groups helping immigrants integrate into America, in practice the criteria ensure that the main recipients will be the same leftwing community organizers that also register people to vote Democrat.
If this section becomes law, federal taxpayers will be subsidizing the political agenda of liberal activists, which makes acquiescence by Republicans all the more confusing.
3. There never was a serious attempt to secure the border
For all the hullabaloo surrounding the last-minute Corker-Hoeven amendment – the third and (seemingly) final iteration of the Gang’s immigration reform bill – and its promises to enact meaningful border security, the method chosen is designed to fail.
When agreement on the amendment was first announced, a lot of attention was directed at the unusual level of detail the bill now gives to increases in manpower and technology. If passed, the bill would require 20,000 new Border Patrol agents within ten years, more than double the current force. It would also specify that “573 unattended ground sensors, including seismic, imaging and infrared” be purchased for the Laredo, Texas sector, while Big Bend, Texas would get “3 license plate readers, including mobile, tactical and fixed,” among other items.
With the Corker-Hoeven amendment now adopted, the price tag for immigration reform just jumped from $8.3 billion to $46.8 billion. But most of these numbers are fantasy. Even Bob Corker, one of the amendment’s co-authors, calls them “overkill.” That’s because all of this money is deficit spending, meaning future congresses will likely whittle it down once the law passes and the bills become due.
More important, all this new spending on agents and gizmos doesn’t measure the right thing. Instead of throwing money at the problem, Congress needs to set out a clear benchmark like a 90 percent apprehension rate along the border, and then let the Border Patrol figure out how to do it with people and technology. But because Democrats from President Barack Obama on down refuse to accept any type of apprehension rate metric, Republicans seem content playing the liberal spend-till-we’re-bankrupt game.
Finally, Corker-Hoeven includes the same savings clause that was in the first two versions. It says that in the event that any of the border security measures are delayed because of litigation – a near certainty – illegal immigrants who are not deported will still receive legalization within ten years. Thus, even after Corker-Hoeven, it’s legalization first, border security maybe never.
4. Legalization First, Federal Entitlements Next
As is widely known, the crux of the Gang’s bill is to give immediate legal status to nearly all of the estimated 11 million illegal immigrants currently residing in the United States. True, the bill contains various pathways to citizenship that can take up to 13 years. But the most important hurdle to cross is legalization, not citizenship. Once an illegal immigrant becomes legitimized, he can press claims for other legal rights, such as access to federal entitlement programs.
To this way of thinking, border security becomes a distraction, and conditioning legalization on a secure border is non-negotiable. Liberals know that legalization is the first in a series of favors they can bestow on a huge new segment of the electorate, many in swing states. Waiting for a secure border delays those favors – and the votes they generate. Democrats want to win. Now they’re winning at the negotiating table. Later they’ll win at the ballot box.
5. No version of the bill has ever lost a Democratic senator’s support
It may seem impossible to believe, but during the almost six-month debate about a once-in-a-generation immigration reform not one Democratic senator has said publicly that any element in the bill – despite three major rewrites – would cause him or her to oppose it.
This is significant. Ordinarily, the back-and-forth of legislative haggling causes shifts in support even among members of the same caucus. The gun control debate, which caused red state Democrats to vote against their caucus, is a prime example.
Yet the complete lack of opposition by any Democratic senator when it comes to immigration reform shows clearly that the Left didn’t surrender anything its members deemed essential.
And for good reason. The key liberal goal of immigration reform is to legalize 11 million Democratic voters. As soon as illegal immigrants are given legal status, analysts on both sides predict a flood of litigation to invalidate the Gang’s restrictions on receiving federal entitlements such as Social Security, Medicaid and, of course, ObamaCare subsidies.
If the Gang’s bill becomes law, the Democrats who are now making token gestures of support for restricting access to entitlements will reverse course before the ink is dry from President Obama’s signing pen.
Conservatives in the House of Representatives should not hesitate to set aside the Senate’s immigration monstrosity, and start over.
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