Thursday, April 29, 2010

Reid-Schumer-Menendez conceptual proposal for immigration reform

Despite President Obama's admission yesterday that "there may not be an appetite" to overhaul the nation's immigration laws this year,  Senate Democrats released a 26-page framework for immigration reform legislation that ostensibly acknowledges the need to secure U.S. borders before taking action on the estimated 10.8 million people living in the country illegally.  From Fox News:
In the wake of a major crack down on illegal immigration in Arizona, Senate Democratic leaders released a 26-page framework for legislation on Wednesday that sets tough border security standards as a precursor to illegal immigrants finding a pathway to U.S. citizenship, something critics often label amnesty. This "border security first" approach was one advocated by Republicans in 2005 when major reform was last attempted.

"Proponents of immigration reform ackowledge that that we need to meet clear and concrete benchmarks before we can finally ensure that America's borders are secure and effectively deal with the millions of illegal immigrants already in the U.S.," the document states.

The outline, obtained by Fox, was written by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-NV, with Sens. Chuck Schumer, D-NY, number three in leadership, and Cuban-American Bob Menendez, D-NJ, responsible for his party's 2010 midterm election effort.

"Reid, Schumer and Menendez submitted an outline to pro-immigration groups this morning in advance of a meeting later today. The outline represents the framework for a potential bill that would be co-sponsored by senators like Durbin and Feinstein and advanced by Democratic leadership later this year," one senior Democratic official said.

Menendez tells Fox he hopes the measure "instigates the White House to have a summit to bring individuals from both houses and both parties together to see what is possible to move forward."
The conceptual proposal includes seventeen pages of initiatives designed to improve border security and eliminate future illegal employment through the use of a fraud-proof biometric social security card.  Employers will be required to use the "Biometric Enrollment, Locally-stored Information, and Electronic Verification of Employment" (BELIEVE) system to verify that potential new employees are authorized to work in the U.S.  It strictly prohibits employers from using the system to verify the status of existing employees.  (The name reminds me of the "Think System" advocated by "Professor" Harold Hill in The Music Man, "you don't have to bother with the notes.")

The remainder of the document dallies with special immigration programs for high-skilled and lower-skilled immigrants, religious workers, doctors and nurses; and then in the final guessed it:  the registration and legalization of the people living in the U.S. illegally on the date the bill is enacted into law.  It has a tough sounding heading:


But the intent is clear.  In a two-phase process, "unauthorized aliens" who meet certain criteria will be given lawful permanent resident status.  You can decide for yourself whether or not to call this amnesty.  It is what it is.

John Hawkins at Town Hall presents five arguments the GOP should use to to oppose the Democrats immigration plan:
#1) We need "security first." Even John McCain, the man who led the fight for comprehensive immigration reform last time around, has since admitted that the American people don't believe we'll secure the border.

Incidentally, there's good reason for that. For example, the Obama Administration has announced that the border fence which was begun by the Bush Administration won't be "finished until at least 2016." So, if we're lucky, in 2016, 15 years after 9/11, we may for the first time have a secure border that terrorists can't just walk over with a nuclear bomb. That'll be great, won't it?

Tell you what: let's stop putting the cart before the horse. Let's finish the fence, adequately staff the border patrol, get a proven system in place to prevent illegal aliens from being able to get jobs with fake Social Security numbers and then and only then, we can come back and discuss the whole "path to citizenship" issue. If that's too long to wait for the illegal immigrants, then they can always just go home.

#2) Jobs, jobs, jobs. Amnesty for illegals: It's for those times when you have a 9.7% unemployment rate & want to take even more jobs from Americans. When so many people are out of work and having trouble taking care of their families, why in the world would anyone want to give away American jobs and drive down American wages? How out of touch with what's going on in this country do you have to be to want to hand American jobs to foreigners via amnesty when so many people are hurting?

#3) We're too broke for an amnesty. As is, 47 percent of Americans are paying no income taxes. Do we really need to add to their ranks -- and let's not kid ourselves because that's what we're talking about.

Point being, if 47 percent of Americans aren't paying income taxes, how many illegals, most of whom have low paying jobs, would be paying income taxes if they became citizens? 10%? 20%? In other words, when the country is broke, why do we want to bring in millions more people to collect food stamps, welfare, and earned income tax credits even though they don't pay income tax? Are we so short of Americans who do that sort of thing that we actually need to bring in poor people from other parts of the globe to take advantage of our social safety net?

#4) Amnesty is unfair to immigrants. Nobody has been treated worse in the whole amnesty debate than legal immigrants. They love and respect this country enough to obey the rules -- and what do they get in return? Oftentimes, they have to wait in their home country. They fill out reams of paperwork. They pay thousands of dollars in legal fees.

Then what happens? They're spoken of in the same breath as some guy who snuck into our country in the middle of the night and stole somebody's Social Security number. Furthermore, despite all the rhetoric to the contrary, illegals are going to be rewarded for breaking American laws while legal immigrants have to put up with the same old hassles. What's the message to legal immigrants? The message is, "You're stupid for loving and respecting this country enough to obey our laws." Legal immigrants to this country deserve to be treated better than that.

#5) We've already tried this once before. It didn't work then and it won't work now. As former Reagan Attorney General Ed Meese has noted, we've already tried this once during the Reagan Administration.

They allowed roughly 2.7 million illegal aliens to become citizens and in exchange, we were supposed to implement security measures to fix the system. Guess what? We never fixed the security problem and today, we're talking about giving citizenship to roughly 4 times as many illegals.

So, why would anyone who actually wants to solve the problem suggest implementing a government policy that's already a proven failure? Of course, that's just it: What politicians want is more illegal workers to pad the bottom lines of businesses that give them campaign contributions and more potential voters for the Democratic Party. What they don't want is to fix the problem because they're worried about what's good for them personally, not what's good for the country.

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