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Amnesty Now; Enforcement Never

There is something Orwellian about the spectacle of a Senator who employed an illegal immigrant sex-offender unveiling an “immigration reform” proposal.  In addition to Bob Menendez’s presence at the press conference yesterday, the competition over who could speak more Spanish, along with McCain’s passionate assertion that this proposal is virtually the same as the Kennedy plan, made this spectacle a full-court circus.  It was even more absurd to watch McCain sell this proposal as a way of winning elections for Republicans, as Chuck Schumer and Dick Durbin smirked behind him.

In terms of substance, here are some points to consider:

  • The central problem with any amnesty proposal is that even if you agree to the premise of some sort of amnesty, it cannot be enacted before future waves of illegal immigration are prevented.  We’ve been giving lip-service to border security, workplace enforcement, and visa tracking for years.  There are many laws on the books to address these proposals brought up in the Rubio/Schumer working group proposal, yet they have not been implemented.  This is an executive problem, not a legislative problem.  How are we going to ensure the amnesty does not beget another wave of illegal immigration if we don’t implement the enforcement measures for several years prior to the amnesty?  But fear not, there will be another COMISSION that will serve in an advisory role to determine when we should implement the amnesty after border security.  Moreover, every member of the Gang said yesterday at the press conference that the illegals would be awarded a legal status immediately.  There is no way any enforcement certification or lack thereof would thwart the runaway train of citizenship.

Moreover, were we to implement some sort of amnesty in return for enforcement, we can never do so while Obama is president.  He has granted defacto amnesty while amnesty was illegal; why in the world would he follow the few limitations on amnesty in an amnesty bill?  He has vitiated the 287(g) program and sued states that upheld the federal laws; we are supposed to believe that he will uphold the new laws once he gets his candy?  Remember, the Supreme Court largely upheld Obama’s lawlessness.

  • The proposal subtly implies that Arizona-style enforcement laws (which have actually worked) are tantamount to racial profiling.  So how will any of their proposed mechanisms not fall under this same charge?  Any workplace enforcement will be subject to legal challenges from the truculent immigration attorneys, and they might succeed in striking down the laws.
  • Proponents of amnesty have framed this debate as a straw-man false choice between going door-to-door and physically removing everyone vs. granting anyone who comes here illegally the ability to achieve the desired result of their law-breaking; namely, a path to citizenship. How will this change for the next wave of illegals?  Aren’t we ostensibly saying that anyone who comes here illegally will always get to stay and become a citizen?  I know, I know, they will have to pay a $300 fine and buy an English textbook.
  • Are we doing a good job of assimilating our immigrants over the past two decades?  How will that play out with 12 million new illegals and an increase in legal immigration?

Ultimately, this proposal does nothing to give us confidence that we won’t repeat the mistakes of 1986.  Amnesties ultimately invalidate any legal immigration process.  Marco Rubio rightfully said the following during a debate with Charlie Crist in 2010:

As far as amnesty, that’s where the governor and I disagree. He would have voted for the McCain plan. I think that plan is wrong, and the reason why I think it’s wrong is that if you grant amnesty, as the governor proposes that we do, in any form, whether it’s back of the line or so forth, you will destroy any chance we will ever have of having a legal immigration system that works here in America.

With John McCain affirming that this is ostensibly the same proposal, I would hope that Senator Rubio heeds his own warning.  His 2010 warning was prescient.  The only way such a proposal could work is if enforcement is decoupled from amnesty, and implemented first.  Only after several years of implementation, in which we could ensure that the executive is enforcing the laws, that the laws are working, and that the courts don’t void the laws, can we discuss amnesty.  Otherwise, we’re headed to the path of amnesty now; enforcement never.

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