I'll try to remain respectful toward the office, but it'll be hard. After all, the man is either lying to our faces or under the influence of Potomac Fever. He went from conservative Congressman to fellow-traveler in about three months. My statement is provoked by a column, supposedly written by Senator Jeff Flake, which appeared April 20 in the National Review Online, titled "The Conservative Case for Immigration Reform." In it, Flake attempts to explain his immigration bill and assuage our fears about it. I suppose it goes without saying that I think he fails miserably. In fact, it reads like the junior high team got trounced by the senior varsity players (Sens. Schumer and Durbin). The perhaps worse alternative is that Rubio and Flake actually believe they've come up with a good bill. I'll provide you point-and-counterpoint to the end.
Senator Flake, this is really for your benefit, so I address my comments to you.
"What I never expected was that Senator Rubio and I would be working on immigration-reform legislation with liberals like Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.) and Dick Durbin (D., Ill.)."
Neither did we, Senator, neither did we. It's not what we elected you to do.
"While conservatives are justified in their skepticism of any legislation that Senators Schumer and Durbin sign off on, I hope we don’t let their association with the bill that is now before the Senate overshadow the conservative elements that Republicans have included."
Gee, do you think so? Do you realize you just said our skepticism is justified? That may be the most completely honest statement in the column. Maybe you should be a little more skeptical. And it doesn't really matter that there may be some "conservative elements" in the bill, because it is loaded with anti-conservative elements.
"It requires the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to develop a “Comprehensive Southern Border Security Strategy” and appropriates $3 billion to implement the plan.... DHS is also required to develop the “Southern Border Fencing Strategy,” with $1.5 billion.... if they do not achieve a 90 percent effectiveness rate within five years (meaning that 9 of every 10 illegal border crossers is apprehended), another $2 billion will be spent to implement recommendations from a commission of border stakeholders, who, for the first time, will have meaningful authority to increase border security."
So, now we know it requires that a lot of money be spent ($4.5B), and if it doesn't work at "a 90 percent effectiveness rate within five years," even more will be spent ($2B) to ask somebody called "border stakeholders" what they think should be done. Here's a suggestion. Why don't you ask them first, and save five years? And shouldn't the DHS already have a comprehensive strategy to protect our southern border? Isn't that already the law? Isn't that part of their job?
And just how do we determine that we are catching 9 out of 10 illegal border crossers? Do they check out of Mexico as they leave, so that we have a count of the total number and can thereby tell when we've caught 90% of them? Seems to me that otherwise, by definition, if we don't catch them, we don't know how many we didn't catch, which would mean we can't calculate the percentage caught. (I have a degree in physics, so I know how math and percentages work. You need both a numerator and a denominator.)
Or do we just use the same people who tell us that the census is x% undercounted in urban Hispanics and y% undercounted in rural Chechnyans, and therefore another Democrat Congressman was cheated out of his seat? Is that the "border security" you have so sincerely promised we would have before there is "no" amnesty? And I thought Barack Obama was the expert on smoke and mirrors.
Whew. Almost halfway through. Let's continue.
"This bill ensures that no illegal immigrant will be given amnesty or rewarded for illegal behavior. In fact, no illegal immigrant will be “given” anything.
Before any illegal immigrant can adjust to a non-citizenship provisional status, DHS must have submitted the border-security and border-fencing strategies."
Did you actually write that? After the strategies have been submitted, then the change in status (called Registered Provisional Immigrant, or RPI) can occur? Not after the border is secure, but only after DHS has submitted a "strategy," which probably won't even work? And they are definitely "given" the right to stay here legally, which is exactly what they crossed the border illegally to get in the first place (did I get that right, Associated Press?). Can it be any clearer that this is a complete renunciation of your promise of Border Security First, then legalization? (These issues have been covered in more detail by Daniel Horowitz here and here and here.)
"Only then will these immigrants be able to legally work in the country — but they will not be eligible for government assistance (unemployment, welfare, Obamacare, etc.)."
Just one sentence here to point out that this prohibition will last just long enough for the first RPI status immigrant's ACLU lawyer to get his briefs to the right federal courthouse, where a sympathetic judge will declare that it mandates "unequal treatment under the law" and is therefore a no-no to be ignored. To continue--
"Moreover, to be eligible for this non-citizenship provisional status, illegal immigrants must pay a $500 fine, pass a background check, and pay fees."
As almost anybody might say, Big Whoop. In fact, total fines under the bill are only $2000. Considering that some of the RPI's will have been here perhaps twenty years, that isn't much. And about the background check--we are told that we don't have the resources to deport any of these people, yet we do have the resources to carry out background checks on all of them? Are they going to work for the FBI? Give me a break! This is unworkable on its face, especially given that there will be millions more streaming over the border with false documents to "prove" they were already here in 2011.
Furthermore, we are told (when it's convenient) that "half of the illegally overstaying foreigners came in on student visas." Will they get to apply for RPI status, too? Why? What do you plan to do with those of any stripe who don't apply for RPI status at all?
"Only after ten years can these provisional-status immigrants apply for a green card (which is still short of U.S. citizenship). In order to earn a green card, they will have to pay all back taxes, maintain employment in the U.S., learn English and civics, and wait until everyone who applied for a green card before them has been processed. It will likely be close to 13 years before current illegal immigrants begin to become eligible for citizenship."
It sounds draconian, until you realize that all these poor, unfortunate RPI's will have spent those years waiting and working here in the US of A, which, I repeat, is exactly what they crossed the border illegally to do in the first place. And they get to do it legally, neither of which the prospective immigrants who followed the law could do, because they are still where they started, not here.
"Conservatives worried that President Obama or Secretary Napolitano will be able to expedite the legalization sections of the bill while dragging their feet on border security should consider that the border-security measures come first, while the status-adjustment portions of the bill will take many years. It’s also worth noting that it’s likely that this process will occur under both Democratic and Republican administrations."
But we have just shown that the only border security measures the bill demands before legalization are strategies, not real security-creating actions. And there is absolutely nothing that will make a President Obama enforce the parts of the law he doesn't like (he isn't enforcing those parts now), nor is there anything that would keep a future Democrat President and Congress from changing the law, either. Of course that is true of any law, but if the physical border security infrastructure is already installed before amnesty, it will be harder for them to say, "We just don't have the resources to secure the borders now, but we can do the status adjustments," because the physical barriers will already be in place. Unfortunately, technological fences can be dismantled with an order or a flip of a switch.
"I think we can all agree that the status quo is unacceptable, and I’m convinced that this legislation moves us in a positive direction."
Again, Senator, no. The only thing wrong with the status quo is that the Democrats beat you like a drum with it, because like a drum, you are flat on your backs. That, and the fact that the border is too sieve-like to protect us from any serious foreign threat carrying a small nuclear, chemical, or biological weapon. And it doesn't keep out drug cartels or illegally-crossing foreigners, either. So fix that part, then come back to ask what you should do about "status adjustments." That's why those of us who are serious about solving the problem, not placating a pressure group, have insisted from the first that we shouldn't even talk about anything else until the border is truly secure. This bill is NOT an improvement.
ps. I'm insulted that you think we are stupid enough to think this is good law. Today, your credibility level stands at zero. IF you and Senator Rubio were to renounce this bill today and remove your names from it, admitting you were turned every which way but loose by the other six Senators in your gang, and pledge to fight its passage, you MIGHT have a SLIM chance to redeem yourselves. Forget about the top of the ticket, but you MIGHT get re-elected to the Senate. If the bill passes, no chance at all. That may turn out to be wrong, but it's honest advice.
Cross-posted at Terriers Of The Right.