(Updated to include a link to the History of U.S. Immigration Law and to highlight The Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act (IIRAIRA), enacted in 1996, that lists many of the same ideas being discussed today...17 years later)
I don't pretend to know all the ins and outs of immigration laws so this is based upon the knowledge I have and perceptions by observation. I'll try to be a happy warrior and try to hide the outrage I'm feeling on this issue for these reasons (and for the sake of brevity, won't even mention the remarks of McCain et al):
1. The politicians haven't explained what their immigration "reform" goal is or did I miss it? Sure they laid out some stipulations but I don't know what their GOAL is that will serve our country's best interests? If they have one, is it objective and measurable and enforceable? Allowing 11M to come out of the "dark" isn't a goal; it's a placate for votes.
2. What exactly is broken in our immigration LAWS other than they haven't been enforced for a very long time but blatantly defied especially by this admin? Is it the quota system which seems to be a secret these days but hear that less visas go to Europeans, the crux of our heritage that built this country.
Before we go off half-cocked in allowing a path to citizenship for those that don't belong in our country lawfully, I'd like the politicians to explain exactly what about our system is broken compared to the laws on the books and how they propose to fix it. All I see is a desire to add 11M folks to the census rolls for empathy votes.
Why not enforce the laws on the books or change the existing laws to be more effective in their goal: First, of stopping illegal immigration, don't turn a blind eye, penalize sanctuary cities, beef up border security, deport immediately (ala Mexico, and eliminate the need for endless hearings once caught. Once that's done, enact or change laws that meet the goal of stopping illegal immigration. Will the pols get rid of existing laws or just add more useless unenforceable laws?
Secondly, the goal of immigration policy should be aimed towards filling gaps where we lag in entrepreneurship, knowledge and skills that will ensure we remain a super-power . Legal immigration is great with sound policy in mind.
3. The House passed a bill on Nov. 30, 2012, "STEM Jobs Act (H.R. 6429), that increases the number of H1B visas based upon skills we need. "This bill eliminates the diversity visa program and reallocates up to 55,000 new green cards to the most highly qualified foreign graduates of American universities with advanced degrees in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields, see http://judiciary.house.gov/news/STEM%20Bill%. " Great news and a worthwhile goal (I don't know if the Senate passed it or not). The WH and the Dem's opposed this bill because: "Of the Members who opposed the STEM Jobs Act, many did so because it would eliminate the Diversity Visa Immigration program, which allocates 55,000 permanent residency visas by lottery." (from http://www.aip.org/fyi/2012/142.html). A Lottery System is a gambling system and has no place in immigration policy.
4. Will these new laws make O's near amnesty policy he did last summer null and void? The lawmakers should get clarification from the WH since it may still do a end-run to these new laws. Any new laws must include language to prevent an E.O. from usurping the new laws, if enacted.
5. What are the enforcement mechanisms? Immediate deportation for not registering within a set time frame (nope, didn't hear that one). Substantially eliminating the onerous process of booking, holding and court proceedings to slimline the process if someone is here illegally after the new laws are enacted? It's truly dumbfounding to see the machinations our country goes to prove and deport someone here illegally, not to mention the costs involved. Is due process a right for non-citizens? Will DHS reinstate 287g agreements or will it continue to drop their MoU's as they did to AZ? "Reduce overstayed Visas" was listed- wow how about eliminate those in violation before issuing more? Because there is no tracking mechanism in place (see pilots from 9/11); fix that and then we'll talk. If the existing laws aren't enforceable, why not? What will change with these new laws?
6. Lastly, do We the People get a say in the matter? This is not a trivial matter to rush through with the gang of eight. Much thought should be given as to the goals, the benefits, the (un)desired outcomes and the guarantee that somehow this time will be different. How about holding town halls across the country? The immigration issues are not new or pressing to national security (other than the porous border but again not a new situation) and to rush through legislation to assist 11M non-citizens without a voice from the legal 315M citizens is unconscionable at best and malicious at worst (ok, about 208-210M of voting age).
Laws that mean well have unintended consequences; laws passed in haste aren't usually good laws; laws enacted without representation are worthless.
About 7 months ago I wrote a diary called, "Another Step Closer to the Destruction of America Thanks to the Order-by-Fiat-in-Chief" and I quoted a very famous speech by a former Democratic governor from Colorado, Richard Lamm, called “I Have a Plan to Destroy America". Most of the comments I got on the post were about this speech as it will give you goose bumps, no matter what side of the aisle one sits.
I'd like to think this time really will be different and believe we need to reform, not wholesale change, our immigration laws that increase our national sovereignty and further our legacy of what it means to be an American. I don't support passing immigration laws for political expediency, presidential legacy or votes for either Party, particularily Republicans given the last election. The Republicans are in for a rude awakening in they believe is our this is a roadmap or panacea for more Hispanic votes.
Here is an interesting read on the "History of Immigration Laws". We've been down this road so many times before and so many of the same ideas being discussed today were already enacted into law(s), yet somehow we still have the same problems. It states that the last major legislation enacted was in 1996, called "The Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act (IIRAIRA)" and just look at it's major points:
- Authorized 5,000 additional Border Patrol agents by 2001 and included several hundred additional investigators to pursue employer sanctions violations, document fraud, and visa overstays.
- Barred legal admission for removed illegal aliens (for 5 to 20 years depending on the seriousness of the immigration violation) and permanently barred admission for deported or removed aggravated felons.
- Authorized a 14-mile-long triple fence at San Diego, California.
- Authorized necessary funds to expand the "IDENT" program to include fingerprinting of all illegal and criminal aliens apprehended nationwide.
- Facilitated deportation of criminal aliens by expanding the definition of aggravated felony to include crimes carrying a prison sentence of one year or more rather than time served.
- Stopped the release of criminal aliens from custody prior to deportation.
- Expedited the removal of inadmissible aliens by limiting judicial review.
- Made excludable or deportable those aliens who falsely claim U.S. citizenship.
- Required states to phase in, over six years, drivers' licenses and state-issued I.D. documents that are tamperproof and counterfeit-resistant.
- Increased criminal penalties for document fraud and smuggling. Added alien smuggling and document fraud to RICO (anti-racketeering) offences and granted the INS the authority to use wiretaps for such investigations.
- Required that sponsors of immigrants have income at least 25 percent above the poverty level and made affidavits of support by the sponsors legally binding.
We need to determine the root cause of the failure of upholding our existing laws to prevent illegal immigration, before we pile on more worthless laws.
“The death of democracy is not likely to be an assassination from ambush. It will be a slow extinction from apathy, indifference, and undernourishment” by from Robert Hutchins.