President Bush’s Monday night was deliberately crafted to sound balanced and reasonable – to promote the image that the President is a strong advocate of border enforcement. But his record as president clearly suggests otherwise, as does his response to today's disastrous Senate vote defeating a proposal calling for enhanced border enforcement first
The Senate rejected a call Tuesday to secure the nation's borders before tackling other immigration-related concerns such as citizenship for millions of men and women in the country illegally, a victory for President Bush and supporters of a comprehensive approach to a volatile election-year issue.
The vote was 55-40 against a proposal by Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga, who said that anything less than a border security-first approach amounted to "a wink and a nod one more time to those who would come here" unlawfully.
Republican and Democratic supporters of the sweeping Senate bill said Isakson's approach would be self-defeating and derail the approach that Bush backed in Monday night's prime time speech from the Oval Office. "We have to have a comprehensive approach if we're going to gain control of the borders," said Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, D-Mass.
Eager to blunt any political fallout from opposing Isakson's proposal, the bill's sponsors countered with an alternative of their own. Backed by Sen. Ken Salazar, D-Colo., it said immigration changes envisioned in the legislation could proceed if the president declared they were in the national security interests of the United States.
The Senate cast its first votes on the immigration bill as Bush renewed his call for Congress to act. "The objective is, on the one hand, protect our borders; and, on the other hand, never lose sight of the thing that makes America unique which is, we're a land of immigrants and that we're not going to discriminate against people," he said at a news conference with Australian Prime Minister John Howard.
Make no mistake, the phrase "comprehensive" means a guest worker program together with legalization for illegals already here and a few token enforcement measures thrown in to appease conservatives (which will be half-heartedly enforced only as long as politically necessary).
Anyone doubting this need only consider the ramifications of the Senate bill, sponsored by Republicans Charlie Hagel and Mel Martinez, that the president openly supports. The conservative Heritage Foundation – usually an ardent supporter of the President – has ran the numbers and extrapolated the staggering impact of the immigration policy Bush actually favors
If enacted, the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act (CIRA, S.2611) would be the most dramatic change in immigration law in 80 years, allowing an estimated 103 million persons to legally immigrate to the U.S. over the next 20 years—fully one-third of the current population of the United States.
Much attention has been given to the fact that the bill grants amnesty to some 10 million illegal immigrants. Little or no attention has been given to the fact that the bill would quintuple the rate of legal immigration into the United States, raising, over time, the inflow of legal immigrants from around one million per year to over five million per year. The impact of this increase in legal immigration dwarfs the magnitude of the amnesty provisions.
In contrast to the 103 million immigrants permitted under CIRA, current law allows 19 million legal immigrants over the next twenty years. Relative to current law, then, CIRA would add an extra 84 million legal immigrants to the nation’s population.
The figure of 103 million legal immigrants is a reasonable estimate of the actual immigration inflow under the bill and not the maximum number that would be legally permitted to enter. The maximum number that could legally enter would be almost 200 million over twenty years—over 180 million more legal immigrants than current law permits.
The Hagel-Martinez bill (CIRA) grants a broad amnesty to the millions of illegal aliens already.
CIRA offers amnesty and citizenship to 85 percent of the nation’s current 11.9 million illegal immigrants. Under the plan, illegal immigrants who have been in the U.S. for five years or more (60 percent of illegals) would be granted immediate amnesty. Illegal immigrants who have been in the country between two and five years (25 percent of illegals) could travel to one of 16 "ports of entry," where they would receive amnesty and lawful work permits. In total, the bill would grant amnesty to 85 percent of the current illegal immigrant population, or some 10 million individuals.
After receiving amnesty, illegal immigrants would spend six years in a provisional status before attaining LPR status. After five years in LPR status, they would have the opportunity to become naturalized citizens and vote in U.S. elections. As well, the spouses and dependent children of current illegal immigrants would have the right to enter the U.S. and become citizens. There would be no numeric limit on the number of illegal immigrants, spouses, and dependents receiving LPR status; under the amnesty provision, such individuals would not be counted against any other cap or limit in immigration law.
CIRA also creates a massive "guest worker" program whose twin goals are to increase the number of foreigners living and working in the US (most of whom could be eligible for a "path to citizenship" later on) and (thus) to drive down drastically the wages paid to unskilled and semi-skilled workers. Oh, and guess what? Those workers would be able to bring their family members into the US with them. Surprise. Surprise.
CIRA creates an entirely new "temporary guest worker" (H-2C) program. There is nothing temporary about this program; nearly all "guest workers" would have the right to become permanent residents and then citizens.
Foreign workers could enter the U.S. as guest workers if they have a job offer from a U.S. employer. In practical terms, U.S. companies would recruit foreign workers to enter the guest worker program and immigrate to the U.S. Most likely, intermediate employment firms would specialize in recruiting foreign labor for U.S. employers.
Guest workers would be allowed to remain in the U.S. for six years. However, in the fourth year, the guest worker could ask for LPR status and would receive it if he has learned English or is enrolled in an English class. There are no numeric limits on the number of guest workers who could receive LPR status. Upon receiving LPR status, the guest worker could remain in the country permanently. He could become a U.S. citizen and vote in U.S. elections after just five more years.
The spouses and minor children of guest workers would also be permitted to immigrate to the U.S. When guest workers petition for LPR status, their spouses and children would receive it as well. Five years after obtaining LPR status, these spouses could become naturalized citizens. The bill sets no limit on the number of spouses and children who could immigrate under the guest worker program. After workers and their spouses have obtained citizenship, they would be able to bring in their parents as legal permanent residents.
If millions of guest workers bring their aging parents into the US as legal residents, then those aging relatives will be immediately eligible for all sorts of government funded aid programs, like social security, Medicare, Medicaid and so on. So much for the tax benefits of a guest worker program – the social program cost added on by guest workers and their families will quickly eclipse any added tax receipts. Heritage concludes:
The "guest worker" program, then, is an open door program, based on the demands of U.S. business, that would allow an almost unlimited number of workers and dependents to enter the U.S. from anywhere in world and become citizens. It is essentially an "open border" provision.
This is what President Bush actually means by "comprehensive immigration reform." He means open borders.
In his speech last night, the President also said he opposed amnesty, and assured Americans that illegal aliens on their "path toward citizenship" would have to pay all sorts of financial penalties (back taxes and the like) to gain legal status. But given the low earning power of most illegal aliens, how likely is that? If such a proposal were enacted into law, within months the media would be awash in tearjerker accounts of sympathetic illegals who desperately wanted to legalize their status, but just can’t afford the several thousand dollars owed in taxes and penalties. We’d hear of Maria, the sweatshop seamstress with three kids, and Manuel the day laborer with five kids, both barely able to keep clothes on their backs and food on the table. How could they be expected to pay the fines on their meager salaries? A few months of such heart-rending tales and Democrat politicians would be jumping in front of the cameras to plead the sorrows of illegal aliens who want to be legalized, but can’t afford it. Those insisting that the law be obeyed would be cast as hard-hearted and mean-spirited. President Bush would, after some gentle prodding from his good friend Senator Kennedy, either agree to forgive the fines, or create a new program permitting the illegals to borrow money to pay the fines (money which they would never pay back, putting the debt straight onto the taxpayers).
Every word out of the President’s mouth last night was an attempt to divert the voters’ attention away from his actual - but deliberately left unstated - immigration policy and its horrendous consequences for the US.