Im­mi­gra­tion de­ba­cle

The Washington Times Weekly - - Editorials -

The bi­par­ti­san im­mi­gra­tion “re­form” leg­is­la­tion pushed by Sens. Ed­ward M. Kennedy and Jon Kyl and oth­ers, ap­plauded by Michael Chertoff, the sec­re­tary of Home­land Se­cu­rity, and Car­los Gu­tier­rez, the sec­re­tary of Com­merce, is a dis­as­ter in the mak­ing. That is not so slowly be­com­ing abun­dantly clear.

It’s a dis­as­ter for na­tional se­cu­rity, for keep­ing Is­lamist ji­hadists out of the coun­try, for ex­plod­ing the costs of So­cial Se­cu­rity, Medi­care and Med­i­caid, for pre­serv­ing the rule of law, and for that quaint prin­ci­ple called na­tional sovereignty. From the de­tails that have leaked out thus far, the leg­is­la­tion, which pro­vides amnesty for nearly all of the 12 mil­lion (or maybe even 20 mil­lion) il­le­gal aliens al­ready here, would swell the size of the wel­fare state in a way we haven’t seen since Lyn­don John­son im­posed his Great So­ci­ety on us four decades ago. Sen. Jeff Ses­sions, the Alabama Repub­li­can who is likely to lead the fight to save the na­tion from this dis­as­ter, and Robert Rec­tor of the Her­itage Foun­da­tion will re­veal at a press con­fer­ence this morn­ing the de­tails of just how ex­pen­sive it will be. We’re talk­ing tril­lions of dol­lars — that’s not mil­lions or even bil­lions — over the next sev­eral decades.

Se­nate floor de­bate on the bill be­gan May 21, and Se­nate Ma­jor­ity Leader Harry Reid clearly wants to force it through be­fore Me­mo­rial Day, be­fore sen­a­tors and ev­ery­one else can be­come familiar with even a frac­tion of what is in this mas­sive bill, which could run to 800 pages. It was still be­ing writ­ten over the week­end. Se­nate Mi­nor­ity Leader Mitch McCon­nell, who is said to lean in fa­vor of the bill, on May 20 said that at least two weeks would be re­quired for a se­ri­ous Se­nate de­bate on such a com­plex piece of leg­is­la­tion. We hope he means it when he says “se­ri­ous de­bate.” To win the sup­port of con­ser­va­tives who op­posed last year’s im­mi­gra­tion bill, the ad­min­is­tra­tion agreed that pro­vi­sions en­abling il­le­gals to re­main here could only be­come ef­fec­tive af­ter new bor- der-con­trol mea­sures are in place.

Th­ese in­clude the hir­ing, train­ing and de­ploy­ment of 5,000 to 6,000 ad­di­tional Border Pa­trol agents, in­creas­ing the to­tal to ap­prox­i­mately 18,000 agents. (As­sum­ing there are 12 mil­lion il­le­gals here, this amounts to 2,000 of them get­ting amnesty for ev­ery new Border Pa­trol agent hired to keep il­le­gals out).

The leg­is­la­tion calls for erect­ing 370 miles of ad­di­tional fenc­ing along the U.S.Mex­i­can border. To put that num­ber in per­spec­tive, in Oc­to­ber, the Se­nate passed leg­is­la­tion spon­sored by Rep. Dun­can Hunter, Cal­i­for­nia Repub­li­can, call­ing for 854 miles of fenc­ing. Mr. Hunter protests that the Se­nate bill in ef­fect “cuts my fence in half.” (Ac­tu­ally, it’s closer to 55 per­cent.) That as­sumes of course, that Congress ac­tu­ally keeps its word and ap­pro­pri­ates money for the fence. Count­ing on Congress is al­ways a very big “if.” An­other “trig­ger” re­quires that the De­part­ment of Home­land Se­cu­rity — not a model of bu­reau­cratic ef­fi­ciency — de­velop and im­ple­ment by the end of next year a sys­tem to en­able em­ploy­ers to quickly ver­ify that job ap­pli­cants are in the coun­try legally. In ex­change for such very mod­est achieve­ments, the ad­min­is­tra­tion and the Se­nate pro­pose to make enor­mous and in some cases un­ac­cept­able con­ces­sions to il­le­gal aliens and their po­lit­i­cal pa- trons. Here are some of them:

Amnesty, doc­u­ment fraud and ter­ror­ism: There is good rea­son to be skep­ti­cal of the no­tion that United States Cit­i­zen­ship and Im­mi­gra­tion Ser­vices (USCIS) — the Home­land Se­cu­rity bu­reau­cracy that will be charged with ver­i­fy­ing whether tens of mil­lions of il­le­gals are ter­ror­ists and/or crim­i­nals, and there­fore in­el­i­gi­ble to re­ceive amnesty — is up to the job. Over the past four years, the in­ep­ti­tude of the im­mi­gra­tion ser­vices bu­reau­cracy has been se­verely crit­i­cized by the Of­fice of In­spec­tor Gen­eral and the Gov­ern­ment Ac­count­abil­ity Of­fice and other in­ves­tiga- tors. This, ac­cord­ing to Michael Cut­ler, who spent more than 25 years as an im­mi­gra­tion agent, would “pro­vide mil­lions of il­le­gal aliens who have vi­o­lated our na­tion’s borders” with “of­fi­cial iden­tity doc­u­ments that would en­able ter­ror­ists to em­bed them­selves in com­mu­ni­ties around our coun­try as they await in­struc­tions to launch the next ter­ror­ist at­tack against against our na­tion and the peo­ple who live in the United States.” Mr. Cut­ler says the Se­nate bill should be named the “Ter­ror­ist As­sis­tance and Fa­cil­i­ta­tion Act of 2007.”

Stag­ger­ing in­creases in fed­eral, state and lo­cal spend­ing, with at­ten­dant pres­sure for tax in­creases. Mr. Rec­tor of the Her­itage Foun­da­tion says one ma­jor ef­fect of the Se­nate amnesty bill will be to make ap­prox­i­mately 9 mil­lion ad­di­tional per­sons — many of them low-skilled im­mi­grants — le­gal per­ma­nent res­i­dents of the United States who could law­fully ben­e­fit from a variety of so­cial pro­grams, in­clud­ing So­cial Se­cu­rity, Medi­care, Med­i­caid, Sup­ple­men­tal Se­cu­rity In­come and pub­lic hous­ing. Over the course of their life­times, th­ese peo­ple will uti­lize $2.5 more in gov­ern­ment ser­vices than they will pay in taxes. Amer­i­can wel­fare and so­cial ser­vices were de­signed for poor Amer­i­cans; as a re­sult of amnesty leg­is­la­tion, this leg­is­la­tion would ex­pand the Amer­i­can wel­fare state to in­clude a sig­nif­i­cant por­tion of the pop­u­la­tion of Mex­ico. In­stead of go­ing home to Mex­ico at the end of their work­ing years, th­ese el­derly ben­e­fi­cia­ries of amnesty would re­main in this coun­try “and col­lect pub­lic funds for the rest of their lives,” Mr. Rec­tor says.

The Se­nate im­mi­gra­tion bill in­cludes leg­is­la­tion called the DREAM act, leg­is­la­tion sub­si­diz­ing col­lege ed­u­ca­tion for il­le­gal aliens. And what a dream it is.

Il­le­gal aliens who worked us­ing fraud­u­lently ob­tained So­cial Se­cu­rity num­bers will be able to col­lect So­cial Se­cu­rity Dis­abil­ity In­sur­ance.

The Bush ad­min­is­tra­tion de­ludes it­self if it be­lieves that the mea­sure can be im­proved dur­ing Se­nate de­bate. Right now, the tough­est crit­i­cism of the bill is com­ing from la­bor unions who ar­gue that the amnesty/guest-worker pro­vi­sions are too strict, and from sen­a­tors like Mel Martinez of Florida, a Repub­li­can who talks of waiv­ing the much-bal­ly­hooed $5,000 fine il­le­gals are meant to pay. If the ad­min­is­tra­tion wants to pre­serve what’s left of its cred­i­bil­ity on im­mi­gra­tion, it would spare us Mr. Chertoff’s hy­per­bolic rhetoric that crit­ics of the ad­min­is­tra­tion re­gard any­thing short of cap­i­tal pun­ish­ment to be “amnesty.” The only “cap­i­tal pun­ish­ment” com­ing is what’s likely to hap­pen to the ca­reers of those de­ter­mined to in­flict this dis­as­ter on us.


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