Bush called it “a much-needed solution to the problem of illegal immigration in this country” and said, if approved, the proposal “delivers an immigration system that is secure, productive, orderly and fair.”
Update: Reax from Sen. Jim DeMint…
“I hope we don’t take a thousand page bill written in secret and try to ram it through the Senate in a few days. This is a very important issue for America and we need time to debate it.”
“But the little we do know about the bill is troubling. According to reports, the bill contains a new ‘Z-visa’ that allows those who entered our country illegally to stay here permanently without ever returning home. This rewards people who broke the law with permanent legal status, and puts them ahead of millions of law-abiding immigrants waiting to come to America. I don’t care how you try to spin it, this is amnesty.”
Via Kate O’Beirne, Heritage Foundation scholar Robert Rector estimates the bill’s pricetag at a potential $2.5 trillion with a “t:”
Giving amnesty to illegal immigrants would increase the costs outlined in this testimony. Some 50 to 60 percent of illegal immigrants lack a high school degree. Granting amnesty or conditional amnesty to illegal immigrants would, overtime, increase their use of means-tested welfare, Social Security and Medicare. Fiscal costs would go up significantly in the short term but would go up dramatically after the amnesty recipient reached retirement. Based on my current research, I estimate that if all the current adult illegal immigrants in the U.S. were granted amnesty the net retirement costs to government (benefits minus taxes) could be over $2.5 trillion.
Excerpts from an e-mail bulletin by Roy Beck of NumbersUSA:
Although we don’t have the legislative language yet, here are the key components:
WE LOSE — by getting an immediate amnesty for nearly all 12-20 million illegal aliens who will get legal status for residence and jobs (with assurance of green cards no later than 13 years).
IN EXCHANGE FOR — we get mandatory workplace verification and a lot of extra enforcement (with a lot of typical Kennedy loopholes) to try to slow the flow of the next 12 million illegal aliens enticed by the amnesty;
WE LOSE — by getting a tripling of the rate of chain migration of extended family from around 250,000 a year to around 750,000 a year for about a decade;
IN EXCHANGE FOR — after about a decade, there should be no more chain migration (assuming that Kennedy doesn’t add it back in by then);
WE LOSE — by getting new flows of 400,000 temporary foreign workers each year, bringing their families and having anchor babies who will be given U.S. citizenship;
IN EXCHANGE FOR — at least the temporary workers are supposed to leave and not be able to apply for greencards and permanent residency.
WHY THE REPUBLICANS ARE STAMPEDING TO BACK THIS AMNESTY
The majority of Republican Senators last year voted against the S. 2611 amnesty that passed.
But at a noon meeting today with nearly all GOP Senators, Sen. Kyl outlined the amnesty agreement he had negotiated with Sen. Kennedy. Our sources say only about three Senators raised concerns. Most of the rest were saying things like, “If you think this is a good idea, John, I guess that should be good enough for us.”
Pres. Bush and staff have been brilliant in moving Sen. McCain (R-Ariz.) and Sen. Martinez (R-Fla.) into a more secondary role and persuading conservative leader Kyl to lead the negotiations. Kyl is able to lead many Senators to follow him who would otherwise not support an amnesty of any kind.
At the moment, the only Senators whom we feel relatively certain are opposing this new amnesty are Sen. DeMint (R-SC), Enzi (R-Wyo.), Crapo (R-Idaho), Vitter (R-La.), Allard (R-Colo.), Sessions (R-Ala.), Chambliss (R-Ga.), Grassley (R-Iowa)…
The 1986 immigration reform, with amnesty provisions that were implemented and enforcement provisions that weren’t, is instructive. But there is no need to hark back 20 years to illustrate the bad faith of “comprehensive” immigration reformers. Before last year’s elections, the Secure Fence Act, providing for the construction of a 700-mile fence at the southern border, handily passed Congress. In this week’s Republican presidential debate, Rep. Duncan Hunter, the fence bill’s House sponsor, angrily noted, “We have $1 billion cash on hand at the Department of Homeland Security right now for building the border fence. . . . They have done two miles. I think they want to drag their feet and hook this up with amnesty.” They do and they now have.
The Bush administration’s price for its modestly beefed-up border security and workplace enforcement is amnesty for millions and a temporary-worker program for a few hundred thousand more each year. And the proposal’s conservative features vanish upon inspection.
Bush-Kennedy includes some enforcement “triggers” that increase resources at the border and establish an employment-verification program before amnesty or the new temporary-worker program can take effect. But there is no requirement that these measures be proved effective before the full implementation of Kennedy’s wish list, and the reform does not include critical provisions to prevent identity theft and the use of fraudulent documents. Granting amnesty to millions of illegal aliens without first securing the border and ensuring a reliable system of workplace enforcement invites millions of others to follow their example in the hope of being granted amnesty during the inevitable next round of immigration reform.
The proposal contemplates ending “chain migration” by extended family members in favor of a merit system based on needed skills — eventually. The current waiting lists for family members must first be eliminated, and immigration advocates can be expected to aggressively lobby for the status quo. Tamar Jacoby is already arguing against moving to merit. Not even yahoos will be fooled by the bill’s empty promise.
Finally, the enormous cost of granting legal status to millions of illegal aliens is being wholly ignored. Nearly two-thirds of illegal immigrants are low-skilled workers. Based on a detailed analysis of the net cost of low-skill households, Robert Rector of the Heritage Foundation estimates that the typical illegal-alien household receives $19,588 more in benefits than it pays in taxes each year. He explains that these costs would increase dramatically when an illegal alien reached retirement. Rector estimates that if all current illegal aliens were granted amnesty, the net retirement costs (benefits minus taxes) could be over $2.5 trillion.
As bad as the status quo on immigration policy is, it is preferable to this bill.
Reax from House GOP members are hitting my e-mailbox:
The office of Rep. Brian Bilbray e-mails succinct, informed opposition:
Congressman Brian Bilbray (R-CA), Chairman of the Immigration Reform Caucus, released the following statement today following the announcement of a deal reached in the United States for a “comprehensive” illegal immigration reform bill:
“The ‘compromise’ announced today by Senator Kennedy will reward 12 million illegal immigrants with a path to citizenship — what part of illegal does the Senate not understand? Any plan that rewards illegal behavior is amnesty. You would think that the Senate would have learned their lesson after the 1986 amnesty debacle, but it looks like their idea of a ‘compromise’ is to repeat the failed policies of the past.”
In 1986, Congress passed and the President signed the Simpson-Mazzoli Immigration Reform and Control Act into law which granted amnesty overnight to more than three million illegal immigrants. The bill was passed with the promise of implementing border security and employer enforcement provisions that were never adopted.
Rep. Steve King: “Each one of these Senators should wear a scarlet letter ‘A’ for amnesty.”