Congressman Gutierrez Outlines “Core Principles” of an Amnesty Bill

FAIR Legislative Update, Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), October 19, 2009

On Tuesday, October 13, Congressman Luis Gutierrez (D-IL) released the “core principles” of the amnesty bill he is planning to introduce in Congress later this year. The bill will be similar to other pieces of amnesty legislation from previous sessions of Congress, including (1) several different amnesty programs aimed at legalizing the 12 million illegal aliens currently living in the United States and (2) empty promises of enforcement. (Rep. Gutierrez Press Release, October 13, 2009).

The three amnesty programs included in Rep. Gutierrez’s proposal are:

* An amnesty for illegal alien “workers.” In Gutierrez’ own words: “We need a bill that says if you come here to hurt our communities, we will not support you. But if you are here to work hard–if you are here to make a better life for your family–you will have the opportunity to earn your citizenship.” (Gutierrez Press Release).

* The AgJOBS amnesty. (Id.). This legislation would grant amnesty to millions of illegal alien agricultural workers and “reform” the H-2A temporary agricultural worker program to allow employers easier access to cheap foreign labor. (See FAIR’s Legislative Analysis of AgJOBS, June 17, 2009).

* The DREAM Act amnesty. (Gutierrez Press Release). The DREAM Act (1) grants amnesty to illegal aliens who entered the country as children and have met certain minimal educational requirements and (2) reverses current federal law to allow states to provide taxpayer-subsidized in-state tuition to illegal aliens. (See FAIR’s Legislative Analysis of the DREAM Act, March 2009).

According to a new poll from Zogby International, passage of these amnesty provisions would likely result in increased illegal immigration. The Zogby poll found that 56 percent of Mexican citizens believe that granting amnesty to illegal aliens in the United States would make it more likely that people they know would go to the United States illegally. Only 17 percent thought it would make Mexicans less likely to go illegally, with the remaining 27 percent either saying that they were unsure or that an amnesty would make no difference. (Zogby, October 2009). With respect to the passage of amnesty in the United States, the opinions of Mexican citizens are important: according to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), nearly 60 percent of the illegal aliens living in the United States in January 2008 were from Mexico. (DHS: Estimates of the Unauthorized Immigrant Population Residing in the United States: January 2008, February 2009).

The Gutierrez bill will also provide for increases in legal immigration, according to a press release from the pro-amnesty “Reform Immigration for America” coalition. According to the release, the forthcoming legislation will “[a]llocate sufficient visas to close unlawful migration channels.” (Reform Immigration for America Press Release). However, a recent report released by The New York Times indicates that this provision in the Gutierrez bill would actually open additional channels of unlawful migration. According to The Times, “the United States still has no reliable system for verifying that foreign visitors have left the country.” In fact, federal officials estimate that “40 percent of the. . .illegal immigrants in the United States came on legal visas and overstayed.” (The New York Times, October 11, 2009). Accordingly, Congressman Gutierrez’ plan to increase legal immigration by allocating more visas would actually exacerbate the problem of illegal immigration in the United States.

Rep. Gutierrez has yet to release actual legislative language. However, Gutierrez did state last week that he is planning to introduce his bill “sometime right after Thanksgiving.” (Congress Daily, October 14, 2009).

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