Sen. Sessions on Immigration Bill’s Broken Promises

Jeff Sessions, Los Angeles Times, June 10, 2013

The so-called Gang of Eight immigration plan now being considered by the Senate fails to live up to every major promise made by its sponsors. Far from improving the immigration system, their 1,000-page proposal would exacerbate many of its flaws. It would dangerously undermine future enforcement while imposing substantial burdens on taxpayers and taking jobs and pay from U.S. workers.

Indeed, the two unions representing our nation’s immigration and customs officers and those who process immigration applications have strongly urged opposition.

The sponsors’ promise of enforcement first was broken when lead sponsor Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) declared: “First, people will be legalized…. Then we’ll make sure the border is secure.” About 11 million immigrants who are here illegally—which includes 4 million who have overstayed their visas—would receive work permits, Social Security numbers and access to state and local benefits within six months of passage. The Department of Homeland Security merely has to submit a border plan, not accomplish that plan. Those legalized will then be free to compete for jobs at a time of low wages and high unemployment. It’s amnesty first, not enforcement first.

Moreover, the bill allows the DHS or an immigration judge to stop any future deportation for humanitarian reasons, the public interest or family unity. Such open-ended waivers would all but ensure mass litigation and the end of immigration enforcement in America.

The sponsors promised that back taxes would have to be paid, but under the bill, if the IRS doesn’t audit someone working off the books—which it isn’t required to do—there will be no taxes to pay. There is no requirement that immigrants pay state or local back taxes or that employers pay back taxes.

The sponsors promised that people here illegally would have to learn English and civics, but the fine print reveals it will be at least 10 years before this is put into effect. And even then, the bill only requires those applying for permanent residency (a green card) to be pursuing a course of study “to achieve an understanding of English and knowledge and understanding” of civics. Furthermore, the secretary of Homeland Security can waive these already loose standards in many cases.

The sponsors promised that those “with a serious criminal background or who pose a threat to our national security” would be ineligible for legal status. But the bill allows the Homeland Security secretary, under certain conditions, to grant it to gang members; those with major misdemeanor criminal convictions (including felonies pleaded to misdemeanors) for serious crimes, including drug offenses, sexual abuse and prostitution; those with arrest records of any length; fugitives from deportation orders; or those who have been deported and illegally reentered.

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