The Editors, National Review, September 19, 2021
We are all familiar with the fiscal radicalism of the Democratic reconciliation bill, but it’s time to focus more on the immigration radicalism of the bill.
The proposal includes a sweeping amnesty and large-scale increases in legal immigration. These provisions make the bill one of the most far-reaching immigration plans of the last decade, although almost no one has paid attention because the changes are tucked into a gargantuan $3.5 trillion spending plan.
The amnesty would cover an estimated 8 million illegal aliens, easily constituting the largest amnesty in American history.
The bill has a broad definition of so-called Dreamers. To benefit from DACA, illegal immigrants had to have entered the United States when they were under the age of 16 and resided here since 2007. In the reconciliation bill, the standards shift to include people who came under the age of 18 and resided here on or before January 1 of this year.
On top of that, the amnesty includes “essential workers,” more or less any illegal immigrant with a blue-collar job; those with or eligible for Temporary Protected Status, which keeps illegal immigrants from being deported back to a country experiencing unrest or a natural disaster (even if the event occurred years previously); and those with or eligible for deferred enforced departure, another form of protection from deportation.
The bill is just as radical on legal immigration. Among other provisions, it would raise the number of green cards that can be issued by the number of green cards that could have been issued but weren’t since 1992, thus “recapturing” these “unused” visas. It would allow foreign nationals to jump the line and get a green card for a small fee if the wait is longer than two years. It would vitiate the requirement that someone can apply for a green card only if a visa will soon be available. It would admit any winner of the diversity lottery who was blocked from entry by the Trump travel ban or other executive orders over the last four years. It would blow past various caps on family reunification and employment categories.