The Senate health-care bill is not the only monstrosity that died in Massachusetts on Jan. 19.
Two days after the Massachusetts victory of Republican Scott Brown, Speaker Pelosi announced that she does not have the votes to push the Senate health-care bill through the House. A similar message is being delivered more quietly to the Congressional Hispanic Caucus: There will never be enough votes in 2010 to push the amnesty bill.
To all but a few diehard zealots, the amnesty bill is dead. The nation can now move to an honest debate on true immigration reform.
Of course, a few tone-deaf politicians are still laboring in back rooms of the Capitol to negotiate a “bipartisan compromise” that includes amnesty. Memo to Lindsay Graham and Chuck Schumer: The party’s over. Move on.
Thus in 2010, given that the liberals do not have the votes for a comprehensive amnesty bill, the Obama administration will use various stealth amnesty laws already on the books. For example, last week, Obama used current law to grant Temporary Protected Status, or TPS, to 200,000 illegal-alien Haitians. These are not earthquake victims, not orphans and not refugees, but now, they are future citizens.
Those 200,000 Haitians are now future citizens because the 18-month time limit will be renewed again and again until they eventually attain permanent status. Who would want to go home to corruption-plagued Haiti after getting legal status in the United States?
To be fair, the abuse of the TPS program didn’t begin with Obama; it has been going on for years. It is one more example of the need for reform of current immigration laws.
Stopping a new amnesty is not enough. We need a reform agenda that can bring some coherence and sanity to our immigration system and bring it into harmony with other national goals, including national-security imperatives.
Many good reform proposals have been introduced in Congress in recent years, but few have been allowed to come to a vote. Typically, when a good bill does get passed, it is then sabotaged by denying it adequate funding. This happened to the State Criminal Alien Assistance Program, which reimburses local communities the costs of incarcerating illegal aliens, and it happened to the Secure Fence Act of 2006, which mandated 700 miles of double fencing on the southwest border.
A comprehensive enforcement strategy is offered by Rep. Heath Shuler’s H.R.3308, the Secure America through Verification and Enforcement Act, which now has 104 cosponsors. The comparable Senate bill is S.1505. The bill sets concrete goals and standards for border security and enhanced interior enforcement. A key element is the permanent reauthorization of the E-verify program for employment verification.
More fencing and additional Border Patrol agents will not be sufficient to protect America because every one of our international airports is part of our border. Over 140 million international travelers passed through our 20 busiest international airports in 2008. Foreign students from the Middle East are bringing their wives and girlfriends here to have their babies in American hospitals, children who become instant American citizens – and “anchors” for their parents’ future green-card applications.
Dozens of immigration reforms are needed, but a few are especially urgent:
- Rep. Nathan Deal is the principal author of H.R.1868, which repeals “birthright citizenship” by limiting citizenship to children born of citizens and legal permanent residents, not tourists, foreign students, temporary workers or illegal aliens.
- Rep. Gringrey’s H.R.878 would end chain migration by limiting the relatives who qualify for “family reunification” to only immediate family members.
- Rep. Goodlatte’s bill, H.R.2305, will end the “diversity lottery” through which 55,000 green cards are awarded annually to people who are exempt from sponsorship and job-skill requirements.
- Rep. Marsha Blackburn’s H.R.2406 will strengthen local law enforcement’s role in immigration enforcement, for example in extending the reach of 287(g) agreements between local police and the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency.
Finally, we need an immediate three-year moratorium on all immigration. The moratorium would allow our beleaguered immigration and law-enforcement agencies to clear huge backlogs, investigate and resolve thousands of fraud cases, discharge and replace corrupt officials and upgrade management systems. It would also allow time for a thorough re-evaluation of our entire naturalization process and the means by which new immigrants are assimilated into American society.
This is an ambitious reform agenda, but our corrupt and dysfunctional immigration system cries out for wholesale reform. We can now move beyond the debate over amnesty and start talking about how to fix real problems.