It’s up to the House now to hold the fort for those alarmed by “amnesty.”
By a vote of 68 to 32, the Senate passed a 1,200-page bill Thursday that would enact sweeping changes to the nation’s immigration laws.
Fourteen Republican senators joined all 54 Democrats in voting for the bill.
Supporters call it comprehensive immigration reform, but critics call it amnesty for illegal immigrants and a disaster waiting to happen.
The bill is supposed to create a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants, tighten border security and create a guest-worker program.
Conservatives say it falls far short of that, and some Republicans predict it will give the Democrats a virtually permanent majority by granting citizenship to millions of illegal immigrants who will become new voters.
Supporters say it would legalize 11 million illegal immigrants, but Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., said it would be more like 30 million in the next 10 years.
A Heritage Foundation study found, even if it were just 11 million new citizens, the cost of providing benefits to them such as Social Security, Medicare, food stamps, unemployment insurance and workers’ compensation would eventually exceed $6 trillion.
Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, said he supports immigration reform, but not this bill because it cuts out congressional oversight and gives too much authority to the executive branch.
He said, “And it fails perhaps the most important test of all: according to the Congressional Budget Office, this bill will reduce illegal immigration by just 25 percent in the next 10 years. This should be reason alone to scrap this entire bill. ”
Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., said it is the single most important bill to come up in the Obama era.
Earlier, she predicted to WND it would “end our republic as we know it” by creating a progressive class that will rule permanently. She said the country would never return to its constitutional foundations.
Now that the Senate has passed the bill, Bachmann said, “The Senate’s amnesty legislation is symbolic of what’s wrong with Washington: A thousand-plus page bill, special backroom deals to buy votes and empty promises that won’t be fulfilled.
“It’s Obamacare all over again,” said Bachmann. “Protecting America first must be our top priority, yet the Senate’s fake border security bill only ensures that we’ll throw billions of dollars at the border without any proof it will ever be secured. Have we learned nothing from 1986?
“Amnesty will hurt middle-class jobs, wages and benefits and won’t address the danger of an open border. I am confident my colleagues in the House will see the Senate’s legislation for what it really is – amnesty now, border security never.”
Critics say the bill would replay the same mistakes as the law in 1986 that granted amnesty to millions of illegal immigrants while never securing the border.
Gang of Eight
The current bill was authored by the so-called Gang of Eight, four Democratic senators and four Republicans, who promised it would secure the border.
One of the eight, Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla. – who received a hug from Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., after the legislation passed – was heavily criticized by conservatives for pushing the bill.
He justified his support by using his immigrant parents’ story, saying, “America is changed by immigrants, but America has always changed immigrants even more.”
“This is not just my story – this is all of our story,” Rubio added.
Rubio’s fellow Republican and Gang of Eight member John McCain justified the bill by saying, “Shouldn’t we give them the same chance that we’ve given wave after wave of immigrants?”
McCain, however, neglected to note the previous waves were largely comprised of legal immigrants.
One of the biggest reasons some Republicans supported the bill was to get more Hispanic votes.
Some believe the GOP lost the presidential election last year because of the lack of Hispanic support.
Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, strongly disagrees, insisting Republicans should stick to their principles and those voters will come to them.
He says he is sick of seeing Democrats “playing the race card.”
“I will tell you as the son of a Cuban immigrant, as someone who received over 40 percent of the Hispanic vote in the state of Texas, I think it is condescending to go to Hispanics and say, ‘We’re going to buy your vote with amnesty,'” Cruz said on “The O’Reilly Factor.”
“I’ll tell you in Texas, a whole lot of Hispanics there want to see the border secured and legal immigration,” he added.
Cruz says the bill, combined with a feature of Obamacare, would give employers an enormous financial incentive to fire American workers and replace them with immigrants.
As seen in the video above, Cruz used the example of a hypothetical business to explain the problem in a speech on the Senate floor Tuesday.
Cruz explained the problem is a rule in Obamacare that employers with more than 50 full-time employees face a $5,000 penalty for each employee for whom it does not provide health insurance benefits.
So, it would only make sense for those employers to instead hire immigrants with what the bill calls resident provisional immigration (RPI) status instead of U.S. workers.
“Anyone granted RPI status is exempted from Obamacare, which means that the employers that would be hiring them do not face the tax of $5,000 per employee,” Cruz explained.
“This bill creates an enormous incentive to hire those here illegally and it does so by creating a statutory penalty for hiring U.S. citizens.”
"What has this nation come to? It’s getting harder and harder to recognize America," Cruz said. "We're now considering a law that is thinly disguised as human trafficking."
Cruz predicts that if the bill passes, unemployment will rise for minorities and legal immigrants.
Skepticism over the bill's border security provisions prompted supporters to add an amendment sponsored by Sens. John Hoeven, R-N.D., and Bob Corker, R-Tenn.
But critics say the Corker-Hoeven amendment also falls far short of securing border simply because it allows the secretary of Homeland Security to leave the border fence unfinished if she decides the border is secure, and she already has.
Secretary Janet Napolitano has stated for years her belief the border is already secure and doesn't need more fencing or border patrol agents, so critics say it is unlikely the fence would ever be completed if the bill were to become law.
“Too often the border security refrain simply serves as an excuse,” she testified before the Senate earlier this year. “Our borders have in fact never been stronger.”
Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, disagrees.
"Our border governors say otherwise. It seems like the governors, who are on the front lines, would have a better idea of the security of our borders," he said.
"The Senate’s Gang-of-Eight immigration bill goes about immigration reform exactly backwards. First they seek to legalize at least 11 million people illegally here now and then trust the Obama administration to secure the border later," observed Gohmert.
Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, was just as disappointed with the Senate vote.
"This artificial victory for the Senators in the Gang of Eight marks a very disappointing day for our country," said King.
"There are absolutely no benefits for Americans in this bill. It will not secure our nation's borders; it will make it harder to do so. It will incentivize employers to hire non-citizens instead of citizens, and contains dozens of pet projects added to the bill to buy extra votes."
Welfare benefits will be guaranteed for illegal immigrants, and wages for American citizens will decrease as the number of guest workers doubles and the number of immigrants granted lawful permanent residency triples, he said.
"The bill is, in many ways, a repeat of the 1986 Reagan Amnesty bill - which, as we know now, failed to accomplish the many promises in that bill," said King.
Even if the Senate bill did secure the border, Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., says it has other serious problems, including making "it easier for convicted criminals gain legal status – gang members, drunk drivers and sex offenders, to give a few examples."
"Perhaps the worst part of this legislation is that it doesn’t even attempt to fix the existing system. It doesn’t address our current refugee policy, student visa system or how to track visitors still in the country because of visa overstays – an issue with significant national security implications," Paul wrote in an op-ed piece.
He continued, "Any immigration reform must expand legal immigration and the work visa program so that we don’t find another 12 million undocumented workers here a decade from now."
Amnesty in the House
Bachmann warned that Americans can't count on the House to stop amnesty.
In her exclusive interview with WND, Bachmann explained how an immigration bill approving amnesty could make it through the Republican-controlled House without the approval of most GOP lawmakers.
She said the House will likely approve a bill blocking amnesty, but it will then go to a conference committee to reconcile it with a Senate bill allowing amnesty.
“The good guts of the Trojan horse bill will be pulled out,” she said. “The very bad amnesty provisions will be put in the bill. The bill will go to the House floor, and it won’t be Republicans that pass it.
“It’ll be Nancy Pelosi leading all the House Democrats to vote for it, and just enough Republicans will vote for the bill and you’ll have amnesty,” predicted Bachmann.
That's why she and other conservative lawmakers are pressing fellow Republican and Speaker of the House John Boehner, R-Ohio, to pledge to abide by the “Hastert rule.”
That is the understanding that requires a majority of fellow party members in the House of Representatives to support legislation before it is allowed to make it to the floor.
In her interview with WND, Bachmann expressed skepticism about the intentions of leaders in both parties.
“I think the master plan of the ruling class that runs Washington, D.C., is to ram this bill through before the American people know what has hit them and before members of Congress even know what has hit them.”
Bachmann said there is only one person who can stop the master plan, and that person is “you.”
“I’m just telling WND viewers that if you sit this one out and you don’t start hitting the phone lines and email, calling and visiting your representatives now and saying, ‘No amnesty now, no amnesty ever,’ we’re going to have perpetual amnesty for illegal immigration.”
Voters may be already getting the message.
A new Rasmussen poll shows "more than half of voters say the immigration issue is very important in terms of how they will vote in the next congressional election."
A full 51 percent of likely U.S. voters now rate immigration that highly, up from 45 percent in April. Another 32 percent rate the issue as somewhat important.