With Democrats and Republicans working together to craft legislation on immigration reform, it is becoming increasingly clear the Senate’s immigration bill from last year will serve as the foundation for a future framework.
WND has reviewed the entire 1,190-page bill and found numerous largely unreported sections that are of import to the American public. Here are the top five:
1) Loopholes mean amnesty before border security
There are significant unreported loopholes and exceptions in the immigration-reform bill that could allow illegal immigrants to achieve permanent status before the border security portions of the legislation are executed.
One of the key selling points repeatedly cited by the bill’s “Gang of Eight” sponsors has been that illegal aliens will not be eligible for permanency until after the border-security provisions of the legislation are implemented.
A WND review of the latest text of the bill, with the new Republican “border surge” amendment included, finds multiple possibilities for full immigration reform before the required border arrangements are in place. Further, even the new border amendment leaves the possibility of gaps in the proposed pedestrian fence to be constructed along the border with Mexico.
The updated bill calls for more than $40 billion in new border-security provisions, including the stationing of 38,405 U.S. Border Patrol agents along the southern border as well as the construction of a 700-mile pedestrian fence along the 1,954 mile border.
The new Republican amendment to the bill contains a laundry list of new surveillance equipment to be installed, from cameras to seismic instruments, plus the construction of new integrated watch towers.
However, the bill contains language that would allow illegal aliens to achieve permanent status after 10 years before any or all of the new border security requirements are fulfilled.
The bill specifically states the Department of Homeland Security secretary “shall permit registered provisional immigrants to apply for an adjustment to lawful permanent resident status” after 10 years following the bill’s passage if litigation or extraordinary circumstances have prevented the fulfillment of the border security requirements, the implementation of a work visa program or electronic exit system.
Further, illegal immigrants can receive permanent resident status if the border requirements, the work visa program or the new electronic exit system has been declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court.
In one of many possible future scenarios, if claims are brought to district courts that tie up construction of the border fence, illegal aliens still can achieve permanent status after 10 years.
In another scenario, the Supreme Court can declare surveillance techniques or any of the border control methods required by the bill to be unconstitutional, and illegal aliens could still become permanent residents.
Further, there seem to be loopholes in the requirements for the 700-mile border fence.
A new border security strategy committee will determine the route of the fence.
According to the text of the bill, the fence is to be built on “nontribal” lands, meaning lands owned by Indian tribes may not require a fence.
There seem to also be loopholes if any sections of the fence interfere with the environment, culture, commerce or quality of life of local residents.
States the bill: “In implementing the Southern Border Fencing Strategy required by this subsection, the Secretary shall consult with the Secretary of the Interior, the Secretary of Agriculture, States, local governments, Indian tribes, and property owners in the United States to minimize the impact on the environment, culture, commerce, and quality of life for the communities and residents located near the sites at which such fencing is to be constructed.”
2) Immigration bill shackles border agents
A suspicious truckload of young Hispanic men is spotted by a U.S. Border Patrol agent rumbling down a dusty road a mile inside the U.S. border toward El Paso, Texas.
How should the agent respond?
Under the immigration-reform bill currently under consideration by Congress, Border Patrol agents or any other law-enforcement officer who stops such a vehicle to demand identification might be found in violation of the law.
The legislation bars all federal law-enforcement officers, including border agents, from using race or ethnicity “to any degree” while making routine or spontaneous law-enforcement decisions.
The bill further calls for the Homeland Security Department to collect data on immigration enforcement activities to determine the existence of racial profiling.
The data would be utilized to issue future guidelines to officers regarding the use of race or ethnicity during routine enforcement.
The bill states that “in making routine or spontaneous law enforcement decisions, such as ordinary traffic stops, Federal law enforcement officers may not use race or ethnicity to any degree, except that officers may rely on race and ethnicity if a specific suspect description exists.”
The bill defines federal law-enforcement officers as any “officer, agent, or employee of the United States authorized by law or by a Government agency to engage in or supervise the prevention, detection, investigation, or prosecution of any violation of Federal law.”
The definition includes U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents.
It is clear that immigration enforcement officials are singled out by the new directives.
The legislation refers specifically to border-security agents with another clause that states “in enforcing laws protecting the integrity of the Nation’s borders, Federal law enforcement officers may not consider race or ethnicity except to the extent permitted by the Constitution and laws of the United States.”
If the legislation is enacted, the bill calls for the DHS secretary to begin within 180 days the collection of data regarding the “individualized immigration enforcement activities of covered Department officers.”
The data is to be utilized immediately to possibly issue new guidelines.
The act states that within 180 days of the data collection, the DHS secretary “shall complete a study analyzing the data.”
Ninety days after the study is complete, the bill dictates the secretary, in consultation with the attorney general, “shall issue regulations regarding the use of race, ethnicity, and any other suspect classifications the Secretary deems appropriate by covered Department officers.”
The bill allows for some exceptions to the racial profiling restriction.
It states federal law-enforcement officers may consider race and ethnicity “only to the extent that there is trustworthy information, relevant to the locality or time frame that links persons of a particular race or ethnicity to an identified criminal incident, scheme, or organization.”
3. Illegals can obtain public benefits
WND’s review of the Senate’s immigration reform bill finds illegal aliens who are granted temporary provisional status will be able to obtain a litany of state public benefits, including state-run health care.
The discovery is contrary to claims by proponents of the immigration reform bill who have repeatedly insisted the newly legalized residents will not be eligible for public funds.
In a commercial that ran on television and talk radio promoting the legislation, Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., implied the illegal aliens covered in the bill will not receive public benefits.
“No food stamps, no welfare, no Obamacare,” Rubio stated. “They’re gonna have to wait 13 years, they’re gonna have to pay fines, they’re gonna to have to learn English, they’re gonna to have to work, their gonna have to wait in the back of the line.”
Last June, a USA Today editorial was titled “Immigration bill plenty strict on benefits: Our view.”
The editorial said “it’s no surprise that the immigration bill pending in the Senate this week takes a hard line on benefits for the 11 million or so undocumented workers in this country.”
“They would have to wait 10 years before they can get green cards. During that time, they would get no federal, means-tested benefits. No Medicaid. No food stamps. No ObamaCare subsidies. Nothing.”
The newspaper accurately reported the immigration bill denies federal, means-tested benefits.
However, it failed to inform of the possibility of the newly legalized residents obtaining state benefits that do not require full U.S. citizenship.
Regarding public benefits, the immigration bill states that registered provisional immigrants are “not eligible for any Federal means-tested public benefit.”
A registered provisional immigrant is an illegal alien who fills out all required paper work and meets the bill’s qualifications for eventual permanent residency.
Another section of the bill states that all registered provisional immigrants will be given Social Security numbers.
A Social Security number will allow provisional immigrants to fulfill the documentation requirements to obtain state driver’s licenses or identification cards, which could then allow access to state benefits by claiming state residency.
In California, for example, to obtain a driver’s license an individual needs a Social Security card and proof of a “legal presence” in the country.
According to the immigration bill, the provisional immigrants will be provided a document proving legal presence.
The government website Benefits.gov provides a breakdown of all benefits available in each state, including those that do not require full citizenship but only legalized status.
In California, provisional immigrants may be able to obtain the following benefits:
Med-Cal, California’s Medicaid health-care program. The Med-Cal application, reviewed by WND, states “documented and undocumented aliens may be eligible for Medi-Cal.”
CalWORKs, a welfare program that gives cash aid and services to eligible needy California families. The program is open to “legal aliens.”
Head Start, which provides comprehensive developmental services for low-income children from birth to entry into elementary school.
California Healthy Families, a low-cost insurance for California children and teens.
California Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, which provides low-income persons financial assistance to offset the costs of heating and/or cooling dwellings, and/or have their dwellings weatherized to make them more energy efficient.
California National School Breakfast and Lunch Program, which provides “nutritious meals and milk to children at reasonable prices or free to qualified applicants.”
California Special Milk Program, which assists schools and other agencies in providing milk to children at reasonable prices.
California unemployment insurance benefits to unemployed workers who worked for at least 12 months.
California Weatherization Assistance Program, which reduces heating and cooling costs for low-income families by improving the energy efficiency of their homes and ensuring their health and safety.
4) Young illegals to receive white-glove, expedited treatment
An estimated 1.76 million illegal aliens could be granted expedited permanent residency status under the immigration reform bill, WND’s review of the legislation has found.
One of the key selling points used by proponents of the bill is that so-called undocumented aliens would have to go to the “back of the line.” meaning they would not receive priority or gain advantage over immigrants in the country legally and waiting for an immigration decision.
President Obama himself stated last January: “We’ve got to lay out a path – a process that includes passing a background check, paying taxes, paying a penalty, learning English, and then going to the back of the line, behind all the folks who are trying to come here legally. That’s only fair.”
Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., stated on Sean Hannity’s Fox News television program last January: “Yes, not only do they go to the back of the line and wait behind everybody who applied before them the right way. When their turn comes up they have to qualify for the visa that they apply for, not a special pathway.”
However, the immigration reform bill allows for a “streamlined” application process for the illegal aliens covered under Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano’s June 2012 memorandum on Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals.
The bill states: “The Secretary may adopt streamlined procedures for applicants for adjustment to lawful permanent resident status under this section who were granted Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals pursuant to the Secretary’s memorandum of June 15, 2012.”
The memorandum called for “prosecutorial discretion” to be used in implementing immigration law for those who fit the following criteria:
- Are under the age of 31 on June 15, 2012;
- Arrived to the United States before reaching their 16th birthday;
- Continuously resided in the United States from June 15, 2007, to the present;
- Were physically present in the United States on June 15, 2012, as well as at the time of requesting deferred action;
- Entered without inspection before June 15, 2012, or had any lawful immigration status expired on or before June 15, 2012;
- Were in school at the time of application, or have already graduated or obtained a certificate of completion from high school, or have obtained a general education development (GED) certificate, or are an honorably discharged veteran of the U.S. Coast Guard or the U.S. Armed Forces; and
- Have not been convicted of a felony, significant misdemeanor, or three or more other misdemeanors, and do not otherwise pose a threat to national security or public safety.
The Pew Research Hispanic Center estimated some 1.76 million illegal aliens can benefit from the memorandum.
5) Immigration bill quietly opens U.S. to Afghans
The text of the Senate’s immigration-reform bill contains a small section that increases by more than threefold the number of Afghans eligible for immigration to the U.S. under a special asylum program.
The legislation also further expands the previously strict qualifications for immigration from Afghanistan and allows for more family members to join admitted asylum seekers.
Page 450 of the 1,190-page immigration bill amends what is known as the 2009 Afghan Special Immigrant Visa Program. That program, set to expire this year, is now extended to 2018 by the immigration bill.
The special program previously allotted up to 1,500 visas for Afghans each year. The new immigration bill increases the visa quota to up to 5,000 Afghans per year, a difference detected by reading both the bill and the previous program.
The strict requirements of the previous program granted visas only to Afghan nationals employed by or on behalf of the U.S. government in Afghanistan on or after Oct. 7, 2001, for a period of one year or more. All applicants were required to demonstrate that they faced security threats due to their employment with the U.S.
The immigration bill now extends the qualifications beyond only those employed by the U.S. government.
The new legislation admits Afghans who worked for media or non-governmental organizations headquartered in the U.S.
Also now qualified are Afghans employed by “an organization or entity closely associated with the United States mission in Afghanistan that has received United States Government funding through an official and documented contract, award, grant, or cooperative agreement.”
The former program granted visas to the spouses of those who qualified for asylum as well as to unmarried children younger than age 21.
The new bill now expands the asylum to siblings and parents.
The information on the Afghan visa program follows increased news media scrutiny on terrorists and extremists admitted into the U.S. under similar programs.
Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev, the Chechen brothers accused of carrying out the April 15, 2013, Boston Marathon bombing, immigrated to the U.S. as refugees in 2002.
The Tsarnaev brothers are not the only controversial Chechen refugees admitted to the U.S.
WND previously reported that with the help of President Jimmy Carter’s national security adviser, Zbigniew Brzezinski, the U.S. granted political asylum to a high-ranking Chechen separatist leader accused of terrorism by Russia who lived for a period of time in Boston.
Ilyas Akhmadov, who also served as Chechnya’s foreign minister, insists he was falsely accused by the Kremlin.
He has been on Russia’s most-wanted list, charged with organizing terrorist training camps and armed insurgent actions. Despite Russian objections, Akhmadov now lives in Washington, D.C., after the U.S. said it could find no links to terror.
Akhmadov was once the deputy to the radical Chechen Islamist leader Shamil Basayev, who was killed in 2006 before being described by ABC News as “one of the most-wanted terrorists in the world.”