Streetcar Line

Poisonous and Treasonous

One of the worst bills ever -- Senator Sessions explains.

By 6.20.07

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For those of us out here who really do have a moderate position on immigration, who really do seek a reasoned approach that in the long run allows for some form of "guest workers," the immigration bill being considered by the Senate is more and more of an affront the more and more its details become clear. It is an affront because it appears to have been written in bad faith, by illegitimate procedures, with all sorts of smoke screens meant to snooker us into believing the bill is moderate and balanced.

In fact, the bill is a radical and dangerous attempt to open the floodgates.

It must be stopped.

That's the only conclusion one can reach after re-reading, closely, the report called "20 Loopholes in the Senate Immigration Bill," released on June 4 by Alabama's Sen. Jeff Sessions. (Of the 20, only one minor "loophole" has since been improved by amendment.)

For "Loophole 1," Sessions has identified the provision which, all along, has been the single biggest stumbling block to people of good will who wish to take this bill seriously. It is the now-infamous allowance for "probationary benefits," which effectively makes every other law-and-order provision in the bill utterly worthless. Allow me to quote Sessions' entire paragraph:

Amnesty benefits do not wait for the "enforcement trigger." After filing an application and waiting 24 hours, illegal aliens will receive full "probationary benefits," complete with the ability to legally live and work in the U.S., travel outside of the U.S. and return, and their own social security card. Astonishingly, if the trigger is never met and amnesty applications are therefore never "approved," the probationary benefits granted to the illegal alien population never expire, and the new social security cards issued to the illegal alien population are not revoked. [See pp. 1, 290-291, & 315.]

Even worse is the combination of that loophole with "Loophole 5 -- Completion of Background Checks Not Required For Probationary Legal Status." Again, I quote:
Legal status must be granted to illegal aliens 24 hours after they file an application, even if the aliens have not yet "passed all appropriate background checks." (Last year's bill gave DHS 90 days to check an alien's background before any status was granted.)... [See pp. 290.].
As Sessions then comments, on the contrary, "No legal status should [my emphasis] be given to any illegal alien until all appropriate background checks are complete."

As long as the probationary visa provisions remain in the bill, all reasonable people ought to consider this bill poisonous. No matter how one slices it, this is complete amnesty, pure and simple, with no enforcement, no respect for the law, no guarantee of safety, no requirement to learn English, no reliable insistence that businesses hire only legal visitors, no protection against Social Security and welfare fraud that could cost American taxpayers hundreds of billions of dollars over the next several decades.

It is hard to see this as anything other than a deliberate attempt by the bill's drafters to provide an end-run around everything else in the bill, in effect to make everything else into window dressing. What other reason could there be for cutting the background check time period from 90 days to a single day? (!!!!!!!)

Collectively, all the other loopholes identified by Sessions are at least equally scary. For instance, the trigger does not require full implementation of the U.S. VISIT system, which is the biometric border check-in/check-out program that already is two years overdue. The trigger's requirements for detention capabilities for scofflaws is off by about 50 percent, or more than 30 thousand beds, from what a later part of the bill acknowledges is the desirable amount.

Also, "Aliens who broke into the country illegally a mere 5 months ago are treated better than foreign nationals who legally applied to come to the U.S. more than two years ago."

There are loopholes that fail to protect against certain child molesters, fail to protect against certain people with terrorist connections, fail against known gang members (who must merely "renounce" their gang membership on their application), and fail against absconders (people who already have been given deportation orders but ignored them and remain in our country).

On and on goes Sessions' list, with the senator also identifying a number of provisions that would make the bill financially costly to American taxpayers. One of these provisions is so bad that it, too, merits quoting Sessions' description in full:

Free legal counsel and the fees and expense of arbitrators will be provided to aliens that have been working illegally in agriculture. The U.S. taxpayer will fund the attorneys that help these individuals fill out their amnesty applications. Additionally, if these individuals have a dispute with their employer over whether they were fired for "just cause," DHS will "pay the fee and expenses of the arbitrator." [See p. 339:37-41, & p. 332: 37-38.]
In all, if passed in its current form, this might be one of the single worst bills in the history of the United States, ranking right up there with the Smoot-Hawley tariff that helped usher in the Great Depression. It makes a mockery of law and order and public safety, and it makes a mockery of the entire notion of American citizenship. It is outrageously irresponsible.

Not only that, but by concocting it via the alchemy of back-room deal-making, without benefit of a single committee hearing, its drafters contemptuously insult the American people by refusing to trust the people with the ability to analyze and comment on the legislation the drafters would impose upon them. Such shenanigans are utterly destructive to all efforts to maintain within our populace what the poet Alfred, Lord Tennyson called "some sense of duty, something of a faith, some reverence for the laws ourselves have made."

There is no way, none whatsoever, that this bill can inculcate a reverence for this nation's laws. Instead, it breeds only further contempt: the contempt for our laws it will instill in the minds of illegal immigrants, and the contempt for our system with which a clear majority of Americans will greet such legislation if passed into law.

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About the Author
Quin Hillyer is a senior editor of The American Spectator and a senior fellow at the Center for Individual Freedom. Follow him on Twitter @QuinHillyer.