Perhaps the most influential anti-immigration think-tank in the United States is the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS). Their analysis of the Protect the Southwest Border Act of 2014 (H.R. 5230) is making its way around the Internet with everyone from National Review to commenters on these pages parroting its findings.
It seems clear that many of those on the right who object to the bill are relying on the CIS analysis, but have not actually read the bill themselves.
I have read sections of the bill, particularly sections which I see conservatives frequently objecting to, and find the CIS analysis misleading.
As writing long analyses of legislation is not my idea of a good time, I will focus on a few narrow points where I believe conservatives are being misled by CIS.
Let’s start with a comment from an AmSpec on my article this morning in support of the House passing the bill (primarily for political purposes): “Section 103 creates a new court procedure that requires applicants be given a green card unless a judge can show it is manifestly unjust.” This is clearly straight from the CIS claim that “Section 103 contains virtually the same ‘special motion’ proviso of the Cornyn-Cuellar bill that will almost certainly result in the grant of thousands of applications for adjustment of status simply because the alien asks, and which the immigration judge must grant unless the government can establish by some unknown standard that to do so would be ‘manifestly unjust’.”
First, CIS does not explain their “almost certainly” prediction. More importantly, and casting tremendous doubt on everything CIS says in this document, is the claim that a judge must grant a motion unless doing so would be “manifestly unjust.”
In fact, the legislation says a judge may grant a motion only if doing so would not be manifestly unjust. CIS turns the legislation on its head: the bill says that not being manifestly unjust is one condition of a judge granting a motion but it does not say that if a motion is not manifestly unjust it must be granted. The difference is large.
Furthermore, CIS implies that the motion in question is a motion to grant legal status to an illegal alien. It isn’t. Rather it is a motion to begin a proceeding under a new section of the Immigration and Nationality Act (created in Section 102 of the bill.)
Section 102 creates a process for “Expedited due process and screening of unaccompanied alien children.”
CIS lays out several criticisms of the section while leaving out several very positive improvements to the current process. This cannot be an oversight since the CIS analyst clearly read the bill in great detail. Instead, it leaves an intentionally misleading analysis and damages CIS’s credibility (at least among those few Americans who will actually learn what the bill says.)
In particular, CIS does not mention that the bill:
- Requires an alien who does not appear for his or her hearing to be ordered “removed in absentia if the Government establishes by a preponderance of the evidence that the alien was at fault for their absence from the proceedings.” (I acknowledge that this administration may not even attempt to prove that the alien was at fault.)
- Places the burden of proof regarding eligibility for admission into the US on to the alien.
- Allows the immediate removal of the alien if he doesn’t meet the burden of proof unless the alien claims an intention to apply for asylum or claims a fear of persecution. (Again, I acknowledge the potential for abuse of these “unless” provisions.)
In short, while the bill is not perfect, it is far better than CIS would have you believe, with CIS’s claim that a judge must grant a motion to proceed to a hearing unless the motion is unjust standing out as so wrong as to be simply dishonest.
I stand by my conclusion that the House should pass the bill.