On Monday, the United States Senate passed a procedural vote on the so-called “border surge” deal brokered by Sens. Bob Corker (R-TN) and John Hoeven (R-ND) that paves the way for passage of the entire comprehensive immigration reform bill later this week. The vote was 67-27. Despite the objections of 14 GOP Senators who expressed their frustration in a letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, noting that additional amendments weren’t getting heard, the so-called Corker-Haven amendment is likely the last major change that will be added to the bill. That is due to the reality that any additional amendments would require a unanimous agreement to bring them to a vote. “We could have had three genuine weeks on this bill, processing amendments and having votes,” said Chuck Grassley (R-IA), the top Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee. “Yet, we’re forced to vote on packages that were concocted behind closed doors.”
It is worse than that. This amendment, which is essentially the entire bill, is yet another neon-bright example of the utter contempt our elected officials have for the American electorate. One would think the overwhelming disgust registered by the public regarding Obamacare — passed into law despite the fact that not a single lawmaker read it in its entirety before casting a vote — would have prevented such an insult from occurring again. That, however, was not the case. Last Friday afternoon at around 2:30 p.m. EDT, 14 senators introduced the 1,190-page amendment. Since the vote took place at around 7:00 p.m. Monday, senators were given just over 76 hours to read the entire bill. Moreover, since the amendment makes references to other statutes, as well as the changes to those statues, the supplemental reading made an already herculean task virtually impossible to accomplish.
That impossibility may have been precisely what Democrats and their squishy Republican allies were counting on. As Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) pointed out on Sunday’s “Face the Nation,” such a setup makes it extremely difficult to determine exactly what the bill says. Sessions cited law professor William A. Jacobson, who undertook the painstaking effort to analyze just two sections of the bill, 3214 and 3215, which reference another statute, 8 U.S.C. 1182. Jacobson confirmed that these particular sections give the Secretary of Homeland Security “almost complete discretion to waive all other provisions of the law as to removal, deportation and inadmissibility…of illegal aliens not just for family ‘hardship’ (which itself is huge) but for any reason the Secretary deems in the ‘public interest.’”
In other words, despite all the promises, a vast swath of this bill comes down to nothing more than giving the unelected DHS Secretary, currently Janet Napolitano, the kind of discretionary power that one would expect to be granted to the officials of a banana republic. If such discretionary power sounds familiar, that’s because in ObamaCare, vast swaths of that bill’s sections are completely beholden to the discretionary decisions of the unelected Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary, currently Kathleen Sebelius. Her most recent discretionary effort was to deny a dying 10-year-old girl a desperately needed lung transplant, until a judge ruled otherwise.
It doesn’t get any more “discretionary” than that.
The border security part of the bill contains an equally “flexible” loophole. Border security was ostensibly the key element of Corker-Hoeven. The following two paragraphs reveals how dishonest the ruling class is willing to be to get immigration reform passed:
Paragraph (1): “Not later than 180 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Secretary shall establish a strategy, to be known as the ‘Southern Border Fencing Strategy,’ to identify where 700 miles of fencing (including double-layer fencing), infrastructure, and technology, including at ports of entry, should be deployed along the Southern border.”
Paragraph (2): “Notwithstanding paragraph (1), nothing in this subsection shall require the Secretary to install fencing, or infrastructure that directly results from the installation of such fencing, in a particular location along the Southern border, if the Secretary determines that the use or placement of such resources is not the most appropriate means to achieve and maintain effective control over the Southern border at such location.”
If it appears that paragraph two gives the DHS Secretary the power to largely negate everything regarding so-called border security required in paragraph one, that’s because it does. And since current DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano already believes the border is secure, it is almost certain paragraph one will be totally ignored. Furthermore, Napolitano can also waive specific technology listed in the bill, such as the 685 ground sensors, 50 towers and 73 fixed cameras to be deployed to Arizona’s two sectors, “if the secretary determines that an alternate or new technology is at least as effective as the technologies described in paragraph (3) and provides a commensurate level of security.” That would be a commensurate level of security adjudged by Napolitano. Adding insult to injury, the DHS Secretary can make the changes a full 60 days before she has to notify Congress that she has done so.
And once again, just like ObamaCare, “special” provisions have been added to the bill to ensure its passage as well. For radical leftist Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT), unhappy with the reality that legalizing millions of low-skill workers would devastate their Americans counterparts, a section entitled “Jobs for Youth” was added to the bill. It would authorize the expenditure of $1.5 billion over the next two years to help Americans between the ages of 16-24 get jobs.
The provision is interesting for two reasons. First, much of it is based on President Obama’s American Jobs Act that never got through Congress. Second, it belies claims by the bill’s supporters that comprehensive immigration reform will be a net plus for the economy.
Regardless, President Obama offered up the same rationale in a meeting with CEOs and business leaders shortly before the vote. He cited numbers published by the CBO saying the bill would reduce the deficit by $875 billion over two decades. The report completely contradicts the Heritage Foundation Report that estimates amnesty would add $6.3 trillion to the national debt over a longer time frame. Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) explained the CBO numbers are based on the same kind of accounting gimmicks used to hide the true cost of ObamaCare. When the ObamaCare accounting gimmicks were stripped from the CBO’s report, its initial cost assessment of the healthcare bill more than doubled–and may increase even further. Expect the same kind of “revisions” here if this bill makes it into law.
Yet the Sanders Provision pales in comparison to the one offered by Harry Reid (D-NV) and Sen. Dean Holler (R-NV) that is nothing more than a crony capitalist kickback to the casino industry. A law known as the Travel Promotion Act, created a “Brand USA” government-run public relations campaign, promoting Vegas casinos and other US travel destinations. In a 2012 report, Sens. Jim DeMint (R-SC) and Tom Coburn (R-OK) contended the program “reveals a history of waste, abuse, patronage, and lax oversight.” Current law funds it through 2015. The new amendment extends that funding indefinitely.
Apparently the fact that such an amendment has absolutely nothing to do with immigration is of little consequence to pro-Amnesty duplicitous lawmakers.
It should come as no surprise either that the rule of law itself is also being tossed under the bus. Last week on the floor of the Senate, Gang of Eight member John McCain (R-AZ) said that “[a]nyone who has committed crimes in this country is going to be deported.” Not exactly. A chart complied by the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) and published here by the Washington Examiner, reveals there are serious crimes that do not disqualify illegal aliens for Registered Provisional Status. Moreover, illegal aliens remain eligible even if they have committed as many as three misdemeanor offenses, including, but not limited to, assault, battery, identity or document fraud, and tax evasion. These are crimes that could earn U.S. citizens and legal aliens large fines, prison time, or a ten-year ban on re-entering the country for the latter group.
FAIR’s media director, Ira Mehlman, illuminates the infuriating nature of such a provision. “What it indicates is this is more than just an amnesty, it’s an amnesty for all kinds of violations,” he explains. “We say nobody is above the law, but apparently illegal immigrants are.”
After the bill gets its virtually certain approval in the Senate, it moves to the House, where it is likely to undergo major revisions. Last week, House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) said he would not allow any bill on the House floor that didn’t have majority support from both parties. The prospect of the bill either getting those revisions, or remaining bottled up in the House, drew predictable outbursts from the media, Democrats, and some clueless Republicans like Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), all of whom say that the failure to grant legal status to at least 11 million illegal aliens assured a demographic “death spiral” for the GOP.
Gang of Eight member Chuck Schumer (D-NY) took it one step further Sunday, telling Candy Crowley on CNN’s State of the Union that “this has the potential of becoming the next civil-rights movement,” further insisting he could envision “a million people on the mall in Washington–on the platform would not be the usual suspects but the leaders of business, the leaders of the Evangelical movement, the leaders of high tech as well as most Americans pressuring the House to act. I think they’re going to have to act whether they have a majority of Republicans or not,” he concluded.
National Review columnist John Fund puts the lie to Schumer’s threat. “It’s telling that the scare tactics deployed by the proponents of comprehensive immigration reform all revolve around politics: massive rallies on the Washington Mall and an angry Hispanic electorate,” he writes. “In reality, it might be the folks using the scare tactics who are the ones running scared. Maybe they’re afraid that the longer their bill is debated and the more sunshine it’s exposed to, the less likely the American people are to support it.”
There is much more to it than that. The GOP has never received a majority of the Hispanic vote. Even after Ronald Reagan signed the 1986 Immigration Reform Act, George H.W. Bush got only 30 percent of the Hispanic vote in the 1988 presidential election — seven points less than Reagan himself received before the bill’s passage. Perhaps Republicans might want to consider the fact that the real threat of a “death spiral” comes from alienating one’s core constituency. A constituency that has made it clear any bill in which border security isn’t the top priority is a deal-breaker. That would be genuine border security, not the so-called triggers and/or the aforementioned flexibility that render it completely impotent.
Republicans might want to consider something else as well. Virtually all of the progressive agenda is based on the politics of incrementalism. That means this bill represents a point of departure, not the “last time” endgame its supporters in both parties claim it to be. As soon as the ink is dry on any comprehensive reform package, Democrats will be right back to work, attempting to “modify” the more “onerous” and “inhumane” aspects of the bill. It doesn’t take a scintilla of imagination to envision Chuck Schumer and his cohorts bemoaning the “cruelty” of making people wait more than a decade to obtain citizenship, or the “narrowness” of the family reunification component, to cite two examples where media-abetted pressure will become relentless.
And then there is the cynicism. Whether Republicans want to believe it or not, Democrats really don’t care if this bill gets defeated. A defeat of this legislation gives them a self-perceived edge in the 2014 election, where they think the bill’s failure will allow them to wrest majority control from “racist” House Republicans. That scenario is based on the belief that the majority of Americans support comprehensive immigration reform, which some polling data indicates. But when Americans begin to realize that border security is a sham, that support is likely to drop precipitously–which is exactly why, just like ObamaCare, the push was on to pass a bill no one read.
Are Americans prepared for yet another bill that must first be passed before they can “find out what’s in it”? ObamaCare has generated enormous discontent, even before the true scope of it is realized beginning next year. If passed into law, it is likely comprehensive immigration reform will be equally unsettling, especially to those Americans who will begin to experience the full scope of competing with millions of job seekers who will have been rewarded for breaking the law.
Congress had 27 years to prove it could enforce the 1986 immigration bill. It failed miserably, despite both parties having full control of the government at various times throughout that period. Anyone who believes “this time” will be different is utterly naive.
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