Is the Republican establishment up to the task?
Although the Senate is in recess, both Republicans and Democrats in the Senate introduced immigration bills in October to set the stage for debate on the issue through the election, the lame duck session, and the 112th Congress.
Sen. Robert Menendez’s (D-NJ) Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2010 makes the attempted amnesties from 2006 and 2007 look like Arizona’s SB 1070. The bill is over 800 pages long, so anti-amnesty researchers have not had time to comb through every little detail, but what they’ve found so far is bad enough. The bill will grant amnesty to every single illegal alien in the country. It will increase legal immigration by millions, and will nullify all state and local laws against illegal immigration.
The bill also gives amnesty for social security fraud, and gives in-state tuition to illegal aliens. Menendez’s bill incorporates the Uniting American Families Act, which allows homosexuals living in the US to sponsor their same-sex partners for citizenship. Giving federal recognition to homosexual partners in an immigration act could be used as a precedent to impose legal homosexual marriage throughout the country.
The same day Menendez introduced his amnesty bill, Sen. Orin Hatch sponsored the Strengthening Our Commitment to Legal Immigration and America’s Security Act. Unlike Menendez’s bill, it is only a few pages long. It will prevent Obama from enacting amnesty measures through executive order, eliminates the diversity visas—which gives 55,000 unnecessary green cards every year by a lottery—and encourages states to assist enforcement of immigration laws.
This is a good start, but does not come close to fixing our disastrous immigration policy.
Republicans do not need an 800-page bill like Menendez’s, but there are a few simple principles that need to guide their policies. America must increase border security and interior enforcement against illegal immigration. We need to remove rewards for illegal aliens. And we need to reform our excessive legal immigration policies to protect American workers and taxpayers.
The anti-amnesty organization Numbers USA lists 5 bills in the House of Representatives that will give real “comprehensive immigration reform”:
- The SAVE Act sponsored by Heath Shuler (D-NC) mandates E-Verify to ensure that employers cannot hire illegal aliens and increases border security and interior enforcement.
- The CLEAR Act sponsored by Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) clarifies the inherent right of states to enforce immigration law, which will prevent the Obama administration and activist judges from interfering with Arizona’s SB 1070 and similar state and local laws.
- The Birthright Citizenship Act sponsored by Gary Miller (R-GA) will end the absurd practice of giving automatic citizenship to the children of illegal aliens.
- The SAFE Act sponsored by Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) will abolish the diversity lottery system that Sen. Hatch admirably aims to abolish in his bill.
- The Nuclear Family Priority Act sponsored by Phil Gingrey (R-GA) will end chain migration for extended families. While most countries prioritize immigrants who have skills, America gives preference to family reunification including adult parents and siblings. They in turn can sponsor their extended family, creating a chain reaction of unlimited immigration. This bill will limit family reunification to children and spouses of legal immigrants and US citizens.
Additionally, we need to make across-the-board cuts on legal immigration. In 2009, we issued over 1.1 million permanent legal visas and nearly one million temporary work visas despite growing unemployment. Until Americans are back to work, we need to dramatically reduce these numbers to free up jobs for American citizens and prioritize the visas we do give towards immigrants who will not be a public burden and cost the taxpayers billions of dollars.
Unfortunately, the Republican establishment is not backing these bills or policies. The GOP leadership stood united against many of the pro-amnesty and anti-enforcement activities taken up by the Obama administration and Democratic Congress.
We can thank them for exposing Obama’s attempt at amnesty via executive order and stopping the DREAM Act amnesty. But if Republicans take back Congress, Americans will expect them to do more than just stop bad bills. They must also take proactive steps to secure our borders, enforce our laws, and stop the flood of foreign workers.
Virgil Goode Represented Virginia’s 5th Congressional District from 1997 through 2009.