If the Senate is going to pass the Gang of Eight's amnesty bill in the 113th Congress, they're going to need Marco Rubio to sell it to his Republican colleagues. After the bill's introduction yesterday morning, Rubio began his sales pitch last night by appearing on Mark Levin's radio program. But the big sell came today when he tried to convince Rush Limbaugh. Unfortunately for Rubio, Limbaugh didn't bite even with his distorted details.
Yesterday, Rubio's staff began an aggressive campaign to dispel any myths that were circulating in the mainstream media. Given his staff's attention to the details of the bill, we thought we should return the favor by providing the same kind of scrutiny to his defense of the bill to Rush Limbaugh. Here's what we found...
For starters, Rubio did an about-face from an earlier appearance on Limbaugh's program. On January 29, 2013, he said:
If, in fact, this bill does not have real triggers in there, if there is not language in this bill that guarantees that nothing else will happen unless these enforcement mechanisms are in place, I won't support it.
Now that the bill's out, we know that it legalizes most of the 11-18 million illegal aliens before any enforcement provisions kick in. Today, Rubio didn't deny it.
We don't want to wait on legalizing, and I'll tell you why, and my original position was that we wanted to secure the border first and then legalize. The problem is we have millions of people here now, by some estimates 10, 11 million. We want to know who they are and freeze the problem in place. I don't want that number to grow.
Rubio did describe what is required to happen before the legalization takes place.
The Department of Homeland Security has [to] come up with two plans: one to secure the border and one to build fencing. It has to be both, and they have to not only come up with the plans which will be reviewed by the border commission on the advisory role and also the General Accounting Office, which is a nonpartisan, very serious agency of government to ensure that it achieves the following goal: a 100% awareness of border, 90% apprehension.
Rubio talks about the border as if the provisions apply to all 3,000 miles of the Southern border. The truth is DHS only has to provide a plan to secure "high risk border sectors", which is defined by sectors where more than 30,000 individuals had been apprehended. Note, that's not 30,000 apprehensions; it's 30,000 individuals. So, if one individual happens to get caught crossing the border 30,001 times over the course of the year, he/she is only counted once.
There are nine sectors along the Southern border. In 2012, Border Patrol reported that three of the nine sectors had more than 30,000 apprehensions (again, that's apprehensions, not individuals). That leaves 66% of the Southern border unprotected by the Rubio bill. I wouldn't exactly call that "securing the border."
Furthermore, Rubio says DHS has to have 100% awareness. That's also not true. The bill simply requires DHS to achieve and maintain "persistent surveillance." In other words, DHS needs to try really hard to be aware of what's going on with 33% of the border.
They have five years to meet that standard. If in five years the border is not 90% apprehension, 100% awareness, they lose control of the border issue to a commission that is not a Washington commission. It is a commission that will largely be driven by the governors of the border states.
The bill clearly states that DHS has five years to meet the 90% apprehension rate with "persistent" awareness, and if they don't, a Border Commission will be created. The bill also clearly states who determines whether or not DHS has met the standard - the Secretary of Homeland Security. That's right, the Secretary of Homeland Security gets to decide whether his/her department has followed the law, and if not, it forfeits control to a Border Commission.
Rubio, though, says the Border Commission is largely "driven by the governors of the border states." That's not true. The Border Commission would be comprised of 10 Members - 2 appointed by the President, 2 appointed by the House, 2 appointed by the Senate, and 1 from each of the four border states. I wouldn't call 40% of the Border Commission a large composition of said Commission.
I have full confidence that the governors of these border states -- talking about Arizona, Texas, New Mexico, obviously California as well, but particularly Arizona and Texas, which are the ones most impacted by it now -- these governors will take care of this problem and they'll be given money to be able to take care of it.
Rubio's all-powerful Border Commission is nothing more than an advisory committee for the President, DHS Secretary, and Congress. After studying what DHS has done in trying to achieve a 90% apprehension rate, they submit their own report with recommendations to Congress. Then, "The Commission shall terminate 30 days after the date on which the report is submitted." That's some Commission!
In addition to that, E-Verify becomes mandatory for every business in America, starting with the biggest companies, and the entry-exit system becomes mandatory. We will track the entry and the exit of all visitors to the United States at all of our airports and seaports. And all of those things must happen before a single green card is issued to those that are waiting through the regular RPI status, as we call it, the provisional status that we've created. And so these are triggers that really must happen, and obviously I think it's a vast improvement over what we have now.
We're still reviewing the E-Verify section of the legislation - it's 105 pages long!
As for the entry-exit system, section 3303 of the bill requires DHS to "establish a mandatory exit data system" no later than December 31, 2015. That sounds good, but in 1996, Congress passed the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act (IIRIRA), and section 110 of that bill required the Attorney General to "develop an automated entry and exit control system" within two years.
But have no fear, this time they really mean it! Why? Because as Rubio said, this "must happen before a single green card is issued."
Sen. Rubio should really read his own bill. Actually, he doesn't even need to read the bill. Had he just read the 17-page summary his office distributed earlier this week, he would have known that illegal aliens in "DREAM Act Status and the Agricultural Program" are eligible for green cards in five years regardless of the "triggers".
As for the remaining illegal aliens subject to the "triggers", Section 3(c)(2)(B) requires DHS to give away green cards even if "litigation or a force majeure" prevents either "trigger" from going into effect. The ACLU has already indicated that if the bill passes, it may challenge the constitutionality of mandatory E-Verify.
[T]hey have to undergo a background check. They have to pay a fine for what they've done wrong. They have to wait more than 10 years, and they have to start paying taxes. Their legalization is not permanent. It is a renewable legalization that expires in six years. So they have to go back and renew it where they have to prove that they're gainfully employed, that they're not a public charge. They don't qualify for any federal benefits including Obamacare, no welfare, no food stamps.
Again, Rubio reiterates the incorrect fact that all illegal aliens have to wait more than 10 years to get their green cards. As for his claim of denying them federal benefits, that's where he lost Limbaugh if he hadn't lost him already. Limbaugh said that he believes the Democrats will use the lengthy citizenship process and the denial of federal benefits as another way to draw a wedge between Hispanic voters and the Republican party. That's exactly the wedge Rubio says he's trying to narrow by supporting the amnesty effort.
After the Limbaugh interview, and after the Gang of Eight's afternoon press conference, Rubio delivered a passionate speech defending his bill on the Senate floor. In it, he pressed for a lengthy and open process so all 92 Senators not in the Gang can learn what's in the bill. In the end, Rubio may end up regretting that statement.
CHRIS CHMIELENSKI is the Director of Content & Activism for NumbersUSA