Whether you intend on celebrating Christmas or Kwanzaa, are celebrating Chanukah, or have celebrated Eid this holiday season, Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.) has given us all a gift that needs to be flung from the highest mountain top into the deepest of crevices: H.R. 4321, the Comprehensive Immigration Reform for America's Security and Prosperity Act of 2009.
The bill's name is tame enough. Americans like to be secure and would like to be prosperous. Unfortunately, the bill is far from tame; it's downright dangerous. It's provisions would be comical if the stakes weren't so high.
Before I talk about this bill let me begin with a little bit about myself. I graduated from the College of William & Mary in May, 2007 and came to work at NumbersUSA a couple weeks later on June 6th. I expected (and truth be told, hoped for) a quiet first few weeks so I could learn the ropes. As you might recall, the summer of 2007 was the Summer of Amnesty. President Bush, Sen. Kennedy, and Sen. McCain were trying their hardest to force through comprehensive amnesty. Needless to say, my honeymoon lasted all of 10 seconds and I was thrown straight into the heat of the battle. It was "sink or swim" and I managed to doggy paddle my way to safety.
As you know, NumbersUSA and its activist members fought the Bush-Kennedy-McCain amnesty every step of the way and eventually defeated it. Twice.
Many Senators claimed to have heard the American people and repented for having attempted to foist a mass amnesty on the American people. But a core of hard-nosed, pro-amnesty Senators didn't get the message and tried to force through the DREAM Act amnesty. You defeated it. They tried to force through the AgJOBS amnesty. You defeated it. They tried DREAM and AgJOBS again. You defeated them.... again. After numerous defeats, politicians in both the Senate and House claimed to have seen the light and understood that when the American people said "NO" to amnesty, they meant it. When Congressmen said they would put border security and immigration enforcement first, many of us, though wary, took them at their word. Perhaps that was a mistake....
In my time at NumbersUSA I've seen amnesties come and go (thankfully, due to your faxing and phoning, all of them went). But, in all my time writing faxes and phone notes about immigration legislation, I have never had the displeasure of writing about something so devious, but yet so comical. Lewis Carrol, on his finest day, couldn't have come up with some of the provisions in H.R. 4321 (and don't forget he was the nonsensical author who sent Alice down the rabbit hole into Wonderland).
AMNESTY: No Illegal Alien Left Behind!
Rep. Luis Gutierrez and his 91 closest pals have come to the conclusion that if the Congress won't pass one amnesty, maybe it'll pass a bunch of amnesties piled into one bill. To be honest, "a bunch" doesn't do the bill credit, as you'll soon see.
Rep. Gutierrez's bill contains the DREAM Act amnesty, the AgJOBS amnesty, an amnesty for the parents of anchor babies (which is a fair chunk of the illegal population), and an amnesty for the children of Filipino WWII veterans, just to name a few (and I do mean "a few." President Bush had "No Child Left Behind," Rep. Gutierrez has "No Illegal Alien Left Behind.").
Why the honorable representative even bothered to include these various amnesties is beyond me because under the terms of the bill, literally anyone who is illegally present in the United States at the time of the bill's passage is eligible for legal permanent residence. But, if you listen to the bill's supporters, this is not an amnesty because the illegal aliens (excuse me, "undocumented migrants") must pay a fine. A fine of $500. No, I didn't forget a zero or three. All that illegal aliens must do to receive legal permanent residence under the terms of the bill is pay a $500 fine (and not be a mass murderer, a serial rapist, a polygamist, or Osama Bin Laden). The average illegal alien family costs American taxpayers $10,000 per year, but Rep. Gutierrez believes a $500 fine is a just and proper punishment. Oh, and if an illegal alien cannot pay the fine, that's no problem, they can still get their amnesty. Why should the we let the inability to pay a minor fine stand in the way of an great amnesty bill, right?
ENFORCEMENT: Well, maybe not
If you thought charging a paltry fine in exchange for receiving a green card was bad enough, wait until you learn about the bill's enforcement provisions (well, lack-of-enforcement provisions). The 287(g) program would be ended (state and local police would no longer be able to report bad guys to DHS or ICE). The hugely successful and efficient E-Verify employment verification system would be scrapped (hey, why bother verifying an employee's ability to work in the United States if an illegal employee can get a green card for $500? (which is less than the going rate on many street corners)). Active enforcement of our country's borders would be curtailed (bye bye, border fence) and Border Patrol agents would have to undergo special training so they don't frighten little kids trying to cross the border (that's not a joke).
The bill is also quick to point out that Immigration and Customs Enforcement would still be allowed to do it's job. However, enforcement actions would not be allowed to occur within the vicinity of: a school, a childcare provider, a legal-service provider, an administrative building, a funeral home, a cemetery, a college, university, or community college, a hospital, a health care clinic, a place of worship, a day care center, a head start center, a school bus stop, a recreation center, a mental health facility, or a community center. As the bill is rather vague about the definition of "vicinity," illegal aliens probably only have to fear detention if they are boating on Lake Michigan or surfing in Maui.
If an illegal alien does have some rather poor luck and happens to be picked up by ICE, he/she will more than likely be given amnesty if he/she is: an individual with a non frivolous claim to United States citizenship, an individual who has a disability or has been determined by a medically trained professional to have medical or mental health needs, a pregnant or nursing woman, an individual who is detained with 1 or more children, an individual who provides financial, physical, and other direct support to his minor children, parents, or other dependents, an individual who is at least 65 years of age, and individual who is a child, victims of abuse, violence, crime, or human trafficking, individuals who have been referred for a credible fear interview, a reasonable fear interview, or an asylum hearing, stateless individuals, individuals who have applied or intend to apply for asylum, individuals who make a prima facie case for eligibility for relief under any provision of the Immigration and Nationality Act, including returning lawful permanent residents, and any group designated by the Secretary as a vulnerable population (whatever that means).
So, just to sum up the previous paragraphs (I can understand if you didn't read it all), ICE would be prevented from apprehending illegal aliens in most public places and those illegal aliens that were apprehended would most likely be allowed to claim some sort of amnesty.
Now that I've gotten the major amnesty and border enforcement provisions out of the way, I would love to discuss the bill's provisions to drastically increase the number of legal immigrants (as if 1.1 million per year were not enough). However, Roy asked me to keep the blog short, so I'll leave that for another day.
THE GOOD NEWS!
Yes, this bill is a nightmare and we need to fight it with every fiber of our strength. However, if you look at the bill's cosponsors, you'll find that the only individuals cosponsoring this bill are those Representatives who have consistently put the interests of illegal aliens ahead of the interests of everyday Americans. These are Representatives who come from safe districts and could literally cosponsor any bill and still get reelected. This bill, and the cross section of those cosponsoring, proves that most Congressmen have learned from the past and will not cosponsor an amnesty bill. Previous amnesty bills have had radicals and moderates from both parties as cosponsors. Not this time. Only a radical fringe of pro-illegal alien, anti-American worker Representatives have signed onto this bill. This bill proves that your hard work has paid off.
But we cannot rest on our laurels. We've convinced Congress that Americans care about immigration and will not stand idly by while they fritter away the value of citizenship and legal residence. However, Congressmen often have short and selective memories and we need to keep faxing and phoning their offices. If you work as hard to kill this amnesty as you have worked to kill all the previous amnesties, this bill will die before it even takes off.
-P.S. If you have Democratic or below average Republican Representative, please visit your action board and send him/her a fax!
JOE JENKINS is a writer/researcher for NumbersUSA
Updated: Thu, Dec 17th 2009 @ 8:24pm EST