The Senate bill does not say what President Obama thinks it says.
During a November 19 press conference, Obama said:
[W]e do have to deal with about 11 million folks who are in this country, most of them just seeking opportunity; they did break the law by coming here or overstaying their visa, and they've got to earn their way out of the shadows -- pay a fine, learn English, get to the back of the line, pay their back taxes -- but giving them a mechanism whereby they can get right by our society. And that's reflected in the Senate bill.
Somewhere in the White House, someone must have realized that Obama's statement isn't true.
The Senate bill does not make learning English a prerequisite for legalization. The Senate bill grants the Secretary of Homeland Security the discretion to wave fines for broad groups of illegal aliens. The Senate bill does not require back taxes of illegal aliens who never filed tax returns.
Jon Feere covered these myths in an op-ed for the Christian Science Monitor on May 13 earlier this year. The Washington Times wrote a story on the "back taxes" claim on May 21 in which it was noted that the "immigration bill's authors acknowledged Tuesday that their legislation does not require illegal immigrants to pay all back taxes, saying it would be too difficult to make them ante up everything they might owe."
President Obama's language is not reflected in the Senate bill, but he has probably read similar language in immigration polling. Most polls that find support for a "path to citizenship" use language just like Obama did. One of the problems with those polls is that, like Obama's statement, they don't describe the actual legislation that Congress is considering.
This is not the first indication that President Obama has not been fully briefed on the Senate bill. On October 24th, Obama remarked, "if there's a good reason not to pass this common-sense reform, I haven't heard it."
Four months earlier, the Congressional Budget Office released a report on the economic impact of the Senate bill that predicted a decade of depressed wages and increased unemployment.
JEREMY BECK is the Director of the Media Standards Project for NumbersUSA
Updated: Mon, Nov 25th 2013 @ 9:02am EST