The purpose of this glossary, which is the product of significant research, study and polling, is to equip opponents of the immigration bill passed by the U.S. Senate in 2013 (as well as the ongoing legislative maneuvering to get the entire Congress to pass the same bill or something similar) with a common vocabulary to advocate a unified policy position.

The policy position is most succinctly expressed as follows:

Uncontrolled immigration does not fix America’s immigration system. We need instead a policy of controlled immigration to preserve the value of American citizenship, consisting of three key components:

  • Serious immigration security & enforcement measures.
  • A system of controlled legal immigration.
  • No amnesty.

Controlled Immigration1: Vocabulary

Category Our Position When They Say… What They Mean Is…
1 “Controlled immigration” is Immigration that protects the value of American citizenship.
2 Also: Fixing our Broken Immigration System.
Amnesty No Amnesty, No Work Permits Path-to-Citizenship Blanket Amnesty
Illegal Immigration Security & Enforcement Border Security First Amnesty and More Illegal Immigration
Legal & Overall Controlled Immigration Immigration Reform2 Uncontrolled Immigration

For convenience, the definitions are in alphabetical order below. Terms in bold above and below are defined further in their own listing.


Any right to live and work in the U.S. granted by the federal government to an illegal alien or illegal immigrant: Every so-called “pathway to citizenship,”; without exception, is an amnesty.

  • An amnesty occurs when an illegal alien or illegal immigrant receives a work permit.
  • There are two types of amnesty: restricted amnesty and blanket amnesty.
Amnesty Overload

The catastrophic immigration-processing dysfunction that will be caused by uncontrolled-immigration schemes resulting in millions of fraudulent amnesties, as well as fraudulent legal immigration requests, being granted:

  • The Senate-passed uncontrolled-immigration bill would quadruple applications immediately.
  • The United States Citizen and Immigration Services (USCIS) is the agency that processes immigration applications, including amnesties. USCIS is widely acknowledged to be at or over capacity now. Like all government bureaucracies, USCIS can only expand capacity at a slow rate.
  • The Senate-passed, uncontrolled-immigration bill shifts the burden-of-proof from the applicant to USCIS. As a practical matter, this makes it highly likely USCIS will simply issue amnesties upon the flimsiest of evidence, such as a relative's unsupported attestation that the applicant has been in the U.S. for the requisite period of time.
  • Pools of fraudulent applications include the illegal immigration since the cut-off date, the 9 million Border Crossing Cards that allow Mexicans who hold them to cross at will, and tens of millions of other visitor visas issued each year.
Blanket Amnesty

An amnesty without significant amnesty qualification restrictions or amnesty process restrictions (see restricted amnesty for definitions):

  • Almost all pathway-to-citizenship proposals are blanket amnesties.
  • Proposals that grant amnestyto a majority of illegal immigrants are blanket amnesties.
  • The Senate-passed uncontrolled-immigration bill contains a blanket amnesty, as did the 1986 immigration law.
Controlled Immigration

Immigration to the U.S. (both legal and illegal) that serves the national interest. The three key components are:

  • Controlled legal immigration
  • Immigration security & enforcement
  • No amnesty
Controlled Legal Immigration

Legal immigration to the U.S. by foreign citizens only in numbers and categories justified by the national interest:

  • Includes visas for spouses and kids, some asylee visas, some number of employment-visas for the most skilled, potentially even at higher levels than today's.
  • Reduces the overall numbers of legal immigrants from today's levels: increases in any immigration category must be offset by decreases of at least as much immigration in others, principally through eliminating categories (such as that for adult siblings).
Illegal Alien

A foreign citizen unlawfully present in the U.S., whether by unlawful entry or overstaying a visa.

Illegal Immigrant

An illegal alien permanently settled in the U.S.

  • About half of illegal immigrants first arrived by illegal border crossings
  • About half of illegal immigrants arrived lawfully, but overstayed their visas. (Note that these visa overstays are not “undocumented.”)
Illegal Immigration

Foreign citizens entering the country unlawfully or overstaying their visas with the intent of long-term residency.

Immigration Security & Enforcement (ISE)

The full suite of measures to stop and reverse illegal immigration (i.e., the result being more illegal immigrants going out than coming in):

  • The most important immigration-security-&-enforcement measures are:
    • an enforced employment-eligibility check system
    • more and better border fence (also increased border manpower)
    • check-in/check-out system for 100% of foreign citizens entering & exiting the U.S.
    • a credible threat of deportation.
  • Abbreviated "ISE" (pronounced "eyes").
ISE First (pronounced "eyes First")

Immigration security & enforcement first, before any amnesties can occur:

  • To insure the political system actually implements immigration security & enforcement as part of any compromise, ISE must be implemented prior to any amnesty (such as work permits) being granted to illegal immigrants.
National Interest

Protecting the value of American citizenship; the long-term well-being of American citizens:

  • Not the interests of foreign citizens who want to immigrate to the U.S., or of businesses that seek low-wage labor, or of national-origin lobbies or of other special interests.
No Amnesty

The ideal position on amnesty: granting no illegal immigrants the right to live and work in the U.S.

Obamacare-like Immigration Policy

The uncontrolled-immigration bill passed by the U.S. Senate in the summer of 2013 is a prime example.

  1. It made promises that won't be kept.
  2. It was such an enormous bill that no one knew what was in it.
  3. It imposed tasks on the bureaucracy that are beyond its abilities.
  4. It proposed a comprehensive approach to what are discrete problems.
  5. It created an artificial crisis where there was none.

Specifically, the bill entailed:

  • Uncontrolled increases in legal immigration to double present levels.
  • Blanket amnesty for nearly all 11,000,000 illegal immigrants already settled in the U.S., as well as an amnesty opportunity for millions more fraudulent applicants who would take advantage of bureaucratic meltdown in the immigration system.
  • A lack of guaranteed immigration security & enforcement measures, to stop and reverse illegal immigration.
  • No real triggers.
  • The Obamacare-like uncontrolled-immigration bill would not fix America's immigration system. It would break it.
Restricted Amnesty

The granting of amnesty to some fraction of illegal immigrants (well under half) based on some number of restrictions, both qualification restrictions and process restrictions.

  • Qualification Restrictions: are mostly common-sense restrictions on the number of illegal immigrants granted amnesty. Two significant qualification restrictions would be:

    1. Being able to pass an 8th-grade English test by a near-term date and
    2. Having first arrived in the U.S. after a certain date significantly in the past (more than just the two years provided for in the Senate-passed uncontrolled-immigration bill)

    Other restrictions might be things like never having previously been deported.

  • Process Restrictions: are restrictions on how fast, and by what processes, an amnesty can take place. These include a careful series of steps, so that a restricted amnesty in theory does not become a blanket amnesty in practice. But they also include triggers related to immigration security & enforcement (ISE) implementation to make sure the political system actually implements ISE.
Process restrictions that lay out milestones of immigration security & enforcement before a given step toward a restricted amnesty occurs.
Uncontrolled Immigration
Any combination of blanket amnesty, uncontrolled legal immigration, and high levels of illegal immigration.
Uncontrolled Legal Immigration

Legal immigration at levels, and by type, far above historical norms and contrary to the national interest:

  • Includes adult-relative (other-than-spouse) visas, the visa lottery, unjustified refugee and asylee visas, and non-critical employment visas.
  • The Senate-passed uncontrolled-immigration bill would double legal immigration to over 2 million per year the first decade.