Congress

Gang of Eight's immigration bill neglects enforcement, favors amnesty: Rich Lowry

Congress is boring. It can't even make new false promises.

On border security, it keeps making the same assurances. The Gang of Eight immigration bill, which could well be the signature legislative accomplishment of President Barack Obama's second term, travels in the well-worn ruts of past immigration promises. The Gang of Eight is offering this basic deal: "We will pretend to enforce the law, if you pretend to believe us."

The Gang of Eight bill purports to create an exit-entry visa system that Congress has been mandating since 1996. Back then, only the most cynical of observers would have believed that 17 years later, Congress would seek to pass a new amnesty for roughly 11 million illegal immigrants partly in exchange for the very same entry-exit system. But in the immigration debate, cynicism always pays.

In 2006, Congress passed a law calling for about 700 miles of double-layer fencing on the border. We've built about 36 miles, or a good, solid 5 percent. At this rate, we'll have all the double fencing in another 130 years. The rest of the mileage is various forms of inferior fencing, in keeping with a loophole Congress passed the very next year giving the Department of Homeland Security discretion in how it would go about building the fence.

Executive discretion is where border enforcement goes to die, and as it happens, the Gang of Eight enforcement provisions are entirely at the mercy of the executive. The secretary of homeland security merely submits a plan to do the things the executive branch has been mandated to do, but failed to do in the past. Who decides whether it is working? The secretary of homeland security.

This is so self-evidently ridiculous, even the Gang of Eight apparently realizes it needs to make some gesture toward toughening the bill. For his part, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio is doing the best Hamlet since John Gielgud. He is refusing to say whether he will vote "yes" on his own Gang of Eight bill after spending months drafting, defending and helping shepherd it to the floor. He has supposedly discovered that the enforcement provisions are inadequate, although he has done countless interviews insisting the bill contains the "toughest immigration-enforcement measures in the history of the United States."

Another basic problem in the architecture of the bill is that the amnesty comes before anything else, giving the Obama administration, ethnic interest groups and the business lobby every incentive to resist any enforcement measures after they pass.

Rubio is loath to admit that the amnesty comes first, although in a recent interview on Univision, he indeed admitted it: "First comes the legalization. Then come the measures to secure the border. And then comes the process of permanent residence." In a subsequent interview, he said he was inartful, which in Washington is a synonym for "frank." When he's speaking more artfully, he is careful to blur the difference between the initial amnesty and the process of getting a green card to give the misimpression that enforcement has to happen before anything else does.

Not that he'll use the word "amnesty." A hallmark of Republican supporters of the Gang of Eight bill is stating their earnest opposition to amnesty at the same time they support amnesty. They call the status quo a "de facto" amnesty, but refuse to make the basic concession to logic that codifying the "de facto" amnesty makes it a "de jure" amnesty. They readily call the 1986 immigration reform "amnesty," even though the essential features of the Gang of Eight bill -- legalization with a few symbolic hoops for the newly legal immigrants -- are exactly the same.

The Gang of Eight bill is powered, in large part, by pretense and word games. If this bill passes, and then a decade or so from now we need another amnesty, the road map to passage will be easy: Congress can promise to follow up on the Gang of Eight's enforcement measures -- yet again.

Special Delivery: A Trojan horse

Michelle Bachmann spells it out for anyone laboring under the illusion that there is no way an amnesty bill will actually pass.

http://www.realclearpolitics.com/video/2013/06/13/bachmann_ruling_class_will_pass_a_trojan_horse_immigration_bill_in_house.html
 

Bachmann: "Ruling Class" Will Pass A "Trojan Horse" Immigration Bill In House

"Don't count on the House stopping this bill," retiring Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn) warns about the immigration reform proposal in the Senate. "Because this is what's going to happen: The Senate is going to pass a very bad bill. The House will pass what will sound like a pretty good bill. But I’m just here to tell you, it's a Trojan horse."

"It will be a Trojan horse bill that says 'we're here to secure the borders.' So all the Republicans will vote for this bill -- for securing the border. Those bills will go to what's called a conference committee," Bachmann told World Net Daily.

"The good guts of the Trojan horse bill will be pulled out. The very bad amnesty provisions will be put in the bill. The bill will go to the House floor and it won’t be Republicans that pass it. It will be Nancy Pelosi leading all the House Democrats to vote for it. And just enough Republicans, probably committee chairs and subcommittee chairs will be voting for the bill, and you'll have amnesty and it will all be done in six weeks," she said.

Hear Bachmann explain her idea.

 

 

 


 

Immigration Reform Clears First Senate Hurdle In 82-15 Vote

The Senate’s “Gang of Eight” immigration bill took a significant step forward Tuesday afternoon, when the Senate voted 82-15 to invoke cloture on a motion to proceed on the measure. The Senate will now begin formal debate on the bill, with the goal of holding a final vote on the compromise measure by the July 4th holiday.

Despite weeks of heated debate over the bill, just 15 senators voted against moving it forward: John Barrasso (R-WY), John Boozman (R-AR), Mike Crapo (R-ID), Ted Cruz (R-TX), Mike Enzi (R-WY), Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Jim Inhofe (R-OK), Mark Kirk (R-IL), Mike Lee (R-UT), Jim Risch (R-ID), Pat Roberts (R-KS), Tim Scott (R-SC), Jeff Sessions (R-AL), Richard Shelby (R-AL), and David Vitter (R-LA). All 15 are Republicans.

Despite the overwhelming support for the motion to proceed, the ultimate fate of the compromise bill is still very much in question. Many of the Republicans who voted in favor of the motion to proceed may ultimately oppose the bill after it undergoes a contentious amendment process. Specifically, Senator John Cornyn’s (R-TX) amendment to add strict border security requirements before any immigrants can obtain permanent residence — a proposal that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) has called a “poison pill” — and Senator Patrick Leahy’s (D-VT) amendment to add language protecting same-sex couples could divide the fragile coalition that supports the bill. Leahy has not yet announced whether he will offer the amendment, which he declined to offer in committee in the face of Republican threats that it would scuttle the deal.

As Jamelle Bouie points out in The Plum Line, Democratic senators such as Bernie Sanders (D-VT), Max Baucus (D-MT), Mark Pryor (D-AR), and Joe Donnelly (D-IN) could ultimately oppose the bill as well.

Senate leaders from both parties hailed Tuesday’s vote as a critical step toward fixing the nation’s broken immigration system.

“There are 11 million reasons to pass common-sense immigration reform that mends our broken system — 11 million stories of heartbreak and suffering that should motivate Congress to act,” Senator Reid said ahead of the vote. “The bipartisan proposal before the Senate takes important steps to strengthen border security. It also makes crucial improvements to our broken legal immigration system.”

Similarly, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) — who has threatened that the bill would need “major changes” to ultimately win his vote — voted to invoke cloture, arguing on the floor that the Senate “deserves a chance to debate it” and “the opportunity to amend it.”

Even if the bill does survive the Senate, there are no guarantees that it will advance through the Republican-dominated House of Representatives. House Speaker John Boehner expressed his concerns with the “Gang of Eight” compromise during a Tuesday morning interview with ABC News, telling host George Stephanopoulos that “especially in the area of border security, and internal enforcement of this system, I’m concerned that it doesn’t go far enough.”

“I would expect that a House bill will be to the right of where the Senate is,” Boehner added.

Were the House to pass the Senate bill, it would almost certainly be with a minority of the Republican House majority — in violation of the so-called “Hastert Rule.”

Earlier Tuesday, President Barack Obama had pushed the Senate to move forward with the bill. The president stressed that the compromise bill contains several elements for which Republicans have pushed — such as $6.5 billion in new border security, and harsher penalties for businesses that employ undocumented workers — and insisted that “no one is going to get everything they want. Not Democrats. Not Republicans. Not me.”

Border apprehensions wildly exaggerated in formula behind Senate bill, say critics

The 90 percent apprehension goal set by Senate and House bills seeking to rein in illegal immigration while establishing a path to citizenship for those crossing into the U.S. from Mexico is based on fuzzy math, according to critics.

The goal, which is supposed to give teeth to legislation some view as amnesty, would depend on a Department of Homeland Security formula for determining the success rate of catching illegal border crossers. That formula requires visual or physical evidence for determining someone got past the border patrol, evidence that simply isn’t left behind in most cases. The result, say critics, is a wildly exaggerated success rate for catching illegal border crossers.

“To calculate it, border patrol officers go out and look for physical evidence of crossings… you know, ‘I saw this person cross and I didn't get him.’ Or, ‘I saw footprints in the sand,’” John Whitley, an economist who analyzed such statistics while he served as the director of the DHS’s Program Analysis & Evaluation department under President Bush, told FoxNews.com.

The problem is that, no matter how hard border patrol officers try to find physical evidence of successful illegal crossings, they can’t find everything.

“We know that this method of calculation understates the number of successful crossings, because you're excluding anyone you don't have physical evidence for,” Whitley said.

Using that method, Department of Homeland Security data already indicate a border security effectiveness rate of 84 percent -- close to the 90 percent target.

Some congressmen are concerned about the numbers.

“To just look for footprints and have a guesstimate – that would be outrageous,” Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, told FoxNews.com.

“We can't go along with a bill that says, ‘Hey, we have a 90 percent requirement for security’ – when there is no way to verify whether or not the 90 percent is accurate.”

In addition to not being accurate, the DHS methodology presents other problems, according to critics. For instance, an administration looking to artificially inflate the border effectiveness rate could simply call Border Patrol officers off from looking for signs of successful crossings and assign them to other tasks.

“There is no way we could trust this Department of Homeland Security to verify,” Gohmert said. “And there are independent sources that we could trust. We could have drones and other monitoring where we can find out exactly how many make it across without being apprehended.”

Other methods of estimating border crossings show a much lower apprehension rate.

“Survey data, recidivism data, and press reports about the Vader radar system all put it in the 50 percent range,” Whitley said, referring to the DHS’s new airborne Vader radar system which, during a test last winter in the Sonora Desert, indicated that the Border Patrol caught 1,874 people but missed 1,962 who successfully crossed.

The Department of Homeland Security did not respond to a request for comment on Monday.

But groups that support more immigration said that border enforcement should not be a priority in the first place.

“Government obsession with the particulars of border enforcement metrics misses the point,” said Alex Nowrasteh, an immigration analyst at the CATO institute. “We know from experience that increasing legal immigration opportunities, especially for lower-skilled guest workers, is the best way to eliminate unlawful immigration. Border Patrol should operate as a funnel to channel would-be unlawful immigrants into the legal market rather than an agency that separates willing workers from willing employers.”

Policy questions aside, the formula some say is flawed makes the pending Senate bill being touted by Marco Rubio R-Fla., and others problematic, according to sources on Capitol Hill.

“It doesn’t make sense if you’re allowing the Department of Homeland Security to judge themselves,” a GOP Senate staffer told FoxNews.com. “They can game the system, game the statistics, and then end up meeting the requirements.”

Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., announced Tuesday that he would introduce an amendment that would put Congress, not the DHS, in charge of making the determination about whether the border is 90 percent secure.

“My amendment requires Congress to vote every year on border security. If Congress votes that the border is not secure, elements of immigration reform will cease to go forward and visa programs will be slowed," Paul said in a press release.

As of now, the 90 percent goal remains only that, a goal – and the path to citizenship provisions for illegal aliens would be implemented even if the 90 percent target were not met. The only consequence of not meeting the target is the creation of a government committee that would issue a report with recommendations for meeting the target.

Gohmert says he does not want the bills to pass.

“Let's secure the border. And then we can get a deal worked out very, very quickly after that. But not until the border is secure.”

The writer of this piece can be reached at maxim.lott@foxnews.com or on twitter at @maximlott
 

Evangelicals Mislead on Funding of Immigration Ads

The Evangelical Immigration Table, a coalition supporting immigration reform, has launched a six-figure ad campaign pushing Congress to enact immigration legislation. The ads, urging evangelicals to "pray" for a path to citizenship, include the disclaimer that they were "paid for" by the Table. This is odd, because the group doesn't legally exist. It is a highly misleading claim.

Breitbart News confirmed on Monday that the actual purchase of the ads was made by the National Immigration Forum (NIF). The Table told Breitbart News on Friday that it wasn't an incorporated entity or non-profit organization and had selected NIF to "facilitate" its work. A source at a media buying firm in DC told Breitbart News that NIF did not take the traditional commission on the ad purchase, which was described as "very odd." It suggests NIF was making its own purchase of the ads, rather than simply acting as a "facilitator" of the buy.

This likely isn't illegal. Because the ads don't involve an election or candidates, there are no rules on disclosing who paid for an ad. I, for example, could pay for ads supporting tort reform and say the ads were "paid for" by Virginians for Civil Justice, even though I just made up that organization.

Legal isn't necessarily ethical, however.

The National Immigration Forum, which, again made the actual purchase of the ads, has received millions of dollars in grants from George Soros' left-wing Open Society Institute. It has also received considerable funding from the Ford Foundation, another prominent funder of leftist organizations.

Saying an ad is "paid for" by the Evangelical Immigration Table is very different than saying the ads were paid for by an organization with considerable funding from the institutional left. Viewers of the ad might be drawn to different conclusions about the legislation if they knew the actual source of funding.

Rubio raises the possibility of jumping off immigration reform push

In a video to constituents, Sen. Marco Rubio has raised the possibility that he could abandon the immigration reform bill he’s been pushing if political “horse trading” waters down his priorities in the bill.

Though he defended the idea of comprehensive immigration reform, Rubio warned that if the individual components (such as E-Verify and border security) aren’t treated “as separate issues even though they are dealt with in one bill, then I won’t be able to support that anymore.”

Read more: http://conservativebyte.com/2013/06/rubio-raises-the-possibility-of-jumping-off-immigration-reform-push/#ixzz2VCYt1tiy
 

The Mother of All Legislative Train Wrecks:

(Washington, D.C. May 29, 2013) The Gang of Eight immigration bill, S.744, is on its way to the Senate floor for a vote, possibly as early as the week of June 10.

The bill was drafted in secret by eight senators and a group of Washington lobbyists. After its introduction on April 17, it received minimal scrutiny at a handful of hearings stacked with supporters of amnesty for illegal aliens and cheap labor for business interests, followed by a hasty Judiciary Committee mark-up in which virtually no substantive amendments were adopted.

“The product of this rigged and secretive effort to hijack American immigration policy under the guise of reform is a bill that can best be described as the mother of all legislative train wrecks,” declared Dan Stein, president of the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR). “S.744 includes a massive amnesty for millions of illegal aliens, a massive infusion of foreign labor to compete with skilled and low-skilled American workers, trillions of dollars in unfunded liabilities, and unprecedented discretionary authority for the Obama administration to ignore immigration laws. What the Gang of Eight bill does not include are mandates for border enforcement, or meaningful protections for American workers.”

In anticipation of the bill heading to the Senate floor for debate, FAIR has compiled a list of the Top 40 Reasons to Oppose the Senate Amnesty Bill, including:

The bill would not secure our borders or improve immigration enforcement:

  • No border security requirements. The bill merely requires the Secretary of Homeland Security to submit a plan to secure the border.
  • A rollback of existing border fencing requirements.
  • No biometric exit system at all land, air and sea ports of entry to track aliens who enter and leave the U.S., which is already required under current law.

The bill would not enhance homeland security, or prevent legalization of criminals and terrorists:

  • Illegal aliens would be protected from detention or removal merely by filing an application for Registered Provisional Immigrant (RPI) status.
  • Would allow illegal aliens with multiple misdemeanor convictions to gain RPI status.
  • Allows the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to waive a broad array of unlawful behavior for the purpose of determining whether illegal aliens are admissible, including gang membership, drunken driving offenses, domestic violence and others.

The bill would not protect U.S. workers or taxpayers:

  • E-Verify won’t go into effect for all employers until four years after DHS issues regulations implementing the mandatory program, meaning these protections would not be in place for a decade or more after enactment.
  • Doubles the admission of new permanent immigrants to compete with U.S. workers.
  • Increases the number of guest workers by 50 percent during the first decade of enactment, including as many as 200,000 new low-skilled guest workers.
  • Reduces protections for skilled U.S. workers against losing jobs and opportunities to H-1B guest workers.
  • Does not require legalized aliens to pay back taxes.

The bill poses an enormous unfunded liability for U.S. taxpayers:

  • Future costs of government services and benefits to amnesty recipients could run as high as $6.3 trillion.
  • Requires that DHS waive the public charge law when determining which aliens are eligible for amnesty.
  • Would allow people with as little as 125 percent of poverty level income to qualify for green cards after ten years AND sponsor relatives to immigrate legally.
  • Creates a slush fund for advocacy groups to recruit and assist amnesty applicants.
  • Allows illegal aliens, and even broad classes of illegal aliens, to litigate unfavorable amnesty decisions, with taxpayers picking up the legal costs.

The full list of the Top 40 Reasons to Oppose the Gang of Eight Amnesty Bill can be found on FAIR’s website, www.fairus.org.
 

OSU student is a real gem

Gabbriella and OFIR became acquainted when she volunteered to testify against the instate tuition benefit bill for illegal alien students.  Her testomony was outstanding.  Because of that, FAIR became interested in her potential and invited her to attend Hold Their Feet to the Fire with me last month.  She was a delight to have along and was well spoken, gracious and poised even in some fairly stressful situations...like meeting with Senator Rubio's Senior Advisor and Immigration staff.

Gabby is currently participating in an internship program back in DC again.  She wrote this article just published by The Washington Examiner.

OFIR salutes Gabby for her active participation in our country's future!


 

Cartel towns pose challenge for immigration reform

Just across the Rio Grande from Brownsville, Texas, stands a dormitory-style shelter filled with people recently deported from the U.S. and other migrants waiting to cross the border.

The long rows of bunk beds offer immigrants a place to rest on their long journey. But the shelter is no safe haven in a town controlled by the Gulf cartel. Armed men once showed up and took away 15 men, who were probably put to work as gunmen, lookouts or human mules hauling bales of marijuana into the United States.

As Congress takes up immigration reform, lawmakers may have to confront the reality of this place and others like it, where people say the current system of immigration enforcement and deportation produces a constant flow of people north and south that provides the cartel with a vulnerable labor pool and steady source of revenue.

"This vicious circle favors organized crime because the migrant is going to pay" for safe passage, said the Rev. Francisco Gallardo, who oversees immigrant-assistance efforts for the Matamoros Catholic diocese.

If Congress sends more resources to the border, the government will also need to account for shifting patterns in immigrant arrests.

The cartel controls who crosses the border and profits from each immigrant by taxing human smugglers. At the shelter, the cartel threat was so alarming that shelter administrators began encouraging immigrants to go into the streets during the day, thinking they would be harder to round up than at the shelter.

There have been record numbers of deportations in recent years and tens of thousands landed in Tamaulipas already this year, the state that borders Texas from Matamoros to Nuevo Laredo. Arizona is often singled out as the busiest border crossing for immigrants entering the U.S., but more and more migrants are being caught in the southernmost tip of Texas, in the Border Patrol's Rio Grande Valley sector.

Apprehension statistics are imperfect measures because they only capture a fraction of the real flow, but the arrest numbers are definitely shifting.

Arrests in the Tucson, Ariz., sector dropped 3 percent last year, while Rio Grande Valley arrests rose 65 percent. In March alone, the Border Patrol made more than 16,000 immigrant arrests in the Rio Grande Valley sector, a 67 percent increase from the same month last year, according to the agency.

Immigrant deaths are also up. The sector reported last month that about 70 bodies were found in the first six months of the fiscal year, more than twice as many as the previous year.

The makeup of the immigrants apprehended here is changing, too, driven by people flowing out of Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador. The Border Patrol made 94,532 arrests of non-Mexican immigrants along the Southwest border last year, more than double the year before. And nearly half of those came in the Rio Grande Valley sector.

The Border Patrol is responding by redirecting personnel, including sending most new graduates from its academy to the Rio Grande Valley, according to senior Border Patrol officials.

When immigrants from Central America and Mexico arrive in Matamoros ahead of their trip to America, they are met by smugglers who have to pay the cartel tax for every person they take across the border.

Attempts to cross alone are met with violence. Some immigrants are kidnapped and their families extorted by the organization.

Reported murders in Tamaulipas, the state that borders Texas from Matamoros to Nuevo Laredo, increased more than 250 percent in the past four years, according to the Mexican government. Official statistics are generally thought to undercount the real toll. Soldiers recently killed six gunmen in a clash in Matamoros.

And yet, even with the high-degree of danger for immigrants crossing this part of the border, they keep coming.

Central American migrants continue to use the route up the Gulf Coast side of Mexico and through Tamaulipas because it's the shortest to the U.S., said Rodolfo Casillas Ramirez, a professor at Facultad Latinoamericana de Ciencias Sociales in Mexico City. The smugglers choose the route, and even if immigrants have heard about the violence in Tamaulipas, "they trust that the premium they've paid includes the right of passage," he said.

They continue to leave their home countries for economic reasons. Although the U.S. economy has provided fewer jobs for immigrants during the Great Recession and a long, slow recovery, opportunities south of the border have been even more limited, Casillas said.

That's why the Rev. Alejandro Solalinde, a Roman Catholic priest who founded a shelter for immigrants in the southern Mexican state of Oaxaca, said the answer is in regional development, not increased border security.

"This situation has grown because ultimately the migrants are merchandise and organized crime profits in volume," he said during a recent visit to Matamoros.

Rep. Filemon Vela, a member of the House Homeland Security Committee whose district includes Brownsville, said the immigration-reform debate has so far left out discussion of the security and economic development in Mexico.

"The incentive for people to cross over illegally from Mexico will never subside until these individuals feel safe and until they are able to feed themselves and their families," Vela said.

At the 150-bed shelter, more than half of the immigrants have just been deported from the U.S., Gallardo said. The others are immigrants preparing to cross. He said shelter workers constantly chase out infiltrators who are paid by smugglers to recruit inside.

At Solalinde's shelter in southern Mexico, threats from organized crime forced them to bring in four state police officers and four federal ones, who have lived at his shelter for the past year as protection. Solalinde now travels with bodyguards after having fled Mexico for a couple of months last year following threats.

One immigrant at the Matamoros shelter was a 48-year-old man who would only give his name as "Gordo" because he feared for his safety. He said he had arrived two days earlier after traveling from Copan, Honduras. Gordo said he had lived in Los Angeles for 10 years but had been in Honduras for the past four. He was trying to make it back to California, where he has a 15-year-old daughter.

Asked about his prospects for successfully crossing the river, he said: "It's difficult, not so much for the Border Patrol" but for the cartels.
___

Associated Press Writer Elliot Spagat in San Diego contributed to this report.

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