Ants Goes to Washington
Normally, when government talks about "reform," they mean that they're about to set in place new inept laws and regulations to replace the inept laws and regulations currently in place. Looks like immigration reform is about to happen...again.
I do agree with Marco Rubio on this; doing nothing is de facto amnesty, and I am too much of a realist to believe that we would ever successfully round up and deport millions of illegal aliens.
But being a realist also tells me that this new reform being proposed amounts to a "path to citizenship" for millions of new Democratic voters. That was certainly the result of Reagan's amnesty.
A bipartisan group of leading senators has reached agreement on the principles of sweeping legislation to rewrite the nation's immigration laws.
The deal, which was to be announced at a news conference Monday afternoon, covers border security, guest workers and employer verification, as well as a path to citizenship for the 11 million illegal immigrants already in this country.
Although thorny details remain to be negotiated and success is far from certain, the development heralds the start of what could be the most significant effort in years toward overhauling the nation's inefficient patchwork of immigration laws.
President Barack Obama also is committed to enacting comprehensive immigration legislation and will travel to Nevada on Tuesday to lay out his vision, which is expected to overlap in important ways with the Senate effort.
The eight senators expected to endorse the new principles Monday are Democrats Charles Schumer of New York, Dick Durbin of Illinois, Robert Menendez of New Jersey and Michael Bennet of Colorado; and Republicans John McCain of Arizona, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Marco Rubio of Florida and Jeff Flake of Arizona.
Several of these lawmakers have worked for years on the issue. McCain collaborated with the late Democratic Sen. Edward M. Kennedy on comprehensive immigration legislation pushed by then-President George W. Bush in 2007, only to see it collapse in the Senate when it couldn't get enough GOP support.
Now, with some Republicans chastened by the November elections which demonstrated the importance of Latino voters and their increasing commitment to Democrats, some in the GOP say this time will be different.
This new proposal also seeks to appease conservatives by giving in to their demands...sorr of.
According to documents obtained by The Associated Press, the senators will call for accomplishing four goals:
- Creating a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants already here, contingent upon securing the border and better tracking of people here on visas.
- Reforming the legal immigration system, including awarding green cards to immigrants who obtain advanced degrees in science, math, technology or engineering from an American university.
- Creating an effective employment verification system to ensure that employers do not hire illegal immigrants.
- Allowing more low-skill workers into the country and allowing employers to hire immigrants if they can demonstrate they couldn't recruit a U.S. citizen; and establishing an agricultural worker program.
The principles being released Monday are outlined on just over four pages, leaving plenty of details left to fill in. What the senators do call for is similar to Obama's goals and some past efforts by Democrats and Republicans, since there's wide agreement in identifying problems with the current immigration system. The most difficult disagreement is likely to arise over how to accomplish the path to citizenship.
In order to satisfy the concerns of Rubio and other Republicans, the senators are calling for the completion of steps on border security and oversight of those here on visas before taking major steps forward on the path to citizenship.
Even then, those here illegally would have to qualify for a "probationary legal status" that would allow them to live and work here — but not qualify for federal benefits — before being able to apply for permanent residency. Once they are allowed to apply they would do so behind everyone else already in line for a green card within the current immigration system.
The legislation does nothing to relive the financial burden created by millions of illegal aliens using hospitals as free primary care physicians. That cost is still absorbed by the consumers in the way of price increases in hospital care and overcrowded emergency rooms.
Ten years ago I wrote an OpEd addressing this issue detailing what I thought was a common-sense approach to this issue, and it looks like a good portion of my OpEd ia about to become the law of the land.