Wednesday, May 24, 2006



***scroll for updates...958am EDT: Senate voting on whether to kill the McConnell amendment to the immig bill, which would require voting identification (hat tip: Nighthaven)...motion to table is not agreed to...1000am EDT: Here we go on cloture vote...clerk will call the roll...1020am cloture motion passes; Allah fills in details...Meese blogger conference call: "There are a lot of bombs in the bill" including an amendment to prevent local police arrests of suspected illegal aliens based on illegal immigration status ...John Hawkins' report...McConnell amendment dead?***

Ed Meese III, attorney general of the United States from 1985 to 1988 and Heritage Foundation fellow, calls out the amnesty-deniers this morning in the NYTimes. As the AG who presided over the Reagan amnesty of 1986, he (unlike most of the pols blubbering that their amnesty is not an amnesty) knows what he's talking about:

In the mid-80's, many members of Congress — pushed by the Democratic majority in the House and the Select Commission on Immigration and Refugee Policy — advocated amnesty for long-settled illegal immigrants. President Reagan considered it reasonable to adjust the status of what was then a relatively small population, and I supported his decision.

In exchange for allowing aliens to stay, he decided, border security and enforcement of immigration laws would be greatly strengthened — in particular, through sanctions against employers who hired illegal immigrants. If jobs were the attraction for illegal immigrants, then cutting off that option was crucial.

Beyond this, most illegal immigrants who could establish that they had resided in America continuously for five years would be granted temporary resident status, which could be upgraded to permanent residency after 18 months and, after another five years, to citizenship.

Note that this path to citizenship was not automatic. Indeed, the legislation stipulated several conditions: immigrants had to pay application fees, learn to speak English, understand American civics, pass a medical exam and register for military selective service. Those with convictions for a felony or three misdemeanors were ineligible. Sound familiar? These are pretty much the same provisions included in the new Senate proposal and cited by its supporters as proof that they have eschewed amnesty in favor of earned citizenship.

The difference is that President Reagan called this what it was: amnesty. Indeed, look up the term "amnesty" in Black's Law Dictionary, and you'll find it says, "the 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act provided amnesty for undocumented aliens already in the country."

Like the amnesty bill of 1986, the current Senate proposal would place those who have resided illegally in the United States on a path to citizenship, provided they meet a similar set of conditions and pay a fine and back taxes. The illegal immigrant does not go to the back of the line but gets immediate legalized status, while law-abiding applicants wait in their home countries for years to even get here. And that's the line that counts. In the end, slight differences in process do not change the overriding fact that the 1986 law and today's bill are both amnesties.

As rank-and-file immigration enforcement officials have reported over the years, the 1986 amnesty resulted in massive document fraud, increased illegal immigration, and abysmal non-enforcement of employer sanctions. Meese adds:

After a six-month slowdown that followed passage of the legislation, illegal immigration returned to normal levels and continued unabated. Ultimately, some 2.7 million people were granted amnesty, and many who were not stayed anyway, forming the nucleus of today's unauthorized population.

So here we are, 20 years later, having much the same debate and being offered much the same deal in exchange for promises largely dependent on the will of future Congresses and presidents.

Will history repeat itself? I hope not. In the post-9/11 world, secure borders are vital. We have new tools — like biometric technology for identification, and cameras, sensors and satellites to monitor the border — that make enforcement and verification less onerous. And we can learn from the failed policies of the past.

President Bush and Congress would do better to start with securing the border and strengthening enforcement of existing immigration laws.

Messe also recommends trying to "[improve] on Ronald Reagan's idea of a pilot program for genuinely temporary workers." But not, I would clarify, before enforcing existing laws and ensuring that all the existing temporary worker programs are, in fact, temporary.

Meese is scheduled to hold a blogger conference call this morning at 10:30am. I'll report back later.

1050am EDT: Meese and Heritage Foundation's Matthew Spaulding review 1986 amnesty...Meese advocates increased interior enforcemend, strengthened employer sanctions...possible private sector outsourcing for a bona fide temporary worker program after immigration enforcement takes place...more local-state-fed police cooperation...amnesty vs. mass deportation is a false choice...


David Orland is tracking all the latest developments in the Senate over at The Immigration Blog. The Senate is scheduled to hold a cloture vote today. David writes:

Simply killing the cloture motion would be a victory in itself. A defeat for Frist would mean more debate, and that's just what's needed.

Here's what I've told my representatives: no Senator who votes for cloture will have my vote in future elections and, should the bill pass, only candidates who advocate its repeal will receive my support.

Contact Senators here. A Certain Slant of Light has a list of 41 senators key to defeating the motion for cloture. Act now or forever hold your peace.

Tom Bevan looks at the Senate provision allowing illegals to pay back taxes before getting their pardon and asks: "Are We Going to Treat Illegals Better Than U.S. Citizens?"

Sen. John Cornyn has more:

Supporters of the ‘compromise’ immigration bill claim that it does not provide amnesty for those here illegally, in part, because illegal immigrants would have to pay "all back taxes."

But DID YOU KNOW that:

1. An illegal immigrant would not have to pay any back taxes until after the first eight years of amnesty? They could stay in the country for eight years without paying any back taxes at all. No back taxes would be required until "adjudication of an application for adjustment of status." In other words, they don’t pay any taxes until their application for a green card is approved—and even then there would be no penalties or interest charged.
2. Illegal immigrants would not have to pay "all back taxes" as the bill’s supporters claim? Rather, they would only be required to pay taxes owed for three years of past work.
3. Illegal immigrants under the age of 20 would not be subject to any back taxes? Illegal immigrants under the age of 20 are exempted from the bill’s employment requirements and therefore not subject to payment of any tax liability.

[Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2006 (S. 2611), Pg. 351: "Not later than the date on which status is adjusted under this subsection, the alien shall establish the payment of all Federal and State income taxes owed for employment during the period of employment required under subparagraph (D)(i).."]

[Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2006 (S. 2611), Pg. 347: "The alien shall have been employed in the United States, in the aggregate, for…at least 3 years during the 5-year period ending on April 5, 2006"]

[Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2006 (S. 2611), Pg. 347: "The employment requirement in clause (i)(I) shall not apply to an individual who is under 20 years of age on the date of enactment…"]



Read my lips: No new amnesty
Amnesty for all
The definition of amnesty
A White House betrayal
It's the fraud, stupid
Fraud, fraud, everywhere

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