Senate immigration reform tries to be everything to everybody

The package of immigration reforms unveiled today by four GOP senators and four Democratic ones has been pitched as “comprehensive.” And it certainly is comprehensive — so all-encompassing, in fact, it seems to include everything both side wants, even the things that would seem to be mutually exclusive.

For example, the package’s first “pillar” stipulates that a revised “path to citizenship for unauthorized immigrants already here” is “contingent upon securing the border and combating visa overstays.” For the left, the the key bit is the “path to citizenship.” For the right, it’s “securing the border.” (I’m speaking in broad terms for both groups, obviously.) Those two goals aren’t necessarily in conflict; it depends on how you try to accomplish them.

That’s where the contradictory details come into play. The Republican senators point to the package’s “commission comprised of governors, attorneys general and community leaders living along the Southwest border” and suggest this group will not only “monitor the progress of securing our border” but decide when that progress is sufficient. The Democratic senators, meanwhile, emphasize this commission will merely “make a recommendation” to that end.

Whatever one thinks of the state of border security and its relation to acting on current illegal immigrants’ status in this country, this commission cannot at once be the “deciders” and only the advisers. They either decide or they don’t; if they don’t, someone else –so far unidentified — do the deciding. The GOP characterization and the Democratic one on this particular point cannot both be true. It matters which one is correct.

Because the right has tended to focus on a security-first approach, this point is of a crucial nature. Many conservatives worry the “border security” element will turn out to be a hollow, ineffective one. So it is of great interest to them when those who advocate looser immigration standards suggest this commission will not be all the Republican senators are making it out to be. Suggestions such as this one in a blog post by liberal blogger Greg Sargent at the Washington Post:

Frank Sharry, the executive director of America’s Voice, a group advocating for immigration reform … tells me that on a conference call yesterday, Democratic Senators reassured immigration advocates that this commission won’t be constructed in a way that will hold up the process for too long.

As Sharry put it, Democrats realize that they can’t “allow the commission to have a real veto” over setting in motion the path to citizenship. He noted that Dems see the commission as “something that gives the Republicans a talking point” to claim they are prioritizing tough enforcement, giving themselves cover to back a process that “won’t stop people from getting citizenship.” However, Sharry added: “The details of this are going to matter hugely, and we’ll have to fight like hell on the individual provisions.”

That said, Sharry concluded: “This is a left of center framework.”

I appreciate Sharry’s (and Sargent’s) frankness about exactly how much of a fig leaf for amnesty they believe this commission to be, but they’re certainly doing no favors to the prospects this reform framework will be accepted on both sides. If they’re right that it’s just “a talking point” to give one side cover for yielding to the other, it shouldn’t be accepted.

There are some points that ought to be applauded by everyone regardless of political ideology — the automatic green card for immigrants who “received a Ph.D. or master’s degree in science, technology, engineering or math from an American university” is one. But there is enough vagueness, and enough uncertainty with President Obama’s and the House Republicans’ respective immigration proposals still to come, that the Senate package cannot be fully judged yet.

– By Kyle Wingfield

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107 comments Add your comment

Hillbilly D

January 28th, 2013
4:57 pm

Sounds like the 1980’s amnesty 2.0 to me. They’ll do the path to citizenship and the rest will get forgotten and/or shunted aside. If the economy ever recovers (which is still several years away, in my opinion), then the “gates” will open again. The Dems will pick up some new voters and the Republicans will still have their source of cheap labor.

In my view, seal the borders first, especially visa overstays which is where a large part of the problem really is, and then we’ll talk about the rest. I have no faith in them to keep their word based on past experience.

td

January 28th, 2013
5:25 pm

As a conservative I want to see a couple other items added.

1: On the date the border is considered secure then any illegal has X time frame to come forward and declare if they are going for citizenship or they must leave the country.

2: After the date the border is secure then anyone crossing the border without proper documentation will be committing a Felony and after they serve their jail time then they are deported and can never come to here again.

3: No one staying and not going back to their country of origin first will never be allowed to bring their families here.

4: States will be allowed to assist the Federal government in immigration enforcement. 387g program for all states and the Feds are REQUIRED to pick up any illegal with 72 hours.

The devil will be in the details.

blackbird13

January 28th, 2013
5:26 pm

Cynical as it may be, George Will was right when he recently said on one of the Sunday shows that the Republicans have no choice but to “get to the left of Obama” on this issue or they will take all the blame for doing less than the Democrats propose. For those thinking something else can happen they are ignoring reality.

blackbird13

January 28th, 2013
5:28 pm

“No one staying and not going back to their country of origin first will never be allowed to bring their families here.”

That has no chance of being accepted.

Politico

January 28th, 2013
5:28 pm

Hillbilly

Not sure if I would put it in the same context with Republicans and Democrats. There is some of that, but with Bush’s attempt at amnesty and many Democrats playing the business game, it is numerous reasons for each side in my opinion. Some overlap and of course others do not.

However I do agree on your overall analysis that what they are touting will not get done.

Hillbilly D

January 28th, 2013
5:33 pm

Politico

That’s a fair point.

td

January 28th, 2013
5:36 pm

blackbird13

January 28th, 2013
5:28 pm

“No one staying and not going back to their country of origin first will never be allowed to bring their families here.”

That has no chance of being accepted.

And those are the hidden number that will make 12 million amnesty turn into 30 million coming over. If this is not in a bill then I will be telling my Rep and Senator’s not to vote for the bill.

Aesop's Fables and other Lib Economic Theories

January 28th, 2013
6:02 pm

I see that the ajc’s internet connection has resumed warped speed.

Aesop's Fables and other Lib Economic Theories

January 28th, 2013
6:05 pm

Looks like something else for the dummycrats to dress up with pork.

Aesop's Fables and other Lib Economic Theories

January 28th, 2013
6:17 pm

Anyone who believes this issue is about “compassion” or “fairness” is a blooming idiot. Your average liberal couldn’t less about any immigrants of any color, they could run one over one of them with their car, would drive around with him stuck to the grill, then park in the garage and go to sleep without ever checking to see if he was OK.

This is solely on behalf of our politicians and their survival in office. They are pandering for votes at the expense of our jobs, scarce health care resources, overcrowded schools, security, et al.

It’s another in a long line of condemnations against our current political culture.

MarkV

January 28th, 2013
6:24 pm

Since the senators’ plan is not a bill to be immediately voted on, but a proposed framework of one that would be debated, the fact that it “seems to include everything both side wants, even the things that would seem to be mutually exclusive” is hardly surprising.

Bruno

January 28th, 2013
6:30 pm

And those are the hidden number that will make 12 million amnesty turn into 30 million coming over. If this is not in a bill then I will be telling my Rep and Senator’s not to vote for the bill.

td–I was just over in Norcross today, and it was shocking to see how far the Jimmy Carter Blvd area has fallen from its heyday. Long-standing businesses that were there for more than 30 years are now gone, with numerous vacancies and low end tiendas taking their place. You almost feel like you’re in a different country at times. Ditto for the Buford Hwy area.

I’m just as compassionate as the next guy in terms of wanting to give folks who come from desperate circumstances a chance in life, but it has come at a substantial cost to us. Though most Libs disagree, I have to believe that the net financial impact of illegal immigrants is well into the negative for the rest of us by the time you add up health care, schooling, WIC assistance, etc. etc. In addition, most immigrants send money back “home” to their relatives in other countries, thus depriving their own USA neighbors of the opportunity to keep those dollars circulating.

The bottom line is that we created immigration laws for a good reason.

jconservative

January 28th, 2013
6:31 pm

If anyone thinks that any plan conceived by a human government will keep any alien from becoming a permanent resident of the USA is delusional. Non-residents have become members of the prevailing society since the Neanderthals were absorbed into “human” society.

Bruno

January 28th, 2013
6:39 pm

Just for kicks, I rode by the WIC facility in Lilburn near my old house today to check the parking lot. As expected, numerous high-end SUVs, not a bad looking car anywhere to be seen. That used to be a sticking point with me several years ago as I used to ride by there every day in my 15 year old Toyota.

The Libs on here like to dismiss any and all anecdotal evidence such as this which questions the truthfulness of all of these aid recipients. As well as any corresponding stories about folks who worked their way out of poverty with no assistance at all. Yet, when such circumstances are consistent everywhere I go, it’s hard to reach any other conclusion that success/failure in life is primarily due to an individual’s character/effort.

Michael H. Smith

January 28th, 2013
6:42 pm

You got to be kidding me Kyle? My post wasn’t allowed?

Michael H. Smith

January 28th, 2013
6:45 pm

If I ever wrote anything more tame than what was put into moderation and then refused a post in my entire life I wish I could remember it. Knock me over with a feather.

Bruno

January 28th, 2013
6:46 pm

If anyone thinks that any plan conceived by a human government will keep any alien from becoming a permanent resident of the USA is delusional. Non-residents have become members of the prevailing society since the Neanderthals were absorbed into “human” society.

From what I understand, “liberal” European countries are some of the hardest places to ever achieve citizenship. I’m guessing that we’re one of the softies around the globe in terms of immigration, both legal and illegal.

Aquagirl

January 28th, 2013
6:47 pm

The Libs on here like to dismiss any and all anecdotal evidence

When it’s from somebody who goes cruising the WIC facility parking lot “for kicks,” yes. If you’re convinced there are cheaters everywhere it’s a pretty good bet that’s what you’ll see.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Confirmation_bias

Living With Open Eyes

January 28th, 2013
6:47 pm

Does anybody know any U.S. citizen of non Hispanic origin who is for amnesty for illegal immigrants? I live in a blue collar neighborhood and I don’t know any body but Hispanics who support this, and haven’t for the past 20 years.

Bruno

January 28th, 2013
6:48 pm

MHS–Sometimes an innocuous-looking word can contain a combination of letters that triggers the censor. E.g. s-p-i-c-y is a no-go here.

Michael H. Smith

January 28th, 2013
6:51 pm

Japan and New Zealand are probably more difficult than European countries Bruno.

The question is not can we keep them out, that we can do, but rather it is why should we refuse them?

A reasonable immigration policy must have reason to accept or deny.

Bruno

January 28th, 2013
6:52 pm

Bruno

January 28th, 2013
6:55 pm

The question is not can we keep them out, that we can do, but rather it is why should we refuse them?

A reasonable immigration policy must have reason to accept or deny.

No argument here. See my 6:30.

Bruno

January 28th, 2013
6:57 pm

In case my buddy JamVet takes a peek in tonight:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h20FDGwzxmw

Hillbilly D

January 28th, 2013
7:01 pm

I’m guessing that we’re one of the softies around the globe in terms of immigration, both legal and illegal.

We are one of the few that still have “birthright citizenship”.

http://abcnews.go.com/US/chinese-women-pay-give-birth-california-maternity-mansion/story?id=17862251

MHS

There’s no figuring out what gets a post moderated. Sweet and water, without the and, will get you moderated, every time, unless things have changed.

Michael H. Smith

January 28th, 2013
7:01 pm

Put simply Bruno, this framework has possibilities but the “A” word is a non-starter while the C word as in earned clemency should put one back into legal status and the naturalization process that all other immigrants have used.

Oh and the phrase that may have tripped the liberal senors appears in the 1986 immigration act. I don’t do politically correctness and Kyle and I have a great difference of opinion on the use of labels and names.

When the shoe fits wear it but don’t blame me because it fits too tightly on a sore foot. That too tells you a lot about the person complaining, Kyle. Contents count and they deserve name and label .

Aquagirl

January 28th, 2013
7:01 pm

Oh Bruno, you could do better than that! Pull yerself up by the bootstraps and do a decent youtube search, man!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YppglvBVrdQ

They’s everwheur!

Michael H. Smith

January 28th, 2013
7:07 pm

Goodnight to all.

indigo

January 28th, 2013
7:12 pm

Harry Truman said once that, when you try to please everyone, you wind up pleasing no one.

Bruno

January 28th, 2013
7:17 pm

Sweet and water

HD–If you spell it out, you can see the problem area: ;-)

s-w-e-e-T-W-A-T-e-r

R U Kidding Me?

January 28th, 2013
7:23 pm

Did you hear that loud bang? That was Barry Loudermilk’s head exploding. His nazi-like plan to create the perfect white race of super right wing robots, just took a hit. John McCain, one of his idols, is actually suggesting a bipartisan solution to immigration reform. Heretofore, Loudermilk’s only solution was to offer a tax credit to any right wing nut job for every Hispanic they ran over in their pick-up truck.

Attention Republican Party. You just got crushed by a man who has no business being President. The reason is because the voters are no longer buying what the GOP is selling. Bobby Jindal was right. It’s time for the GOP to stop being the party of stupid. Hating Hispanics, and loving assault weapons just ain’t selling anymore.

Hillbilly D

January 28th, 2013
7:27 pm

Time to invoke Godwin’s Law.

Rafe Hollister preparing for an Obamanist America

January 28th, 2013
7:28 pm

The first two posts from Hillbilly and td are spot on, seems just a repeat of the 1980’s immigration fiasco.

What we really need to be doing is encouraging a better class of immigrant. We need all types, but I think we are over stocked on poorly educated, poorly skilled, hard working, but economy dragging types. Time to close that Southern border as tight as possible and open some legal immigration to those in other parts of the world, who are highly skilled, well educated, and long suffering. We need some help supporting all those that have illegally entered.

Two truisms from above, there is little support for this tide of illegal immigration among US citizens of any economic group, outside the Hispanic community, and politicians do not care one wit about these people, only how they will vote and how cheap they will work.

Old timer

January 28th, 2013
7:30 pm

Sounds pretty good to me…we must do something. As a teacher, I have taught many bright, hard-working students who will be an asset to this country. My ancestors came from Wales and I am a conservative…but I do understand we must do something.

Hillbilly D

January 28th, 2013
7:34 pm

The two people I know personally who are most opposed to “immigration reform” are both legal immigrants. They view those who came here illegally as line jumpers.

Aquagirl

January 28th, 2013
7:39 pm

Time to invoke Godwin’s Law.

How fascist of you.

Bruno

January 28th, 2013
7:42 pm

The reason is because the voters are no longer buying what the GOP is selling. Bobby Jindal was right. It’s time for the GOP to stop being the party of stupid. Hating Hispanics, and loving assault weapons just ain’t selling anymore.

R U– Let’s say for theory’s sake that the Left is on the “correct” side of these issues, thus deserving public approval. What about the rest of the issues affecting us, particularly reigning in the out-of-control spending?? I don’t remember Romney spending hardly any time at all talking about gun control, and his immigration suggestions weren’t hateful that I recall. He did lay out a framework of economic ideas, if only in rough draft form. Obama offered nothing other than more of the same.

My personal opinion is that Romney lost in no small part because he doesn’t connect naturally with people, he always seems a little forced. Put a Chris Christie in the same race, and I think the result may have been different. It may not be as much about content as you presume, but more about presentation.

Del

January 28th, 2013
7:44 pm

My wife is Asian and we’ve been married for 13 years. She came here on a H1B visa as an I.T. professional. We have one child together and my wife has filed to bring her sister to America. Her sister is a college graduate and speaks English. Her sister is back in her home country waiting for the legal process to work. It’s been over six years. Something for everyone in this proposed bill??? I’ve heard nothing about how this will expedite the applications of those who’ve chosen to go through the immigration process legally and have been waiting for years.

td

January 28th, 2013
7:51 pm

Del

January 28th, 2013
7:44 pm

My wife is Asian as well. From what I heard on the Erick Erickson show. This proposal will be the same as two years ago and will allow the families of the illegals to come first before the families of the legal immigrants. Not sure if this is true or not but it is something to keep your eye on.

Hillbilly D

January 28th, 2013
7:52 pm

How fascist of you.

I’ll just assume that was meant as a compliment. ;-)

R U Kidding Me?

January 28th, 2013
7:52 pm

Bruno:

Probably a correct assessment of Romney. However, not much denying that he GOP brand is being severely damaged by the Hispanic hating, gun loving super right wing Tea Party types. Public opinion, even among conservatives, is on the opposite side of these issues from the Loudermilk’s of the world.

Aquagirl

January 28th, 2013
7:53 pm

I’ve heard nothing about how this will expedite the applications

The entire proposal is noticeably thin on the “hows,” but it does acknowledge we need to clear the backlog of legal immigration cases.

Stephenson Billings

January 28th, 2013
8:00 pm

All the “tea-party types” I know aren’t Hispanic hating. Stay away from the kool-aid…. ijs…

Thomas Heyward Jr

January 28th, 2013
8:03 pm

When too many USA native born Americans wise-up to Washington’s ponzi scheme/tax-farming policies(have half of your income seized) or when too many USA native born Americans are milked dry and/or imprisoned , then Washington always lets more gullible, easily manipulated people in.
.
They simply must keep the scheme going and they will as long as we let them.
.
It really is……………that simple.

Stephenson Billings

January 28th, 2013
8:03 pm

Wow, that was quick.

Sandy relief bill eats up taxes on the rich

“Congress is poised to clear the final $50 billion chunk of emergency aid for Superstorm Sandy relief Monday — and in one vote, it will have used up all the new tax money President Obama won by raising rates on the wealthy in the “fiscal cliff” deal.

The spending bill for storm recovery costs $50 billion and, coupled with an additional $9.7 billion in flood insurance money Congress passed this month, brings the total tab for Sandy to $60 billion.”

http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2013/jan/28/sandy-relief-bill-eats-up-taxes-on-the-rich/

Del

January 28th, 2013
8:09 pm

td,

It would be a travesty to have illegal’s get preferred treatment over those who’ve been going through the process legally, which by the way is lengthy, cumbersome and expensive. I’m going to start writing letters.

Bruno

January 28th, 2013
8:11 pm

Public opinion, even among conservatives, is on the opposite side of these issues from the Loudermilk’s of the world.

I’m not super-familiar with Loudermilk, but I do recall a handful of other Republicans making some over-the-line remarks in the months leading up to the election regarding rape and abortion, etc. Again, that certainly that can’t help in the PR department, but I don’t think it invalidates the entire conservative message as some Libs seem to wish for. All we cons can do now is wait for the next generation of politicians to come up to put some of these out-of-touch PR disasters out to pasture.

Don't Tread

January 28th, 2013
8:14 pm

Many conservatives worry the “border security” element will turn out to be a hollow, ineffective one.

Border security is “enforcement”. 0bama has already demonstrated repeatedly that if he doesn’t like something, he just won’t enforce it. Hollow and ineffective indeed. But he’s really gung-ho about outlawing individual rights (supposedly protected by the Constitution) and enforcing that.

@@

January 28th, 2013
8:20 pm

Canada’s got it right with their “provincial-nominee program”….similar to what Gingrich proposed. Of course, Obama would have to relinquish control to the states….something he’s unlikely to do.

Canada Shows How U.S. States Can Fix Immigration

Removes the political gamesmanship.

Tailor-made immigration reform.

Hillbilly D

January 28th, 2013
8:22 pm

My personal opinion is that Romney lost in no small part because he doesn’t connect naturally with people, he always seems a little forced.

Sort of goes back to my old theory, using examples from my lifetime, a popular President (Kennedy, Reagan, to an extent Clinton) can get away with most anything, an unpopular guy, (Carter, Nixon) can’t get away with much. There really is a double standard but that double standard exists in lots of things besides politics. (We won’t even get into how looks affects things).