A Flawed Immigration Reform Bill

Jerry Coffee
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Wednesday - July 11, 2007
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I’m not sure most Americans have any idea how deadly a bullet we dodged last month when the Senate’s “Immigration Reform” bill was defeated (hardly overwhelmingly) by failing the cloture vote which, if approved, would have brought the bill to the Senate floor for a vote.

The debate brought out the worst of at least half the diminishingly “august” body, as common sense went down the tubes in the rush to accomplish something - anything - of substance on a bipartisan basis. Desperation prevailed.

The bureaucratic nightmare that emerged as the proposed legislation took on an impossibly comprehensive form was terrifying. How could our “leaders” expect us to support a bill that addressed the issuance to illegals of a new “Z” visa to stay in the country while their background is being checked (de facto amnesty), they pay a minimum $5,000 fine plus taxes owed (enforce that!), causes alien heads of households to return to their own countries and re-enter (keep track of that!), simultaneously establishes a workable guest worker program for the future (how long has that been a priority?), requires new procedures and penalties for employers hiring illegals (ditto), and beefs up border security - the centerpiece of which is a 700-plus-mile wall reminiscent of China’s xenophobic Great Wall, and, finally, the administration of billions and billions of dollars in new entitlements including Social Security and Medicare and Medicaid, when we can’t even enforce the immigration laws currently in effect!

But as the rhetorical dust begins to clear, even more chilling details emerge. Take for example, as the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) points out, the bill afforded the Z amnesty even to “alien terrorists and criminals.” And then, by a 46-51 vote, the Senate rejected an amendment proposed by Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) that would have barred “illegal aliens who have been determined to have committed terrorist acts, or who have been convicted of a variety of criminal offenses, including gang activity” from eligibility for the proposed Z visa amnesty which would, in effect, allow them to remain in America - essentially unmonitored - indefinitely. More than half of the Senate rejected that amendment. Incredible!

This irrational propensity to reward illegal aliens by allowing them to simply become legal is nothing new. In last year’s Senate consideration of the same comprehensive reform, proposed legislation would have allowed illegal aliens to collect Social Security benefits based upon money paid in. But Sen. John Ensign’s (R-Nev) proposed amendment would have ensured that illegal aliens who receive “an adjustment of status” (a P.C. phrase for “become legal” much like the other one, “undocumented worker” for illegal alien) and who have paid into the Social Security system using fraudulently obtained documents, i.e., phony or stolen Social Security numbers - would not be eligible to obtain benefits from those payments. Future benefits based upon payments made under the alien’s new “legal” status and with legal documents could be collected. Incredibly, rather than embracing Ensign’s amendment, the Senate voted 50-49 in favor of a “motion to table” the amendment, effectively cutting off further debate and killing the matter. But presumably, close to half the Senate had no problem with illegal aliens collecting Social Security benefits based upon fraud.

As a high school debater, I learned many cliches that, aside from making a point, were good space fillers while I thought about what I would say next. One such phrase was, “All progress is change, but not all change is progress.”

Do we need change?

Yes! But clearly, the proposed changes to our immigration system just mercifully defeated were not progress. They were

a giant step backward. And rather than just criticize, I’ll offer different solutions in a future column.

But the worst result - had the legislation passed - would have been to lull too many Americans into complacency by thinking the problem had been solved. God knows we have enough complacency already.

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