Immigration: Amnesty plan a bad idea

By Peter Nunez on February 19, 2013

San Diego Union-Tribune, February 17, 2013

When President George W. Bush tried to ram through the McCain-Kennedy “comprehensive” immigration reform proposal, the American people rose in opposition and brought the bill to a screeching halt. Why? Because ordinary Americans understood then what a sham “comprehensive” immigration reform was, just as they understand now that the current proposals put forward by President Obama and the “Gang of Eight” senators are virtually the same as Bush/McCain/Kennedy.

“Comprehensive” immigration reform, as envisioned in the two similar plans, consists essentially of two components: an amnesty for up to 11 million illegal aliens, and enhanced guest worker provisions that would allow employers to import cheaper workers from outside the U.S., regardless of the impact on the domestic work force. The only thing new in the Obama/Gang of Eight proposals is that the “path to citizenship” will not go into effect until after the border is secure, which raises several problems.

First, how do we determine when the border is “secure,” and who makes that decision? The short answer: Politicians will decide, without any objective way to measure border security.

But of greatest concern is the so-called “trigger,” that we are told will delay the “path to citizenship” until the border is secure. This is an illusion meant to fool the public into believing that amnesty will only take place after the border is secure. Nothing could be further from the truth. Because on Day One, every one of the 11 million illegal aliens will be eligible for a temporary document allowing them to stay and work in the U.S., their two most important goals.

Despite the “trigger,” all 11 million receive what they want at the beginning of the process, not the end, and there will be no way to take that away from them. Does anyone seriously believe that after they have been living here for years that the government would say, “Sorry, but we cannot secure the border, you will all have to leave now”? That the president and eight senators would propose such a transparently fraudulent idea brings discredit to all of them.

Amnesty, or a “path to citizenship” as its proponents call it, is bad for a number of reasons. First, it rewards illegal conduct, never a good idea, because it erodes the concept of the rule of law. But even worse, it encourages future illegal immigration, by demonstrating to the 4 billion people living in poverty around the world that the U.S. is not serious about enforcing its laws, and that it is worth the effort to immigrate illegally so they will benefit from the next amnesty. We gave amnesty to 2.7 million illegal aliens after the 1986 “reform,” but there have been smaller, less publicized “amnesties” handed out to particular groups since then, and the president wants amnesty for another 11 million. What message are we sending to those who would love nothing better than to live and work in this bountiful country? “Come on down,” as the announcer used to say on “The Price is Right.”

But there is a third evil in an amnesty, and that is the effect it has on future legal immigration. Under current law, every one of those 11 million will be able to sponsor family members to immigrate legally. Based upon the 1986 amnesty, on average five legal immigrants were added to the population for each person who received amnesty. So the 11 million could add another 55 million legal immigrants in the next two decades. Is population growth at that level good for the national interest?

The Obama/Gang of Eight proposals promise some sort of workplace enforcement to make sure that illegal aliens are not able to find work. Why should we believe them? The 1986 law promised workplace enforcement but failed miserably. Since then, proposals to improve workplace enforcement, such as E-Verify, a simple system that allows employers to verify employee eligibility, have been opposed by all the same groups that today support amnesty.

To make matters worse, the Obama administration has prohibited any meaningful workplace enforcement. This administration will not allow ICE to arrest and deport illegal workers. The number of employers who have faced criminal sanctions can be counted on one hand. So why should anyone believe promises made by an administration that has gone out of its way to ignore its duty to enforce current law? No immigration reform will work unless we close the workplace. Making E-Verify mandatory for all employers and all current workers would do that, which the president could have done with the stroke of a pen on the first day he took office.