Myth-busting the White House on Immigration

COMMENTARY Immigration

Myth-busting the White House on Immigration

May 21st, 2007 4 min read
Robert B. Bluey

Senior Vice President, Communications

Rob Bluey is senior vice president for communications at The Heritage Foundation and editor in chief of The Daily Signal.

A White House " Myth/Fact" explanation of the new immigration bill perpetuated more myths than it punctured. Here are 10 myths the White House wants us to believe.

1. MYTH: This is not amnesty.

FACT: The bill takes an approach similar to that of the 1986 immigration law. President Reagan backed that law... and called it amnesty. So does Black's Law Dictionary, which says, 'the 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act provided amnesty for undocumented aliens already in the country.'"

The Administration says it" not amnesty because illegal immigrants will be "punished," i.e., they'll have to pay a $1,000 fine. That" not enough to cover the government" processing costs. In return, people who have entered the country illegally would get to (1) stay here permanently, (2) gain immediate entitlement to government assistance and benefits and (3) bring their families over as well. This is beyond amnesty. It doesn't just forgive criminal behavior, it rewards it.

2. MYTH: This proposal does not repeat the mistakes of the 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act.

FACT: This proposal exacerbates those mistakes. The 1986 law approved amnesty for 3 million immigrants in exchange for "greatly strengthened" border security and law enforcement. This bill would provide amnesty three to four times as many illegals, while offering the same empty promises to beef up enforcement.

The 1986 law gave temporary resident status to most illegals who could show they'd lived here continuously for five years. The new proposal would do this for anyone who" lived here for the last five months. The only "proof" required: an affidavit signed by anyone other than a blood relative of the applicant, and a second, equally non-secure document.

3. MYTH: The government will crack down on the hiring of illegal workers.

FACT: You can't "crack down" on something that doesn't exist. And all but a handful of illegal workers will become magically legal within 24 hours of applying for the new Z-visa. Even when an illegal is found to be ineligible for a Z-visa, the proposal states "nothing in this paragraph shall require the Secretary to commence removal proceedings against an alien." There" also a huge loophole that waves current deportation requirements due to "humanitarian circumstances."

4. MYTH: This proposal would not cut in half the amount of fence built by the Secure Fence Act of 2006.

FACT: The Secure Fence Act authorized 700 miles of new fencing along the U.S.-Mexico border. The proposal would implement the new temporary worker and Z visa programs once the feds have installed at least 370 miles of fencing. So the White House is correct. It wouldn't cut fencing by "half," only by 47 percent.

5. MYTH: The trigger period will not cause a rush to the border.

FACT: Limiting amnesty "only" to those who entered the country illegally prior to Jan. 1, does nothing to stem the rush to the border. Since illegals can get a Z visa on the basis of only two easily-manufactured documents, fraudulent documentation will keep the stream of illegal immigrants flowing. All the trigger period does is create an incentive for today" illegals to claim they've been illegal since Jan. 1.

6. MYTH: By providing an opportunity for citizenship to illegal immigrants already here, the bill will not exponentially increase extended-family chain migration.

FACT: In granting immediate amnesty to so many millions, the bill will dramatically accelerate family chain migration over the next six years. At that point, the proposal purports to replace family chain migration with skill-based immigration preferences. That change may or may not occur. Meanwhile, the bill establishes a brand-new opening for chain migration: "family members in hardship cases."

7. MYTH: The temporary worker program is good for American workers.

FACT: By creating both the Z visa program and the Y visa program (for future temporary workers), the proposal sets the stage for millions of new workers to enter the labor market, potentially depressing wages.

Meanwhile, the influx of workers will increase demand for higher taxes. The bill would allow guest workers to bring their spouses and children into the U.S. These children would be entitled to free education (average taxpayer cost: $9,600 per child). Plus any child born to a guest worker here is deemed a U.S. citizen with guaranteed lifetime entitlement to more than 60 different federal welfare programs.

8. MYTH: Illegal immigrants will not come onto the welfare rolls.

FACT: As soon as illegals get Z-visa status, they become eligible for free medical care under Medicaid and their children are immediately entitled to welfare. After five years in Lawful Permanent Resident status, amnesty recipients become eligible for nearly all 60 federal welfare programs including food stamps, public housing, and Temporary Assistance to Needy Families.

9. MYTH: Government agencies will be able to share information to pursue immigration violators.

FACT: True and false. Unless a background check turns up something criminal about a Z visa applicant within 24 hours after the initial paperwork is submitted, enforcement agencies are blocked from pursuing deportation for a full year.

The bill also gives the Secretary of Homeland Security authority to require a national ID card... for all citizens.

10. MYTH: Senators can cast an informed vote on the bill today.

FACT: Senators did not receive even a draft of the bill until 2 a.m. Saturday--leaving them less than three days to read and understand this complex and convoluted proposal before being forced to vote to bring it to the floor. Only after that vote will they receive a final copy of the proposal--legislation that will affect American security, our economy culture for generations to come. The bill" proponents are pressing for a vote on final passage -- without congressional hearings, committee mark-up, fiscal analysis, expert testimony, or public comment -- before the Memorial Day recess. So much for due diligence by "the world" greatest deliberative body."

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