Six big problems with the Gang of Eight legislation

The Senate Judiciary Committee hearings on the Gang of Eight immigration bill seemed calculated to prevent reasoned debate. Both hearing dates occurred within less than a week of the release of the nearly 900-page bill, making it impossible for witnesses fully to analyze the Gang’s proposal. Moreover, only five of the 20 witnesses called during the two dates oppose this legislation. Two of these five adverse witnesses admitted that they lacked sufficient time to analyze the legislation properly.

Even so, some scathing criticisms emerged from today’s session. John has posted Mark Krikorian’s prepared statement, which contains some of them. I want to focus on the statement of Kris Kobach, the secretary of state of Kansas.

Kobach spelled out six problems with the Gang of Eight’s proposal as it pertains to amnesty and border security:

First, the background checks associated with obtaining amnesty are plainly inadequate. For one thing, there is no requirement that applicants prove they are who they say they are. Beyond that, there would be no personal interview in most cases. Tamerlan Tsarnaev, who was interviewed, passed his check. Thus, the background check process is suspect enough under the best circumstances. How can we expect that, without so much as an interview, the background checks will be effective.

Second, eligibility for amnesty is extended to people who were deported and also to “absconders” — people who were ordered deported but disregarded the order and melted back into the U.S. population. Why would we even think about granting amnesty to those who doubled-down on their disregard for U.S. law?

Third, criminals are eligible for amnesty under certain circumstances. Truly, the Gang of Eight has done its best to legislate “no illegal alien left behind.”

Kobach’s next three points pertain to border security:

Fourth, the bill’s 90 percent effectiveness threshold for securing the border is meaningless. For one thing, according to Kobach, it is incapable of being calculated reliably. That’s because we can’t calculate the number of people who aren’t being caught — the number who successfully make it across the border.

In addition, the Department of Homeland Security fudges the numbers. For example, it has changed its method of calculating removals to include voluntary returns. President Obama admitted as much when Hispanics complained that the removal rate was increasing.

Finally, the 90 percent target applies only to so-called “high risk” areas. This means that enforcement resources will be shifted to these areas so the government can claim success in meeting the 90 percent target. Meanwhile, other areas likely will become the focus for illegal aliens and operators who wish to smuggle drugs, people, and (quite possibly) terrorists into the U.S.

Fifth, the Gang’s legislation preempts state enforcement efforts.

Sixth, the legislation perversely eliminates the current e-verify system adopted by some states to prevent employers from hiring illegals. According to Kobach, this system is 98 percent effective. Yet, astonishingly, the Gang’s legislation prohibits the use of the current system and replaces it with nothing for several years.

The only plausible reason for doing this is to promote delay. As Kobach said, this is clear evidence of the Gang of Eight’s bad faith.

Is Kobach wrong about any of this? Has he overstated his case? If so, no Senator pointed it out at today’s hearing. In fact, as I noted during my live-blogging of the hearing, few proponents of the legislation engaged Kobach at all. And those who did failed to engage him on these issues.

Instead, the Democrats tried to bury Kobach and Krikorian in an afternoon panel consisting mostly of advocates of the legislation. This is not the kind of deliberative process that Marco Rubio promised.

Will Rubio put on additional public hearings so that criticisms like Kobach’s can be considered, as opposed to listed? Rubio said he wants such hearings. Let’s hope he delivers them.

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