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Democrats Shoot Down Immigration Reforms In Senate

As I wrote here, I am not a fan of trying to “fix” the Senate Gang of Eight’s immigration bill through amendments. I think it is fundamentally flawed in multiple ways and cannot be fixed, least of all by adding more provisions relating to border enforcement.

But the Senate Judiciary Committee is marking up the immigration bill, and Republicans have offered a wide variety of amendments. To the extent this is done to clarify where the parties stand, and not in a naive belief that the comprehensive bill is just an amendment or two away from being palatable, I applaud them.

Jeff Sessions has offered a series of amendments, which his staff summarizes as follows:

Sessions 1: To limit the total number of immigrants granted legal status in the ten years after enactment to 20 million and to also limit the total number of nonimmigrant workers granted admission in the ten years after enactment to 10 million. (EAS13446)

Sessions 2: To reduce the number of immigrants granted legal status and nonimmigrant workers granted admission under this bill to 30 million in the ten years after enactment. (MRW13343)

Sessions 3: To prohibit the issuance of low-skilled guest worker visas if the unemployment rate is 5 percent or more. (BAG13295)

Sessions 4: To require the use of a biometric entry and exit system at ports of entry pursuant to existing law before the Secretary of Homeland Security may adjust the status of aliens who have been granted registered provisional immigrant status. (MDM13410)

Sessions 5: To provide criminal penalties for overstaying a visa. (BAG13293)

Sessions 6: To prevent amendments to the visa waiver program from taking effect until the biometric entry and exit data system described in section 7208 of the 9/11 Commission Implementation Act of 2004 has been fully implemented and to strike the amendments to the waiver provision. (MRW13303)

Sessions 7: To provide sanctions for countries that delay or prevent repatriation of their citizens and nationals. (EAS13357)

Sessions 8: To require visa reciprocity from foreign countries for period of visa validity, and to require the State Department to take into account a country’s cooperation with the U.S. in repatriation efforts. (EAS13331)

Sessions 9: To require the completion of the 700 miles of reinforced fencing as required by section 102(b)(1)(A) of the Illegal Immigration Reform and Responsibility Act of 1996 (as amended) as a trigger. (language at leg counsel; will circulate shortly)

Sessions 10: To require consideration of the receipt of certain public assistance for purposes of determining if an alien is a public charge. (MRW13340)

Sessions 11: To ensure that “effective control” specifically includes prevention of unlawful entries into the U.S., including entries by terrorists, other unlawful aliens, instruments of terrorism, narcotics, and other contraband, and triggers the initiation of processing for registered provisional immigrant status; and to eliminate the use of the terms “effectiveness rate” and “high risk sectors” from the bill. (MDM13441)

Sessions 12: To provide for the conditions for release on bond of aliens from noncontiguous countries apprehended within 100 miles of the border. (EAS13337)

Sessions 13: To require aliens who may be a threat to national security to submit to an in person interview with a consular officer when applying for a visa. (EAS13330)

Sessions 14: To provide for the denial of benefits and removal of terrorist aliens. (ARM13591)

Sessions 15: To clarify the authority to refuse or revoke visas of the Secretary of DHS and the Secretary of State. (EAS13333)

Sessions 16: To ensure that all applications for immigration status filed under this Act are filed electronically; to clarify the national security and law enforcement clearances required for an alien granted registered provisional immigrant status; to require interviews of certain applicants; to require a fraud detection and deterrence plan be submitted to Congress; to impose penalties for knowingly committing or aiding fraud. (MRW13311)

Sessions 17: To ensure that granting of registered provisional immigrant status does not result in the admission of immigrants likely to become public charges. (ARM13553)

Sessions 18: To add an option to demonstrate that a registered provisional immigrant is not likely to become eligible for State means-tested assistance to the conditions for adjustment of status to lawfully admitted for permanent residence. (ERN13166)

Sessions 19: To prohibit an alien from becoming a registered provisional immigrant if the Secretary determines it is likely that the immigrant would become a public charge or receive State means-tested assistance. (ERN13167)

Sessions 20: To require that all applicants for registered provisional immigrant status are interviewed to determine whether they meet eligibility requirements. (MDM13338)

Sessions 21: To strike the provision suspending removal proceedings during the registered provisional immigrant application period. (MDM13337)

Sessions 22: To prohibit those who have a criminal record from being eligible for registered provisional immigrant status. (EAS13343)

Sessions 23: To render a social security account number and card assigned to an alien in registered provisional immigrant status automatically invalid if such status is revoked. (EAS13388)

Sessions 24: To strike the provision that authorizes the Secretary to permit aliens previously deported and who are outside the U.S., or have illegally reentered the country, to apply for registered provisional immigrant status. (MDM13373)

Sessions 25: To prohibit an alien from becoming a registered provisional immigrant if the Secretary determines it is likely that the immigrant would receive State means-tested assistance or in the absence of such a determination, any of the following federal assistance: Medicaid, CHIP, the Obamacare premium assistance tax credit, SNAP, TANF, or SSI. (ERN13165)

Sessions 26: To prohibit adjustment of status to lawfully admitted for permanent residence if a registered provisional immigrant might be eligible for Medicaid, CHIP, or the Obamacare premium assistance tax credit. (ERN13156)

Sessions 27: To prohibit adjustment of status to lawfully admitted for permanent residence if a registered provisional immigrant might be eligible for Medicaid, CHIP, the Obamacare premium assistance tax credit, SNAP, TANF, or SSI. (ERN13157)

Sessions 28: To prohibit adjustment of status to lawfully admitted for permanent residence by a registered provisional immigrant unless a State provides information on the likelihood that the immigrant would receive State means-tested assistance and, in the absence of that information, if the immigrant is likely to become a public charge, including Medicaid, CHIP, the Obamacare premium assistance tax credit, SNAP, TANF, or SSI. (ERN13158)

Sessions 29: To require demonstration of employer-sponsored health insurance coverage and to modify income requirements applicable to the period of admission for registered provisional immigrant status. (KER13175)

Sessions 30: To amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to clarify eligibility for the child tax credit. (MDM13331)

What does it tell you when Sessions wants to limit the new immigrants to 30 million, and the Democrats vote it down? That raises the question that Republicans have been pounding away at: how many new immigrants, nearly all of them now Mexican citizens, do the Democrats want to either legalize or admit? It is astonishing that Democrats and their handful of Republican allies are trying to ram their “comprehensive” bill through the Congress, while they will not even offer a guess as to what its effects will be.

Senators Sessions and Vitter are trying to pin down the Democrats as to their plans for new, mass immigration. Yesterday, they sent this letter to the Gang of Eight:

Dear Colleagues:

The immigration bill is proceeding toward a vote and yet members of the Senate still do not have an estimate from the bill’s sponsors of the future flow of immigration that will occur.

It appears your bill would authorize legal status for 30 million immigrants over the next 10 years and provide work authorization to many millions more through nonimmigrant visas.

The public, and the Senate, are entitled to hear directly from the bill’s sponsors about just how many people will be given legal status under this proposal over the next decade. Only then can we fully understand the implications for the 90 million Americans who are not in the labor force, many of whom are either unemployed or have simply given up looking for a job.

We would therefore ask that you provide a detailed estimate of the total number of individuals—both immigrant and nonimmigrant—who will be granted some form of legal status or work authorization over the next 10 years. Specifically, this number is to include, over a 10-year period:

1. The total number of green cards that will be issued, including the clearing of past applications no longer subject to the annual cap (the so-called backlog);

2. An estimate of chain migration, particularly in light of the removal of caps on immediate family members of green card holders and in light of the expedited status for those who qualify for the DREAM and Ag fast-track. This should also include an estimate of chain migration ensuing from the roughly 7 million illegal immigrants whose green cards may not be issued until after the 10th year after enactment;

3. The total number of illegal immigrants and visa overstays who will be granted work authorization and legal status;

4. The total number of student visas to be issued and an estimate of chain migration ensuing from the proposed dual intent feature of the student visa;

5. The total number of nonimmigrant visas that will be issued, including a specific breakdown of the number with work authorization and how many of those family members admitted with the nonimmigrant workers will also have work authorization.

Thank for your attention to this matter.

So far, Sessions’ and Vitters’ inquiry has been met with a deafening silence.

The colloquy below between Sessions and Chuck Schumer isn’t especially edifying, except that it shows how obdurately the Democrats refuse to tell voters how many new immigrants they intend to legalize under their “reform” bill. The estimates I have seen range from 30 million to 57 million over the next ten years, and that is just the beginning. From there, we need to look at second and third order effects. What fertility and mortality rates will apply to these new residents? What will be the effect of chain immigration, when applied to these many millions of new legal residents?

It seems obvious why the Democrats won’t offer any estimates of the demographic effects of their “reform” bill: any numbers they might suggest would be viewed as shocking by most Americans.

Much more has been happening on the immigration front, but I have been taking depositions in Houston for a couple of days and fallen a bit behind. More to come on this vital topic soon.

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