Our friend Rep. Tom Cotton has ripped the Schumer-Rubio bill in a Wall Street Journal op-ed. Because that legislation is so scandalously flawed, Tom maintains that there should be no House-Senate conference. In other words, House Republicans should not pass any bill, regardless of its merits, unless the leadership agrees to no conference. As the title of Tom’s op-ed states, “It’s the House Bill or Nothing on Immigration.”
I understand that Tom forcefully advocated this position today at the closed-door House Republican immigration strategy meeting.
Tom’s op-ed also provides a devastating critique of the Senate bill’s substance. He notes that the legalization of illegal immigrants precedes any implementation of enforcement measures, and that the preconditions for legalization are trivial:
Pay a “fine”? Yes, but it’s less than $7 per month and can be waived. Pay back taxes? Only if a tax lien has already been filed, which will be rare for undocumented work. Pass a criminal-background check? Yes, with a gaping exception allowed for illegal immigrants with up to two misdemeanors—or more, if the convictions occurred on the same day—even if these were pleaded down from felony offenses and included serious offenses such as domestic violence and drunken driving.
Tom also finds that the bill’s “illusory enforcement mechanisms won’t stop. . .illegal immigration.” The border fence provision “simply restates [a] long-ignored requirement without mentioning specs or locations.” And implementation of the visa-tracking system, also a requirement of current federal law, is delayed for six years.
Moreover, Tom believes that even the modest enforcement measures of the Senate bill are unlikely to be carried out:
Any future Congress can defund these programs, as has happened too often. The bill grants enforcement discretion to the bureaucracy in hundreds of instances. Opponents can tie up the bill in court for years. . .This is exactly what happened with the 1986 law: legalization now and enforcement never.
And what’s to stop President Obama from refusing to enforce this law? After all, he just announced he won’t enforce ObamaCare’s employer mandate because of complaints from big business. . . .
Accordingly, Tom characterizes the Senate bill as “legalization first, enforcement later . . . maybe.” This is a fair characterization, and it’s reason enough for the House to reject the Senate bill and to conclude that this legislation is irreconcilable with any the House may pass.
NOTE: This post has been shortened from the original, which reprinted all of Tom’s op-ed.