Word is leaking that the GOP in the Senate are on the verge of agreeing to an immigration bill that has –as a concession to the GOP– less than half of the fencing promised by law last year.
White flag time on the border, and a national security and thus a political disaster.
The GOP are sending around talking points attempting to make this “compromise” defensible, but it won’t and shouldn’t fly. Agreeing to it takes the party down the tubes on the issue of border security –because it doesn’t provide what the public understands to be border security, a very long, very high fence with a very wide gate.
This is McCain’s continuing gift to the GOP, and the immigration absolutists’ legacy: Lots and lots of promises and no fence worth calling a fence.
Aren’t there 41 GOP senators willing to fight for border security? Apparently not. And they will see the result in their depleted coffers and diminished numbers come November ’08. All they have to do is fight for border security, but they won’t even do that.
UPDATE: Here are the draft talking points from the GOP. Four pages of crap:
BORDER SECURITY AND IMMIGRATION REFORM
Republicans Standing Together to Fight for Tougher Enforcement and an Immigration System That Better Serves American Interests
As negotiations continue, Republicans are demanding the following from the Democrat majority:
v Beefed-up border security. Republicans are insisting on dramatic and immediate improvements to border security, including 18,000 Border Patrol agents and 370 miles of fencing, as part of a continuous effort to protect the borders.
- Republicans insist that border security improvements must be completed before other reforms can occur. Democrats blocked any “triggers” in last year’s bill. [# More #]
v Enforcement at the workplace. Republicans are insisting on a meaningful, effective, and workable electronic employment verification system that will prevent employers from hiring illegal workers and eliminate the “magnet” that attracts so many illegal aliens.
- ?? This verification system must be fully operational before other reforms occur (another “trigger”), a position Democrats rejected last year and have resisted in negotiations.
v Merit-based future immigration system and end to “chain migration.” Republicans are insisting on eliminating “chain migration” and transforming our immigration system so that all future efforts are focused on attracting those immigrants (and their immediate, nuclear families) who have the combination of job skills, education, and English language proficiency that will make them productive Americans.
- ?? The Democrat majority has resisted any effort to ensure that our immigration system be rebalanced to serve national needs and still clings to a broken “chain migration” system that does not serve the national interest.
v A truly temporary worker program. Republicans insist that a temporary worker program be for a limited period of time and not serve as a path to citizenship. Temporary workers must truly be temporary.
- ?? The Democrat majority continues to resist this approach, seeking to let “temporary” workers stay in the United States indefinitely and become permanent residents without going home.
v Strict limits on processing of illegal aliens. Majority-party Democrats made legalization of illegal aliens a non-negotiable priority, but Republicans refused to allow automatic amnesty or a guaranteed path to citizenship for illegal aliens. Republicans insist that all green card applicants must (1) go to the back of the line behind those who have followed the law, (2) pay higher fines than in last year’s bill, (3) pass a criminal background check, (4) show a nearly perfect work history, English proficiency, and familiarity with American civics. If they cannot do so, they will be subject to removal. Republicans also insist that access to permanent status be prioritized based on immigrants’ job skills, education, and English proficiency. Illegal aliens will not gain an automatic right to stay in this country indefinitely.
- ?? Democrats wanted last year’s permissive Senate bill, which allowed illegal aliens to jump to the front of the line and did not require illegal aliens to continue to work.
Border Security Guaranteed by Republican Efforts
- • Republicans have championed greater border enforcement in order to better protect us against terrorist, drug smuggling, human trafficking, and illegal immigration.
- • Republicans insisted on the following enforcement measures in this bill before any other reforms (including a temporary worker program or adjustment of status for illegal aliens) are implemented:
- ? 18,000 border patrol and immigration enforcement agents must be hired.
- ? 370 miles of border fencing must be built.
- ? 200 miles of vehicle barriers must be completed.
- ? 70 ground-based radar and camera towers on the southern border must be operational.
- ? 4 Unmanned Aerial Vehicles must be deployed.
- ? 27,500 detention beds must be available so that apprehended aliens can be detained.
- • Triggers: Republicans have insisted that all of the above improvements to border security be implemented before any additional reforms can take place. If they do not occur, then there will be no temporary worker program or movement on a path to citizenship for illegal aliens. Democrats vigorously resisted triggers such as these in last year’s bill.
Republicans Bolstered Workplace Enforcement
- • Republicans know that border security is not enough: we must also eliminate the opportunities for illegal workers to be hired in the United States.
- • The bill will create an Electronic Employment Verification System (“EEVS”) so only legal workers can get jobs.
- • Once the EEVS is in place (the administration predicts 18 months), illegal aliens without the right to work will find it extremely difficult to gain any legitimate employment.
- • Illegal workers not only will be subject to removal from the country but will be permanently barred from any U.S. immigration program.
- • Employers who knowingly hire illegal workers will face stiff penalties.
- • Another Trigger: Republicans also insisted that this new EEVS be fully operational before reforms such as the temporary worker program or status adjustment for illegal aliens occur. Democrats vigorously resisted any effort to make an operational EEVS a precondition for other reforms.
DRAFT 5/16/07 3
Republicans Successfully Demanded an Immigration System Based on Merit
- • Republicans are insisting on eliminating “chain migration” and transforming our immigration system into one based on qualification and merit.
- • Due to Republican demands and over Democrat objections, the bill will require all future immigrants to qualify based on merit through a “point system.”
- • The main components of the merit-based “point system” will be
- ? job skills deemed helpful to the U.S. economy;
- ? level of educational attainment (with added points for science/math); and
- ? degree of English language proficiency.
- • The impact of this new merit-based “point system” will be to ensure entry and permanent residence to those with higher levels of education and professional qualifications.
- ? Currently, only 20 percent of immigrants are admitted based on merit; the remainder gain permanent residence due to some form of familial relation.
- ? All new immigrants will still be able to bring their immediate families (spouses and minor children), but other relatives will need to qualify under the point system.
- • This end to “chain migration,” which allows migration of extended family members who cannot show they will benefit to America, is a significant Republican victory.
Republicans Guaranteed a Truly Temporary Worker Program
- • Republicans know that American businesses have labor needs that the American workforce does not always satisfy, so they support a temporary worker program that will ensure that ample workers exist to fill those jobs.
- • But Republicans have insisted that a temporary worker program should be temporary, and that it should not provide a direct path to citizenship.
- • Workers will be able to enter the country for two years, working for an employer who has demonstrated that no American is available to fill the position.
- ? The worker must leave after two years and cannot renew for at least one year.
- ? A temporary worker can work for a total of three separate two-year terms, with one year out of the country between each term. (The rationale is to prevent temporary workers from establishing roots and refuse to leave when their term is completed.)
- ? All temporary workers will be able to travel freely to and from their home countries.
- • Temporary workers must return home after their work period expires. Failure to depart on time will result in criminal penalties and a permanent bar on participating in any U.S. immigration programs, i.e., the worker could never gain an American green card.
- • Republicans’ insistence on “temporary means temporary” will protect American workers and maintain the integrity of the U.S. immigration system.
DRAFT 5/16/07 4
Republicans Ensured Limits on Legalization of Existing Illegal Population
- • Democrats made clear that no bill would pass without a provision to allow illegal aliens to gain citizenship, and pledged to hold hostage all border security and interior enforcement improvements.
- • In response, Republicans united to block automatic amnesty and guarantee that strict limits be imposed on those illegal aliens who wish to become American citizens.
- • Due solely to Republican efforts, illegal aliens will not gain an automatic right to stay in this country indefinitely.
- • Republican demands guaranteed the following:
- o First, Republicans insisted that illegal aliens should not be permitted even to apply for permanent residence unless he or she can demonstrate:
- ? a nearly uninterrupted work history, i.e., the worker (head of household) must show that he or she has been employed for 90 percent of the previous four years;
- ? a proven proficiency in English; and
- ? an education in American civics.
- ? If an illegal alien cannot demonstrate this work history, proficiency in English, and education in American civics, then he or she will not earn the right to permanent residency and will be subject to deportation and will be permanently barred from the U.S.A.
- o Second, Republicans insisted that all illegal aliens seeking permanent residence must get in line behind the legal applicants for permanent residence who did not enter the country illegally. And they must return home to make the formal application.
- o Third, Republicans insisted on higher penalties and fees that illegal aliens must pay in order to remain in the country, and also demanded that illegal aliens pay all back taxes they may owe.
- • Many illegal aliens will never clear these tough hurdles and will be subject to removal. And because of the tough new workplace enforcement mechanisms, they will not be able to be employed in any legitimate business enterprise.
- • If Republicans had not fought for these limits, Democrats would have passed an automatic amnesty bill without any of the restrictions that Republicans have now guaranteed.