Thursday, July 21, 2005

The Republican Immigration Bill

Image hosted by Photobucket.comAs many of you already know, this week the U.S. Senate received another Immigration Reform bill (PDF file at link). The title of the diary is appropriate because it was sponsored by two Republicans--Jon Kyl (AZ) and John Cornyn (TX).

Apparently these two border-state senators decided now would be a good time to give the middle finger to the tens of thousands of latinos and progressives in their states because this bill is full of hubris. Compare and contrast it to the Kennedy-McCain bi-partisan bill sponsored and you will see what I mean.

Below I will outline some of the provisions of their Comprehensive Enforcement and Immigration Reform Act of 2005.

Full details can be found via the immigration section of Sen. Cornyn's website. Here are some key areas I would like to bring to your attention:

  1. Border Enforcement and Visa Security
    • Authorizes sufficient resources, including 10,000 Border Patrol Agents (same figure as Intelligence Reform bill, with monthly reports to Congress on progress made in hiring and deploying the agents) and 1,250 new Customs and Border Protection Officers (working at ports of entry). Authorizes $5 billion over 5 years for accompanying technology (e.g. cameras and sensors) and infrastructure (e.g. stations and checkpoints), to stop illegal border crossing
    • Expands and improves Expedited Removal, which provides a streamlined means of removing aliens who are clearly ineligible to enter the U.S. Authorizes $50 million over 5 years

  2. Strengthening Interior Enforcement and Leveraging State and Local Law Resources
    • Provides the Department of Homeland Security with 10,000 detention beds over 5 years to eliminate the release of illegal aliens into the country
    • Clarifies State and local authority to enforce federal immigration laws
    • Expands Institutional Removal Program to identify criminal aliens in federal and state correctional facilities and remove them upon completion of their sentences
    • Establishes new Assistant Attorney General in the Department of Justice to oversee immigration enforcement and litigation, to ensure high level DOJ attention and accountability

  3. Worksite Enforcement
    • Authorizes 10,000 additional agents over 5 years to investigate employers who hire illegal aliens. Also 1,000 new investigators over 5 years to detect fraud in application process
    • Increases the penalties for unauthorized employment of aliens, social security fraud and false claims to citizenship
    • Requires within one year issuance of secure machine-readable, tamper-resistant Social Security cards
    • Closes loopholes in identity theft by establishing minimum standards for state-issued birth certificates
    • Requires within one year that all new hires participate in a Social Security-based electronic employment eligibility verification system

  4. Obligations of Participating Countries
    • Requires countries to enter into bilateral agreement with U.S. government before the nationals of the country are allowed to participate in a temporary worker visa program or Mandatory Departure status
    • Requires aliens to have a minimum level of health coverage, which can be provided by the participating country, the alien or the employer

  5. Temporary Worker Program
    • Establishes new visa category that allows aliens to enter the U.S. to work temporarily when there are no available U.S. workers
    • Limits the period of visa to two years, after which the alien must return home for one year. Alien may participate up to three times (for a total of 6 years of employment in the U.S.)
    • Establishes a Temporary Worker Task Force to prepare a report on the effect of the temporary worker program on wages and employment of U.S. workers, which would then form basis of cap
    • Family members may visit principal worker in the U.S. for no longer than 30 days within a given year

  6. Mandatory Departure and Reentry in Legal Status
    • Allows aliens who are present in the U.S. illegally to apply for Mandatory Departure, which enables them time to depart the United States voluntarily and reenter the country through normal legal channels (e.g. as temporary worker)
    • Aliens granted Mandatory Departure status are ineligible to obtain permanent resident status (i.e. green card) while in the U.S. – they must depart and reenter through normal legal channels
    • Aliens are registered, fingerprinted, and checked against all available criminal/terrorist lists
    • Aliens are issued secure, biometric identity documentation. The documents will function as identity documents and employers will use document readers to verify identity and employment authorization
    • Provides incentives for aliens to depart the United States immediately, but all aliens are required to depart prior to five years
    • Aliens who return to home country within a short period of time may quickly reenter through legal channels as a temporary worker and are not required to spend up to 10 years outside of the country
    • Aliens who fail to depart are ineligible for any other immigration benefit for a period of ten years

  7. Circular Migration and Visa Backlog Reduction
    • Creates temporary worker investment funds to encourage aliens to return home
    • Reduces visa backlog waiting times by allowing the recapture of unused visa numbers and terminating the Diversity Visa Program

Aside from the fact that this automatically lumps all illegal immigrants into the terrorist/criminal category, I guarantee you that there will be a lot of kicking and screaming from the latino community if the Democrats support this bill. There is already a bi-partisan alternative out there that can be a decent starting point for discussion.

Howard Dean already understands that the Republicans are going to use this issue to divide the country next year for the congressional elections. They will appeal, as usual, to the worst emotions from Americans in order to gain more political power--fear, bigotry and bitterness.
In a speech to an influential Hispanic organization, Dean said that Republican-sponsored immigration legislation and escalating rhetoric on the issue are part of the latest GOP effort to use fear as a political tactic.

Republicans tried to scare people by talking about "race quotas" instead of affirmative action in 2002 and putting ballot initiatives to ban gay marriage in several states in 2004, he said.

"In 2006, it's going to be immigrants, you wait and see," he told the National Council of La Raza, a Hispanic civil rights organization, at its annual convention.

After the speech, Dean said he doesn't think that President Bush is a bigot but that he "doesn't have the guts" to speak up against "the bigots in his own party."

Houston Chronicle

For further reading:
  • Duke 1676's diary where he outlined a good starting point for discussion.
  • My diary, "The Immigration Crisis", where I outlined the human cost to the delay of this debate.
  • Detailed information on the Kennedy/McCain sponsored Secure America and Orderly Immigration Act
  • Washington Post's take on the Kyl-Cornyn bill
  • Minuteman Project update - the Border Patrol is considering making them an auxiliary branch
  • Az Central article with a heads-up that J.D. Hayworth is going to be entering the immigration boxing ring soon.
  • An article on the International Organization for Migration's report citing the advantages of immigration.
Crossposted at Booman Tribune

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