The Hoeven-Corker amendment to the Gang of Eight bill is essentially a new bill. It is almost 1,200 pages long. Some parts of it are identical to some of the provisions of the original Gang of Eight bill, some parts are very different, and some parts are slightly different in ways that could prove very important but difficult to understand in a hurry. But it has to be understood in a hurry. Given the length and complexity of this proposal, I think it is fair to say that not more than a handful of the senators voting on it on Monday—which is apparently when the vote is scheduled—will really understand it in any detail. There is almost no way any of the senators voting on it could have read it all, and it’s unlikely even their staff members could do so in a thorough and responsible way in that time. Only the people who wrote it will know what it says, and I imagine it was written in parts by numerous people from several Senate offices. That means there is probably no one who really knows what it says. It also seems likely that, if the amendment is adopted on Monday, the vote on the final bill would come too soon thereafter to allow CBO to re-score the much-amended bill, and so to offer some sense of how things have changed in terms of costs, economic effects, future immigration flows (legal and illegal) and other key issues.
Is this any way to make such an important set of decisions about the country’s future?
If you search for the word “Alaska” in the original Gang of Eight comprehensive immigration reform bill, you’ll get no hits. But if you do the same search in the Hoeven-Corker amendment, which is essentially a new version of the immigration bill, you’ll find “Alaska” right there in black and white.
The reason is that the Gang of Eight has used the rewritten bill to pay a big favor to the state of Alaska and its two senators, Republican Lisa Murkowski and Democrat Mark Begich. Here’s how it works:
The bill creates a new federal entity called the Bureau of Immigration and Labor Market Research, which is described as “an independent statistical agency within U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.” The head of the Bureau will be appointed by the president, with Senate confirmation. One of the things the Bureau will do is research and designate the occupations for which labor shortages exist, and therefore for which more low-wage guest workers will be allowed to enter the country.
“So that’s the answer from U.S. Senators,” Crane, an ICE agent and a former marine, told Breitbart News exclusively on Sunday morning. “They know the bill is bad but plan to pass it anyway? With billions of taxpayer dollars to be spent and the safety of the public on the line, Senators plan to pass the buck to the House with hopes they might fix it? Anti-enforcement special interests have succeeded in pressuring the Senate from doing what’s best for America. This is why America has lost faith in its lawmakers.”
Corker admitted in a Saturday Politico piece that his and Hoeven’s amendment, which is being sold as the fix to repackage the “Gang of Eight” immigration bill, does not actually fix interior enforcement issues as originally advertised.
Utah senator and tea-party favorite Mike Lee, appearing on Fox News Sunday with Gang of Eight member Lindsey Graham, conceded that, while the eight senators are well intentions in their efforts to reform the nation’s immigration system, “The best of intentions aren’t enough when you’re dealing with a 1,200 page bill.”
Lee predicted that the bill will likely pass with a supermajority in the Senate, but that it will not deliver what its proponents promise. “They’ve promised us that under this bill, illegal immigration will be a thing of the past. It won’t,” Lee argued. ”They told us that it would be tough but fair, and it’s neither. It’s not tough on those who have broken the law and it’s not fair to those who have been patiently waiting their turn in line to come to this country legally.”
Nothing this Congress does, remember, can prevent future Congresses from reneging on the back end of this “legalize first” deal. Budget considerations alone will mean the advertised ”surge” won’t be sustained–as Obama’s earlier 1,500 man National Guard surge wasn’t sustained. Future lawmakers will be looking around for “offsetting” spending cuts and that bloated 40,000 man border patrol will stick out like a nail that wants to be hammered. Plus, once
Democrats have eaten their meal illegal immigrants have their legalization in hand, Democrats will lose 80% of their motivation to make good on the law’s elaborate promises. They’re already unhappy with the back end of the deal–Sen. Leahy calls it “a Christmas wish list for Halliburton.” Meanwhile, militarizing the border is drawing immediate protests. Business interests–especially farmers–can be expected to oppose the requirement that they use a computerized system to check new hires. There will be little to stop these forces–the ones that have blocked enforcement until now–except some Republican pols saying “But … but you pwomised!”
It’s true that Democrats (and immigrant advocates, and the ethnic lobbyists like La Raza) will want the11 million newly legalized immigrants to be able to get green cards and embark on the fabled ”path to citizenship.” But their answer won’t be to fulfill the cartoon enforcement promises of Corker-Hoeven. It will be to water down the requirements for green cards. Republicans are going to resist that? They want to alienate the growing Latino voting bloc? After they tried so hard to take the whole issue “off the table” in 2013? **
This the reality to keep in the front of your mind when discussing the details of Corker-Hoeven’s border security requirements: None of them are actually going to happen! The formal requirements will be gutted by future Congresses and bureaucrats. We’re just trying to figure out if there’s really anything they’ll have to gut.
Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), an outspoken critic of the Senate immigration reform bill, predicted Sunday that GOP opposition to the measure will grow as lawmakers learn more of its details…
Sessions said few lawmakers will have a chance to read and understand the amendment before voting on it Monday. If they do, he predicted, GOP support for the compromise amendment drafted by Sens. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) and John Hoeven (R-N.D.) will dissipate.
“They said it had 70 votes last week and then all of a sudden it started sinking when people learned more about it. I think if people find out this amendment does not accomplish what the sponsors believe it does, I think the bill could be back in trouble again,” he said on CBS’s “Face the Nation.”
South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, a chief Republican proponent of immigration reform, says he’s confident the Gang of Eight bill can net the 70 votes he’s been shooting for.
“I think we’re on the verge of getting 70 votes … We’re very, very close to getting 70 votes,” Graham said on “Fox News Sunday.”…
“If it fails and we are blamed for its failure, we’re in trouble as a party,” he said. “We need to grow this party.”
“I’m all in favor of immigration reform,” Paul said on Sunday morning’s State of the Union, “but I’m like most conservatives in the country in that I think reform should be dependent on border security first. So I introduced an amendment that would have done just that, border security first and then immigration reform, with congressional checks on whether or not that’s occurring. That wasn’t voted on favorably. Without some congressional authority and without border security first, I can’t support the final bill.”
Sen. Charles Schumer (N.Y.), the lead Democratic sponsor of the Senate immigration reform bill, said House Republicans would likely spark massive civil rights rallies if they try to quash measures to create a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants already in the country.
“This has the potential of becoming the next major civil rights movement. I could envision in the late summer or early fall if Boehner tries to bottle the bill up or put something in without a path to citizenship — if there’s no path to citizenship, there’s not a bill — but if he tries to bottle it up or do things like that, I could see a million people on the Mall in Washington,” Schumer said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”
Schumer said business leaders, evangelical leaders and CEOs of high tech companies would join the public call for action by the House on immigration.
Skip to 4:25.
Click the image to watch.