Revealed: The Gang of Eight's immigration plan

Katrina Trinko has most of the particulars at the Corner. Quote: “One contentious issue among the senators is whether immigrants who are clearly part of gangs but who have no criminal record will be allowed to obtain legal status.”

Amnesty fever: Catch it.

Securing the border and ending illegal immigration. The gang has focused on the border with Mexico, and did not consider serious changes to the Canadian border. If the legislation passes, the Department of Homeland Security will be required to be able to surveil the entire border at all times (using technology, such as drones) and to be successfully catching nine out of ten people trying to cross the border. DHS will be given six months to come up with a plan to accomplish this, and then must issue a notice of commencement that they have begun to implement the enforcement policies. When five years have passed, DHS must be meeting these goals; if not, a commission will then devise additional policies that DHS will have to implement.

The legislation will also mandate universal E-Verify, which all employers, including small businesses, will have to use…

Illegal immigrants will be able to apply for legal status when DHS issues the notice of commencement, indicating that it’s begun implementing its enforcement policies. Then, after ten years have passed and there is proof that the border-security measures have been successfully implemented, the relevant immigrants will be permitted to apply for green cards. They could then in turn apply for citizenship after the normal three-to-five-year period that follows getting a green card. While in theory illegal immigrants could become citizens in 13 to 15 years, bureaucratic delays make it unlikely that the process will take less than two decades.

An evergreen problem with scrutinizing draft bills is that they’re destined to change. Amendments will be added and then, if this somehow survives a Senate vote, it’ll somehow have to be reconciled with the House’s plan to make it palatable to Republicans. With immigration, though, there’s a second phase of change: Even if it becomes law, there’ll be political pressure later to revisit and revise the bill to make it friendlier to illegals. Will the two-decade time frame for citizenship really hold once amnesty advocates start agitating against it, i.e. immediately? No one seriously believes that DHS will reach the point where they’re catching nine out of 10 illegals; they’re catching less than half at some crossing points right now, and they can’t even come up with a way to quantify border security. Surely leftists aren’t going to sit back and let the path to citizenship stay stuck in limbo while they’re waiting for border improvements. All of this is going to change, if not before the bill becomes law then after. The Democrats’ ace in the hole is 2016: Even though Republicans are selling this as just the first step in a long-term project to win back some Latino voters, Republican voters who bite their lips about the bill will want results sooner rather than later. All Schumer has to do is come back two years from now and demand that the security and citizenship provisions be softened because they’re proving too burdensome in practice and the GOP will go wobbly lest their hard-earned immigration “outreach” to Latinos be threatened.

In fact, the “outreach” may already be threatened. Per Trinko, to qualify for legalization, an illegal will have to have been here for two years. Anyone who hasn’t is subject to deportation. If an illegal is legalized but then loses his job and remains unemployed for more than six months, he’s subject to deportation. If he needs federal assistance because he’s no longer self-sufficient, he’s subject to deportation. And no illegals will be allowed to qualify for ObamaCare, at least until they’ve got a green card five to 10 years from now. All of this is fertile soil for Democratic demagoguery and for another wobbly GOP reaction. Conn Carroll sees it coming:

If I’m Schumer or Obama, I’m happy to accept a bill with the provisions described by Trinko. Even though it’s tougher than I want, there’s a valuable trade-off — the harsher provisions can be used as a weapon against the GOP in midterms next year. Border hawks have been arguing among themselves for weeks over whether Obama really wants the bill to pass so that he can start illegals on the path to becoming Democratic voters or whether he wants it to fail so that he can blame that on Republicans in 2014. The two aren’t mutually exclusive, though. Pass the bill now and take what Republicans will give, then start attacking the hawkish parts in hopes of winning back the House. Once you do, you can jettison the provisions you don’t like and pass a more liberal revised bill. Or, even if the GOP holds onto the House, you can apply the 2016 strategy I described above and get them to revise the bill for you. The fundamental problem with trying to get a good bill here is that Republicans have already showed their cards. They’re desperate to ingratiate themselves with Latino voters and they’ve decided that immigration is the best way to do it, even though virtually no one outside the caucus agrees with that. (A revamped economic agenda focusing on the middle class would help just as much and probably more.) They’re all but conceding that they have no leverage to produce a solid bill whose security provisions won’t end up breaking under political pressure sooner rather than later. All Democrats have to do is figure out how much political cover the GOP needs on the particulars to sell this to their base and they can sign off. For now.

By the way, despite Rubio’s request for multiple hearings on the bill, it sounds like Pat Leahy may only be granting one. Read Mark Krikorian’s post this morning for a variety of immigration question marks that Congress will be ignoring if that’s what ends up happening.

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David Strom 6:01 PM on March 29, 2023