'Gang of eight' source: One-year window to apply for provisional legal status

Border ControlOne of the lingering questions I’ve harbored about the forthcoming “Gang of Eight” immigration bargain (the Tuesday roll-out of which was appropriately postponed due to the events in Boston) is how long the “open enrollment” period for amnesty would be.  Surely the bill includes a finite time box, rather than unleashing an ongoing, open-ended new policy, right?  Right.  “There’s a cut-off after one year,” a GOP source familiar with the plan tells me.  The federal government would begin accepting applications for provisional legal status “after the first two security triggers are met, and [the government] begins the application process.”  Here’s how the source lays out the Gang’s six layers of enforcement “triggers:”

(1) DHS must create, fund & begin border security plan (6 months)

(2) DHS must create, fund & begin border fence plan (6 months)

(3) DHS must achieve 100% awareness & 90% success in high-risk sectors of Mexican border (5 years)

(4) If DHS fails at number three, then Border Commission create & implement plan to achieve number three (10 years)

(5) Universal E-verify must be implemented (10 years)

(6) Visa-exit system must be implemented for all international airports & seaports (10 years)

So the application floodgates won’t open until the first two triggers are satisfied.  Then come the trickier benchmarks, upon which permanent residency and a chance for citizenship rely.  Unless and until action items three through six are achieved, “no green cards,” and thus, no path to citizenship.  (For a dose of pointed skepticism about the seriousness and practicality of these thresholds, read Allahpundit). Back to the 365 day time frame for a moment: Won’t the resulting “magnet effect” create a powerful incentive for people to enter the country illegally prior to the deadline?  In theory, no.  The amnesty option will only be extended to illegal immigrants without criminal records who’ve been living inside the United States since before December 31, 2011.  How the government plans to adjudicate millions of timeline-related claims from people who’ve been “living in the shadows” for years is beyond me.  I’ll leave you with with this explicitly positive early review from the president of the American Conservative Union:

“Our current immigration system is broken, our borders are not secure and we have de facto amnesty in which government picks winners and losers among those who are here illegally, including who is deported or not.  The proposal put forward by the ‘Gang of 8’ in the Senate puts border security first and puts legal immigration ahead of those who are here illegally, with appropriate triggers and penalty fines. It is clear that under the Obama administration none of these things will happen without legislation and that’s why this proposal as described deserves a positive response. We look forward to gaining a thorough understanding of this complex legislation once it is introduced and urge the Congress to give it a proper vetting and allow robust debate though the Committee process before acting.”

Marco Rubio couldn’t have fashioned a favorable statement himself.  It repeats his line that the status quo amounts to de facto amnesty, underscores the plan’s border security elements, and backs up his repeated calls for an open debate process.

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