Is the Gang of Eight really tough on immigrants with criminal records?

Then, the bill says the three misdemeanors that would disqualify an immigrant count as three misdemeanors only “if the alien was convicted on different dates for each of the three offenses.” What that means is that if a person is accused of multiple misdemeanors, and convicted of them during a single court session — a fairly common occurrence — the multiple convictions would count as just one conviction for the purposes of the Gang of Eight bill, since they all happened on one day.

“Say that because of court backlogs, an alien is awaiting trial on a misdemeanor committed in June,” says one Republican source. “In August, he is again arrested on a misdemeanor, and then a third time in September. Each time he posts bond. In the interest of judicial economy, all three trials are consolidated and held on the same day in December, and the alien is convicted of all three. Three different offenses, but all three convictions occurring on the same date. Under the language of the bill, such an alien is entitled to apply for legal status.”

The same principle would hold for any number of convictions, if they happened on the same day. The bottom line is an immigrant could have more than three misdemeanor convictions in his background check and still qualify for legalization.

But that is not the biggest exception in the bill. A few lines later, the legislation gives the Secretary of Homeland Security authority to ignore an immigrant’s record and grant legal status no matter how many misdemeanor convictions the immigrant might have.