FAIR Legislative Update June 24, 2013
Sens. Corker (R-TN) and Hoeven (R-ND) finally introduced Friday afternoon their 1,200 page $46.3 billion dollar amendment perceived to save the Gang of Eight amnesty bill for the pro-amnesty and Big Business lobbies. Using a procedural move to place the language in a previously introduced and already pending amendment, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has already scheduled a vote on the amendment Monday afternoon at 5:30 p.m.
Despite this quick turnaround, Sen. Corker assured his colleagues they'd have plenty of time to read the new proposal that fundamentally changes U.S. immigration law. "By filing cloture today [Friday] on this amendment, it is going to give everybody in this body and in the nation the opportunity to read this piece of legislation for 75 hours before the cloture vote occurs." (Washington Examiner, June 22, 2013) That amounts to an individual reading the near 1,200 page measure for 16 hours per day at a rate of 24-pages per hour. (Id.)
Nonetheless, the proposal does nothing to change the core of the bill: amnesty-first, enforcement-later. That is, illegal aliens will still be granted "registered provisional immigrant" or (RPI) status before any border security measures added by the proposal are functioning. The amendment merely sets up defined border security and technology measures that must be "deployed" along the border before illegal aliens granted RPI status can get a green card; the amendment doesn't actually require the technology be fully operating and in use. Moreover, the amendment gives the Secretary of Homeland Security the authority to reallocate border security resources and use alternatives to the defined technology, effectively undermining and gutting any specific enumerated measures. Thus, the addition of identifiable border security criteria by Sens. Corker and Hoeven are nothing but unenforceable window-dressing designed to win support for the bill.
In fact, the Secretary of Homeland Security's ability to unilaterally determine the border security strategy under the original bill has been the chief complaint of many Senators now signing on to the amendment- including Gang of Eight leader Marco Rubio (R-FL). Indeed, on the Senate floor Thursday, Sen. Rubio said of the Corker-Hoeven deal:
When we introduced our bill, the bill said that basically the Department of Homeland Security would be given some money and that they would get to decide what the border security plan looked like. Many people in the public, and many of our colleagues were unhappy with that proposal. They raised valid concerns that we were turning over border security and deciding what the plan [should be] to people that claim it is already secure [Secretary Napolitano]. And so what this amendment does is it takes that back, and it says that we instead, we here in the Senate will decide what that plan is after we got input from border agents and others about what will work.
(Sunshine State News, June 20, 2013)(emphasis added)
But, given that the amendment gives the Secretary of Homeland Security the discretion to reallocate and use "alternate" resources anyway, Rubio's description of the amendment is nothing more than another falsehood by the Gang of Eight about the bill.
The same approach is taken when it comes to border fencing. The Corker-Hoeven amendment, while touting a requirement to build 700 miles of fencing along the border, fails to take into account other provisions in the bill that make the fencing optional and that give broad discretion to the Secretary as to where it should be built. Moreover, the amendment lacks any requirement the fence be double-layered.
Taking into account the Obama Administration's proactive dismantling of immigration enforcement, the notion that the Administration will not abuse any discretion granted to them (especially when they already abuse discretion not expressly granted to them) is nothing more than misguided trust by Senators so desperate to pass legislation they do not care how bad it is for the American people. (See FAIR's Record of President Obama's Dismantling of Immigration Enforcement, Feb. 2013)
In addition to Sens. Corker, Hoeven, and Rubio, other co-sponsors of the amendment include Sens. Mark Pryor (D-AR), Joe Manchin (D-WV), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Mark Begich (D-AK), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), John McCain (R-AZ), Jeff Flake (R-AZ), Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), Dean Heller (R-NV), Mark Kirk (R-IL), and Joe Donnelly (D-IN).
To read more about the Corker-Hoeven amendment, click here.
On Tuesday evening, Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) came rushing to the Senate floor to announce that the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) had determined that the Gang of Eight amnesty legislation (S.744) would reduce the budget deficit. The report from the CBO, the agency that analyzes how much a bill will cost, had long been anticipated by Senators on both sides of the aisle. And when the CBO first released its analysis Tuesday, pro-amnesty Senators thought it was good news. However, a closer examination shows that the CBO's analysis actually contains dire predictions for Americans.
First, the CBO estimates that in the first decade after enactment, S.744 would add at least 20 million workers to the U.S. labor force. This includes 10.4 million green card holders, 1.6 million in guest workers and 8 million aliens who receive amnesty. (CBO report, p.1) This estimate reflects a net increase from current levels of immigration, which the bill does not alter and consists of approximately 1.1 million green card holders and 800,000 guest workers each year. Thus, when one looks at the total amount of immigration authorized in the bill, CBO's analysis actually shows that S.744 will add at least 39 million workers to the U.S. labor force in the decade after enactment.
Having estimated the inflow of people, the CBO turns to a cost/benefit analysis. The CBO's first projection is that S.744 will reduce the deficit by $197 billion over ten years. (p.2) It estimates that the bill will increase federal spending by $262 billion over the next decade (before illegal aliens begin to qualify for federal means-tested benefits) and that revenue will increase by $459 billion. However, the portion of the additional $459 billion in revenue the CBO estimates will result from taxes paid by illegal aliens actually comes in the form of FICA taxes—i.e. taxes that go to pay for Social Security and Medicare. (p.46) When the tax revenue intended to pay for these programs is taken out, the CBO reports that S.744 will actually INCREASE the deficit by $14.2 billion over the next decade. (p.2)
In the second decade after enactment (2023-2033), the CBO estimates that S.744 will reduce the deficit by about $700 billion. It states that during that decade, spending (almost entirely on benefits for legalized aliens) will increase by $800 billion and that revenue will increase by $1.5 trillion. But here again, once the FICA tax revenue dedicated to funding Social Security and Medicare is taken out, the CBO reports that S.744 will INCREASE the budget deficit by $5 billion during the second decade. (p.54-56) The CBO also fails to account for increased Social Security and Medicare spending in outlying years, despite that fact that some amnestied aliens will begin collecting these benefits ten years after passage of S.744.
Moreover, the CBO's estimate of revenue is based on an assumption that legalized aliens will receive a 12 percent increase in wages. (CBO Supplemental Report, p.7) The CBO offers no support for this assumption and there is evidence to suggest that it is exceptionally high. First, the bill brings in millions of low-wage workers who will surely drive down wages. Second, the CBO estimates that S.744 will only reduce illegal immigration by 25 percent, allowing the continued flow of illegal workers to put additional downward pressure on wages. Finally, a report issued after the 1986 amnesty determined that legalized aliens only saw a 6 percent increase in wages. (Journal of Labor Economics, 1999, p.1)
But even with the assumption that legalized aliens will experience a 12 percent increase in wages if S.744 is passed, the CBO still estimates that passage of the bill would increase unemployment for at least seven years and cause wages to drop for at least a dozen years. (CBO Supplemental Report, p.4-5)
The news gets worse. While CBO estimates that the gross national product (GNP) will increase by 2.4 percent in the first decade and 4.5 percent in the second decade after enactment, it acknowledges that the per capita GNP will actually decrease by 0.7 percent over the first decade and grow by only 0.2 percent over the second decade. And regarding the estimate for the second decade, even there CBO notes that the per capita GNP may still not recover to the level prior to the bill's passage, depending on how well the economy performs after 2023. (CBO Supplemental Report, p.14) In short, the bill will add so many workers, that businesses will make more profits, but average Americans will see their personal wealth decline.
Finally, the CBO also acknowledges that the bill does not take into account any spending at the state and local level, which will be substantial. It also acknowledges that S.744 will only decrease illegal immigration by 25 percent over the next ten years.
Thus, in the end, CBO's analysis is bad news for pro-amnesty Senators. It shows that in return for increased spending, increased deficits, higher unemployment, increased competition for jobs and lower wages, S.744 still does not solve the problem of illegal immigration.
The House Judiciary Committee has announced plans to "mark-up" two additional immigration bills this week. First, the committee is expected to amend Rep. Lamar Smith's (R-TX) E-Verify bill (H.R. 1772) the "Legal Workforce Act" Wednesday, June 26 at 11 a.m. Then the committee will continue its work into the next day beginning Thursday at 10 a.m., and will be amending Rep. Darrell Issa's (R-CA) bill to increase STEM visas (H.R. 2131) the "SKILLS Visa Act."
Keeping good on the Speaker's promise to complete committee review of key immigration bills before the July 4 recess, the House Judiciary Committee also passed two immigration bills out of committee last week. First, the committee approved immigration subcommittee Chairman Trey Gowdy's (R-SC) SAFE Act (H.R. 2278) which enhances interior enforcement and strengthens national security. (CQ Today, Jun. 18, 2013) The committee approved Chairman Bob Goodlatte's (R-VA) Agricultural Guestworker Act (Ag Act) (H.R. 1773) which grants amnesty to illegal aliens currently working in agricultural as long as they continue to perform agricultural work. (See FAIR's Summary of H.R. 1773)
Boehner has continued to send mixed signals about whether he will bring up legislation that lacks the support of a majority of Republicans, known as the "Hastert rule." Last Tuesday, the Speaker told reporters "I don't see any way of bringing an immigration bill to the floor that doesn't have a majority support of Republicans." (The Hill, Jun. 18, 2013). "One of our principles is border security. I have no intention of putting a bill on the floor that the people in this room do not believe secures our borders. It's not gonna happen," Boehner insisted. (Id.) However, just two days later the Speaker contradicted himself, saying "In my view, anything as far-reaching, as complex, and as permanent as immigration reform should not be enacted without broad bipartisan support." (Politico, Jun. 20, 2013) "My job isn't to try to impose my will on 434 other [House] members," he said. "My job is to try to facilitate a discussion, and build bipartisan support for a product that will address this broken immigration system that we have." (Id.) Additionally, Boehner has been meeting behind closed doors with pro-amnesty Gang of Eight leader Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL). (Politico, Jun. 14, 2013)
The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Director, John Morton, resigned last week after more than four years of leading the agency. The resignation also comes amidst congressional debate over whether to grant amnesty to the 12 million illegal aliens currently in the country, an apparent concession that the current Administration cannot be trusted to enforce any new laws. (Los Angeles Times, June 17, 2013)
In an internal letter to his colleagues Monday announcing his departure, Morton said he was pleased with his tenure. "I am extremely proud of what we have accomplished together during that time and look with awe on the incredible progress ICE has made as an agency," Morton wrote according to USA Today. "ICE has truly come of age and become an innovative, leading force in federal law enforcement." (USA Today, June 17, 2013)
Morton was responsible for implementing the Obama Administration's backdoor amnesty policies, issuing a series of "prosecutorial discretion" memos prohibiting his agents from enforcing immigration laws against the vast majority of illegal aliens without criminal convictions. (See "Morton Memos" Summary)
House Homeland Security Chair Michael McCaul (R-TX) used the opportunity presented by Morton's resignation to call on the President to fill the position with someone who would enforce our nation's immigration laws. "As Congress debates changes to our immigration system, it is essential that the President appoints someone qualified and committed to interior enforcement, so Americans can trust that the laws passed by Congress are carried out," he said. (See McCaul Press Release, June 17, 2013)
In 2010, the National Immigration and Customs Enforcement Council (NICEC), the union representing 7,000 officers and employees of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Office of Enforcement and Removals Operations (ERO), unanimously voted "no confidence" in Morton, calling for his removal. (See FAIR Legislative Update, Aug. 9, 2010)
Morton is leaving the agency to work for Capital One, a Fortune 500 financial services company, as head of the company's compliance office. (USA Today, June 17, 2013)
On Monday, June 17, the United States Supreme Court decided 7 to 2 to invalidate an Arizona law that requires individuals to provide evidence of United States citizenship when registering to vote for federal elections. The invalidated law, known as the "Arizona Taxpayer and Citizen Protection Act," passed by popular referendum in 2004 (AZ Proposition 200, Nov. 2, 2004). The High Court found that the law conflicts with and is preempted by the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA) of 1993, otherwise known as the "Motor-Voter" law, which contains no requirement of proof of U.S. citizenship. The NVRA merely requires applicants check a box indicating U.S. citizenship.
Opponents of Arizona's law see it as an "attack on vulnerable voter groups such as minorities, immigrants and the elderly." (The Associated Press, June 17, 2013; see alsoBrief of Amicus Curiae NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund, Inc.). Proponents, on the other hand, believe the law is necessary to protect the integrity of the ballot and fair elections. (The Associated Press, June 17, 2013; see also Amicus Curiae Briefs of the Center for Constitutional Jurisprudence, Landmark Legal Foundation, American Civil Rights Union, and 12 Civil Rights Lawyers).
The federal Motor-Voter law has made the process of registering to vote nearly automatic for anyone applying for a state driver's license. The information supplied by the applicant for a license doubles as information for voter registration. Evidence exists that noncitizens are being registered and casting votes, but due to the laxity in checking the eligibility of registrants and voters, the full extent of the problem is not known. (See FAIR, Illegal Aliens in Elections and the Electoral College (2004) and Testimony of Dan Stein to the House Committee on Administration).