The new Immigration Reform plan

Republicans and Democrats in the Senate have joined together to draft a new immigration reform plan.  It hasn’t been drawn up into legislation yet, but take a look at the provisions after the jump.

From Details of the Senate Immigration Proposal – ABC News:

Create a path to citizenship for 11 million illegal immigrants already in the country:

—First, increase border security efforts including adding unmanned drones, surveillance equipment and more border agents;

—Require completion of an entry-exit system to track whether people in the U.S. on temporary visas have left as required;

—Create a commission of lawmakers and community leaders living along the southwest border to make a recommendation about when the border security measures have been completed;

—While security measures are under way illegal immigrants can register with the government, pass background checks and pay fines and back taxes in order to earn “probationary legal status.”

—Once security measures are in place, immigrants on “probationary legal status” could apply for permanent legal status behind other immigrants already in the system.

—People brought to the U.S. as children, and farmworkers, would have a quicker path to citizenship.

Improve the legal immigration system:

—Reduce backlogs in family and employment visas;

—Award green cards to immigrants who obtain advanced degrees in science, technology, engineering or math from American universities.

Strong employment verification:

—Create non-forgeable electronic system for requiring prospective workers to demonstrate legal status and identity;

—Stiff fines and criminal penalties for employers who knowingly hire illegal immigrants.

Admitting new workers:

—Employers could hire immigrants if they can demonstrate they were unsuccessful in recruiting an American and the hiring of an immigrant will not displace American workers;

—Create an agricultural worker program to meet the needs of the nation’s agriculture industry when American workers are not available;

—Allow more lower-skilled immigrants to come to the country when the economy is creating jobs, and fewer when it is not;

—Permit workers who have succeeded in the workplace and contributed to their communities over years to earn green cards.

What do you think of this proposal?

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • Grace

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p3YKPrazEMo

    Speaking on the Senate floor today, Sen. Sessions explained that one of the lessons learned from the 2006-2007 amnesty push was that the laws on the books must be enforced first. He revealed that the…
    Added on 1/28/13

  • Grace

  • Bob Smith

    What’s missing are two things on the legal immigration side: Remove all quotas and streamline the issuing of legal immigration status even before people leave their nation of origin. If they are law abiding citizens and/or political/religious refugees, are healthy, let them come. Why sneak in when the door is wide open?

  • Paul Reed

    A liberal immigration policy on both sides. In 30 years from now, Texas is going to look more like Mexico than it does like present-day Arizona.

  • kerner

    The two most important aspects of any immigrant legalization are present in this plan:

    1. Applicants must have a minimal, or non-existant criminal record, and even more importantly

    2. Applicants must not accept public assistance for many years.

    In other words, you can become legal if you, as an individual, are a payer and not a taker. And people who cannot rely on the welfare state will, of necessity (as it used to be for most people) dependent on a strong family unit for social stability. Such people are good for this country and, I might add, most likely to be conservative voters.

  • Joe

    There is some good in this framework, but its just a framework. I really like the idea of fines on employers but until we have an actual bill it means nothing.

    But there is some bad things in this bill too. I am concerned about this entry-exit system, just exactly how are they going to track people and why should I believe that once our gov’t has the institutional frame work in place to track people that it won’t use it to track citizens. Also, I’m not so sure about increasing the use of drones. Is boarder security really such a dire problem that we have no choice but to grant our gov’t increased surveillance/tacking powers?

  • Joe

    Kerner – I am not seeing your second point in the outline of the framework. I agree with you that it ought to be a factor but I don’t see it in there. Am I simply missing it?

  • http://homewardbound-cb.blogspot.com ChrisB

    I’m not happy about illegal immigrants becoming citizens, but if they really make them wait in line behind people who got here legally (like my friend’s family who had to wait 15 years to come), I guess I can stomach that.

  • sg

    It will exacerbate unemployment and welfare over dependence. We already have people here who don’t have jobs. Our minimum wage is already low. The folks at the top will get higher profits from lower wages and better/harder working workers. The rest of us will pay more in taxes for benefits to those less desirable by employers who end up not working at all. Duh. The middle classes will have higher taxes. The working classes will have lower wages and fewer jobs. This is a big loser for the middle and working classes and a win for immigrants and the upper classes. This will increase income disparity.

  • Gary in FL

    sg, let’s assume this immigration reform is not passed. What then? How does doing nothing about the issue benefit the working and middle classes? Is it better to pretend we don’t know they’re living among us?

  • fjsteve

    kerner @5: do you think #2 will ever fly? Where’s the political will to deprive amnestied residents who are going through the, now legal, process of becoming a citizen the same access to government assistance that everyone else has? Especially in light of the fact that illegal immigrants are already getting benefits. Nice though. I just don’ think it would ever happen.

  • fjsteve

    The thing that’s missing is enforcement of the enforcement of border protection. They can put in all of the border protection provision they want but they can’t make the fed enforce them.

  • Cincinnatus

    Gary in FL:

    Your question partakes of a fallacy that assumes any “reform” is better than the status quo. This is quite simply not the case. SG’s critique isn’t a case for doing nothing; it’s a case for not doing this.

    It’s funny, though, how often your logic is used to support massive policy agendas in the United States. It happened with the healthcare and stimulus bills for example: “Yeah, BUT WHAT IF WE DO NOTHING? Therefore we have to do THIS.” Even though “this” was a terrible idea in both cases. And even though no one was actually proposing that we do nothing.

  • kirk

    @gary

    I wouldn’t bother engaging sg on this issue. Her problem isn’t with immigration, it’s with Hispanics. Unless you’re interested in arguing race, you should stop while you’re ahead.

  • kerner

    joe @7 and fjsteve @11:

    The requirement that a permanent resident alien stay off welfare has the advantage of being the law already:

    http://www.uscis.gov/portal/site/uscis/menuitem.5af9bb95919f35e66f614176543f6d1a/?vgnextoid=b70f8875d714d010VgnVCM10000048f3d6a1RCRD&vgnextchannel=db029c7755cb9010VgnVCM10000045f3d6a1RCRD

    It is a great irony/absurdity of our system that all LEGAL alient must stay off welfare until they become citizens. To ensure this, all permanent resident aliens are required to have a financial sponsor who promises to support the alien, must prove that he has the financial means to do so, and becomes obligated to pay the government back if the alien ever receives welfare benefits.

    Weirdly, this does not apply to illegal aliens, because they have no green cards to lose and no sponsors to obligate. And requiring aliens to stay off welfare as part of the cost of becoming legal is one very good reason to allow them to become legal.

    For most aliens, they must be permanent resident aliens for 3-5 years before they are even eligible to become citizens. The plan being proposed looks like this period before eligibility for citizenship is being lengthened for any aliens being legalized, which means that, underexisting law, they will need sponsors and to stay off welfare for a longer period.

    In my opinion, aliens willing to accept a long period of non-dependent paying their own way should be given the opportunity to stay, and not only because they will be forced to be productive for awhile. Years of work and financial independence will affect the way they think. Also, their sponsors (presumably mostly, but not all, citizens from the same ethnic background) will likewise be forced to be independent and productive if they accept this arrngement, and it will affect the way they think as well.

    Any program that encourages productivity and a work ethic is worthy of consideration.

  • kerner

    By the way, the requirement that legal aliens have minimal or no criminal records is likewise part of the law already.

  • Joe

    Kerner – thanks for the clarification!

  • DonS

    In theory, it is a generally good proposal. In fact, enforcement is the problem. We don’t enforce our existing immigration laws. In fact, the current administration has issued executive orders which essentially countermand them, but no one has the political courage to challenge that fact. Immigration rights groups have already stated that they will fight any employment verification laws which have real teeth. Many of our major cities refuse to cooperate with ICE to deport illegals charged with crimes.

    That said, we certainly need to reform and overhaul our existing clearly broken immigration system. I have a lot of respect for Marco Rubio and his honesty in advocating for these principles while recognizing the likelihood that our current administration will do everything in its power to subvert them.

    Adjustments I would make, based on initial consideration:

    1. If you illegally entered the U.S. as an adult, you can participate in this process to the extent of ultimately qualifying for a green card, but you can never be a citizen. That is the price you pay for entering the country illegally.

    2. The legalization process does not begin until a robust employment verification system is funded and in place, and mandatory for all employers. No exceptions.

    3. Anyone participating in this process who is convicted of any crime, including misdemeanors, prior to the obtainment of a green card, is deported. Once the green card is obtained, existing laws apply.

    4. I don’t see any civil liberties problems with visa tracking. Those in our country on a temporary visa are not entitled to our full array of Constitutional rights, and we need a reliable way of knowing that those on a temporary visa have renewed or left the country. This system needs to be fully funded and implemented before legalization begins.

    5. Streamline the applications of those applying for legal immigration, until they enter the country and can begin their lives here (or are duly rejected for admission under pertinent law). No legalization until everyone on the existing application rolls are processed.

  • fjsteve

    kerner:

    For most aliens, they must be permanent resident aliens for 3-5 years before they are even eligible to become citizens. The plan being proposed looks like this period before eligibility for citizenship is being lengthened for any aliens being legalized, which means that, underexisting law, they will need sponsors and to stay off welfare for a longer period.

    I agree that this is good but, then, isn’t there motivation to stay “off the grid” to get the benefits they’re already getting?

  • sg

    “I agree that this is good but, then, isn’t there motivation to stay “off the grid” to get the benefits they’re already getting?”

    If so, isn’t it like we are offering them the status of helots?

  • sg

    @10

    It is better to punish employers of illegals. If illegals are here to work and no one will hire them, they will go home and others will not follow. The problem is with the employers.

  • sg

    enforcement is the problem. We don’t enforce our existing immigration laws. In fact, the current administration has issued executive orders which essentially countermand them, but no one has the political courage to challenge that fact.

    Right, because anytime you suggest deporting illegals for breaking our immigration laws, you get slammed with comments like #14.

  • SKPeterson

    As was mentioned above, we need to streamline the legal immigration process to reduce the incentives to actually immigrate illegally.

    As to the minimum wage argument or the “there are already Americans without jobs” argument, both are easily (well, not politically easy) addressed: eliminate minimum wage laws altogether, and severely reduce welfare payments over time, i.e., the longer you are unemployed and the longer you are no longer even looking for work, the less you get. Believe it or not, but leisure (especially when someone else can pay you for it) is the default option for almost all of humanity; we have to be incentivized to work, usually by facing stark choices like work or starve.

    Now, it is true that a majority of illegal-immigrant families rely on some form of public assistance (about 57% according to the Census Bureau – via Judicial Watch). This is most likely because employer-provided insurance or other legal barriers exist that reduce the ability of these families to access healthcare. That being said, a very high percentage of legal immigrants rely on some form of public assistance (upwards of 70% in some demographic groups). Again, if you are concerned about some sort of unwarranted burden immigrants might be placing on our social welfare system at the expense of natives, my suggestion is to eliminate those programs. The incentive to immigrants to come here in order to obtain welfare services goes away, and the incentive for natives to remain unemployed and on welfare also disappears.

  • sg

    @23

    yeah, I agree.

  • kerner

    fjsteve:
    “isn’t there motivation to stay “off the grid” to get the benefits they’re already getting?”

    There is. It would, of course, be a good thing if we could step up enforcement against those who do not sign up and become legal. It would also be good if we could cut off the gravy train for those who choose to stay on it. I do not claim that this idea will solve every problem we have. But if it does what I hope it does, one thing it will do is separate the wheat from the chaff, so to speak. We will have a pretty good idea which immigrants are here to do honest work and get ahead that way, and of which ones are here to sponge off the system. I believe it is in our best interest to reward the former and penalize the latter.

    DonS:

    I appreciate much of what you say, but some of it is like trying to unscramble an egg. When you say “no legalization until…” and then set up a number of preconditions that will take decades to meet, or never be met, this is not a solution. Where would we have been if those who wanted to repeal prohibition were told: “Enforcement first! We will legalize beverage alcohol only after nobody has had an illegal drink for 5 years!”

    A major problem with our immigration laws is they are much the same as any other government program that tries to protect us from free market forces. Come on now, if I had proposed creating a large body of market inhibiting regulations with a “robust enforcement system” (which incidently can invade business records without warrants) to plague American businessmen for any other reason, wouldn’t your instincts be to resist that? And is requiring every American worker to have some kind of “number of the beast” identification card to prove he is allowed to do honest work something you would ordinarily support?

    When you come right down to it, why should it be the federal government’s business who an American business chooses to hire, anyway?

  • Kirk

    @22

    Yes, I think you’re a racist because you want to enforce immigration laws, not because you think Hispanics are inferior.

  • fjsteve

    kerner,

    All of the silver in the lining you mentioned hinges on the enforcement issue. But didn’t we see enforcement promises during the Reagan amnesty that never came to fruition? This is my concern. Amnesty is a sweeping declaration; enforcement is a long arduous journey. The former grows legs of it’s own while the latter has to be pushed along. I don’t have high hope, or any hopes really, that this would be any different.

  • Grace

    This just in from CNN:

    “President Barack Obama on Tuesday threw his support behind a comprehensive overhaul of U.S. immigration laws, saying “now’s the time” to replace a “badly broken” system.


    “Obama said the overhaul must provide a “pathway to citizenship” for the more than 11 million undocumented immigrants in the U.S., and that if Congress does not act “in a timely fashion” he will propose a bill “and insist that they vote on it right away.

    “Timely” – what kind of time will Obama give to get his OWN WAY?

     ‏

  • DonS

    Kerner @ 25: I don’t have a problem with employment verification. We already allegedly have it — employers can be fined for hiring without collecting a completed I-9 form from the new hire. There’s certainly no need for an “identification card”, or whatever you are talking about, at least for citizens. I don’t have a problem with resident immigrants (aliens, as we used to call them) having to carry such a card. Good grief, are you really going to argue, with social security numbers, detailed audits for a host of reasons, choking regulations applied to every aspect of the operation of a business, that e-verify or some such system is the straw that breaks the camel’s back? The bridge too far?

    And, as for enforcement, I don’t think it’s too much to ask that we build all of the infrastructure to implement the new immigration system so that it comes on line at the same time. We tried it the other way in 1986 — grant immediate amnesty, and then build the immigration control system. Didn’t work, largely because Congress subsequently undermined that part of the plan. The result — more illegal immigration than ever before. We’re supposed to learn from our mistakes, not repeat them. We can use the time between now and implementation to focus on processing our existing legal immigrant backlog — let’s, for once, put prospective immigrants who follow the law ahead of immigrants who didn’t.

    The problem with illegal immigration is that everyone in our country, illegal or not, is immediately eligible for many governmental benefits, such as free public education, medical care (at least through our overburdened hospital emergency rooms), police and city services, and the like. In border areas, such as where I live, that is a big burden on the taxpayer. That is why I support a path to legalization for illegals who have not and will not commit any crime during the legalization process in conjunction with a better immigration system to minimize future illegal immigration and ensure that legal immigrants are properly financially sponsored.

  • kerner

    SKP @23
    I do not know whether I believe the census figures, but I do believe this. The Obama administration has been trying very hard to sign up as many people as possible for food stamps, as well as other means tested forms of public assistance. The purpose of this push has been to create a large class of people who are as dependent on the government as possible. And I have no doubt that his administration is encouraging as many illegals as he can to get on some form of means tested assistance. Thus, creating a pro-socialist vioting bloc.

    But this is all the more reason to get as many people into a system that encourages work and self reliance as possible, and as quickly as possible. I disagree strongly with those who want to send ICE agents to businesses where people are working for a living. That is the very last place they should be. Every ICE agent we have should be checking out jails (which they sometimes do) and welfare offices (which they never do, at present).

  • kerner

    DonS:

    What I’m saying is that we need fewer regulations and regulators, not more. And an e-verify system will require tracking of all Americans to prove the ARE Americans. So, we are goiing to allow the kind of government intrusion into our privacy over illegal immigration that we would never allow otherwise. This is a trap, and we are taking the bait.

  • DonS

    We already allowed it, Kerner @31. When we instituted the exceedingly invasive income tax system.

    Tell me what kind of information the government would be entitled to in connection with workplace enforcement that it is not already receiving in connection with income and social security tax returns and audits?

  • sg

    Yes, I think you’re a racist because you want to enforce immigration laws, not because you think Hispanics are inferior.

    Do you actually have a point, Kirk? Or is it just your shtick to call people racists? Or are we all supposed to pretend not to notice problems in certain communities because if any notice, then the only possible explanation is racism?

  • sg


    “President Barack Obama on Tuesday threw his support behind a comprehensive overhaul of U.S. immigration laws, saying “now’s the time” to replace a “badly broken” system.

    The part of the system is the part that deports illegals. The part that lets people in is working just fine. We import more people each year than any other country, I believe.

  • fjsteve

    kerner re: enforcement

    I agree with the need to have the enforcement timeline built into the legislation. I just don’t see it panning out that way. Here’s how I see it going down. The bill gets proposed. Republicans insist that enforcement measure timelines be written into the bill. Democrats, including Obama, and the media, bash Republicans for stalling the bill. Republicans, not wanting to look like racists, back down and those measures never get written in. Bill gets passed. Amnesty granted. What’s left of the enforcement measure that actually made it into the bill get wink and a nod and a “vote for me next term and we’ll see what we can do”.

  • sg

    How about following Canada’s idea?

    Canada’s guest worker program could become model for U.S. immigration changes

    View Photo Gallery — A different kind of guest worker program: Canada’s program for Mexican guest workers could be part of the U.S. debate on immigration reform.

    Text Size PrintE-mailReprints
    By Nick Miroff, Published: January 5

    OJOCALIENTE, Mexico — When Oscar Reyes heads north for seasonal work every spring, he no longer pays a smuggler to sneak him through the desert past the U.S. Border Patrol.

    He takes Air Canada.

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    Reyes earns $10.25 an hour tending grapes and spraying pesticides at a vineyard in British Columbia’s Okanagan Valley, working eight months straight, seven days a week.

    He was one of nearly 16,000 temporary workers from Mexico imported by Canada last year, part of a government-to-government agreement that Mexican officials view as a potential model for an expanded “guest worker” program in the United States.

    “I come home loaded with money, and I don’t have to worry about anything,” said Reyes, who is back home for the winter with his family. New toys were scattered across the living room….

    The United States gives out about 50,000 seasonal agricultural visas per year, nearly all of them to Mexican workers. But U.S. farmers, immigrant advocate groups, labor unions and Mexican officials say that the current U.S. program is a mess: inefficient, bureaucratic and vulnerable to abuses by swindlers and shady recruiters who charge potential workers thousands of dollars to find jobs for them and prepare their visa applications.

    The frustrations have left many looking north, to Canada, where government officials partner with their Mexican counterparts to recruit workers, expedite visas, guarantee health and safety standards, and coordinate travel arrangements and pay.

    They also go to extraordinary lengths to make sure the workers go back to Mexico at the end of the season, raising criticisms that the arrangement treats them as little more than human machines.

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/canadas-guest-worker-program-could-become-model-for-us-immigration-changes/2013/01/05/2b82a468-551b-11e2-89de-76c1c54b1418_story.html?hpid=z2

  • sg

    Oops, sorry, I thought I had cut out the ads. Here it is cleaned up:

    Canada’s guest worker program could become model for U.S. immigration changes

    OJOCALIENTE, Mexico — When Oscar Reyes heads north for seasonal work every spring, he no longer pays a smuggler to sneak him through the desert past the U.S. Border Patrol.

    He takes Air Canada.

    Reyes earns $10.25 an hour tending grapes and spraying pesticides at a vineyard in British Columbia’s Okanagan Valley, working eight months straight, seven days a week.

    He was one of nearly 16,000 temporary workers from Mexico imported by Canada last year, part of a government-to-government agreement that Mexican officials view as a potential model for an expanded “guest worker” program in the United States.

    “I come home loaded with money, and I don’t have to worry about anything,” said Reyes, who is back home for the winter with his family. New toys were scattered across the living room….

    The United States gives out about 50,000 seasonal agricultural visas per year, nearly all of them to Mexican workers. But U.S. farmers, immigrant advocate groups, labor unions and Mexican officials say that the current U.S. program is a mess: inefficient, bureaucratic and vulnerable to abuses by swindlers and shady recruiters who charge potential workers thousands of dollars to find jobs for them and prepare their visa applications.

    The frustrations have left many looking north, to Canada, where government officials partner with their Mexican counterparts to recruit workers, expedite visas, guarantee health and safety standards, and coordinate travel arrangements and pay.

    They also go to extraordinary lengths to make sure the workers go back to Mexico at the end of the season, raising criticisms that the arrangement treats them as little more than human machines.

    This Canadian program looks like a good deal for everyone involved. The rules are clear. The conditions are decent. All very orderly and equitable. The worker isn’t abused. The deal is what they say it is. All very transparent and fair.

    What do you think?

  • Gary in FL

    @13
    OK, suppose you agree something ought to be done about illegal/undocumented workers, but just not _this_ thing. Would you or SG offer a thumbnail sketch of what _you_ think should be done? It would be refreshing to hear a conservative offer a realistic way forward on this issue.

  • sg

    Lots of countries enforce their immigration laws quite successfully. That doesn’t mean they have absolutely no illegal immigrants, but they have better compliance because they have better enforcement and stiffer penalties. I mean, even putting an employer in jail for 3 months would be a huge deterrent because many of the folks who hire illegals are kinda just going along with the status quo that has developed over time. If the fines and penalties were enforced and we had big billboards with PSA’s publicly criticizing those who hire illegals like we had with the anti smoking campaigns, it would be far more effective. Instead, we get folks openly sympathizing with illegals as though they were the victims. Having to live in your own country is not some horrible fate. Mexico is not some horrible hell hole that no one can be expected to endure. In fact far from hating their homeland, many immigrants love it and return often to visit. But if a person is only qualified for unskilled work, then the USA is a better deal than Mexico. So, really, it is just enforcement. If other countries can do it, so can we. Heck even as bad as South Africa is, it has to have a wall to keep illegal immigrants out.
    Consider this.
    Israel has 7,765,700 people and 458 miles of border fence, and not some wimpy pretend fence.
    That is about 4 inches of fence per person.
    http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Peace/fence.html
    The United States has 314,000,000 people and almost 2000 miles of border with Mexico. That is about 4x as much border to fence as Israel, but we have way more than 4x as many people to pay for the project. A US fence would be about one centimeter of fence per person.
    Israel’s fence is somewhere around $2 billion. If ours cost 10 times that using American union workers, it would still be a bargain. Why is keeping terrorists and illegal immigrants out good for Israel, but bad for the US?

  • Grace

    Gary @ 38

    YOU WROTE:

    “Would you or SG offer a thumbnail sketch of what _you_ think should be done? It would be refreshing to hear a conservative offer a realistic way forward on this issue.”

    I will give you my views –

    I live in Southern CA. The burden of illigal aliens is off the cliff, both in medical care, education, and host of other problems, that are taking mega amounts of funds (California cannot pay for) in taxes.

      ‏1. First of all, drug traffic is a huge problem, which our prisons populations reflect.
      ‏ 2. Illegal aliens can go back to their country of origin and WAIT THEIR TURN.
      ‏3. Every illigal alien I have ever known sends most often, HALF their earnings back to their country or orign.
    ( The above could and should be MONITORED) If those who send money are not legal immigrants, they should be sent back ASAP and all monies from whatever source, paid to the United States, for all services, including – HEALTH, EDUCATION and WELFARE.

    Those who are illegal aliens need to understand our laws, and abide by them – if this is impossible for them to understand, then it will become a reality when they board a plane headed for the country of origin.

    We cannot take responsibility for them, meaning health care, education, etc. Please don’t blurt out the attempted excuse they pay taxes by goods purchased, etc., etc. in the U.S.

  • Grace

    We need a fence, that will stretch along all the border states. We are the ones who burdened with taxes, due to illegal aliens.

  • Joe

    This is a nice illustration of how onerous out legal immigration system is:

    http://reason.com/assets/db/07cf533ddb1d06350cf1ddb5942ef5ad.jpg


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