Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) outlined his yet-to-be introduced immigration bill in a Wall Street Journal interview on Monday [Marco Rubio: Riding to the Immigration Rescue, By Matthew Kaminski, January 14, 2013]
Predictably, coming from the WSJ Edit Page, the interview missed no cliché—unpicked fruit, E-Verify beingunreliable, “nativists” hurting the G.O.P., Hispanics being “natural conservatives,” blah blah…But for the purpose of simplicity, I will simply focus on Rubio’s proposed policies.
Before going through the details, I must point out that the actual legislation that Rubio introduces will no doubt be much worse than what he said in the interview. This is the pattern with all “comprehensive immigration reform” bills: the increased enforcement measures always have loopholes, while the amnesty and increases to legal immigration are wider than advertised.
Rubio more or less conceded this by suggesting a “comprehensive package of bills,” rather than an omnibus bill, to prevent those loopholes. But even the smaller amnesties like the DREAM Act have the same problems.
That being said, what Rubio is advertising as his immigration plan is already God-awful.
The “comprehensive” in comprehensive immigration reforms generally means that the bill (or for Rubio, bills) will
1) grant amnesty
2) increase legal immigration, and
3) at least pretend to increase border security and enforcement.
So with no more ado, let me Comprehensively address how Rubio’s plandeals with each aspect.
According to Rubio’s scheme, some form of legal status would be available to virtually all of the illegal aliens. Illegals who committed a “serious crime” would not get amnesty. All others would have to pay a fine, pay back taxes, maybe even do community service. They
would have to prove they've been here for an extended period of time. They understand some English and are assimilated. Then most of them would get legal status and be allowed to stay in this country.
But illegals are, as the saying goes, “undocumented”—so it is almost impossible to prove how long they’ve been in the country. (Anyway, why reward some people for breaking our laws longer than others?) Similarly, because illegals are usually paid under the table, it will be nearly impossible to prove that they owe taxes.
I guarantee that, when the bill comes out, there will be many “hardship” exceptions to Rubio’s proposed rule. And, regardless, taxpayer- and corporate-funded groups like La Raza and their affiliates will gladly pay the fines for the illegals.
It is a fair assumption that Rubio’s requirement that the illegals “understand some English” means that they will not be expected to be proficient in English. What he calls “assimilated” will probably be no more than a short civics test—in Spanish.
So unless you are a convicted aggravated felon (and I’m sure there will be plenty of “hardship exceptions”for this rule too) every single illegal will be eligible for legal status without the slightest sanction.
Despite all the yammering about how Hispanics are natural conservatives who will vote for the GOP if only the party supports amnesty, most Republicans know that the vast majority of the amnestied illegals will vote Democratic. So, as with most GOP amnesties, Rubio proposes delaying citizenship.
According to the WSJ interview:
[Rubio] envisions…a form of temporary limbo. "Assuming they haven't violated any of the conditions of that status," he says, the newly legalized person could apply for permanent residency, possibly leading to citizenship, after some years—but Mr. Rubio doesn't specify how many years…
The waiting time for a green card "would have to be long enough to ensure that it's not easier to do it this way than it would be the legal way," he says. "But it can't be indefinite either.”
However, this “limbo” will not apply to illegals eligible under the DREAM Act. This is already a retreat: Rubio’s proposed Republican DREAM Act last year, did not give young illegals a direct path to citizenship.
But currently a married adult son or daughter of a US citizen from Mexico, where the majority of illegal immigrants come from, has to wait over 20 years before a green card is available. An unmarried adult child has to wait 19 years. [February 2013 Visa Bulletin, U.S. State Department] This is to say nothing of Mexicans who have no family members in the United States.
Note carefully: I am not, of course, suggesting we need to expedite legal immigration. My point is that, if Rubio is serious about making the “limbo” longer than “the legal way,” the wait would have to be well over 20 years!
And, of course, most illegal aliens do not come here specifically because they want to become citizens—they come here because they want jobs (and benefits for their American-born children). But they would not have to leave the country during Rubio’s “limbo”—so, even with a long wait, illegal aliens who get amnesty will still have a great advantage over those trying to immigrate legally.
2. Legal Immigration:
The WSJ interview quotes Rubio:
I'm a big believer in family-based immigration…But I don't think that in the 21st century we can continue to have an immigration system where only 6.5% of people who come here, come here based on labor and skill. We have to move toward merit and skill-based immigration.
But does this mean that Rubio want to reduce chain (“family-based”) migration? No!—it just means he wants to increase skilled immigration.
Rubio says dismissively: "I don't think there's a lot of concern in this country that we'll somehow get overrun by Ph.D.s and entrepreneurs." But there is already an unlimited E-1B-5 visa category that grants green cards to investors. As for Ph.D.s, there are no backlogs for any country other than India or China for professionals with an advanced degree.
And of course, unemployed/ underpaid American engineers—and unemployed recent college graduates—would disagree about Rubio’s cavalier dismissal of their plight.
Rubio also plans on massively increasing low-skilled immigration. As the WSJ’s Kaminski editorializes:
At the other end of the skill and wage scale, most of the 1.6 million agricultural laborers in America are Hispanics, the bulk of them illegal immigrants. American produce couldn't be picked without them. The number and type of visas provided through a guest-worker program would have to be sufficient to address this pressing need.
But, once again, there is already an uncapped H-2A visa for temporary agricultural workers.
However, the H-2A visa requires that the employers provide the workers with adequate working conditions and also attempt to recruit American workers. Employers simply prefer to hire and exploit illegal workers. Yet brazenly, Rubio says we need a new program specifically
“…to give American agriculture a reliable work force and to give protection to these workers as well…When someone is [undocumented] they're vulnerable to being exploited."
He’s going to do this by removing protections and allowing Big Ag to exploit legal immigrants.
There are essentially three main components of immigration enforcement:
Rubio did not make (or the WSJ did not publish) a single mention of interior enforcement. Rubio called for some sort electronic verification of hiring illegals, but suggested that this does not necessarily mean E-Verify. It is important to note that E-Verify already exists, and that it is already an affirmative defense against charges of illegal hiring. But Rubio did not call for making E-Verify, or any other electronic monitoring system, mandatory
The WSJ’s Kaminski summarized Rubio’s position:
“Enforcement is meant not to ‘punish’ but to provide employers ‘safe haven’, he says.”
As for border control, Rubio says that the US must invest in more personnel and infrastructure—but, according to the WSJ,
Unlike many Republicans, Mr. Rubio doesn't say that improved enforcement is a precondition for immigration reform. Such reform would, by his argument, ensure that fewer people will need or want to risk an arduous border crossing.
In reality, because, as I mentioned earlier, there is no way to find out when an illegal alien first came to this country, an amnesty will certainly lead to more illegals crossing the border to take advantage of the new program.
It is safe to say that Rubio’s proposal appears to be virtually indistinguishable from what the Democrats want—except the delay in granting citizenship to the amnestied illegals.
Usually, Republican amnesty proposals at least pretend that they are focused even more on enforcement than legalization—but Rubio has pretty much given up even that pretense.
My theory: Rubio is willing to give the Democrats whatever they want—so long as the illegals don’t get (immediate) citizenship.
But the fact is that all but the wimpiest Republicans are unlikely to vote for an amnesty that does not at least pretend to increase border security and enforcement.
Frankly, I’m glad that Rubio has given up on the pretense that he wants to secure the border. Exploiting his admission could easily sink amnesty in the House altogether.
Final note: Rubio’s plan has just been endorsed by Rep. Paul Ryan, Mitt Romney’s Vice Presidential pick, who probably cost the ticket Florida and couldn’t even win his home county. Ryan has long been awful on immigration, just like his late mentor Jack Kemp (who also failed to help a GOP presidential ticket, despite much Conservatism Inc. hype.)
What more do we need to know?
Bring it on.