If Sen. Marco Rubio ever grows tired of basking in Sen. Chuck Schumer’s praise and takes time to carefully analyze the 1197-page Senate immigration bill that he co-sponsored, he’ll probably be unpleasantly surprised by what he discovers:
1.) Even if the bill becomes law, most people who try to enter the United States without permission or overstay their welcome will be able to do so. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has estimated (in its July 3, 2013 letter to Sen. Patrick Leahy) that the Senate bill will reduce the number of individuals entering or staying in the United States without permission by between one-third and one-half.
2.) The CBO’s estimate is too optimistic given President Obama’s penchant for picking and choosing which laws he’ll enforce and making up his own rules when it suits him. Besides, the bill itself gives the administration ample opportunities to legally waive measures to control immigration.
3.) After telling the estimated 11.5 million individuals now in the United States without permission that they have a legal right to stay, we’ll still have an increasing number of individuals living here without permission – 7.5 million 10 years from now, according to the CBO in its June 18 report.
4.) Which means that we’ll still have sanctuary cities, some people demanding greater security measures, some people insisting that those here without permission be given the legal right to stay, and everyone telling Congress that something needs to be done to fix our broken immigration system.
5.) It’s anyone’s guess what, if any, federal benefits those given permission to stay will be eligible to receive. As the CBO charitably noted (on page 25 of the June 18 cost estimate), it’s “not made clear” how Section 2101 should be interpreted.
6.) Criminals will be allowed to stay in the United States (Section 2101 at pages 139-140). Individuals convicted of one felony or three or more misdemeanors are ineligible to legally stay in the country. But for individuals who have been charged with a felony but not convicted or who have plea bargained a felony down to a misdemeanor, the bill grants the government’s permission to stay.
7.) Most people won’t have to pay back taxes as a precondition for receiving permission to stay in our country (Section 2101 at pages 146-147). Individuals are required to pay only federal income taxes that the IRS has “assessed,” meaning officially recorded. If an individual hasn’t filed tax returns or been audited by the IRS — both are unlikely if the IRS has had no knowledge of the individual’s existence — no federal back taxes will have to be paid. There is no requirement that state or local taxes be paid.
8.) There’s no requirement that individuals granted permission to stay in the United States learn English or acquire knowledge of our country’s history, economy, and governing principles. They can stay here forever without integrating into our society.
9.) The bill is full of payoffs for special interests. For example, citizens of the Republic of Ireland are given preference to come to the United States to work (Section 4403). Individuals willing to spend at least $500,000 to purchase one or more residences in the United States are also given preference (Section 4504). A Youth Jobs Fund is established and funded with $1.5 billion to provide jobs for one year to low-income youths (Section 5102). Snuck into Section 1102, which increases the number of border patrol agents, is a permanent extension of a program promoting tourism to the United States, at a cost of $100 million a year.
10.) The bill won’t let Republicans put the immigration issue behind them. Issues that Republicans believe have driven a wedge between them and certain voting blocs will remain and a new one will be created as debates rage over what federal and state benefits newly legal residents should be eligible to receive.
Former President George W. Bush told conservatives that they shouldn’t worry about the bill adding millions of new Democratic voters because ”good policy yields good politics.” Whether that’s true is debatable. But it’s hard to argue that this bill’s bad policies can be anything but bad politics.