The White House has released its 66-page section-by-section summary of its immigration overhaul legislation it calls the U.S. Citizenship Act. If you’re thinking that any piece of legislation that requires 66 pages to summarize is probably filled with goodies for every imaginable special interest, you’re absolutely right.
The bill can actually be summarized in just 39 words: Amnesty for every illegal alien (including criminals) in the United States and for many who have been deported (and any spouses and children they might have outside the country), and lots more visas for workers and extended family members. The rest, as they say, is details.
In many ways the Biden U.S. Citizenship Act mirrors the failed McCain-Kennedy amnesty bills of 2006 and 2007 and the 2013 Gang of Eight bill – only more so. To begin with, there are simply many more illegal aliens in the United States than there were just eight years ago. An estimated 14.5 million illegal aliens would legitimately meet the January 1, 2021 cut-off date for eligibility, and many more who will pour into the country under Biden’s lax enforcement policies will have little trouble producing fraudulent evidence of presence prior to that date.
But amnesty and citizenship are not limited to those who are already here. Section 1101(a) of the bill promises a “pathway to citizenship for eligible noncitizens, including the spouses and children of eligible principal noncitizens.” Can you say, marriage fraud? Citizenship will even be available to illegal aliens who are no longer here. The bill grants the secretary of Homeland Security the discretion to waive “physical presence” requirements “if an individual departed or was removed from the United States on or after January 20, 2017” but had previously lived illegally in the U.S. for three years. Given the proclivity of the current secretary, Alejandro Mayorkas, we can be certain that that discretion will be exerted broadly.
What if you are an illegal alien with a criminal record? No problem. The bill, in Orwellian language, allows for many offenses to simply be expunged by “Modify[ing] the [statutory] definition of ‘conviction.’” But, don’t despair. Even if you cannot get your criminal convictions to magically disappear, a green card may still be in your future. The legislation carves out exceptions for crimes of “moral turpitude” by “broadening the existing exceptions for noncitizens who commit one crime, while under the age of 18 and more than five years before application for a visa or admission to the U.S., so as to extend the exception to those who have been convicted of, or admit the commission of, two such crimes.”
But wait, there’s more! The U.S. Citizenship Act accelerates failed family chain migration policies by clearing long visa backlogs by expediting admission of a whole range of family members already in the queue, and the tens of millions of family members of those who would get amnesty under the bill. And American businesses will also be able to belly up to the trough and get their desired complement of employment-based immigrants to compete with American workers in all sectors of the labor market.
Unlike McCain-Kennedy and the Gang of Eight, the U.S. Citizenship Act dispenses with even the pretense of preventing future illegal immigration with empty promises of enhanced security and enforcement measures. Instead, the bill “Directs the Secretary [of DHS] to implement a 4-year strategy to advance reforms in Central American Countries and address key factors driving the flight of families, unaccompanied children, and other individuals.” Nothing says you’re serious about halting mass migration quite like a plan to end poverty, crime and government corruption in Central America in four years.
In the meantime, an entire section of the bill is devoted to training (and retraining) border and immigration enforcement agents how not to enforce immigration laws. Under curricula (almost certainly to be designed by immigration advocates) Border Patrol and ICE agents will be given “cultural awareness” training, taught where they may enforce laws (likely nowhere where immigration law violators are likely to be found), and how to “refer complaints to the Ombudsman for Border and Immigration Related Concerns.”
Barring an unprecedented strong-arm tactic by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer to bust the cloture rule (not beyond the realm of possibility), or complete capitulation of ten Republican senators (also not beyond the realm of possibility), the bill in its current form will have a hard time garnering the 60 votes needed to bring it to the floor of the Senate – which is why the White House is prepared with a Plan B. If the American public is not prepared to swallow the administration’s amnesty and open borders plan whole, the president is prepared to spend the next four years feeding it to them piecemeal – one noxious serving at a time, cheered on by a compliant media.
The opening salvo in the Biden administration’s effort to rewrite our nation’s immigration policies has been fired. While it takes 66 pages to summarize what the bill offers to the people who broke our laws and those who want to throw open the borders, it takes exactly one word to summarize what it offers the citizens of this country: Nothing.
Ira Mehlman is media director at the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR).