Senators from both parties, including Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts and John Kyl of Arizona, are sponsoring a comprehensive immigration bill which would potentially legalize the status of an estimated 12 million illegal aliens and would fundamentally change immigration policy.
The proposed agreement would allow illegal immigrants to come forward and obtain a “Z visa” and – after paying fees and a $5,000 fine – ultimately get on track for permanent residency, which could take between eight and 13 years. Heads of households would have to return to their home countries first.
They could come forward right away to claim a probationary card that would let them live and work legally in the U.S., but could not begin the path to permanent residency or citizenship until border security improvements and the high-tech worker identification program were completed.
A new crop of low-skilled guest workers would have to return home after stints of two years. They could renew their visas twice, but would be required to leave for a year in between each time. If they wanted to stay in the U.S. permanently, they would have to apply under the point system for a limited pool of green cards. …
In perhaps the most hotly debated change, the proposed plan would shift from an immigration system primarily weighted toward family ties toward one with preferences for people with advanced degrees and sophisticated skills. Republicans have long sought such revisions, which they say are needed to end “chain migration” that harms the economy.
Family connections alone would no longer be enough to qualify for a green card – except for spouses and minor children of U.S. citizens. Strict new limits would apply to U.S. citizens seeking to bring foreign-born parents into the country.
The anti-immigration element of the right is howling with rage.
Senator Jim DeMint (R-SC) complains:
This rewards people who broke the law with permanent legal status, and puts them ahead of millions of law-abiding immigrants waiting to come to America. I don’t care how you try to spin it, this is amnesty.”
Nation Review Online is editorializing against it.
As bad as the status quo on immigration policy is, it is preferable to this bill. Recent improvements in border security have apparently reduced the number of illegal crossings, and well-publicized raids on workplaces can be expected to have a chilling effect on employers who are in violation of immigration laws. But we suspect that this increased enforcement was largely designed to win passage for amnesty and a guest-worker program, and will end once this goal is achieved. We urge senators to cast protest votes against this bill, and House members to do their best to defeat.
And Michelle Malkin is on the warpath.
The ravings against “amnesty” are, I’m afraid, ladies and gentlemen, just plain nuts.
Conservatives imagining that the federal government is going to conduct house-to-house searches all over the country to round up and deport every single illegal alien are just as goofy as liberals yearning for house-to-house searches to find and confiscate every firearm in the land.
This sort of thing is just not on.
The kind of draconian measures required to eliminate private gun ownershio, or to deport every illegal alien, are fundamentally inimical to our Constitution, laws, and culture. Those federal agents would run into armed resistance before long in either enforcement project.
What kind of country would we be if we kicked in doors in order to deport poor people who have for the most part come here to do the humble and unpleasant jobs that you can’t find a native-born American to do?
Back before WWII, where I grew up in Pennsylvania, high school kids living in the small towns used to work for the farmers during the harvest to earn pocket money. Does anybody really think that today’s American kids are going to go out and dig potatoes?
America is a nation of immigrants. We have a lot of illegal immigrants today, not because those immigrants are bad people, but because our immigration system and laws have been drastically at odds with economic reality. Americans need, and want, low-priced labor not otherwise available, but Americans (not uncharacteristically) lacked the realism and political will to modify our laws in order to make legal immigration of laborers possible.
I think reforming the system to make it much easier for technically skilled, highly educated people to come here to work is extremely desirable, but we need more unskilled labor than we produce at home, too.
I’m in favor of legalizing illegal aliens, and I don’t have a problem with making them learn to taken an oath in English, and pass a simple test on American civics. On the other hand, the idea of the federal government charging poor laborers $5000 to become citizens is downright nasty, and making those people jump through pointless hoops (like returning to their country of origin) as a mere ritualized procedure is just a sop to the nativist yahoos (Sorry, Victor & Michelle!), which ought to be eliminated.
In general, laws need to reflect reality. When our immigration laws, like our current drug laws or Prohibition in the old days, conflict with the heart’s desires of Americans, those laws will always be found to be less than universally enforceable. Laws which can be only randomly and selectively enforced make a mockery of the rule of law and always lead to widespread law-breaking and to the corruption of law enforcement.