By Joe Guzzardi
March 12, 2013
The Senate’s notorious Gang of Eight, a small cadre of amnesty advocates who hope to pressure Congress into passing disastrous immigration reform legislation, has developed a new game plan. In January, heady from President Obama’s strong November showing with Latino voters, the gang came out with their guns blazing. Now is the hour, they declared, to grant citizenship to 11 million aliens, issue them work permits and the entire cornucopia of welfare benefits.
The complicit media, egged on by the powerful, well-funded open-borders lobby, declared amnesty a done deal, the final vote a mere formality. But in politics, two months is an eternity. And what once seemed like a slam dunk is now anything but.
The gang has suffered through some testy internal spats. For the record, the gang includes long time Republican amnesty advocates Lindsey Graham, John McCain, Jeff Flake and Marco Rubio plus Democrats Mike Bennet, Chuck Schumer, Robert Menendez and Richard Durbin.
Schumer and Rubio can’t agree on border security. Calling border security a “trigger” for immigration reform, Rubio insisted that enforcement must come first. But Schumer immediately dismissed Rubio when he flat out rejected the Florida senator’s conditions. According to Schumer, border security is not part of the gang’s “blue print.”
Back home in Arizona and South Carolina, McCain and Graham have gotten slammed by their angry constituents. McCain rudely shouted down town hall meeting attendees when they tried to question him about amnesty. Graham, no doubt wanting to avoid McCain’s unpleasant experiences, refused to schedule appearances during the recent congressional break. Graham is up for re-election in 2014, will likely face a primary challenge and correctly thinks it’s unwise to antagonize voters.
Menendez is under heavy fire on two fronts. First, subsequent to a Senate Ethics Committee finding, Menendez refunded $58,000 to a donor for two plane tickets to the Dominican Republic which were not included in his disclosure form, an “oversight” according to Menendez. And second, the FBI has an open investigation into Menendez’s alleged sexual indiscretions with prostitutes while vacationing in the Dominican.
Down in sunny Florida, Miami-Dade public school administrators want Rubio to know that new immigrant students—1,000 a month; 11,000 annually—cost the struggling district $22 million each year, a sum it can’t afford. The 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act proved that amnesty begets more immigration, bad news for the nation’s public school system and failing students if Rubio’s goal comes to fruition.
Given all its real world distractions, the gang was unable to meet its self-imposed March deadline. Reluctant to introduce a bill and then leave for the two-week congressional spring recess, the Senators leaked an outline to the press that it will reveal in full next month.
Summarized, the gang’s face saving plan is a combination of unsalable terms that the Senate’s liberal wing will reject and caveats which would be bureaucratically impossible to implement in the unlikely event it should pass. To acquire permanent legal residency, unconditional work permits and welfare benefits, aliens will first have to register with the Department of Homeland Security, pay back taxes as well as an undetermined fine, and prove that they have a clean criminal record. Assuming they qualify on all counts, the aliens would eventually be able to qualify for citizenship.
The gang’s chances of selling their legislation are slim and none. Here are two reasons why. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that 89 million Americans are “out of the labor force”; 11 million new workers would devastate the unemployed. And the Heritage Foundation estimates that adding 11 million more people to the Affordable Health Care Act, social security and other welfare benefits would cost taxpayers at least $3 trillion.
No wonder Graham said about the gang’s revised timetable: “You don’t want to leave it hanging out for two weeks just to get shot up.”
Joe Guzzardi is a Californians for Population Stabilization Senior Writing Fellow whose columns have been syndicated since 1986. Contact him at [email protected]