By Joe Guzzardi
June 24, 2013
Late last week, Tennessee and North Dakota Senators Bob Corker and John Hoeven introduced an amended version of the massive 1,274 page immigration bill, S. 744. The Republican Senators promise that their bill will eventually provide ample border security between the United States and Mexico. According to Corker and Hoeven, wavering senators should be placated and can now confidently vote for S. 744.
The two key words are “promise” and “eventually.” Promises are what S. 744 has always been about. In exchange for legalizing 11 million illegal immigrants and opening the door to millions more legal immigrants, mostly low-skilled, the Gang of 8 and its recently signed on, nominally Republican allies like Corker, Hoeven, New Hampshire’s Kelly Ayotte and Illinois’ Mark Kirk want Americans to believe that their bill will secure the border.
Curiously, neither Corker or Hoeven has been to the border, as confirmed by the Washington Times in a survey conducted earlier this year. Corker and Hoeven and the immigration bill they’re promoting sadly represent what’s wrong with Congress and why Americans have ever-dwindling confidence in its ability to serve citizens’ interests. Dropping 1,274 pages of legalese on the Senators desks on Friday with an ultimatum that a vote will occur on Monday is evidence that immigration advocates want to ram S. 744 through.
But, over the weekend, S. 744’s skeptics read and reviewed the amended bill, something the senators probably haven’t done. The facts the critics uncovered fly in the face of the Gang’s assurances. First, S. 744’s format remains in place. Amnesty will be granted first and security will be down the line—if ever. Corker/Hoeven changes nothing about the amnesty first provision.
Furthermore, the deployment of an additional 20,000 border patrol agents doesn’t occur until 2021. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, who already says we have enough fence, can waive at any time the Corker-Hoeven stipulation that an additional 700 miles of pedestrian fencing must be constructed. According to the bill’s language, Napolitano can ignore additional fencing if in her opinion it’s not “the most appropriate means to achieve and maintain effective control” at any one location. Beyond that, the U.S. already has 352 miles of fencing in place; only 348 more miles would be necessary—none of it, by the way, double fencing.
More good reasons to reject S. 744: Criminal deportees can return to the U.S., three-time convicted felons are eligible to apply for waivers to avoid deportation and visa holders who overstay can get in line for eventual citizenship provided that they can prove they’ve worked continuously in the U.S. for ten years, thus creating a rolling amnesty with no end in sight.
S. 744 is loaded with special interest pork especially for Majority Leader Harry Reid’s Nevada and its tourism trade as well as Alaska’s Lisa Murkowski, a recent co-sponsor likely influenced by the bill’s newly found generosity toward the Alaska fishing industry.
After all of S. 744‘s flaws are analyzed, what becomes obvious is what Capitol Hill insiders have predicted all along: that the Senate wants to pass a bill so impossible for the House to agree to that negotiations between the two chambers will collapse. Then Democrats will point to Republicans and, to regain House control, say, “See how little concern the GOP has for Hispanics. Vote Democrat; we care.”
But that strategy could backfire. On Hispanics’ list of concerns, amnesty trails the economy, health care and education. And despite hoopla to the contrary, according to the Pew Hispanic Center and other think tanks, the pivotal vote is white Americans, not Hispanics’.
S. 744 is a sorry display of ethnic identity politics that’s unworthy of America’s once great tradition. But S. 744 is where we are; the Senate is willing to gamble on the nation’s fate to get the coveted Hispanic vote.
Joe Guzzardi is a Californians for Population Stabilization Senior Writing Fellow whose columns have been syndicated since 1986. Contact him at [email protected]