Senate Immigration Bill Violates Constitution; Blue-Slip Would Kill It

Published on July 5th, 2013

By Joe Guzzardi
July 5, 2013

Buried deep in congressional legislative fine print is a clause which, pursuant to the Constitution, Article 1, Section 7, states that only the House of Representatives can increase taxes. The Constitution’s exact language: “All bills for raising revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives.”

The controversial Border Security, Economic Opportunity and Immigration Modernization Act, S. 744, ignores that provision. Section 2102 of S. 744 requires the payment from illegal immigrants of various taxes and forgives the payment of other taxes as a condition of receiving amnesty and federally funded benefits. The Constitution prohibits the Senate from approving bills that raise revenue.

In its S. 744 summary report, the Congressional Budget Office confirmed that enacting S. 744 would have a wide range of effects on federal revenues, including changes in collections of income and payroll taxes, certain visa fees that are classified as revenues, as well as various fines and penalties. The CBO estimates that in the aggregate, federal revenues would increase by $459 billion between years 2014-2023.

The Senate’s constitutional violation gives House Republicans, already deeply skeptical of S. 744, a legitimate reason to kill it without recourse. Republicans can issue a “blue-slip” resolution which would send S. 744 back to the Senate on the grounds that it violates the Constitution’s origination clause. Blue-slip resolutions are immediately considered as a matter of constitutional privilege, are debatable for only an hour and are not subject to amendment.

Rep. Steve Stockman (R-TX) informally heads the House charge to get Speaker John Boehner to blue-slip S. 744. In his official letter to Boehner, Stockman requested that the speaker uphold the Constitution.

In his earlier press release issued immediately after the Senate passed S. 744, Stockman expressed his indignation that the bill grants amnesty without providing a comprehensive border security plan. Echoing Americans’ sentiment, Stockman said that S. 744 does not fix our nation’s lax immigration system but instead rewards law breaking and encourages a new flood of illegals, thus perpetuating the very problems it claims to solve. In 1986, the Immigration Reform and Control Act proved that amnesty without enforcement begets more amnesty as illegal aliens line up along the border to wait it out for their turn at free citizenship.

The CBO validates Stockman. Originally, the Senate’s excuse for subjecting American workers to job competition from 11 million amnestied illegal aliens and a doubled flow of work authorized immigrants was that S.744 would assure an end to future illegal immigration.

But CBO disagrees and says that the Senate bill, despite its long-term enforcement promises, would still allow half the current illegal immigration flow to continue.

According to the CBO, even with the border security upgrades, by 2020 the illegal population will have grown big enough that presidential candidates will again be pressed into another contentious amnesty debate. If Homeland Security never secures the border, a distinct possibility, illegal immigration would continue on its existing, unsustainable pace. Between 1986 and 2013, the numbers of aliens living in the U.S. quadrupled.

The Senate amnesty bill is not a serious proposal to fix immigration. S. 744 ignores border control, insults legal immigrants, puts American jobs at risk and makes borders states like Texas, California and Arizona more dangerous. An increase in illegal immigration insults legal immigrants who have spent time and money to obey U.S. immigration laws. More Hispanic aliens also strains relationships with Hispanic-Americans, some of whose United States’ roots date back centuries.

A blue-slip is the quickest most efficient way to kill S. 744 and bury it permanently. Once dead, the House could turn its attention to worthwhile immigration bills that would truly work to all Americans benefit.


Joe Guzzardi is a Californians for Population Stabilization Senior Writing Fellow whose columns have been syndicated since 1986. Contact him at [email protected]

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