What happens to the few immigration lawbreakers who won't be offered work permits and legalization by the Gang of Eight's amnesty bill?
The Associated Press and others are reporting that foreign citizens who unlawfully entered or overstayed a visa after Dec. 31, 2011, will not get the Gang's legalization. Others will also be excluded because of various behaviors past and present.
Unless the Gang's bill provides guarantees that the excluded illegal residents will leave the country, they will have more years to "put down roots" and "become American in all but documentation."
- Roy Beck
To be taken as a serious proposal at all, the legislation will need to provide not just promises but guarantees that the excluded unauthorized aliens will no longer reside or work in this country.
To do that — as every immigration agency in every country in the world knows — there must be a vigorous deportation program alongside a removal of all jobs and benefits magnets so as to encourage what Mitt Romney called "self-deportation."
That's a problem for most of the Gang of Eight, along with most other supporters of mass legalization, because they have spent years demonizing the very concepts of forced deportation and self-deportation. Will they suddenly be explicit in this bill about their full-fledged support of that kind of enforcement, or will they have written this bill like the previous seven amnesties from 1986 to 2000 that ensured that new illegal populations would build up until there could be a demand for another amnesty?
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Another key clue to whether this amnesty will just set up the conditions for the next amnesty will be whether it prohibits Presidents from using "prosecutorial discretion" to order ICE agents to release illegal aliens who do not meet an administration's particular criteria. If the Senate bill will not stop the Obama administration from its practice of releasing illegal aliens back into the interior, there will be little to prevent illegal aliens who do not meet the Gang of Eight's cutoff date from remaining in the U.S. illegally and indefinitely and even seeking employment.
It appears the Gang's proposal will promise to mandate E-Verify for all employers after five years as one way to push a policy of self-deportation. That is at least two or three years longer than needed and it gives the anti-enforcement lobby plenty of time to dismantle the workplace enforcement promises — exactly as it did after the 1986 blanket amnesty. Unless the Gang's bill provides guarantees that the excluded illegal residents will leave the country, they will have more years to "put down roots" and "become American in all but documentation," or any other of the bromides that supporters have used to justify this latest amnesty.
Read the fine print of the bill and don't be surprised if the Gang of Eight and the lobbyists writing amnesty number eight have constructed a perfect setup for amnesty number nine in another decade.
Roy Beck, a former journalist and author of public policy books, is president of the non-partisan NumbersUSA Education Research Foundation, founded in 1996 to promote the recommendations of the Barbara Jordan Commission.