Cruz is right — Trump / Grassley / Ernst Immigration bill was more capitulation than compromise

  • Aforementioned (failed) bill officially called the Secure and Succeed Act
  • Represents largely the abandonment of a key issue bigger than a wall
  • It was  “a very bad deal” now likely to get worse
  • Compare Grassley’s stated position to what he endorsed

This is the official Senate Judiciary summary of Secure and Succeed Act as sponsored  by Senators Grassley and Ernst and endorsed by Trump.  It seems to us this will be the new baseline and will only get worse.  Sure there seems to be provisions that are improvements to the current situation but there are provisions that sound better than they may be and others that admit of unwarranted capitulation or rewards to law breakers. We  highlight some items and then annotate them in red.

Secure and Succeed Act of 2018 Strengthens Border and Entry Security
Border Security Trust Fund

$25 billion in border trust fund for the completion of a 10-year border security plan, including tactical infrastructure, detection technology, personnel, and port of entry improvement. Includes additional resources and security improvements for the Northern Border.

Additional Border Security Measures

Requires DHS to achieve and maintain situational awareness (100% surveillance) and operational control (ability to interdict illegal traffic) of the Southern Border. If the parenthetical definition of “operational control” is only a matter of creating the ability rather than effectuating control then what does it really do? The existence of a sturdy gate is useless if it remains open.  

Applies to current and future administrations.  Sure, like all the previous immigration laws

National Guard/Operation Phalanx/ SCAAP/Operation Stone Garden

Additional CBP/ICE Agents/Officers and Other Law Enforcement Personnel
Border Security Authorities

Ends Catch and Release.   We will grant this could be an effective measure for a segment of illegal immigrants but not if it does not apply to the entire category who have all by definition broken our immigration laws.

Increases penalties for human smuggling/makes it easier to remove smugglers.
Enacts Kate’s Law to increase penalties for multiple illegal entries/unlawful border crossings.

Provisions to stop fentanyl smuggling. Window dressing

Addresses the unaccompanied alien children humanitarian crisis by giving DHS and immigration courts the authority and resources to conduct expedited immigration court hearings for these children. 

Updates inadmissibility/removability grounds for drug traffickers, gang members, sex offenders, multiple DUI offenders, human traffickers, terrorists, and violent and dangerous felons.    This is hardly a big deal – applying current law would largely suffice

Deters Visa overstay with expedited removal, subject to 30 day grace period.

Ends the release of thousands of dangerous criminal aliens every year (Zadvydas Fix).

Permanently authorizes voluntary E-verify program.   “Voluntary” — what the hell kind of reform is that?! It needs to be made mandatory that to employ someone legally you must determine that they are legally resident. If avoiding this is a reflection of some sort of contractual right then ALL citizens must be afforded the same privilege (and accompanying avoidance of taxes).

Reallocates Diversity Visa Lottery
Reallocates the 55,000 visas in the Diversity Visa Lottery to reducing and eliminating the existing family- based and employment-based immigration backlogs

Provides Permanent Solution for DACA recipients
Estimated 1.8 million people. Earned path to citizenship.
12 years. 2 years credit for currently enrolled DACA recipients.
Obtained a high school diploma or equivalent (if over 18 years of age.)
Arrived in the U.S. before 16, prior to June 15, 2012. Was under the age of 31 on June 15, 2012. Same
standards used by the Obama Administration for DACA.
Passes strict criminal background and good moral character checks.
Signs a conditional departure order that may be enforced if they violate certain terms of their status.

If 18 or older, pursue one or a combination of three tracks: (1) Serve in the Military; (2) Pursue a postsecondary or vocational degree; or (3) Maintain full time gainful employment.

 Conditional status revoked for criminal behavior or failure to meet eligibility criteria.

Reforms Extended-family Chain Migration

•Reforms family-based immigration to place a greater emphasis on the nuclear family, limiting family-based immigrant visas to spouses and unmarried children under 18 years old.

•Grandfathers all immigrants who are waiting in line for a pending family-based petition.   All we can say is sheesh

•Allows parents of U.S. Citizens (approximately 150,000 per year) to receive non-immigrant visas to enter the United States for a renewable 5-year period. Visas do not provide a work authorization.

Family-based immigration reforms for other classes (siblings, adult children) would not take effect until clearance of existing backlogs— giving Congress years to enact merit-based reforms. All we can say is sheesh again.

Now look at a passage from Senator Grassley’s own website, still up at this writing (screen grab on file) (bold emphasis ours) and compare that to what he proposed.  Also note his comments (admissions) after the vote.  Our annotations in red.

Senator Grassley works hard to reform our immigration policies and put integrity back into our immigration system.

Grassley first and foremost is opposed to amnesty. (words on his website) He believes if Congress insists on a legalization program, it’s important these individuals truly do “earn” any potential adjustment to legal status. This includes assimilation efforts such as learning English or paying back taxes If I defraud someone and am simply allowed to pay it back, where is the punishment in that and how is such a provision not essentially amnesty?  How is it that not doing other crime constitutes earned reprieve ?  Isn’t everyone expected not to do crime? Do citizens get “get-out-of-jail free cards” for not doing some crimes? Why is it that “adjustment to legal status”  become full citizenship with all its benefits,  rather than simply allowing resident status? If the full text of the bill provides back tax payments (not indicated in the summary) or fines,  it is, shall we say impolitic that it is left out of the summary.

He supports increased border and interior enforcement measures. This includes increasing agents in states like Iowa, and providing funding for fencing, technology, and border patrol agents.

It’s also important to improve the current electronic employment verification system that allows employers to verify the immigration status of their workforce. This system has been reliable for employers, and companies should be required to use this valuable tool.

Here are Grassley’s comments after the failed vote –Feb 15, 2018

Grassley: Senate Missed Real Opportunity to Provide Path to Citizenship for 1.8 Million Undocumented Immigrants, Secure Border 

WASHINGTON – Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley today made the following statement after the Senate failed to pass the legislation to provide legal status for immigrants brought to the United States illegally as children. The Secure and Succeed Act, the only proposal to be supported by the White House, would have also provided for additional border security and included the four key immigration pillars agreed to at a bipartisan, bicameral meeting of lawmakers and the President.

“Today is a sad day for many Americans and for many dreamers who would have had a rare pathway to citizenship. We had the opportunity to pass a bill that would have provided legal certainty for 1.8 million individuals. It would have secured the border and focused enforcement on the very worst criminals, like sex offenders, human rights violators and war criminals. And importantly, it had the President’s support and could have actually become law. It was the only immigration proposal that met the four key pillars agreed to by a bipartisan, bicameral group of lawmakers and the President. For these reasons, the Secure and Succeed Act was the right framework, which Senators would have been able to amend. It’s unfortunate that so many of my colleagues, when given the chance to finally give citizenship to DACA kids, refused to do so,” Grassley said.

The “pillars” it seems were crumbling facades.

Sure the measure failed because Democrats declined some of the grand concessions, but they probably figure why not – Trump/ Grassley et al were bargaining from their own perceived weakness. It is the type of issue where a new concession establishes a new baseline more in Democrat territory.  The Democrats can even (eventually) accede to a “wall” that will not be built with any deliberate speed so as to have more shots at stopping it.  Democrats probably rightly feel that sufficient Republicans in the Senate are not likely to propose or accept anything more stringent in order to avoid appearing as if they are taking it out on people they very recently conceded are worthy of various protections and largess.

Here are excerpts from Senator Ted Cruz’s comments on the Senate floor about the proposal . We think you will see that it provides appropriate characterization of the bill and the politics:

. . .     At the time, virtually every Republican denounced executive amnesty as unconstitutional, as lawless, as wrong. Yet, today far too many Senate Republicans are staking out a place well to the left of President Obama and DACA on numerous axes.

“Number one, DACA itself covered 690,000 people. 690,000, and yet, what is the proposal being considered by this body? Under the mildest of the proposals, we’re considering a path to citizenship for 1.8 million people. Mr. President, why on earth would we more than double, nearly triple the DACA population? If there are 690,000 people who received illegal and unconstitutional executive amnesty, then it seems to me the most of the population that we should consider are those 690,000. The argument is made that they have relied on this promise, even though the promise was illegal, even though it was unconstitutional, the people that have relied on this promise are the 690,000, not the 1.1 million who never even applied.

“I would ask why Republicans and indeed, why Democrats are nearly tripling what President Obama did in DACA? But that is not the only regard. DACA never included citizenship. Nothing in President Obama’s DACA allows citizenship. Nothing in it allows a path to citizenship. DACA was a work permit. Nothing more than a work permit. An illegal work permit, mind you, but it did not allow citizenship. And yet today, far too many Republicans are eager to embrace the Democrats’ demands that one, two, three, four, five, ten million people here illegally should be granted a path to citizenship.

“Mr. President, that’s wrong. That is plain and simple wrong. It is unfair to the millions of working men and women. It’s unfair to the steelworkers, the truck drivers, mechanics it’s unfair to millions of working citizens, to men and women who faced stagnant wages under President Obama. It is unfair to millions of legal immigrants whose wages are driven down by those here illegally. And it is inconsistent with the promises made by virtually every Republican in this body. Mr. President, it is inconsistent with the promises made by virtually every Republican in this body.       . . .

“It is possible that our Democratic friends will save us from this foolishness. That even though Republicans are proposing a profoundly, full hearty immigration proposal, that the Democrats will decide they want even more. There’s not enough amnesty the Democrats could take. If they do that, that will save the day for now. But if not – if this body gets 60 votes for one of these amnesty proposals – then it’s incumbent on the House to stop it. Much like with the Gang of Eight the Senate couldn’t stop it. The Senate has always unfortunately been very liberal on immigration, has been very willing to make promises to the voters and promptly come down here and vote very differently from how those promises are. But the House of Representatives, the People’s House, is designed to be responsive to the people. And so it is my hope, that House conservatives facing the people, listening to the people, will recognize we had an election in 2014 in response to the Gang of Eight. The American people said, ‘We don’t want the Gang of Eight,’ elected the largest House majority of Republicans in 70 years. Elected nine new Republicans in the Senate – retired Harry Reid as Majority Leader. And yet somehow, Republicans in this body didn’t hear the voters in 2014. We had an election in 2016 that the media was ready to call for Hillary Clinton and yet front and center in the 2016 election was the American people saying that they didn’t want amnesty.       . . .

“We may be on the verge of making the same grievous mistake. It’s almost as if elections don’t penetrate. We need to be listening to the voters. I don’t know a single Republican not one in this body, not one in the House of Representatives who was elected on a promise ‘I will go to the left to Barack Obama on immigration.’ If one of you campaigned on that, knock yourself out, vote for this. But if you didn’t say, Obama’s executive amnesty didn’t go far enough, we need to double, triple the pool, we need to grant citizenship because Obama was too much of a conservative on immigration. If you didn’t say that, then the only vote we told the voters is to vote no today. We can come together to find common-sense solutions on immigration, we can secure the border, we can triple the border patrol, we can end catch and release, we can implement strong E-verify, we can use strong tools and technology. We can continue to embrace and celebrate legal immigrants. We can do all of that while respecting the rule of law.

“What I would urge my colleagues is very simple, ask yourselves what you told the voters before election day. And let your conduct after election day match what you told the voters. The Democrats, campaigned as the party of amnesty so they’re being true to their promises. They promised amnesty as their priority and they’re being true. But for Republicans, we promised something different. We promised to stand with the working men and women, the union members, the steel workers – the men and women with the calluses on their hands. And I urge every one of us to listen to the working men and women, and to respect the rule of law, and to vote against these misguided proposals.”

R Mall

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