Giving new meaning to the saying “a day late and a dollar short,” on April 29, Senators Harry Reid (D-Nev.), Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), and Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) unveiled their own proposal for reforming federal immigration policies and procedures. The 26-page document is less a proposed bill than a very broad outline for changes the senators and members of their party will push for in Congress.
Of course, if President Obama has any say on the matter, any effort to overhaul current immigration policies will have to wait until after the November elections. “I’ve been working Congress pretty hard. So I know, there may not be an appetite immediately to dive into another controversial issue,” the President told reporters aboard Air Force One. This is the surest signal to House and Senate Democrats that the immigration issue should be put on the legislative back burner pending the outcome of the mid-term elections.
The Reid-Schumer-Menendez memo, entitled the “Conceptual Proposal for Immigration Reform,” sets out eight “benchmarks” that they assert must be addressed before any significant alterations to the status of those currently illegally present in the United States can be made.
The first of these eight points calls for an increase in the number of border patrol agents. This mandate is at odds with the assessment pronounced by Homeland Security boss, Janet Napolitano (herself a former governor of Arizona) that, “the borders are as secure as ever,” due in part to “the highest level of staffing in the Border Patrol's 85-year history.” It is indubitably this sort of internecine contradiction that forced Arizona’s hand in the first place.
The second point in the Democratic plan calls for an increase in the number of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents combating smuggling operations along the border with Mexico. Again, why are Reid and his crew only just now offering these tactics when hundreds of thousands of illegals are smuggled every year into Arizona across the desert border with Mexico? On April 15 of this year, for example, a combined force of federal agents and local police broke up an elaborate human smuggling organization that over the last decade has transported over 80,000 illegals into Arizona, using Phoenix as their primary hub. Is it any wonder that Arizona (and perhaps soon its fellow border states) felt compelled to defend itself against the tidal waves of illegals that crash into their shores day after day?
The third proposal announced by the Senate Democrats calls for the bolstering of the resources afforded ICE to prevent the hiring of illegals by American companies. While targeting commercial outfits that are unlawfully hiring those without the right to work in America is necessary to drying up the oasis from which so many of these desert invaders are drinking, the fact is that according to statistics published in a recent UCLA study, 49 percent of illegals working in the United States are employed by individual homeowners, not corporations. If verifiable, this data would indicate that the effort to eradicate the illegal immigrant workforce, pressure must be applied on the individual alien, not just on businesses.
The fourth of the eight proposals is perhaps the most pernicious. The proposition has a high propensity for overreaching in direct proportion to its vagueness. The exact wording of the suggestion calls for “improved technology” that will assist ICE in determining eligibility for work in the U.S. While that sounds innocuous enough, later in the document, under the section entitled, “Ending Illegal Employment Through Biometric Employment Verification,” Reid, et al, set forth their chilling scheme to require all Americans to carry a 21st Century version of the Social Security Card. The national identification card will be embedded with biometric data detectable by federal agents. Specifically, the Reid plan will mandate that within 18 months of the passage of immigration reform legislation, every American worker carry the “fraud-resistant, tamper-resistant, wear resistant, and machine-readable social security cards containing a photograph and an electronically coded micro-processing chip which possesses a unique biometric identifier for the authorized card-bearer.”
As if that isn’t enough to freeze the blood of any ally of freedom and our constitutional republic, the Senate sponsors insist that the new identification card will contain the following information, as well: “(1) biometric identifiers, in the form of templates, that definitively tie the individual user to the identity credential; (2) electronic authentication capability; (3) ability to verify the individual locally without requiring every employer to access a biometric database; (4) offline verification capability (eliminating the need for 24-hour, 7-days-per-week online databases); (5) security features that protect the information stored on the card; (6) privacy protections that allow the user to control who is able to access the data on the card; (7) compliance with authentication and biometric standards recognized by domestic and international standards organizations.” Read it and weep, lovers of liberty!
The fifth, sixth, and seventh of the ideas published by the Senators on Thursday seem to restate the previous four but in more diffuse language. The bottom line is the increase in money and manpower for ICE and the Border Patrol. The goal is the turning off of the tap that daily pours drugs, humans, and crime across the border with Mexico. Each of these three points is so broad and so ill-defined (purposely) that when the fine points are drawn there is sure to be plenty of the tint of totalitarianism that is the hallmark of the present Potomac plutocracy.
The final proposal calls for the expediting of deportation proceedings in the federal immigration courts. Currently, the dockets are bulging; judges are overwhelmed; and forum shopping is pervasive, with immigrants filing petitions in states rumored to be more likely to approve them. Recent reports indicate that a perfect storm of federal ineptitude and in fighting between the Department of Homeland Security and the Justice Department menaces the entire system and prevents justice from truly being served.
The debate over Arizona’s new law and the implications thereof will continue, Congressional “appetites” notwithstanding. While every law must be circumspectly scrutinized for any defects and violations of the principles of personal liberty and good government, the new law in Arizona seems to be working, even though not yet in effect. While the latest congressional recommendations contain a few good ideas that are too little, too late, and a few (national i.d. card, for one) that are tyrannical and terrifying and must be vigorously opposed.
Photo: Sen. Harry Reid during an immigration reform news conference, April 29, 2010: AP Images