There are a number of major problems with the “Gang of Eight” immigration-reform bill, many of which adversely affect national security. They promise the bill will end illegal immigration with tough, new enforcement procedures. If it were only so. One of the basic problems is that the border-security enforcement “triggers” are weak and interior enforcement is basically excluded. It is a boon for illegal aliens — legal status and work permits are given before any enforcement procedures are implemented.
The border-security “triggers” only require the Department of Homeland Security to demonstrate that plans for developing border security have “started” before illegals are then given legal status. Worse, after 10 years, legal permanent residence can be given without enhanced border-security implementation. Regardless of the many enforcement provisions in the bill, the bill leaves it up to the administration to decide what provisions to enforce. An administration official will have the authority to issue waivers for almost every enforcement provision.
The Senate bill calls for the completion of an electronic biographic entry-exit system for use at all seaports and airports, but it excludes 106 land-border entry points where most crossings occur. Current law requires biometric at all entry points.
In short, the “Gang of Eight” bill codifies a dangerous process by granting the Department of Homeland Security wide discretion in determining which documents are acceptable as proof of eligibility and identity, exempting amnesty applicants from in-person interviews, and not specifying how complete background checks should be. It also prohibits application information from being turned over to a law enforcement or intelligence agency unless the agency specifically requests it as part of an ongoing investigation.
A terrorist or drug cartel member who has not been fingerprinted would be able to apply for amnesty under a false identity. He would be issued official ID and travel documents under that name.
The Senate bill essentially turns the United States into an enforcement-free zone for three years. During that time, no illegal alien can be put into removal proceedings without an opportunity to apply for amnesty, unless convicted of a felony or three separate misdemeanors.
The threat posed by Hezbollah and al Qaeda terrorist cells in South and Central America cannot be dismissed by an administration’s decree. Fixing our porous borders is one of combating the threat of terrorism that America faces. Any immigration bill must have enforceable border-security measures as a key national security element in protecting our country.
Retired Adm. James A. Lyons was commander in chief of the U.S. Pacific Fleet and senior U.S. military representative to the United Nations.