The Senate "Gang of Eight" immigration bill, S. 744, now wending its way through the Judiciary Committee, has been sold as a "pathway to citizenship" for the estimated 11 million illegal aliens. It does a lot more damage than that, and the public needs to understand what's in it.
Just a few years ago, key members of the "Gang of Eight" would have seemed content to enact the so-called Dream Act — a more modest amnesty for about 500,000 to 700,000 aliens brought here as young people. This has been replaced with a massive proposal that tries to rewrite virtually every aspect of U.S. immigration law, and not for the better.
Why the big reach now? Because the bill's major sponsors figure the stars have aligned and that it is time to go for broke. Under prodding from President Obama and the supervision of Sen. Charles E. Schumer, New York Democrat, S. 744 is not just a big amnesty — it goes way beyond that in ways the mainstream media haven't reported. Mr. Schumer has assembled a wish list for every special-interest group that profits from immigration either financially or politically. In doing so, the public and national security interests are in very real danger of irreparable damage.
If you care about effective and enforceable immigration policies, you need to pay attention. The bill has the potential to change everything that makes America a great place to be. Overcrowding, congestion, unemployment and even larger deficits will be the new norm.
Mr. Schumer has presided over the crafting of a stealthy legislative monster that would render any limits on immigration meaningless. Through its 867 pages, the bill explodes overall immigration — more than 50 million people will gain permanent residence or temporary work status in just the next 10 years — while rendering asylum, refugee and immigration laws virtually unenforceable. On top of the expected administrative anarchy, the huge increases in overall immigration could set off the biggest unmanaged population increase in modern history.
Mr. Schumer is not to be underestimated. A 30-year veteran of immigration law and policy, he knows how to design a program to maximize the inflow while derailing integrity. He gave us the fraud-ridden agricultural amnesty in 1986, viewed by most experts as having been riddled with fraud.
Mr. Schumer has built on this experience by authoring a bill designed to promote fragmentation, dysfunction and delay. Instead of actual border security, S. 744 promises us a plan to secure the border, with no consequence for failing to implement it. It hands lawyers carte blanche to tie our legal system in knots litigating denied amnesty claims, even on behalf of criminals and people who have already been deported. The bill would dramatically expand the admission of both skilled and low-skilled labor, while widening the grounds for gaining asylum beyond what is justified by law and common sense.
This bill is a political power grab by those who would sell off residency in the United States to the highest bidder — using a public asset for personal and party gain. Mr. Schumer and the rest of the "Gang of Eight" think they can get away with it because the American people — who still care about borders and the collective good — do not have powerful Washington lobbyists looking out for their interests.
The drafters know the details of the bill would be extremely unpopular if they were widely known, which is why it is being rushed through the Senate before anyone can even fully digest it. After just a handful of stacked hearings, S. 744 is now being rushed through markup in an effort to get it to the floor by June.
The American people need to know more about what is in this bill, and the media have the obligation to explain the scope and probable effects of this bill. Amazingly, even in the wake of the Boston bombings, concerns about the national security implications of the bill have not only not been explored, but dismissed as obstructionist.
S. 744 is much more than a big amnesty program. It shreds our immigration-control system and enshrines every fear that Americans have regarding our loss of border and administrative management. Passing bills first and reading them later is a prescription for disaster. We can only have an honest discussion about our national immigration future if we all have an honest opportunity to read and study the bill.
Dan Stein is president of the Federation for American Immigration Reform.