For the second month in a row, over 200,000 immigrants crossed into our nation illegally. Now, over 14,000 illegal migrants (largely from Haiti) have erected a tent city under a Del Rio, Texas, bridge awaiting their chance for a better life in America.
The desperate situation at the southern border calls for urgent action by the White House and Congress. Instead, congressional Democrats are obstinately pushing forward their plan to use the partisan budget reconciliation process to pass amnesty for what could be millions of individuals.
Thankfully, the Senate parliamentarian did not buy Democrats’ argument that amnesty should be part of their “human infrastructure” bill and wisely shot it down. However, they are vowing to try again.
Congress has a chance to make bipartisan immigration fixes that Americans support. Conversely, this amnesty proposal is a ploy to build voter loyalty to the Democratic Party in the future and will certainly ensure that the crisis of illegal immigration, especially at our southern border, continues for generations.
Law-abiding citizens and residents are right to oppose wholesale amnesty. It undermines the rule of law and has proven not to curb mass illegal immigration. Legal immigrants, like me, should be angry at the Democrats’ betrayal of those of us who navigated the costly, byzantine immigration process to secure legal entrance to this country.
Although immigrants are part of the fabric of our nation, the rule of law is the thread that holds this tapestry together. We cannot allow partisans to pull at this thread for their political ends.
The $3.5 trillion “human infrastructure” spending blueprint, which some are trying to pass in tandem with the $1 trillion infrastructure bill, would provide green cards to “millions of immigrant workers and families.” That includes people brought to the U.S. illegally as children, those who have been granted Temporary Protected Status because of armed conflicts and environmental disasters that prevent them from returning home, farmworkers, and essential workers. Yet, there isn’t a penny to spare for border security.
Amnesty for all of these individuals could represent half of the estimated 11.3 million migrants living here illegally, based on Census data. However, some people believe that understates the true population that would be affected. Those hiding in the shadows are unlikely to respond to Census questions out of fear of deportation. A 2018 Yale study found that the undocumented population is likely 22 million people or more.
In shooting down the Democrats’ proposal, the parliamentarian noted, “Changing the law to clear the way to LPR status is tremendous and enduring policy change that dwarfs its budgetary impact.”
Giving citizenship status and benefits to millions of people would likely trigger a significant backlash from the public. Especially since it would do nothing to stop the flow of illegal migration. In fact, it would do the opposite.
An amnesty provision would create a compelling incentive to come to the U.S. illegally. Even if those who are crossing the southern border would likely not qualify for this path to citizenship, that is not the signal that would be sent worldwide.
Instead, potential migrants would believe that illegal immigrants are gaining their stay, never mind the fine print about who qualifies. This scenario is currently unfolding as 14,534 Haitians, along with Cubans, Venezuelans, and people from other countries, overwhelm authorities at an encampment along a remote part of the U.S.-Mexico border.
The southern border wouldn’t be our only problem. We’d also see people overstaying visitor, student, and work visas. And people who have invested money and time into the immigration process and are patiently waiting for their turn in the line would have a strong incentive to expedite their own application process by hopping a plane or bus to come here—even if their stay is not guaranteed.
As a result, in a few years, we will likely be right back in the same situation of figuring out how to deal with millions of illegal immigrants again, just as we were after the 1986 immigration reform law.
In addition, the Afghan refugee crisis will also test our overburdened immigration system. There are already significant concerns about the rigor of our vetting process to ensure that terrorists have not found a way into our homeland.
America is a welcoming nation. Yet, our immigration system is so complex and opaque, and both restrictive and lax, that it fails to advance our national interests or the interests of those who want to become citizens. Limits and quotas on nationality, education, and expertise leave immigrants waiting “in line” for decades.
The process is restrictive for temporary workers who could fill seasonal needs for different industries and regions and difficult for those who could fill other skill gaps in our economy. The asylum process is abused as migrants seeking opportunity bypass the application process and clog the court system with cases. The list goes on.
Immigration is a debate Congress can no longer run from. However, shoehorning it into infrastructure and spending discussions, with input from only one side, is a dishonest approach to an issue that should reflect all perspectives.
Congress doesn’t have to tackle immigration reform all at once, but only passing amnesty could place back-breaking pressure on a highly stressed system.
Hopefully, the Senate parliamentarian is not swayed by Democrats’ continued pressure. If she approves their proposals, our only hope will be that a few moderate Democrats will stand against this amnesty plan. They’ll demonstrate that Washington can support immigration reforms but prioritize addressing the public health and public safety crises by securing the southern border and stopping illegal immigration.