A mixed bag of senators announced a “comprehensive” immigration reform plan today that, as I suspected, includes a well-defined path the citizenship for the current crop of illegals.
• Those who arrived before January 1, 2007, will be given immediate work authorization, granted a “Z” visa and put on path to permanent residence.
• Head of household must return to home country within 8 years. They will be guaranteed back in.
• Penalty: $5000, staggered
• Double border patrol, new security perimeter, border fence.
• Guest worker program cannot begin until enforcement provision is in place.
• 400,000 temporary workers per year enter on two-year visas, must return home for a year then re-enter for additional two years. They may come three times.
• Earn points toward merit-based green card.
• May bring families on 30-day visitor visas each year.
President Bush said this:
“The agreement reached today is one that will help enforce our borders but, equally importantly, it will treat people with respect. This is a bill where people who live here in our country will be treated without amnesty but without animosity.”
The key to making any of this work is vastly improved border security and a determined internal enforcement strategy. In my mind it’s highly questionable if that can happen.
Debbie Schlussel often writes about our defective Immigration and Custom Enforcement agency:
Dumb question: Wasn’t the creation of Homeland Security and the creation of ICE perpetrated to eliminate the INS? While that was a bad idea, for sure, it hasn’t even turned out that way. Instead the INS has reconstituted with the worst of Customs running it, while the old Customs agency has been eliminated instead.
Way to do, Michael Chertoff a/k/a Mr. Burns and The ICE Princess. You’ve regressed a long way, baby.
Ouch. I understand we’ll be doubling the number of Border Patrol agents. But given Schlussel’s assessment of ICE and INS, I wonder if it will help? Are we really going to build the fencing required to deter border-crossers? And are we going to keep arresting illegals and shipping them back at the present elevated rate, especially if the worst should happen and we end up living under a Democratic president in 2008?
Any number of congressmen are unhappy about the bill, as are a number of bloggers I read. To me that’s a sure sign of an approaching compromise: when no one’s happy it means everybody’s giving up something.
The anti-amnesty crowd is already whining. Ironically, a lot of the noise is coming from places like Wisconsin’s James Sensenbrenner, the House Judiciary chairman, who was talking trash on CBS earlier this evening about how the House was going to have to spend a lot of time fixing the Senate’s mistakes.
Right, Jim. When the Senate passes their version of the bill the pressure will be on the House to put up or shut up. I’m betting on the latter.
No plan is perfect. But immigration reform is at least 20 years overdue in this country. It’s time for this to happen.