One year ago today, the Senate passed S.744, a massive bill that supporters claim would provide a comprehensive fix to our nation’s dysfunctional immigration policies. Over the course of the past 12 months, events clearly demonstrate why, far from a solution to America’s failed immigration policies, enactment of S.744 would have greatly exacerbated our nation’s immigration crisis.
S.744 grants amnesty to an estimated 12 million illegal aliens, requires massive increases in both skilled and low-skilled immigration and offers only hollow promises of enhanced border security to prevent future illegal immigration. It is a prescription for immigration reform that has failed in the past and, even without becoming law, S.744 demonstrates why it is not the formula for effective immigration reform now.
• Amnesties create more illegal immigration, not less.
In 2012, the Obama administration implemented a de facto amnesty for illegal aliens who arrived in the United States as minors. The response to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program has been an exponential increase in the number of younger illegal aliens attempting to immigrate illegally. Even though the administration has stated that newly arriving illegal aliens cannot qualify for DACA relief, the expectation on the part of newly arriving illegal aliens is that future waves of younger illegal aliens will be similarly accommodated. The inevitable response to a general amnesty would be a massive wave of new illegal immigrants of all age groups.
• S.744 would grant the president even greater discretion in immigration enforcement.
In addition to the prospect of amnesty, another driving force behind the current surge of illegal immigration is the administration’s refusal to enforce laws against broad categories of immigration lawbreakers. Rather than constraining the executive branch’s abuse of discretionary authority to ignore many immigration statutes, S.744 would have granted the president even greater discretion to not carry out immigration enforcement.
• S.744 would not have prevented the current surge of illegal immigration.
History has demonstrated that the provisions of the $46 billion border security enhancement would never have been carried out. But even additional border security would not have prevented the current crisis. The illegal aliens now streaming into this country are not seeking to elude the Border Patrol; they are actively seeking out Border Patrol agents in order to surrender so they can obtain a permanent stay of removal and work permits. Nor would the border security measures have done anything to address some 40% of current illegal aliens believed to be visa overstays who are drawn to remain here by lax implementation of employer sanctions laws, access to many public benefits and services, and little threat of apprehension and removal. Meanwhile, the bill’s entry-exit system provisions are wholly incomplete and would not be implemented for years.
“S.744 has failed, even without being implemented. In just one year, virtually every premise of the bill as ‘comprehensive immigration reform’ has been shown to be ineffectual. The leadership of the House must declare that S.744 is dead – whether as a single piece of legislation, or broken up into many smaller bills. Instead, Congress should resolve to come back in 2015 with a new approach to immigration reform: One that renounces amnesty and which truly protects the social, economic and security interests of the American people.”
-Dan Stein, President of FAIR