Representative Darrell Issa (R–CA) is reportedly preparing an immigration bill that he says is “halfway between full amnesty and simply rejecting people.”
Although the bill text is not yet available, any approach that begins with amnesty will not solve our immigration challenges. As described in press reports, Issa’s proposal falls short of what is needed for an effective step-by-step approach to immigration and border security reform.
Issa reportedly designed the bill to give illegal immigrants some form of temporary legal status for up to six years. The intent of the legislation may make sense: Identify the illegal population living in the shadows and adapt the right policies to deal with each segment in a manner that respects the rule of law, deters future illegal migration, and best serves our communities and the economy.
There is grave doubt, however, whether the proposal could deliver this outcome. Indeed, given the way the Obama Administration bends and ignores U.S. immigration law, granting a temporary legal status to millions of illegal immigrants is all but guaranteed to end in full amnesty. Although it is good for lawmakers to debate and examine different strategies, they are far from ready to legislate.
Perhaps the most telling thing about Issa’s proposal is that it seems similar to the Senate’s unabashedly amnesty-centric bill. Both Issa’s proposal and the Senate bill give illegal immigrants a temporary legal status. And although Issa apparently doesn’t wish to provide special pathways to citizenship as the Senate bill does, a conference committee would probably drive the amnesty provisions toward the Senate’s version of amnesty. Ultimately, Issa’s “halfway” amnesty would likely result in full and total amnesty.
Amnesty was tried in 1986, and it failed. It kicked the can down the road, leading to over 10 million more illegal immigrants and exacerbating the original problem. Even worse, giving out amnesty today would cost taxpayers trillion of dollars in new welfare, entitlement, and government services costs.
Not only is amnesty—the Obama version or the reported Issa version—bad policy for fixing our broken immigration system; it is also incredibly unfair to those immigrants and prospective immigrants who have followed U.S. immigration laws. Millions have waited in line to come to America legally and millions are still waiting. Why do amnesty advocates want to tell these individuals that their respect for U.S. laws does not matter?
It is time for a new approach, not more of the same.