On April 23, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) proclaimed
the Gang of Eight’s immigration bill, which he helped draft, “puts in place the toughest enforcement measures in the history of the United States, potentially in the world.”
Since then, Sen. Rubio has said (on multiple occasions) there are “valid criticisms of how the border security plan is structured” in the bill he drafted with Sens. Michael Bennet (D-CO), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Jeff Flake (R-AZ), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Robert Menendez (D-NJ) , John McCain, (A-AZ) and Chuck Schumer (D-NY).
Yesterday, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) appeared to validate that criticism, projecting 7.5 million new illegal immigrants will enter the country and take up residency over the next two decades. Per CBO, that works out to a decrease in the future inflow of illegal immigrants by a mere 25 percent.
While the Senate has only voted on four amendments, three of them would have required – not promised, required – real, substantive changes in America’s enforcement policies and border security before any current illegal immigrant received amnesty. Not a single member of the Gang of Eight elected to prioritize security over amnesty. In the words of Sen. Rubio, “legalization is not conditional” on anything, even border security.
Thursday, our CEO Mike Needham said that Heritage Action would welcome a discussion
about the real meaning of the word “amnesty” and whether the Gang of Eight bill is amnesty. Amnesty proponents – including some folks who call themselves conservatives – like to parade around telling the world that this amnesty bill isn’t amnesty because the illegal immigrants who would be granted registered provisional immigrant status are penalized and have to jump over “hurdles.”
In a blog yesterday, Mike Needham made things really clear:
The appropriate focus is on the process of acquiring registered provisional immigrant (RPI) status. This legalization process begins when the Secretary of Homeland Security submits two plans to Congress, a mere six months after enactment, and is open to nearly every illegal immigrant who has been physically present in the country before January 1, 2012. After acquiring RPI status, formerly illegal immigrants will have legal status in the United States, allowing them to work, live, and travel abroad.
THAT’S AMNESTY, in case anyone was confused.
Do “penalties” and “hurdles” make amnesty not amnesty?
Having to pay $500 to remain here legally for 6 years – which calculates to $7 per month – is not a real penalty. So, “Not only will illegal immigrants have their slates wiped clean, they will receive a near-immediate benefit as a result of their illegal status.”
To be clear, their slates are being wiped clean. It doesn’t get clearer than going from “illegal” to “legal.”
Yesterday at a forum on immigration sponsored by the National Association of Manufacturers, House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) said the Senate’s Gang of Eight bill “is not amnesty” because “amnesty is wiping the slate clean and not paying any penalty for having done something wrong.”
We beg to differ, Mr. Chairman.
Speaker John Boehner said Wednesday that he would vote for the trillion-dollar food stamp and farm bill. Though he has concerns with the bill, he stated that he will “vote for the farm bill to make sure the good work of the Agriculture Committee and whatever the floor might do to improve this bill gets to a conference.”
He thinks this will help bring about “the kind of changes that people want in our nutrition programs and our farm programs.” Moving the ball forward legislatively may be a good political strategy in Washington, but it is all but certain to result in bad policy (and thus bad politics). As Heritage has explained, the farm bill that the House has produced is dramatically flawed and beyond repair.
From our CEO Michael A. Needham:
Republicans retained control of the House to serve as a check on President Obama’s disastrous policies. Advancing a nearly one trillion dollar food stamp and farm bill ignores that mandate. Now is not the time to be locking in the President’s failed stimulus policies.
The Heritage Foundation explains
that the number of Americans on food stamps is at historic highs. At no other time in our nation’s history has one in seven Americans received food stamps. This high food stamp participation costs American taxpayers nearly $80 billion per year.
Strangely, this spending is authorized by the so-called “farm bill,” 80 percent of which is for food stamps. It would be more aptly named the Food Stamp Bill.
Many who want to maintain the farm and food stamp bill status quo erroneously argue that Congress shouldn’t touch food stamp spending at all. In fact, some argue the food stamp program is actually a form of economic stimulus! Heritage explains that that argument is complete nonsense:
First, food stamps are intended to serve as a temporary safety net for those who face economic hardship, not as an economic stimulus. To justify food stamps as a stimulus to raise government revenue ignores the long-term economic consequences of welfare spending.
Not only can high debt from increased spending reduce opportunity, but welfare spending itself can impose substantial non-economic costs: discouraging work, rewarding government dependence, and eroding personal dignity.