Redefining the Term “Amnesty”

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.”  

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Who Cares About Immigration? Washington Lobbyists and Labor Leaders Sure Do

Apart from immigrants (legal and illegal) and folks that are motivated by either politics or principles, lobbyists and labor leaders have a vested interest in the Gang of Eight’s amnesty bill.  They really care; they’re really motivated; and they’re descending upon Washington to ensure that our elected officials in Congress know how they feel.

The Hill reports:

Now that it’s crunch time in the Senate, more groups are announcing ad buys, organizing fly-in visits to Washington and coordinating rallies on Capitol Hill to push their priorities.

Another interesting nugget:

Millions of dollars have already been spent trying to influence the debate. A Kantar Media CMAG study of 2013 television ad buys through June 10 shows that supporters of immigration reform have spent more than $2.4 million, outmatching their opponents by 3-1. Forty-one percent of the supporters’ ads have been in Spanish.

You heard it.  And USA Today reports the same thing.  Sure, the spending is coming from both sides of the debate – but the big spenders are the amnesty bill’s proponents. 

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Sorry Chairman Ryan, It Is Amnesty

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.

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So You Want to Debate, Huh?

John Dingell, the longest serving member of Congress in the history of the country, famously said, “If you let me write the procedure, and I let you write the substance, I’ll screw you every time.”  This time, the Gang of Eight wrote the substance and is dictating the procedure.

Earlier this week, many saw the following Reuters’ headline: Immigration bill clears early test vote.

What was this so-called test vote?

In Senate parlance is was the Motion to Invoke Cloture on the Motion to Proceed to S. 744, which is the Gang of Eight’s amnesty bill.  What does that mean in non-Washington language?  Reuters described it as “a procedural roadblock that opponents regularly use to delay or even kill legislation.”

Put another way, agreeing to the motion essentially allows debate on the bill to begin (and yes, that aforementioned vote did require 60 votes).  But debates are weird in Washington.  That is especially true in the U.S. Senate, which used to be known as the world’s greatest deliberative body.

Conservatives, including Sens. Ted Cruz (R-TX), Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Mike Lee (R-UT), Jeff Sessions (R-AL) and David Vitter (R-LA), opposed the Motion to Invoke Cloture on the Motion to Proceed to S. 744.  They understand, as does Heritage Action, that the Gang of Eight’s amnesty bill is flawed beyond repair.

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FACT CHECK: John McCain’s Amnesty Defense

As the Senate continues debate on the Senate’s amnesty bill, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), one of the Gang of Eight, loudly asserted that this amnesty bill is “absolutely needed.”  Let’s examine some of his claims.

McCain #1: “The status quo is 11 million people living in the shadows, and they aren’t going home!  And anybody that thinks that we’re going to round up 11 million people and send them back to the country that they came from, most of them from south of our border,  obviously are unaware of the logistics that would be required there.”

RESPONSE:  Granting 11 million illegal immigrants amnesty does not solve the problems of our flawed immigration system.  As the Heritage Foundation, Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT), and many others have noted, Congress should be taking a step-by-step approach.  Those initial steps include securing the border and fixing the legal immigration system so immigrants who will help our economy and prosper are able to come to the United States.  But this cannot be properly accomplished in a comprehensive amnesty bill.  We tried that in 1986.  It failed. 

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