Remember when then-Senator Barack Obama promised health care deliberations would take place in front of the C-SPAN cameras?
Well, the Gang of Eight’s amnesty bill is Obamacare-esque legislation that was crafted behind closed doors. As a result, it is very difficult for the American people to really have a grasp of what the bill contains and who requested what provisions. During the committee markup, many Senators were more concerned with getting a bill passed just for the sake of getting something done than for the sake of enacting good policy.
A number of Senators expressed the desire to avoid any amendment to the Gang of Eight’s amnesty bill that would jeopardize its chances of being passed. (The hearings and business meetings from the month of May can be found here.)
They were not really concerned with the merits of the amendments. Some of the amendments offered would have made the bill worse, while others may have improved the bill. But the fundamental point is that opposition to the amendments was driven by the belief that they could jeopardize the “compromise” that the Senate had already come to.
“We need to finish this bill and we’re going to do it as quick as we can,” said the majority leader of the upper chamber of our nation’s great deliberative body, Congress.
But careful deliberation is the last thing Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) wants. Heritage has forewarned that the Gang of Eight’s amnesty bill is everything like Obamacare. And just like Obamacare, this bill is being rushed. We have to pass it to see what is truly in it. Mr. Reid has set an end-of-month deadline for Senate passage of immigration reform, giving the chamber a mere three weeks to debate this highly controversial issue.
Reid argues that we have had enough deliberation:
There are very few pieces of legislation that we’ve had come to the floor in recent years that has been [as] thoroughly discussed, debated and presented as this.
First, where there’s smoke, there’s fire. When Harry Reid is pulling a stunt like this, there is usually an awful bill just around the corner. The Gang of Eight’s bill is that bill.
In an effort to make the Gang of Eight’s amnesty bill look like a good idea, the bill’s proponents are citing a paper that concludes Social Security will be better off when we grant 11 million illegal immigrants amnesty.
Not so fast.
Heritage’s Rachel Greszler has identified a couple of glaring problems with the analysis, which was produced by the Social Security Chief Actuary. It alleges a $4.6 trillion immigration boon for Social Security’s 75-year financial outlook.
As nice as that sounds, the estimate fails to take into account all future costs. Greszler explains:
This is like acquiring new credit cards and adding the newly available credit as assets but not subtracting the money spent on those cards as future liabilities.
[T]he Social Security actuaries fail to account for all of the additional benefits that new immigrants and their offspring will eventually draw from the system.
Take one look at what Senators have done with the Gang of Eight’s amnesty bill and make the call for yourself: does this bill actually make the problem worse?
In a letter to their colleagues, Sens. Ted Cruz (R-TX), Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Mike Lee (R-UT) and Jeff Sessions (R-AL) outline nine specific and legitimate concerns with the Gang of Eight’s amnesty bill:
If passed, S.744 will leave our borders unsecure and our immigration system deeply dysfunctional.
Moreover, the bill’s already serious flaws were exacerbated by the adoption of several amendments that significantly weaken current law, hamstring law enforcement, ad further complicate our legal immigration system. We were thus left with no choice but to oppose the bill.
In committee, conservative Senators offered a myriad of amendments that would have improved border security and reduced fraud in our current immigration system. Unfortunately, those amendments were rejected; in fact, several terrible amendments were passed that actually weaken our current immigration system.
For example, one amendment the Senate adopted was offered by Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE) prohibits Border Patrol from returning illegal border crossers to Mexico during nighttime hours (when crossings generally occur) and require Border Patrol to follow guidelines written by the government of Mexico.