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.
McCain #2: “So if the status quo is unacceptable, don’t we all share the same goal to secure our border, of addressing the issue of these 11 million people who are in this country illegally living in the shadows, and by the way being exploited in incredible fashions because they don’t have the rights of citizens. And they did break our laws by coming here, and we are making them pay a heavy price for doing so – including a fine, including learning English, including paying back taxes, including waiting ten years before they would be eligible for a green card, and most importantly to many Americans, they get in line behind everybody who waited, who waited legally, either inside this country or outside of it, they have to get in line behind them.”
RESPONSE: Yes, they did break our laws by coming here. Granting them amnesty will encourage – beyond a shadow of a doubt – future illegal immigration. Amnesty sends a loud and clear message that if you come here illegally, eventually you will be granted amnesty and be able apply for citizenship. Moreover, granting amnesty to illegal immigrants – allowing them to live, work and travel abroad legally – gives them privileges not available to the legal immigrants who have waited patiently abroad to enter or remain lawfully in the United States.
McCain #3: “And they have to be working for those then years.”
RESPONSE: What if they’re not working the whole time? Will they be deported then, or just slide back into what McCain calls de facto amnesty? Have any of the proponents of this bill really thought through the implications? Will they be able to find jobs when our country is still experiencing such high unemployment levels? If not, will the Secretary waive the requirement?
McCain #4: “Anyone who has committed crimes in this country is going to be deported.”
RESPONSE: That’s simply not true. Illegal immigrants who have been previously deported and returned for a second time are guilty of a criminal offense. Those individuals would be allowed to remain in the U.S. with amnesty. According to Politico, “Immigrants barred from gaining the provisional legal status because of a criminal record from long-ago offenses can seek a waiver.” We have also explained, “This broad grant of amnesty would include individuals who were previously deported and criminals with up to two misdemeanors (not including the illegal entry).” Oh, and they can appeal multiple times if they are denied immediate legal status.
McCain #5: “And most importantly, this legislation dries up the magnet that pulls people into this country where they believe they can find work.”
RESPONSE: First, thanks to Obamacare, employers will have an incentive to hire illegal immigrants who were granted amnesty. Illegal immigrants will be ineligible for Obamacare for the first 13 years after they are granted amnesty, because that’s how long they would have to wait to apply for full citizenship. Thus, by employing them instead of Americans, employers can avoid the hefty fees required by the Obamacare employer mandate. Second, illegal immigrants seeking work will be even more emboldened by this wave of amnesty to break the law and enter the country illegally.