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Graham-Schumer’s Inadequate Immigration Reform Proposal

Luis Gutierrez intimated that he became a Yes vote on health care because of assurances that President Obama would advance an immigration bill, rendering some of the harsher immigration provisions moot. If what Chuck Schumer and Lindsey Graham are talking about becomes the bill, I don’t know why that would attract Gutierrez. Gabriel Arana explains:

The “four pillars” of their plan:

“[R]equiring biometric Social Security cards to ensure that illegal workers cannot get jobs; fulfilling and strengthening our commitments on border security and interior enforcement; creating a process for admitting temporary workers; and implementing a tough but fair path to legalization for those already here.”

These proposals are each problematic. Biometric cards bring up all sorts of privacy issues — and if the error-prone E-Verify system is any indication, database errors will be just as big of an inconvenience to citizens as they are to permanent residents. Border enforcement will also do little to stop people coming into the country because most illegal immigrants arrive legally and overstay their visas. And a temporary worker program is just another form of outsourcing. But their most atrocious proposal is the “tough but fair path to legalization” for those already here:

“For the 11 million immigrants already in this country illegally, we would provide a tough but fair path forward. They would be required to admit they broke the law and to pay their debt to society by performing community service and paying fines and back taxes. These people would be required to pass background checks and be proficient in English before going to the back of the line of prospective immigrants to earn the opportunity to work toward lawful permanent residence.”

Granted, this is a better solution than trying to deport millions, but burdening impoverished immigrants with fines and making them “admit they broke the law” is callous and humiliating.

Arana concludes that the Schumer-Graham solution would do nothing to improve the actual problems in immigration policy – the employment-based quota system, underfunded immigration agencies and family unification laws. You barely hear about any of this with respect to immigration policy, so it’s good these at least get a hearing. But in Schumer-Graham, they’re non-existent.

Between this and the truly terrible climate bill, I’m thinking Huckleberry Graham is more an agent of sabotage than an honest partner.

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David Dayen

David Dayen