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Tillis-Lankford amnesty proposal is a betrayal of the American people

Tillis-Lankford amnesty proposal is a betrayal of the American people
© Greg Nash

When headlines were published last week about conservative senators having a merit-based immigration bill, it was plausible they might have been senators promoting legislation that imposed a merit-based green card system. Instead, the stories were about the Succeed Act, a massive amnesty proposal from Sens. Thom TillisThomas (Thom) Roland TillisRepublicans divided over legislation protecting Mueller Senate panel moving ahead with Mueller bill despite McConnell opposition House Dem wants floor vote on bill to protect Mueller from Trump MORE (R-N.C.), the cheap labor lobby’s favorite senator; Orrin HatchOrrin Grant HatchSenate Finance leaders call on Commerce to improve the tariff-exclusion process GOP senators raise concerns about babies on Senate floor House passes series of bills to improve IRS MORE (R-Utah), who has spent decades voting in favor of mass amnesty bills that include the 2013 Gang of Eight proposal; and James LankfordJames Paul LankfordGOP poised to advance rules change to speed up Trump nominees Senators pledge to pursue sanctions against Turkey over imprisoned American pastor Overnight Cybersecurity: US, UK blame Russia for global cyberattacks | Top cyber official leaving White House | Zuckerberg to meet EU digital chief MORE (R-Okla.), who had virtually no record on immigration until now.

Channeling Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerThrowing some cold water on all of the Korean summit optimism House Republicans push Mulvaney, Trump to rescind Gateway funds Congress should build on the momentum from spending bill MORE (D-N.Y.), Tillis took to the podium with a straight face and misrepresented to the American people. The Succeed Act “is about the children," he said. "It’s completely merit based. It ensures fairness. There’s no skipping in line.” He could be forgiven for a little hubris in front of an approving media, but Tillis has memorialized these misrepresentations on his website. 

On two pages of disinformation, the senators describe their bill as “a fair and merit-based solution to address the legal uncertainty facing [illegal alien] children” that “clarifies the law,” “isn’t a free pass,” “deters illegal immigration” and prevents chain migration because the bill is a “solution” for illegal alien children, “and only the children.”

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It’s time to set the record straight. The bill grants immediate amnesty to millions of adult illegal aliens, and eventually puts them on a path to citizenship with the ability to sponsor law-breaking family members for green cards.

 

For starters, the bill covers a broader population than the illegal aliens who had temporary benefits under President Obama’s unlawful Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) executive amnesty. The expansive eligibility criteria include claiming to have been in the United States since June 15, 2012 (the date Obama announced DACA) and having entered the U.S. under the age of 16. Almost immediately after Obama announced DACA, illegal alien “minors,” mostly from Central America, surged across the southern border by the hundreds of thousands. These illegal aliens did so knowing they did not qualify for DACA — which required being in the country since 2007 — but they bet if they got here and stayed, they would benefit from the next amnesty program.

Enter Tillis, Lankford and Hatch to make that bet pay off. There are currently only 690,000 illegal aliens with DACA, but the amnesty-supporting Niskanen Center calculated that 1.8 million illegal aliens will immediately qualify under the Succeed Act, and eventually 2.6 million illegal aliens could qualify. 

Despite the sponsors’ claims, one need not be that meritorious in order to benefit from this “merit-based” bill. To qualify for immediate amnesty, an illegal alien applicant merely needs a GED, while those under 18 simply have to be “enrolled” in school. The immediate amnesty is called “conditional permanent resident” status that is valid for a renewable five-year period. In the 10 years in “conditional permanent resident” status, amnestied illegal aliens are considered in full compliance as long as they are not unemployed for more than one year (excluding those simply attending a random college) or not dishonorably discharged from the military.

And no, it’s not only for the “kids” who were brought here “through no fault of their own.” It is a much broader amnesty on time delay. Among its many flaws, the most outrageous is that amnestied illegal aliens will eventually be able to sponsor their lawbreaking illegal alien parents, and other family members — they just have to wait 15 years to do it. The sponsors claim the bill “prevents chain migration,” but clearly they do not know what the term means.

Notably absent from the four “core principles” describing the bill was any reference to the American people. These GOP senators are exclusively focused on rewarding illegal aliens and completely disregarding the direct harm that mass amnesty would have on their constituents.

Contrast this anti-American, job-killing, wage-suppression bill with the official 2016 Republican platform that proclaimed, “Our immigration system must protect American working families and their wages … America’s immigration policy must serve the national interest of the United States, and the interests of American workers must be protected over the claims of foreign nationals seeking the same jobs.” More succinctly, “We oppose any form of amnesty for those who, by breaking the law, have disadvantaged those who have obeyed it.”

The Succeed Act is not merit-based immigration. It is amnesty. It offers nothing but more promises of future immigration enforcement that will be broken as surely as past promises. It does not even pretend to create a true merit-based immigration policy. In short, it flunks the truth in labeling test and shouldn’t be taken seriously.

Robert Law is the director of government relations at the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR).