Skip to comments.Reforming Immigration Reform: Five ways to fix the Gang of Eight’s legislation
Posted on 05/06/2013 6:23:57 AM PDT by SeekAndFind
In an op-ed in the May 3 Wall Street Journal, Senator Marco Rubio explained that the Gang of Eight immigration bill will be amended as it goes through the Senate in the coming weeks, and that (perhaps unlike some others in the gang) he welcomes this process. He wrote:
Since my colleagues and I introduced immigration legislation, intense public scrutiny has helped identify shortcomings and unintended consequences that need to be addressed. Many concerned citizens have gone a step further and offered specific ideas to improve it. This kind of constructive criticism is a positive force that should always be welcomed in the political process.
It is worth noting that, compared with some other conservative critics (including some of NRs editors), my starting point on this subject is significantly friendlier to the sort of approach Rubio seems to have in mind. This is in part because I probably have a different view of the law-and-order element of the question of illegal immigrants (a view more like the one Peter Skerry outlines here), and in part because I am probably more concerned than they tend to be about the degree to which our economy is held back by a shortage of high-skill (and especially the highest of high-skill) workers a serious problem with no real precedent in the postwar era for America; and I therefore have a greater sense of urgency about legal-immigration reform.
That is not to say, however, that this bill is how I would reform our immigration system. My ideal approach to reform, roughly outlined here last year, would look very different from the Gang of Eight bill and indeed would not be a single comprehensive bill at all. But I think there are ways to improve the Gang of Eight bill that would allow it to do more good than harm and be worthwhile.
I would propose five kinds of amendments:
1. Rebalance labor-based immigration. The worst aspect of the Gang of Eight bill is its approach to the lower-skill end of Americas labor market; the best is its approach to the higher-skill end. The basic trouble is that the bill treats both segments the same way as though there is a shortage of workers in both, and if only we addressed that shortage with immigrant workers, it would also help everyone involved and the country as a whole. This is true for high-skill workers, but it is decidedly untrue for low-skill workers.
The April unemployment report, for instance, showed that the unemployment rate among people with bachelors degrees or higher was 3.6 percent. Among those with less than a high-school diploma, it was 11.4 percent.
The first number indicates something of a labor shortage while the second indicates that supply far outstrips demand. This disparity is nothing new, of course, though it has actually gotten much worse since the last round of the immigration wars, in 2007. Here is what the unemployment rate has looked like for people with bachelors degrees or more (what high-skill immigrants tend to be) and for those with less than a high-school diploma (as low-skill immigrants tend to be) over the past ten years, using data for people 25 and older to be able to compare apples to apples:
For workers on the lower end of our skill and wage spectrum, these are extremely difficult times, both economically and culturally, and not just since the last recession. For decades now, they have been facing the brunt of both globalization and the collapse of the family and marriage culture, and in both cases there is just not all that much that public policy can do to help. But surely there are ways to avoid making things worse, and one of those would be avoiding the concerted importation of competitors for low-wage jobs and the artificial inflation of the size of the American population subject to these pressures.
A huge amount of American social policy is directed to reducing the number of people in our country who have low levels of skills and education, and it would be bizarre to use our immigration policy to increase that number significantly. Between the temporary-worker program (parts of which are not so temporary the new W visa is not only permanently renewable but would actually allow temporary workers to apply for green cards through the new merit-point system) and its increase in low-skill immigration, this bill envisions a very significant increase in that number. And that a meaningful portion of that comes through a guest-worker program is particularly problematic, as Ramesh Ponnuru ably argued last month.
Amending the bill to significantly reduce the scale of low-skill immigration (by eliminating the guest-worker program and changing the merit-point system to place far greater value on education and skills) would be a major change, of course, but not one that undercuts the fundamental compromise of the bill, which is about a balance between border enforcement and legalization rather than high- and low-skill immigration.
Some business interests would be less happy with the bill as a result. Too bad. It is well past time for Republicans to focus more attention on the concerns and priorities of working-class families. In other policy areas, Senator Rubio has actually made this case himself, and he and others are working to translate that increased attention into policy proposals. They ought to do the same here.
2. Add actual triggers for legalization. The Gang of Eight bill establishes a process by which illegal immigrants can immediately apply for the newly created Resident Provisional Immigrant (RPI) status, and mere proof of their application enables them to work legally. Then, once the secretary of homeland security tells Congress that she has begun implementing strategies to build more fencing and otherwise protect the southern border, DHS can begin processing those applications. Then, ten years later, if the department can show that the border and fencing strategies are in effect, a new employer verification system is in place for all employers, and an entry and exit system is in effect at air and sea ports, DHS can begin to process immigrants applications to move from RPI status to green cards.
The trouble with this approach is that the triggers are not really triggers; they dont initiate the key events in the legalization process. The privileges of the RPI status are not very different from those of permanent residence (especially because they include the ability to travel abroad), so illegal immigrants would immediately gain the right to work legally once the bill becomes law and then would gain more or less all the other privileges they care about once DHS merely informs Congress that it has begun to do something about the border. Thats ridiculous.
The RPI application process should not begin until the border strategy has been enacted into law. The beginning is the key; everything else happens after amnesty. Then, in order to start processing those applications, the department would need to show that implementation of the approved plan is under way. And the second-order triggers proof that the plan is in effect and that employer and visa-exit verification (which should happen at land crossings, not just the air and sea ports proposed) are operating should come at the six-year mark when RPI status has to be renewed. No renewals could occur unless those markers were met.
This would hardly be a foolproof system. But it would be more likely to actually bring us closer to effective enforcement of our immigration laws, and would more properly prioritize the elements of this reform.
3. Require civic education. Our approach to immigration must be grounded in an idea of citizenship in the end, we are discussing how to elevate foreign newcomers to the exalted status of Americans and initiating them into our cultural and political traditions. The Gang of Eight bill does almost nothing to advance that cause, and most of what goes by the name of integration in the bill involves signing people up for the new RPI status, not teaching them anything about what it means to become an American. This is more like community organizing than civic education. Assimilation is no simple matter, of course, but there are some straightforward steps that might help.
These are hardly onerous requirements, and in fact they are largely symbolic in nature. But in a process of acculturation, symbols matter, and America should assert the importance of civic education and assimilation.
4. Verify sooner. The new employment-verification system established by the bill takes far too long to get into place. Employers with more than 5,000 employees have to use it for all new workers starting two years after DHS publishes regulations implementing the system, those with more than 500 workers have three years, and everyone else has four years. There is no serious reason for such a long delay. The system should begin after one year for all employers, and over the first year of operation, it should require verification of all existing employees as well as new hires.
5. Cut the pork. The Gang of Eight bill includes a variety of narrowly tailored and often state-specific giveaways and favors. On page 817, we find a special provision for meat, poultry, and fish cutters and trimmers. On page 767, we find a favor for ski instructors. On page 774 is a special protection for foreigners brought to America mostly to Florida, one imagines to perform maintenance on cruise ships. There are surely many more.
Obviously such special goodies have long been part of how Congress passes large and politically complicated pieces of legislation. But thats no excuse for doing it here. The bill should be systematically stripped of such overly specific provisions. And if were stripping overly specific provisions, I cant say Im a huge fan of defining the hourly wages of immigrant farm workers to the second decimal place, either (seriously, that nonsense starts on page 228 with $9.37 in 2014).
The point of these proposed categories of amendments is not to scuttle the bill but to save it. They are intended to make the bill more responsive to our economic realities, our civic obligations, and our commitment to the rule of law. They would retain the basic structure of the Gang of Eights approach to immigration, but address some of its key weaknesses, some of which were surely intentional, others perhaps not. Many Democrats might dislike them, of course, but they would not find it easy to justify a vote against them, or against a final bill because of them.
The bill that would result from such changes would be far from perfect, but it would be worth passing and I would wager it would stand a far better chance of reaching the presidents desk.
Yuval Levin is editor of National Affairs and a fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center.
This thing should not be salvaged. And Rubio has realized how much he’s hurt himself selling the Obama/Schumer/McCain/Rubio amnesty ruse and is now trying to limit the damage with all the talk of amending and improving.
He was making a hard sell of the plan as it was introduced until a few days ago.
1) KILL IT
2) KILL IT
3) KILL IT
4) KILL IT
5) KILL IT
rubio has lied to our faces... rubio is a leftard dim with anti-American agendas and should be shunned by ALL thinking Conservatives.
First, call them what they are—THE GANG OF OCHO.
Kill the bill, and just ENFORCE THE DAMN LAW AS IS!!!
Weak suggestions, here’s some better ones to add:
1) no citizenhip unless they want to leave the US and get on line with the others.
2) No government benefits including none for their dependents, they must fully support their dependents wo government help for the entire 10+ year trial period.
3) They must meet all requirements of Obama-care, as do their employers wo any government assistance including that from local government $$$.
4) No fast track 5 years for Dreamers
5) No political activity including unions
6) No loopholes that allow past ID fraud to be ignored
You know a bill is crap if Dems support it Rubio.
No EITCs, that’s just welfare
Why does every bill submitted have to be fixed.
Can Congress not write legislation in the correct manner to start with. Salvage is not an option. Go back to the drawing board and write a bill that makes sense. No need for pork perks to become a citizen. Is not Citizenship enough?
The gang of 8 decided they need the Hispanic vote when they do become citizens, the present citizens are to be sent the tab
for feel good legislation. “Hey Latinos! Remember the Gang of 8 when you get the vote!”
Like Rush kept trying to tell Rubio a couple weeks ago when he was on his show, “why can’t the Republicans just say No”?
Just say no there does not always have to be a compromise.
The grinning, self-satisfied smug, arrogant look on the
faces of the Tsarnaev brothers looks awfully familiar.
It's b/c we've seen the defiant, unflinching
gaze, and those phony smiles, many times.
Pasted on the faces of illegals swarming
over our borders, blotting our landscape.
Boston was just a prelude to the destruction the latter are hatching.
Basically if we had an umlimited right for Israelies to work in this country as they find a job about 75% of the establishment support for open borders would disappear. Mr. Levin contrary to what your relatives have said not all of us are “gentile headed.” Now the remaining 25% could be rolled up within a couple of weeks because the correlation between cheap labor to mow lawns and social disfunction of the labor brought in to do that is damn near a 1.0 correlation.
Let me add to that. No chain migration, no anchor babies from this day forward, and no path to citizenship other than the existing path of applying in your home country. If you are here on a work permit, go home and apply.
Of course I am omitting references to other H1-B ethnic hustlers like the Indians, but they could be rolled up fairly easy since their publicity functions are handled by other ethnic hustlers who find the Indians to be useful, for now. Friend of mine was a head honcho for a software company and she had no need for mass immigration policy to run a global enterprise based on knowledge/tech, just a phone line sufficed. Yes you can call from Ireland and India, its called technology.
One more: No immigration reform unless congress makes English the official language and no ballots or other goverment data will be published in any other language other than English.
That last one was already on my posted list #1.
I am thinking more along the lines that they must not get any Federal assistance nor their kids, and they must fully support their kids including health insurance and they must pay some minimum Federal tax rate, no EITC.
That should eliminate many of them from consideration and the few that apply will actually produce.
Rubio sells that bill as the same but is a fraud.
Businesses want to hire low skill low wage workers who get partially supported by tax payers(medicaid food stamps) , just raise the local sales and gas taxes to pay for them. These businesses pay both parties.
I just listened to some toad from the Wall Street Journal on FNC saying that these immigrants would all be “hardworking” and paying taxes. My question is, how are they going to keep them from being in the 52% that doesn’t pay taxes? The way I see it, these immigrants would jack up the number of people getting the earned income tax credit. This whole amnesty thing is nothing but a big joke. On us.
FIX IT???? F’N KILL IT YESTERDAY!
“I just listened to some toad from the Wall Street Journal on FNC saying that these immigrants would all be hardworking and paying taxes.”
The WSJ are notoriously open border hacks and have been so from day one.
The whole thing was very irritating. They talked like once the illegals are giving amnesty, the economy was going to boom. They would be “paying taxes” and creating businesses to hire more people. What a load. The “experts” didn’t say how they would get these illegals into the tax brackets that pay taxes. However, when you ask anyone that question, they always come up with that old “they’ll be paying taxes on beer and cigarettes” explanation.