(T)he deal that Senate negotiators have consummated is a step in the wrong direction. Although the deal includes the DREAM Act and AgJOBS and promises significant short-term benefits for many undocumented immigrants, the nation’s experience suggests that the rest of the provisions would have dire long-term consequences for both immigrants and citizens.
ACLU, Washington Legislative Office:
While language has not been finalized for large parts of the bill, we do know that some of the worst proposals from last year’s immigration debate did not make it in this time around — including expanding expedited removal and the wrongly named Fairness in Immigration Litigation Act.
But the bill does contain a lot of really bad provisions that undermine American values and the Constitution. Almost all judicial review of any DHS errors in reviewing a person’s immigration status would be eliminated or greatly limited. Further, the Employment Eligibility Verification System (EEVS) would require every person in America to carry a hardened Social Security card containing biometric information (such as fingerprints, retina scan and DNA) about the cardholder — essentially a national ID, and present a Real ID-compliant driver’s license to get any new job.
EEVS also creates a vast federal database to verify the work eligibility of all job applicants in America — including U.S. citizens. The system would contain extraordinary amounts of personal information on everyone who seeks or holds a job, all of it keyed to a person’s Social Security number. If this bill passes, we will all have our eligibility to work in the U.S. approved by the Department of Homeland Security every time we apply for a job.
(T)he compromise was stretched so taut to contain these conflicting impulses that basic American values were uprooted, and sensible principles ignored. Many advocates for immigrants have accepted the deal anyway, thinking it can be improved this week in Senate debate, or later in conference with the House of Representatives. We both share those hopes and think they are unrealistic. The deal should be improved. If it is not, it should be rejected as worse than a bad status quo.
The Patriot News of Harrisburg:
A bipartisan bloc in Congress and the Bush administration have reached agreement on a broad immigration policy that, like any piece of legislation resulting from hard political compromise, is not perfect.
But it does include what we view as three staples of any policy to address illegal immigration: securing this country’s borders, cracking down on employers who hire undocumented workers and providing a reasonable and fair path to citizenship…
Hopefully, this all-too-rare display of bipartisan give-and-take will hold through the debate on the legislation, with the overriding goal being to tweak and improve, not stall or block.
If Congress squanders this opportunity, it will probably be well after the 2008 presidential and congressional elections until immigration is again addressed.
For years there has been hand-wringing over the death of bipartisanship in Washington politics and over the rise of the politics of uncompromising ideology. In the Senate immigration bill, there is a glimpse of what bipartisanship looks like in the real world — an ungainly, imperfect hybrid that goes some distance toward tightening border security, clearing the backlog of visa applications, and providing a future for 12 million immigrants already in this country, including many who have been here since childhood. The wiser course is to work for improvements, not to sound the death knell for legislation that holds the promise of a better future.
After years of bruising debate over “amnesty” — the misleading term preferred by legalization opponents — it’s remarkable that the Z visa gained bipartisan acceptance. There seems to be mounting appreciation for the fact that 12 million people living in legal shadows is corrosive to the rule of law.
Also encouraging is the agreement’s point system for green cards, attempting to quantify the attributes most desirable among would-be immigrants. Factors such as education, work history and English ability would be scored to determine who gets priority for green cards, rather than just the usual family connection or employer endorsement. Although deemphasizing family unification goes against historic U.S. policy, the point plan would align policy more closely to another American ideal — meritocracy…
Other elements of the plan are more dubious. A proposed guest worker program could prove too rigid by being renewable only twice, with a one-year gap in between. Care would have to be taken to avoid creating a new population of illegal immigrants.
But the single most objectionable aspect of the plan is that it probably won’t pass.
And, finally, The Daily Show: