Four Words to Watch in the Immigration Debate
by Amy Payne, Heritage Foundation, June 7, 2013
The Senate Judiciary Committee works on the immigration bill. (Photo: Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call/Newscom)
The Senate will begin debate on the Gang of Eight’s immigration proposal next week. Here are four words to watch out for as the Senators make their case—and warnings about what they might mean.
“Cost” is one word that should come up in the immigration debate, because the Gang of Eight’s amnesty proposal has a cost that is simply too high for Americans to bear. Heritage analysis found that amnesty would cost taxpayers trillions of dollars.
Amnesty means that illegal immigrants become legal—and become eligible for Obamacare benefits, Social Security, welfare, and Medicare. But they won’t pay enough into the system in taxes to cover the cost of all these benefits, meaning the rest of the taxpayers will have to bear the burden. This simply isn’t fair to hard-working Americans.
Despite claims of security—and talk of amending the bill—the Gang of Eight immigration bill doesn’t secure the border. Instead, it “delivers nothing new—other than the promise of spending a lot more money and running up our debt.” As James Carafano, Heritage’s E. W. Richardson Fellow, explains: “Amnesty immediately creates an incentive for illegal border crossings and overstays. Thus, the bill’s strategy would drive up the cost of securing the border.”
Heritage President Jim DeMint has said that it’s a false choice for people to say that amnesty is necessary to immigration reform. Amnesty encourages more illegal immigration, and that is not what immigration reform is supposed to do.
Former Attorney General Ed Meese, Heritage’s Ronald Reagan Distinguished Fellow Emeritus, reminds us that America has tried this before, and it didn’t work:
Today they call it a “roadmap to citizenship.” Ronald Reagan called it “amnesty.” And he was right. The 1986 reform did not solve our immigration problem—in fact, the population of illegal immigrants has nearly quadrupled since that “comprehensive” bill.
Beware the word “comprehensive.” As Meese notes above, the amnesty of 1986 was also called a “comprehensive” approach to immigration reform. It doesn’t work, and it’s not what we need. We need a separate, step-by-step approach to immigration reform. An approach that works—that the American people can trust—would start with reforming the legal immigration system and enforcing the security measures that are supposed to be in place.
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