So, I got the section-by-section analysis from Human Events. And I have some thoughts about the immigration bill.
For most conservatives, there are two questions that matter. The first one is about border security provisions, and the second is about "amnesty." I’m going to address these in this post.
There are other important questions, and I will address those later. I would argue that the status quo is broken because the law sets up incentive systems that have illegal behavior as the logical conclusion of the incentives. To really have a "respect for law", you need laws worthy of respect. This bill did much to fix the incentives, and I will talk more about those in a different post.
First, border security. The border security provisions are "triggers". The other provisions do not go into effect until these are implemented. According to the section-by-section, here’s what we get:
- 18,000 (CBP) Border Patrol hired
- Construction of 200 miles of vehicle barriers and 370 miles of fencing
- 70 ground-based radar and camera towers along the southern border
- Deployment of 4 Unmanned Aerial Vehicles and supporting systems
- The ending of catch-and-release
- Resources to detain up to 27,500 aliens per day on an annual basis
- The use of secure and effective identification tools to prevent unauthorized work.
- The receiving and processing and adjudicating of applications for Z status.
In other words, this offers a 50% increase in the size of the border patrol, more fence, more vehicle barriers, more technology to stop border crossing, more capacity to detain, more technology to find illegals when they are here, political direction to kick them out when they are found, etc. That seems like an substantial increase in border security.
Second, "amnesty." What does this bill do with the current illegals? It sorts them into 4 categories:
- People with jobs. They pay a fine and get a probationary status. They get a Z-1 visa, and they can work.
- Young dependents. They get a Z-3 visa. I think that this is convertible to citizenship, but I do not understand how.
- Older dependents. These are non-employed spouses and parents. They get a V-2 visa. I do not believe that this is convertible to citizenship. And I do not believe that these people are eligible to hold jobs.
- People who do not apply. They are subject to much harsher penalties, and it is much harder for them to get jobs.
Now, there’s a cut here. Clearly there are penalties for being here and working. You have to pay fines and you enter a status that will take 8-10 years to complete. Dependents are treated differently. They are not penalized, but non-working dependents are not eligible for citizenship.
So, clearly, people who are working pay fines and enter a probationary status. That sounds like a penalty. Amnesty sounds to me like "no penalty". So those people clearly do not get "amnesty". Now, you could argue that the Z-2 and Z-3 statuses are getting amnesty. I think that is a credible position. However, I do not find the position that some people in a family can stay and others have to go to be a either fair or moral. Splitting up families is clearly a loser.
Now, for the Z-1 visa holders to become a citizen, they have to return to their home country, file papers, and pay more processing costs and fees. That strikes me as another important barrier. I would also note that, according to the estimates in the bill, this would take at least 8 years to complete.
So, in summary, I think that:
- This is only amnesty if you are advocating for breaking up families and sending parts of the families home.
- You could credibly hold the position that there are not enough penalties. However, if you think that deportation is an option, you need to stop smoking that stuff.
- You could also argue that the border security provisions are insufficient, but you cannot argue that they are not insignificant. This is a credible position and a matter of judgment.
- You could also argue that the certification program that sets the triggers off are not adequate.