An Immigrant Looks at Immigration

Part Two — Adding Insult to Injury

by Samuel Fain,
America’s Right
contributor

As I mentioned before, this is part of a multiple-installment series focusing on the Comprehensive Immigration Reform bill which thankfully failed back in late spring, early summer of 2007.

Anyone that is prepared to vote for Sen. John McCain based upon our need for a Commander-in-Chief and someone that can fully prosecute the Global War on Terror needs to remember and understand the intricasies of the bill that he championed, along with Ted Kennedy, just last year.

Remember also that this is not about Mexicans and others that wish to come here legally. I welcome them with open arms. This is about those that wish to take advantage of the freedoms that America affords, and do so at the expense of those who work their tails off to get here the correct way.

Please read–and please share–Sam’s latest installment. He did a phenomenal job.

– Jeff


There is a concept revered in this country that should be applied to every citizen or resident of our great nation, including of course the legislators behind last year’s failed immigration bill. That concept? The presumption of innocence.

When the honorable senators insist they don’t view their effort as a reward for criminally breaking into our country, they must be given the benefit of the doubt and taken at their word. We have already established that John McCain and Ted Kennedy do not consider American citizenship a reward in itself; its value is obviously lost on them. As we’ve seen as recently as the last Republican debate, Sen. McCain is happy to argue that the Comprehensive Immigration Reform bill was not an amnesty or reward … maybe we should take a closer look at that argument.

Such arguments usually center on the claim that there are punishments galore attached to the reward of the “path to citizenship” and therefore, by definition, the term “amnesty” does not apply. Thus, it is important to look at these so called “punishments.”

First, if you wish to follow along, you can read the “immigration reform” bill online. Furthermore, a very thorough analysis of the “punishments” within the bill was published last year by two fellows from the Heritage Foundation. I cannot recommend Kris Kobach and Matthew Spalding’s article highly enough.

However, let’s first skim through the most pertinent parts of the legislation and use that information to judge the assertion that the punishment for violating our sovereignty is indeed present in McCain and Kennedy’s bill at all. Let’s go one-by-one.

A criminal alien would have to pay a $2,000 fine.

A two thousand dollar fine, in itself, is hardly a punishment considering that the very same people usually pay more money to the “coyotes” who smuggle them across the border in the first place. Furthermore, any legal immigrant will have to spend comparable amounts on his or her way to American residency and eventual citizenship. For example, just to submit the N400 Naturalization Form, a permanent resident has to pay a $600 application fee plus an $80 biometric payment. The fees for perfectly legal immigrants can run into thousands of dollars! Take a look for yourself, courtesy of the Department of Justice.

All this being said, the question to the proponents of the bill is obvious:

If a criminal has to pay money to obtain American residency or citizenship, and a perfectly innocent, legal immigrant has to pay money to obtain the same, then how is it a punishment for the criminal?

Is the only difference in the language? One is called a “fine,” whereas the other is a “fee?” It seems that the senators who developed this legislation think that a mere name substitution will dupe their constituents into thinking criminal aliens are being punished, whereas they are just being charged the price of admission to this country.

A criminal alien would have to pay back taxes and administrative fees.

Unfortunately, one only has to look at the bill to realize that the reality is much bleaker in this area, as well. The text of the bill has no requirement for payment of back taxes, whatsoever. Only when a formerly illegal alien decides to become a permanent resident, does he have to pay taxes, and only those owed while on the Z visa!

To quote Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions:

“The bill requires taxes to be paid at the time of application for a green card, but at that time, only proof of payment of Federal taxes (not state and local) is required for the years the alien worked on a Z visa, not the years the alien has already worked illegally in the United States. Though Senator McCain’s S.A. 1190, adopted by voice vote, claimed to “require undocumented immigrants receiving legal status to pay owed back taxes,” the amendment actually only required proof of payment of taxes for “any year during the period of employment required by subparagraph (D)(i).” Since the bill does not contain a subparagraph (D)(i), nor require any past years of employment as a prerequisite for amnesty, the amendment essentially only requires proof of payment of taxes for future work in the U.S., not payment of “back taxes.” [See p. 307, and p. 293 as altered by S.A. 1190, amendment p. 2: 19-20.]”

Ironically, an older bill, the 2006 version of the same “immigration reform,” did have a back tax payment requirement. Astonishingly, as evidenced above, that requirement has been removed from the version McCain, Kennedy and Bush tried to push through in 2007.

The older version is telling, and downright scary. Bear with me. The back tax payments in that bill are tied to the employment requirement for legalization of criminal aliens. That requirement is limited to three (3) years of work out of the five (5) year span, and it allows an illegal alien to qualify for permanent residency in the United States of America by claiming to have only worked three years out of the last five, and only having had paid taxes for three of the last five years.

Wouldn’t lawful American citizens, permanent residents and legal foreign workers just love to have this ability to pay taxes (and only Federal at that) for just three out of the last five years, and to get to choose which three?

Even though this already weak requirement was scrapped altogether for the 2007 version of the bill, it’s fairly obvious that the McCain, Kennedy and friends seem to think that only criminals deserve such benevolence, while the rest of us get stuck with the full tax bill.

Again, the question comes to mind … who, exactly, is being punished here? Is it criminal aliens, the violators of our sovereignty who, in the worst scenario, get to choose three out of five years to pay only federal taxes, and in the best case have no tax liability at all? Or is it law-abiding citizens and residents of this country, who have to pay their full burden of federal, state and local taxes every year, all their lives? I think it would be difficult for a truly objective observer NOT to conclude that McCain and Kennedy’s immigration bill punishes lawful behavior while rewarding criminal action.

An illegal immigrant would have to pass a criminal background check.

This sounds impressive, except it’s not the whole truth.

Yes, there is indeed a background check requirement in the bill. However, under Section 601(h), the Department of Justice is only allowed one business day to perform it. If a negative response is not received by the requesting authority within that span of time, the alien is cleared and must be issued a Z visa.

Contrast this to the background checks which legal immigrants, already deemed worthy of living here, have to go through. Take, for instance, permanent residents (Green Card holders) applying for United States citizenship. Green Card holders must submit all the information and fingerprints and then wait as long as it takes to receive a positive answer. In most cases, it takes months. For some, it takes years. Yet no one will be permitted to go to the next step (the naturalization interview) until the government returns a positive result.

[It even takes American citizens up to three months to receive a passport, yet we were going to be clearing illegal immigrants in a day? -- Jeff ]

Even more appalling is the fact that Sen. McCain voted against an amendment by Texas Sen. John Cornyn which would have prohibited known gang members and other groups of criminals from being able to legalize themselves in this country. McCain instead opted to vote for a much weaker amendment by Sen. Kennedy which would allows illegals who also happen to be registered sex offenders to become Americans. A detailed, albeit quite impassionate comparison of the two amendments is available to those who wish to read it.

Of course, none of these astonishing exceptions exist for legal residents of this country pursuing naturalization, and rightly so. Even after the official approval of the naturalization application has been granted, all violations of law that occurred since the background check had been successfully completed–incidents as small as parking tickets–must be disclosed before the citizenship oath can be taken by the applicant.

Again, certain questions need to be asked:

Is it punishment, when illegal aliens, who already proved their willingness to break our laws, even violent criminals, get treated so much more leniently than people legally here, who have never even been suspected of doing anything wrong?

McCain, Kennedy, and those who apologize and advocate on their behalf seem to think so.


A criminal alien would have to learn English and civics.

So does every other applicant who wants to become an American. Aside from being a completely logical thing to demand of anyone who wants to live in this English-speaking country, this is just another part of the price of doing business here. If all law abiding residents have to do this, how is it a punishment for anyone?

A criminal alien would have to wait six years before being allowed to apply for permanent legal residency.

True, but the criminal alien can stay here in the United States for the entire six years. He can work, provide for his family and even receive government benefits. He can enjoy all other advantages that legal permanent residents have. Moreover, the Z visa can be renewed indefinitely until the formerly illegal alien decides to become a permanent resident here de jure as well as de facto. What we have here is a permanent “temporary” visa … it would be a joke if it wasn’t so sad.

Another “feature” Sen. McCain and Kennedy’s bill contains is the waiver of the requirement that a visa applicant actually apply from his or her home country. Illegal aliens who already broke our laws get to stay in the country permanently; they don’t even have to go anywhere in order to legally apply for their visa; they get all the benefits to which American citizens are entitled.

Even more, if a criminal alien is caught for being a criminal alien, according to the bill an Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent cannot deport him. Instead, the agent is required by the bill to actually assist the criminal in applying for the Z visa, after which he is untouchable! This is not what a reasonable person would ever call a punishment, or even a “trip to the back of the line.” Law-abiding foreigners looking to participate in the American dream have to apply for their visa from their home countries, and they cannot set foot in America–let alone have a permission to work–unless that visa has been granted. Perfectly qualified, urgently needed professionals who never broke a law in their lives have to wait in visa lines for years without any guarantees of success, as do close relatives of American citizens trying to reunite with their families. Yet John McCain, Ted Kennedy and George W. Bush allow known criminals and ONLY known criminals to side-step the regular immigration line and get to live, work, and receive benefits in America from day one.

Not only is this not a punishment for illegal aliens, not only is it actually a reward for them, it is an absolute, unequivocal slap in the face of those people who obey our laws, play by our rules and wait patiently while law breakers are being ushered in past them by the millions.

What John McCain, Ted Kennedy and those who support their failed efforts are trying to do–and will try to do again!–is a personal insult to lawful immigrants like me and my family, lawful immigrants who did everything by the book, obeyed every law and have not violated a single rule on our way to American citizenship. It is an insult to all of us American citizens who have to wait year-after-year in order to reunite with our parents, children, brothers or sisters. It is an insult to every nurse, teacher or engineer desperately needed by our economy but shunned for the benefit of people whose very first act in this country was to violate its sovereignty and break through its border. Not to mention the insult the bill represents to every American who is naïve enough to still believe in the rule of law in this country.

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