I received an email from Roy Beck of Numbersusa
detailing the immigration reforms that have been attached to the Iraqi Supplemental Spending Bill that goes before the House today and the Senate next week. It should pass in the House with no problems. As for the Senate, it's looking good and unless some last minute things come up it should be passed. Then it heads to President Bush to sign, which he has mentioned he has been enthusiastically awaiting.
Here are the items included.
$273.7 MILLION FOR ADDITIONAL BORDER PATROL, ENFORCEMENT AND DEPORTATION EFFORTS: We didn't win as much as the Senate was asking for on this ($390 million). But the House had included no extra funds for these activities. And there was a push by some Republican leaders to cut the funding to far lower levels . We can thank the heroic and stubborn leadership of Democratic Senator Byrd of West Virginia and his staff for the fact that the bill that came out of negotiations included most of the extra money. The bill includes other money for enforcement, but that money mainly pays off debts incurred by immigration-enforcement agencies in recent years because Congress under-funded them.
MORE ENFORCEMENT AGENTS: Sen. Byrd's original funding that was approved by the Senate covered the hiring of 650 more Border Patrol agents, 250 new immigration Investigators and 168 new Detention and Deportation officers, while adding 2,000 detention beds to aid with deportation. The final bill cuts all of that by about a third.
DE FACTO BAN ON DRIVER'S LICENSES FOR ILLEGAL ALIENS: States can issue driving certificates to illegals, but the certificates must be clearly marked so that anybody looking at them will know that the holders are illegal aliens. They will not be able to use the certificates to board airplanes, to enter federal facilities and a few other purposes. Although we prefer that states not issue the "illegal-alien certificates," they will make it very easy to find and detain illegal aliens for any local governments that decide to work with the feds to clear out illegal communities. If some states insist on issuing these certificates to illegal aliens, patriotic citizens who encounter them can take notes and have plenty of reasonable cause to report the bearers of the certificates to federal authorities.
FEDERAL STANDARDS TO GUARD AGAINST IDENTIFY FRAUD: It will be far more difficult for illegal aliens to steal the identity of Americans in order to obtain jobs and to move freely in the U.S.
LIMITS ON JUDICIAL REVIEW OF REMOVAL ORDERS: After illegal aliens are ordered out of the country, they won't be able to use an endless appeals process in regular Federal courts to remain in the country for many more years. Illegal aliens will learn to fear being noticed and picked up because they will see that those who do get picked up have to leave the country quickly.
FINISH THE SAN DIEGO FENCE: Erecting a major fence across the Southwest California/Mexico border has been highly effective in slowing down what once was a flood of illegal-alien traffic. But one section has never been finished and allows a significant flow of illegal traffic.
ASYLUM REFORM: Foreign nationals who arrive in this country claiming asylum will be judged in the same ways that American citizens are judged. This bill removes some extra favors that currently exist that make it easier for fraudulant asylees to remain in this country.
There were a few things attached that are not as good. Here's what Roy Beck has to say about them.
POTENTIALLY GIANT LOOPHOLE FOR CHINESE PERMANENT IMMIGRATION: In the Conference Committee, Sen. Brownback (R-KS) insisted on adding a provision that would allow unlimited numbers of Chinese citizens to come to the U.S. and be granted asylum and then permanent residence by claiming that they are fleeing China's one-child-per-family population policy. Until this bill, we had allowed a maximum of 1,000 Chinese per year to do this. Fraudulent asylum applications have been particularly prevalent among Chinese, many of whom are coached by their smugglers on what story to tell. When illegal aliens from China are caught, they routinely say they are fleeing China's population policy. With a population approaching 1.5 billion, China could provide the U.S. with millions of "asylees" each year. THE GOOD NEWS: There isn't much. But we can hope -- for lots of reasons -- that the trend in China away from forced family-planning decisions will continue. The U.S. State Department reports that forced abortions and forced sterilizations are rare and that the Chinese government is moving increasingly toward voluntary family planning programs. It is possible that U.S. judges will grant asylum only to legitimate claimants. We will keep a close watch on these "Brownback Chinese Asylees." If the numbers start to rise much at all, we will push hard for investigations and probably for legislation to roll back this provision.
10,500 "E" VISAS PER YEAR FOR AUSTRALIAN GUEST WORKERS IN SPECIALTY OCCUPATIONS: Sen. Frist (R-TN) came up with this doozy. Unemployment rates remain high for American programmers and engineers, and American students are shunning the computer occupations because of falling wages in a depressed job market. But Sen. Frist decided we needed thousands more Australians in the country competing for scarce jobs. THE GOOD NEWS: At least these are not permanent workers.
TWO-YEAR INCREASE IN H-2B VISAS FOR LOW-SKILLED SEASONAL GUEST WORKERS: Sen. Mikulski (D-MD) authored this attack on America's teenagers and lower-skilled adult workers. With teens finding summer jobs at the lowest rate in our history, and with lower-skilled adult workers suffering from official unemployment rates above 10%, Sen. Mikulski decided even more of them should be pushed out of the job market by importing as many as five times more seasonal foreign workers over the next two years than are allowed under the current annual cap of 66,000 workers. THE GOOD NEWS: The increase is only for two years. And the increased visas can go only to foreign workers who worked in this country legally during the last three years.
MORE PERMANENT FOREIGN NURSES & PHYSICAL THERAPISTS: Due to drafting errors, this provision technically accomplishes nothing. Sen. Hutchison (R-TX), the proponent of this provision, intended for it to give permanent residence to 50,000 additional foreign nurses and physical therapists. As of this time, it is unclear whether the House of Representatives will attempt to fix the drafting errors by unanimous concent prior to passing the bill, or whether they will leave the provision as it is and allow DHS to interpret it however they choose. If Sen. Hutchison's intentions prevail, the additional foreign nurses will be competing with American nurses and discouraging Americans who might otherwise enter the nursing occupation. As to PTs: American students with superb grades and skills are turned down by the thousands every year for entrance into physical therapy schools because of restrictions on size of the schools. Importing foreign PTs would be incredibly callous. THE GOOD NEWS: Sen. Hutchison had persuaded the Senate to approve 150,000 green cards for all kinds of skilled immigrants. The Conference Negotiators cut that by two-thirds down to 50,000. This would be a one-time supply of green cards, not yearly.)
Also there is a petition being drawn up to President Bush to protect our borders. If you would take a second to head over there and sign it. They'd like to get a million signatures by Memorial day and then send it to President Bush and all members of the Congress. They currently have about 350,000. So take just a minute of your time to head to ReformUS.org
and sign the petition!