Published: Jun 16, 2007
Reflection On The Immigration Legislation
by Jack Ward

During the debate on the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2007, S.1348, I decided to read the previous immigration laws and the new improved proposals in this legislation. Surprise – surprise, most of the problems that the politicians said S. 1348 would correct were already written into previous laws but the laws were not enforced. Why do we need news laws if the government won't enforce the existing laws? The simple answer is we don't. What is even worse is that many provisions in S. 1348 would undermine U.S. safety and culture.

Fifty three years ago President Eisenhower faced the same flood of illegal immigrants and he solved the problem in a very short time by enforcing the existing laws. What a novel idea – enforce the law! By enforcing the law, the flood of illegal immigrants over the border ceased and many of the illegal immigrants began to self-deport. President Eisenhower didn't need the provisions in new improved immigration law, so why do our current politicians think we need a new law?

First, after the Eisenhower administration, the commitment to uphold the immigration laws diminished. Second, by definition, politicians create laws. Politicians believe it is their duty to create laws even if they aren't needed. So the politicians decided they needed to write new immigration laws, and we got the 1965 immigration law. Then of course we got the 1986 immigration amnesty law. So rather that demand that the administrative branch enforce the existing laws, the legislative branch writes new laws.

S. 1348 has too many flaws to cite in a single opinion column, so I'll be brief. In the haste to create 'something', some very poor ideas made their way into the legislation. For example: As with previous legislation, there is a provision to screen the application of all immigrants. But this legislation would only allow one business day to conduct a background check to determine whether an applicant is suitable for citizenship or if they are a criminal or terrorist. It has been reported that there are still 15,000 applications for amnesty from the 1986 immigration amnesty legislation. It is understood that screening applicants for residency or citizenship is a time consuming process – but 20 years is ridiculous. So what makes any Senator think that the government can adequately screen 12 million illegal immigrants in one day when the State Department can't screen passport applications for U.S. citizens or 1986 amnesty applications in a timely manner?

If the government can't find a reason to deny the application in the one business day, the immigrant would be granted a probationary Z visa. The probationary Z visa grants the illegal immigrant legal status and access to the U.S. Judicial system to appeal deportation. This one day requirement would guarantee that some criminals or terrorists would be admitted at least until they had exhausted all of their appeals. This threat to our security is well known on the floor of the Senate. Senator Harry Reid (D NV) principle sponsor of S. 1348 is quoted as saying, “Our borders have overflowed with illegal immigrants placing tremendous burdens on our criminal justice system, schools and social programs.” Yet amendments to require the enforcement of border security, immigration laws and permanently bar gang members, terrorists, and other criminals were defeated. Senator Reid knew the flaws of S. 1348 but he still pushed for its passage. It is hard to believe that Senator Reid had the best interest of the country in mind when he sponsored S. 1348.

Rasmussen Reports polling found that 72% of Americans believe it's very important to reduce illegal immigration and enforce the borders but only 16% of American believed that S. 1348 would reduce illegal immigration and enforce border security. This shows that the Senate is out of touch with the people and the people have lost confidence in the Senate to do the will of the people. When S. 1348 advocates ask, what are your solutions to the current illegal immigration crisis, suggest that we first enforce existing laws – then evaluate if additional laws are necessary.

Every sovereign nation has the right to control its borders. That includes determining who gets access, who doesn't, and who gets deported. But there isn't the political will for politicians at the federal, state, or local level to enforce existing immigration laws. It is time that politicians step up and control our borders.

Jack Ward is an independent columnist

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