A bipartisan group of senators is releasing a new immigration plan today, the core selling point of which is a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants that is a maze of apparently punitive bureaucratic red tape. Most politicians, Democratic and Republican, rail against well-intentioned government regulations that create too much red tape for businesses to thrive and citizens to innovate. But when it comes to people who've come here illegally to work, putting them at the mercy of nameless bureaucratic tyrants isn't a policy's bug, it's a feature.
On Monday, the group of senators -- which includes Dick Durbin, Chuck Schumer, Bob Menendez, John McCain, Michael Bennet, Lindsey Graham, and March Rubio -- will give a press conference on their plan, Politico's Manu Raju reports. "We can’t go on forever with 11 million people living in this country in the shadows in an illegal status," McCain said on ABC's This Week Sunday. But those people are going to have to spend quit a bit more time in the shadows if this plan is implemented.
...[I]llegal immigrants would be forced to register with the government, undergo a background check, and pay a fine and back taxes so they can obtain a legal status on a probationary basis... Those who have obtained probationary legal status would not be allowed to access federal benefits.
...[T]hose who have obtained their probationary legal status would be required to undergo a series of requirements — including learning English and civics and undergoing further background checks — before being able to obtain permanent residency.
Before they get the chance to jump through those bureaucratic hoops, immigrants will have to wait for the U.S. to use more drones to secure the border and create a system to track people entering and exiting the country on temporary visas.
According to The New York Times's Julia Preston, the senators describe this as a "tough, fair and practical road map." It is difficult to understand what definition of fairness the senators are using. Let's just take the part about paying extra taxes and fines without getting federal benefits. Illegal immigrants often buy a package of fake documentation that includes a fake Social Security card. In 2005, the Social Security Administration's chief actuary told The New York Times that it estimated 75 percent of illegal workers paid Social Security and Medicare payroll taxes. In 2007, illegal immigrants paid about $11.2 billion into the Social Security Trust Fund and $2.6 billion into Medicare, the Seattle Times reported. Those illegal immigrants who paid in are unlikely to ever claim those benefits, meaning they are subsidizing U.S. citizens.
These senators have long prided themselves on being red-tape cutters. The first line in Schumer's official bio says, "Throughout his career, Charles 'Chuck' Schumer has fought to make government work for all Americans by cutting through red tape..." Graham railed that red tape was bad for the economy in a July 2011 press release, saying, "If government-run health-care, new layers of bureaucratic red tape, and dramatic increases in federal spending were the perfect cocktail for job creation, we would have been flooded with new jobs." In a June 2011 editorial for The Daily Caller, Rubio was upset with the Obama administration for not "reducing the red tape that is strangling our economy." And yet on Monday, they are joining together in rare bipartisan agreement to create miles-long red tape -- including language and history lessons -- to slow enterprising, risk-taking job creators from fully participating in the economy.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
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