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'Unjust and Counterproductive'

8:44 AM, Jul 11, 2013 • By DANIEL HALPER
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Tom Cotton, writing for the Wall Street Journal:

America is a nation of immigrants, but we're also a nation of laws, and the U.S. immigration system should respect both traditions. Unfortunately, the Senate immigration bill undermines the rule of law without solving the country's illegal-immigration problem, and it will harm American workers. The House of Representatives will reject any proposal with the Senate bill's irreparably flawed structure, which is best described as: legalization first, enforcement later . . . maybe.

This basic design flaw repeats the mistake of the 1986 amnesty law, which, according to former Attorney General Edwin Meese, President Reagan considered the biggest mistake of his presidency. The Senate bill ensures, as did the 1986 law, that we'll have full legalization but little-to-no enforcement.

The Senate bill's advocates argue that its implementation of enforcement measures, such as extending the security fence on the border with Mexico, will precede and be a "trigger" for opening a path to citizenship. But these advocates are conflating legalization and citizenship. America has approximately 12 million illegal immigrants, who chiefly desire the right to live and work here legally. The Senate bill legalizes them a mere six months after enactment.

In the bill, legalization comes with trivial preconditions. Pay a "fine"? Yes, but it's less than $7 per month and can be waived. Pay back taxes? Only if a tax lien has already been filed, which will be rare for undocumented work. Pass a criminal-background check? Yes, with a gaping exception allowed for illegal immigrants with up to two misdemeanors—or more, if the convictions occurred on the same day—even if these were pleaded down from felony offenses and included serious offenses such as domestic violence and drunken driving.

This approach is unjust and counterproductive. We should welcome the many foreigners patiently obeying our laws and waiting overseas to immigrate legally. Instead, the Senate bill's instant, easy legalization rewards lawbreakers and thus encourages more illegal immigration.

Whole thing here.

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