Monday, February 18, 2013

Avoiding Citizenship

USA Today reports today

A draft of a White House immigration proposal obtained by USA TODAY would allow illegal immigrants to become legal permanent residents within eight years.

The plan also would provide for more security funding and require business owners to check the immigration status of new hires within four years. In addition, the nation's 11 million illegal immigrants could apply for a newly created "Lawful Prospective Immigrant" visa, under the draft bill being written by the White House.

If approved, they could then apply for the same provisional legal status for their spouse or children living outside the country, according to the draft.

Roughly fourteen paragraphs later, Alan Gomez writes that acquiring legal permanent residence status "then clear the path for them to apply for U.S. citizenship."

Details are sketchy, but color me skeptical of the likelihood that a comprehensive immigration reform bill would provide a realistic path to citizenship.  Ten days ago, The Wall Street Journal had observed

House Republicans took a skeptical view Tuesday of opening a path to citizenship to people now in the country illegally, pointing to a fundamental disagreement with a bipartisan effort in the Senate to change immigration laws.

Still, the first House hearing of the year on the subject suggested that some Republicans are newly open to changing immigration laws and offering legal status short of citizenship to some of the estimated 11 million people in the country illegally. Many leading Republicans opposed such a step in the past, calling it a form of "amnesty" for lawbreakers.

"Are there options that we should consider between the extremes of mass deportation and a pathway to citizenship?" asked Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R., Va.), chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, who has opposed some prior proposals to grant legal status to illegal immigrants.

Committee members, including Mr. Goodlatte and Rep. Lamar Smith (R., Texas), probed witnesses for alternatives. Among options that surfaced was offering permanent legal status to illegal immigrants.

"They want to come out of the shadows. They want to be able to be legal," said Rep. Raul Labrador (R., Idaho), a committee member, of people now in the country illegally. "If we can find a solution that is short of pathway to citizenship…but better than just kicking 12 million people out, why is that not a good solution?"

Because it's not.    But when the Gang of Eight Republican and Democratic Senators issued its outline of immigration reform last month, center-right blogger Micky Kaus realized "on first glance it certainly looks like a cynical effort designed to allow Hispanicked Republicans to seem tough while voting for amnesty: Look at all those drones! Yes, the undocumented will be able to legally steal your job–but, hey, they won’t get to vote!"

Most Democrats (including the President) want illegal immigrants already in the country to have an opportunity to remain, work hard, contribute to the Social Security system, and not constantly have to fear being arrested or detained by law enforcement, as did this man.  Republicans recognize a need to shed their image as anti-Hispanic bigots but are loathe to offer a serious chance of citizenship to individuals likely to continue to vote Democratic.  They would, additionally, be at the mercy of employers if they cannot attain citizenship, a happy outcome for their corporate base.

This does not end well.

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