This week, the Senate Judiciary Committee resumes its markup of the “Gang of 8” amnesty legislation. The committee is working through more than 300 amendments to the proposal. Supporters of the “Gang” legislation have a working 12-6 majority on the committee, so all amendments intended to tighten or clarify provisions in the bill will likely be rejected. If enacted, the “Gang” legislation would take our current complicated immigration system and make it almost completely arbitrary.
There is a robust case to be made for reform of our immigration system. Our current illegal immigration problem is exacerbated by the fact that the legal immigration system is broken. Except for a very narrowly defined universe of immigrants, it is almost impossible to get legal status in the US. For many immigrants seeking a better life in America, there is no legal “line” to follow. If one is lucky enough to navigate the complicated quota and family-based system, the process can take decades.
The “Gang” legislation makes this process worse, however, by granting the Executive Branch wide ranging authority to wave away hundreds of specific requirements. The current “Gang” bill blocks members of criminal gangs from a path to citizenship, but allows DHS to waive that prohibition. Immigrants seeking citizenship have to show they work, but that requirement can also be waived. Immigrants seeking expedited citizenship status under the “Dream Act,” have to show 2 years of college instruction, except in cases where DHS rules that isn’t necessary.
The “Gang” bill takes our currently flawed immigration system and turns it into a swiss-cheese amalgam of loopholes, exemptions and waivers. With the right lawyer, an immigrant can navigate the process irrespective of their background or history. The process would be increasingly subject to the political whims of a federal bureaucrat.
This is the foundational problem with the current “Gang” legislation. Our immigration system needs clarity. A potential immigrant should understand the requirements and have the ability to adjust his affairs accordingly. Allowing waivers and exemptions to these requirements, however, makes the process arbitrary.
The federal government has already failed in managing our immigration system. The “Gang” bill compounds this failure.