Maine GOP Sen. Susan Collins tried to pass a stealthy ‘prioritization amnesty’ for 12 million illegals on February 15, alongside a formal amnesty for 3 million ‘DACA illegals,’ because “it mirrored the proposal suggested by the President,” her press aide told Breitbart News.
The new explanation for Collins’ wage-cutting, double-amnesty bill contradicts the passionate defense of her own amnesty on February 15, when she told reporters that the national prioritization amnesty would leave illegals in their jobs and deter future illegal immigration.
Collin’s “prioritization amnesty” was attached to the tail end of her 64-page “Immigration Security and Opportunity Act” which offered an amnesty to roughly 3 million younger illegals. The double-amnesty bill was released to the public the same day that Collins and her seven GOP allies tried to rush it through the Senate.
The Collins DACA and prioritization double-amnesty won 54 votes, putting it just shy of the 60-vote threshold because nearly all Democrats voted for the amnesty. The three “No” votes from the Democratic side only came after 42 GOP Senators had effectively blocked the measure.
The bill might have passed the Senate but for strong opposition from President Donald Trump and the officials at the Department of Homeland Security. Their criticism reportedly deterred several additional business-first Republicans from pushing bill up above 60 votes. “The administration made it difficult for some [Republicans] to try to publicly support anything,” one Republican senator told Politico.
Trump’s vigorous opposition to Collins’ amnesty undercuts the claim by spokeswoman Annie Clark that “it mirrored the proposal suggested by the President. ”
Collins’s radical amnesty bill included two amnesties.
The first amnesty directly granted residency and eventually citizenship to millions of younger illegals. That population is roughly 3.25 million, according to the Migration Policy Institute. Trump said he was willing to support an amnesty for 1.8 million illegals in exchange for a wall plus three types of legal reforms that would reduce the supply of migrants and nudge up Americans’ wages.
Collins’ second amnesty was far larger and deceptive because it directed enforcement officials to stop deporting roughly 8 million illegals — and their 4 million non-working dependents — who are quietly working for companies. If it had been enacted, that surprise provision would have made it legally arduous for enforcement officials to deport illegals unless officials could also show the illegals had committed felonies or misdemeanors. Collins’ bill said:
(2) Priorities.—In carrying out immigration enforcement activities the Secretary [of Homeland Security] shall prioritize available immigration enforcement resources to aliens who—have been convicted of—
(i) a felony,
(ii) a significant misdemeanor; or
(iii) 3 or more misdemeanor offenses;
(B) post a threat to national security or public safety; or
(C)(i) are unlawfully present in the United States and
(ii) arrived in the United States after June 30, 2018.
Collins and several of her GOP allies briefly tried to justify their amnesty bill on the morning of February 15, shortly before the vote. Only one of the reporters at the press conference asked about the amnesty, and Collins responded by praising an illegal immigrant for contributing “greatly to his community.” That argument allows companies to hire freely hire illegals in place of Americans:
Let’s look at what the prioritization language says. It says that rather than going after a chemistry professor who has been in this country for many years and has contributed greatly to his community and sending him back to his native land at time when he was on his way to pick up his child from school, that the first priority—not the only priority—should be to go after people who have committed felonies, serious misdemeanors, multiple less serious misdemeanors, are a threat to public health or safety. Wouldn’t most Americans agree that that is where our resources should be targeted?
Collin’s justification means “all illegal immigrants get to stay and work,” just as wages are rising enough to bring more sidelined Americans back into the workforce, said Mark Krikorian, director of the Center for Immigration Studies. “Why would we want to short-circuit this process?”
Collins likely doesn’t see her amnesty bill as a threat to Americans’ incomes, according to Krikorian. “She sees this as donor service—she’s got various companies in her state—tourism or landscaping and dairy—who use illegals and want to be able to keep illegals,” he said.
Her support for the use of illegals [does damage Americans] because it is loosening the labor market [and] is, in fact, denying Americans specific jobs because only a tiny fraction if illegals pick fruits and vegetables. Most illegals are working in services, landscaping, and construction where most of the people are Americans. The [llegals] are lowering wages generally, denying jobs to Americans and … their presence slows the spread of labor-saving technology.
The “chemistry professor” example cited by Collins is likely Syed Ahmed Jamal, a Bangladesh migrant who entered the United States in 1987. He has used a series of work permits and student visas to stay in the United States but was ordered deported in 2011. Officials working for Obama allowed him to stay in the country. He is now reportedly teaching chemistry as an adjunct professor at Park University in Kansas City and is reportedly helping research at local hospitals. It is likely he is using one of several types of cheap-labor work visas offered by the U.S. government, and it is very unlikely that employers could not find actual Americans to teach chemistry at a university, or to conduct research in hospitals.
In the press conference, Collins next argued the amnesty for 12 million illegal aliens would deter future illegal migration by focusing law enforcement on new arrivals.
And then we send a strong message to people who come to this country illegally after the bill is enacted. … Let me get to that point—the message we are sending to them is that they are going to be a priority for deportation operation, just the way someone that has committed a felony is priority for deportation.
We are going to readjust that back to January first, our original proposal for that date, but because it has been misunderstood. But what that is is a deterrent—it is saying to people who come here after a particular date, that we are we are going to focus resources on your deportation just the way we prioritized the deportation of criminals and someone who poses a threat to public health or safety.
“That’s absurd,” said Krikorian, adding:
ICE doesn’t actually priorities people who are not criminals, absconders or fugitives, but it is going to find them sometimes whether it is through a DUI arrest or happenstance when ICE arrests a fugitive … What a measure like that does is codify the [former President Barack] Obama policy of formally exempting from enforcement people who came before a certain date.
The practice of moving a prioritization date forward “represents a kind of rolling amnesty,” he said.
Collins has come under pressure from Maine employers to ignore the hiring of illegals because it helps the employers manage wages and salaries paid to Americans in Maine. In 2017, for example, local employers demanded more cheap workers:
“If we are to continue to have the strong economy we all seek for our people we have to have the immigrant influence on our future the same way we have in the past,” Connors said. “We cannot address our workforce needs without being welcoming to immigrants.”
The Maine State Chamber of Commerce and Maine Development Foundation as well as Coastal Enterprises Inc. have released recent reports about the impact of immigrants on the state and called for policies to attract workers and families.
“The issue has been out there for many years, and now people are really feeling it and are desperate to really tap a new supply of workers,” said Carla Dickstein, senior vice president for research and policy at CEI.
Without the extra imported workers, employers are being forced to raise wages and invest in labor-saving machinery. In Maine, for example, a sawmill company is offering untrained Americans $12 an hour or more, plus some form of health insurance, because it cannot hire illegals.
Collins’ demand for extra workers, however, is openly urged by one of her allies in the amnesty group, Sen. Lindsey Graham. He told reporters on January 21 he wants to import more low-wage workers:
We need more legal immigration. … I don’t want green cards just for computer engineers. If you are out there working in the fields, if you are a construction worker, I want some of those people to have a way to stay here, because if you are running a business and you have a guest worker who is really good, and would add value to our country, I want them to have a chance to get a green card. I just don’t want to be a country in the future of just computer engineers or high-tech people.
On August 2, 2017, Graham said:
South Carolina’s number one industry is agriculture and tourism is number two. If this [merit-based immigration] proposal were to become law, it would be devastating to our state’s economy which relies on this [low skill] immigrant workforce.
South Carolina’s agriculture and tourism industry advertise for American workers and want to fill open positions with American workers. Unfortunately, many of these advertised positions go unfilled. Hotels, restaurants, golf courses and farmers will tell you this proposal—to cut legal immigration in half—would put their business in peril. … After dealing with this issue for more than a decade, I know that when you restrict legal labor to employers it incentivizes cheating.
On February 15, Graham told reporters, “I’m a proud Republican who believes in more immigration, not less.”