On January 28, 2013, a bi-partisan group of eight U.S. Senators announced a broad framework for comprehensive immigration reform. President Obama revealed the principles he believes should in included in any reform bill the following day. Both plans include increased border security, a pathway to citizenship for people already contributing to American society, and reform of the legal immigration system. Although no specifics have yet been put forward, elements within the anti-immigrant movement quickly criticized both proposals, claiming that they were similar to the failed 2007 comprehensive immigration reform bill introduced by politicians and ultimately endorsed by then-President George W. Bush. In addition, anti-immigrant activists claimed that both proposals call for large increases in “legal” immigration and they alleged that the “enforcement” measures of the proposals will not be implemented after they are signed into law.
Comparing the new proposals to the 2007 immigration bill:
- On January 28, the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) issued a press release in which FAIR president Dan Stein argued, “The immigration reform proposal offered by so-called Gang of Eight is remarkably similar to the failed amnesty bill of 2007.”
- On the NumbersUSA website, the group’s director of government relations, Rosemary Jenks, argued that the proposal “is basically the same sweeping amnesty we defeated in 2007 with updated language to re-brand the amnesty.”
- On his National Review blog on January 28, Mark Krikorian, who heads the Center for Immigration Studies, asserted, “Eight members of the World’s Greatest Deliberative Body have labored for months and delivered unto us — Bush’s amnesty plan.”
Opposition to increased “legal” immigration
The anti-immigrant movement heavily favors not only reducing “illegal” immigration but also reducing the amount of legal immigrants the United States admits each year. The movement opposes changes to legal immigration found in the proposals from the senators and President Obama, which it claims will lead to an influx of legal immigrants.
- In another January 28 blog post for National Review, referring to a part of the senators’ proposal that would allow American businesses to hire foreign workers when they demonstrate that they have been unable to find American workers to fill the positions, Krikorian claimed that temporary status would turn into green cards. He alleged, “In other words, the senators’ plan will pretend that the unlimited flow of workers is temporary, to dupe the public, but would, after a time, put them on a path to citizenship. Now, I happen to believe that we shouldn’t be taking temporary workers, because that reshapes our society along the lines of a Gulf sheikhdom, and is antithetical to democracy. But those Republicans who fall for the jobs Americans won’t do lie should understand that there’s nothing as permanent as a temporary worker.”
- On January 28, “Washington Watcher,” a contributor to the racist, anti-immigrant website VDARE claimed, “Illegals cannot sponsor their relatives for legal immigration. And, unlike the laws against welfare fraud, they cannot get around this reality. But as soon as amnestied illegals get a green card (and perhaps sooner, depending on what’s in the bill) they will be able to bring their immediate relatives in the country. And when they become citizens they can bring their extended family. In other words, amnesty will trigger a new wave of legal immigration.”
- In a press release issued on January 29, FAIR president Dan Stein proclaimed, “President Obama's plan offers nothing to American workers except the certainty of even greater competition for scarce jobs and further suppression of their wages.”
Claims that “enforcement” measures will not be implemented
A third response to the immigration reform proposals from anti-immigrant activists is the claim that, once undocumented immigrants gain status, the “enforcement” measures in the plan will not be implemented and the restrictionists who compromised on the bill will be left with nothing to show for their efforts.
- On National Public Radio (NPR) on January 28, Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, who has authored anti-immigrant legislation, argued, “Why in the world would we grant an amnesty now before we try a law enforcement approach first?”
- In a National Review blog on January 28, Krikorian argued that the proposal “represents the same tired package of immediate amnesty for all illegals plus huge increases in future immigration, all in exchange for promises of enforcement that should already be happening anyway.”
- Donald A. Collins, a FAIR advisory board member and contributor to VDARE, asserted the following on VDARE on January 28, “Of course, anyone who has been following the Obama Administration’s abysmal record of enforcing existing laws (too many unemployed Americans have had the time) will not be impressed with these promised tightened safeguards.”
- On January 28, Rep. Steve King (R-IA) another noted immigration restrictionist, stated that he “preferred an immigration policy designed to enhance the Rule of Law.”
- In a press release issued on January 29, FAIR president Dan Stein claimed, “Given President Obama's record on immigration enforcement, his promises to secure the border and enforce federal law are simply worthless."