More detail on the Gutierrez bill

On Tuesday, December 15, open borders advocate Luis Gutierrez (D-IL) introduced H.R. 4321, the “Comprehensive Immigration Reform for America’s Security and Prosperity Act of 2009,” (CIR ASAP). H.R. 4321 would grant amnesty to millions of illegal aliens, dramatically increase legal immigration, and create loopholes in existing penalties in exchange for promises of “enforcement” in the future. (See FAIR’s Legislative Updates from October 19, 2009 and December 14, 2009). At introduction, CIR ASAP had over 90 original co-sponsors in the House of Representatives. (See Cosponsor listing).

CIR ASAP contains several amnesty programs, including AgJOBS (Title IV, Subtitle B); the DREAM Act (sprinkled throughout the bill); and a broad amnesty program through which millions of illegal aliens could obtain “earned legalization” (Title IV, Subtitle A). These provisions are in many ways similar to those in the Bush-Kennedy Amnesty Bill of 2007, except that several significant requirements have been weakened. For example, for an illegal alien to receive amnesty under H.R.4321, he or she does not even have to establish employment, only that he or she is an active member of the community.

In addition to granting amnesty, CIR ASAP would dramatically increase legal immigration by:

* Recapturing purportedly “unused” family and employment-based green cards from 1992 to 2008 (§301(a)-(b)). According to State Department data, this provision alone could bring in as many as 550,000 immigrants-all of whom would compete with American workers for jobs. (U.S. State Department, Unused Family and Employment Preferences Numbers Available for Recapture, Fiscal Years 1992-2007).

* Expanding the definition of “immediate relatives” to include children and spouses of lawful permanent residents. (§302). This would allow an unlimited number of these children and spouses to immediately qualify for a visa.

* Increasing the annual per country limits on family and employment-based visas from seven percent to ten percent. (§303). Under current law, each foreign country has a seven percent share of the total cap of visas allocated each year.

In exchange for the multiple amnesties and massive increases in legal immigration proposed in the bill, H.R. 4321 contains measures ostensibly aimed at strengthening immigration “enforcement.” Upon closer examination, however, CIR ASAP would actually undermine the enforcement of our immigration laws. For example, the bill would:

* Repeal the highly successful 287(g) program, which allows federal officials to train state and local law enforcement agencies in the enforcement of federal immigration laws. (§184).

* Establish a new, untested electronic employee verification system. (§201). This would completely reverse years of progress made with respect to E-Verify.

* Temporarily suspend Operation Streamline pending a re-evaluation of the program’s future viability. (§125(a)). Operation Streamline is a highly successful, zero-tolerance program that targets illegal aliens for immediate prosecution upon apprehension at or near the border. After Operation Streamline was put into effect in December 2006, the Yuma, Arizona sector saw nearly 1200 prosecutions in the first 9 months. Border apprehensions decreased by 70 percent. (CBP Press Release, July 24, 2007).

* Prohibit the Armed Forces and the National Guard from assisting in securing the border unless: (1) the President declares a national emergency, or (2) the use of the Armed Forces/National Guard is required for specific counter-terrorism duties. (§131(a) & (b)).

* Require the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to identify and inventory the current personnel, human resources, assets, equipment, supplies, or other physical resources dedicated to border security and enforcement prior to any increase in these categories. (§114(a); §116(a)).

At a press conference announcing the introduction of his bill, Rep. Gutierrez indicated that his bill was to set the Congressional Hispanic Caucus’s standard for immigration reform legislation. However, he also acknowledged that the Senate will most likely be the first chamber to act on amnesty legislation. While a bill has not yet been introduced in the Senate, Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) is planning to introduce a bill in early 2010, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) has indicated he will kick off the amnesty debate sometime in February or March. (Congressional Quarterly, December 15, 2009).