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Senator Menendez Introduces Amnesty Bill Day Before Congressional Recess

In a final attempt to woo amnesty advocates into the voting booths this November, Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ), the Senate Democratic Campaign Committee Chairman, introduced an amnesty bill late Wednesday, just as members of Congress were leaving town.  (Roll Call, Sept. 30, 2010)  The 874-page bill, entitled the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2010 (CIR Act of 2010), would exponentially increase the number of immigrants in the country to unprecedented levels by:

(1) granting amnesty to the estimated 13 million illegal aliens currently in the U.S.; (2) permitting them to bring in their spouses, children, and other relatives from other countries; and

(3) by issuing hundreds of thousands of new green cards through the process the authors call “recapture.”

Under S.3932, illegal aliens are granted amnesty through the process of becoming a “Lawful Prospective Immigrant.” In order to be eligible for such status, S.3932 requires that the alien be physically present in the U.S. before September 30, 2010, submits biometric and biographic data, undergoes a background check, and is not ineligible for admission under a few select provisions of preexisting immigration law. (S.3932 § 501) However, the bill still provides eligibility to illegal aliens who have violated laws, including those relating to controlled substances, and prostitution. It also provides eligibility for illegal aliens who are a public charge, have falsely claimed or misrepresented their immigration status in the past, and who have been previously been deported (for any reason).  (Id. § 501(b)(3))

Similar to previous amnesty bills debated in 2006 and 2007, the CIR Act of 2010:

  • Includes the DREAM Act, which would grant amnesty to illegal aliens up to the age of 35 who meet minimal educational requirements.  (Id. at §§ 531-542; See FAIR DREAM Act Summary, Mar. 2009)
  • Includes AgJOBS, which would grant amnesty to illegal aliens who have worked in the U.S. agriculture industry and their family members.  (Id. at §§475-484)

However, unlike previous amnesty bills, the CIR Act of 2010 also:

  • Preempts all state and local laws pertaining to immigration such that these entities would be left powerless to enforce immigration laws in the absence of federal action.  (S.3932 § 131)
  • Includes the Uniting American Families Act, which would permit legal permanent residents and citizens to petition to bring their same-sex partners to the U.S. and grant them U.S. citizenship within three years.  (S.3932 §§ 421-430)
  • Creates a new executive agency to annually determine the number of guest workers eligible for admission.  (Id. at § 401(a))
  • Mandates free legal services to illegal alien detainees for civil proceedings—a right that not even U.S. citizens are afforded.  (Id. at §§ 241(9); 254(b)(2)(F))
  • Grants illegal alien detainees the “right” to free prompt and adequate medical care, including primary, emergency, chronic, and reproductive health care, including providing free medication and hormonal therapies such as birth control.  (Id. at § 249(a))

These new provisions in the CIR Act of 2010 do nothing more than expand previous unsuccessful attempts by pro-amnesty legislators to grant amnesty to illegal aliens and dramatically increase overall levels of immigration.  (See FAIR Summary of the Reid-Schumer-Menendez Amnesty Bill, Apr. 30, 2010) And, just as Americans overwhelmingly rejected those proposals, this legislation is already proving to be completely out of touch with average Americans. Recent polls conducted by Quinnipiac University demonstrate that 68 percent of voters feel that immigration policy should emphasize stricter enforcement rather than integrating illegal immigrants into U.S. society; forty-eight percent feel that the U.S. should end the practice of granting citizenship to U.S.-born children of illegal immigrants.  (Quinnipiac University Poll, Sept. 13, 2010)

Amnesty advocates hailed Senator Menendez’s introduction of the CIR Act of 2010. Frank Sharry of the pro-amnesty group America’s Voice stated, “By offering a comprehensive reform bill, Senator Menendez is making it clear to the reform movement, to Congress and to the country that, ultimately, comprehensive immigration reform is the only way to fix our nation’s dysfunctional immigration system.”  (America’s Voice, Sept. 30, 2010)  Ali Noorani, chair of the Reform Immigration for America Campaign, said: “It is a serious proposal that contains many of the common-sense ideas we have espoused for years.”  (Roll Call, Sept. 30, 2010)  However, FAIR President Dan Stein denounced the bill as a “last ditch effort to gin up the Hispanic voting base” and “a glaring example of why Americans believe that Congress is out of touch with the concerns of their constituents . . . .”  (See FAIR Press Release, Sept. 30, 2010)

Whether Congress will act on S.3932 remains to be seen.  During a CNN interview, Senator Menendez said the bill would be the jumping point for any possible action during the lame-duck session of Congress.  (The Hill, Oct. 3, 2010)  Menendez added, “If next Congress you need something as foundation,” the bill will be there, serving as an “invitation to bring Republican colleagues to discussion” on immigration reform.  (Id.)  Senator John Cornyn (R-TX), who appeared alongside Menendez on the program, said the bill’s introduction was poorly timed.   (Id.)  “It’s a much too important issue to be treated as a political football,” Cornyn said.  (Id.)


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