Politicast: Immigration Off the Back Burner  

On Thursday June 27 the U.S. Senate voted in favor of the Gang of Eight’s immigration reform bill that emphasizes border control and gaining citizenship for current undocumented immigrants. But even with immigration reform in the works the bill has done little to settle mounting reservations. 

Photo via washingtonpost.com

By Jess Smith—

The bi-partisan bill, crafted by the quasi-libertarian super squad Gang of Eight, passed through the Senate with a 68 to 32 vote. But despite how monumentally important this is for Americans who haven’t seen major changes in immigration policies since 1986, even those in favor still have doubts about the cost and amnesty the immigration reform bill promises.

The benchmarks of the legislation include deploying 20,000 more border patrol agents, 700 miles of added fencing between the United States and Mexico, mandating an electronic employee verification system, and $4.5 billion worth of surveillance technology. There’s also a border surge amendment tacked onto the bill which should add $40 billion to a bill already estimated at $6.5 billion.

Right now there are countless problems with the logic behind the essentials of the proposed bill, and it’s not clear just how effective each new and expensive measure will be. Surely if they intend to call upon 20,000 new border patrol agents, our government will also have to provide these agents with costly firearms and extensive training. Not to mention, the bill stresses the need to literally strengthen our borders which also comes at a rather steep price. Back in 2009, just one mile of single layered fencing was estimated to cost around $400,000 to $15 million— the bill is calling for 700 miles of double-layered and it’s 2013.

On top top of the multi-billion dollar fence and new border patrol regime, a lot of the money for surveillance is going towards drones (unmanned aerial vehicles) that will cost $18 million to buy and roughly $3,000 for every hour of flight. The Gang of Eight projects these methods will catch 90 percent of illegal immigrants, but that also means that even more money will be needed to provide adequate detention facilities that can hold the number of illegals.

Money aside, some of the provisions of the bill are too lenient on lawbreakers, granting amnesty to 11.5 million illegal immigrants while there are currently over 4 million people waiting to enter the country lawfully. Plus, it screws over taxpayers since trillions of dollars will go to government agencies for those who receive amnesty. Yet most of the concerns lie with the lowered wages of hard-working Americans, loss of job opportunities, and a disregard for federalism that’s calling people to try and work out the so-called kinks before the bill becomes the law.

President Obama played catch-up this week as he tried to make this bill move forward by meeting with bi-partisan leaders from each House. Meanwhile, Sarah Palin (R-AK) is leading the tirade of doubt against the reform bill for all of its easily discernible flaws.“[T]his pandering, rewarding-the-rule-breakers, still-no-border-security, special-interests-ridden, 24-lb disaster of a bill is not supported by informed Americans,” Palin said, calling the proposal “economic insanity”. Leave it to Palin to shed light on the positive aspects of something she is trying so desperately to discredit.

The bill is projected to actually help Americans in the long run, and although average wages are expected to decrease by .1% in the first ten years, eventually they’ll increase by .5% in the second decade. But, it’s important to note that the minor dip in wages is only expected to effect the new residents. Another big claim the Gang of Eight makes is that the legislation will boost economic output and cut federal deficits by $180 billion in the first decade and $700 billion in the next. So overall, the plan is to spend a lot now to gain a lot in the future.

The Gang of Eight recognizes this and stands by their creation with conviction, believing that it will solve almost every problem that has been established because of immigration problems.”This amendment basically now puts into place virtually everything people have been asking me to do about immigration enforcement since I began talking about this issue,” said Gang of Eight member Senator Mark Rubio (R-FL).

Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC), another G of E Republican, gave an appropriate response to backlash for the bill by simply stating that he encouraged those in opposition to give their own whack at it. “If they don’t agree with the bill, that’s fine, but not having a solution on the table I think is unacceptable for the Republican-controlled House,” said Graham.

While it may be a hard pill for our already penny-pinching country to swallow, perhaps this is the best thing we can do to solve our problems both inside and outside our borders.