The comprehensive immigration reform bill introduced by the Gang of 8 into the Senate will face its first major hurdle Thursday as it enters the Senate Judiciary Committee.
The committee is expected to consider the amendments for the next two weeks. This will be the true test of the strength of the Gang of 8 to either stick together, or disband. Over the past few weeks the legislation has expanded to include some 300 proposed amendments and clocks-in at an impressive 844 pages in length. The proposed amendments come largely from Republicans who oppose comprehensive immigration reform and want to see it die in committee.
Each of the proposed changes must be considered by the judiciary committee before the bill can advance in the Senate. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) proposed five amendments which his office conveniently pushed out Wednesday evening. Some of the proposed amendments would act as a "poison pill" which would functionally kill immigration reform. Other Senate Republicans have tried to stall the bill by introducing their own flurry of amendments. Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) has proposed 77, Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) has proposed 49, and Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) has proposed 24.
The best way to examine these poison pill amendments is to look at some of them individually.
1. Remove brothers and sisters of United States citizens from the point allocation under the merit-based immigration program. Merit-based visas are acquired via the accumulation of points, this amendment would eliminate any points for siblings of U.S. citizens making it more difficult to obtain a visa. Proposed by: Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.).
2. Requires all applicants registered for provisional status to be interviewed to determine whether or not they meet eligibility requirements. This requirement would mean that 11 million people would have to wait for face-to-face interviews before even beginning the process of applying for citizenship. Proposed by: Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.).
3. Collect DNA samples from each adult applying for registered provisional immigrant status to be compared against the Combined DNA Index System of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (CODIS). Proposed by: Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah).
4. This proposed amendment would remove any discretionary authority when considering the deportation of citizens or immediate family members. Functionally, the amendment would make it legal to deport head-of-household family members. Not only would this gut families but it would leave them in almost certain financial ruin. Proposed by: Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa).
5. Would require those considered to be provisional immigrants to prove that they maintained a certain income during the period of admission. They would have to show that they made 400 percent above the poverty line, meaning that a family of four would have to make more than $92,000. Proposed by: Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa).
6. Permit Federal law enforcement officers to take into account a person’s country of origin. That is racial profiling, this amendment also proposes the inclusion of this text into the immigration bill, “Nothing in this section may be construed to limit, or otherwise prohibit, profiling based on country of origin, as permitted by the Constitution and the laws of the United States.” Proposed by: Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa).
7. No person who has been willfully present in the United States while not in lawful status shall be eligible for U.S. citizenship. This would destroy any possibility for those here unlawfully to ever obtain citizenship. Proposed by: Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas).
8. Restrict visas to refugees “until the Director of National Intelligence submits to Congress a review related of the Boston Marathon bombings.” Proposed by: Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa)
9. Allows unauthorized workers to remain in the U.S. but only if they are in low-paid domestic service jobs to work. That means maids, cooks, butlers, care-takers etc. Proposed by: Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah).
10. This amendment would would “ensure that granting of registered provisional immigrant status does not result in the admission of immigrants likely to become public charges.” The immigration bill already dies undocumented immigrant seeking legal status to receive welfare benefits. How one would enforce this amendment isn’t known, unless the government is equipped with future-predicting technology we don’t yet know about. Proposed by: Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.).
Obviously, this is only a brief cross-section of the 300 amendments introduced. Without question, the sole purpose of these amendments is to kill or stop immigration reform in its tracks.