The Senate’s Open Borders “Compromise” On Illegal Immigration

by John Hawkins | April 18, 2006 12:58 pm

Folks, you remember that illegal immigration “compromise” bill that came so close to getting signed in the Senate that they actually gave a press conference telling Americans that it was basically a done deal (before it went down the tubes the next day)?

Well, according to Senator John Cornyn, “immigration enforcement would stop upon enactment of the bill.” Let me repeat that. According to Senator John Cornyn, “immigration enforcement would stop upon enactment of the bill.”

From John Cornyn’s website[1]:


The Compromise bill includes language that would prevent the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) from detaining or deporting any alien who files an application with the government. The “safe harbor” provisions would apply even if the alien was ineligible for the amnesty because of prior criminal violations. Moreover, DHS would be required to issue the alien a secure travel and work authorization document while the application was pending.

This language is broader than the text of the 1986 amnesty, which required the alien to establish a prima facie case for eligibility, did not limit DHS’s ability to detain the alien, and did not require DHS to issue a travel document. This loophole, though, is easy to fix.


* The compromise bill even protects illegal aliens before DHS has implemented the program by restricting DHS’s ability to deport any alien “who is apprehended before the beginning of the application period.”

o In simple terms, immigration enforcement would stop upon enactment of the bill. Every single alien who is apprehended—and there were more than a million apprehended along the southern border last year alone—could easily establish prima facie eligibility for the amnesty and DHS would be prohibited from deporting the alien.

o This could be particularly problematic because of the “rush to the border” that would inevitably occur between date of enactment and close of the application period.

The Hagel/Martinez bill states that any alien who files an application for amnesty:

o “shall not be detained, determined inadmissible or deportable, or removed pending final adjudication of the alien’s application. . . unless the alien commits an act which renders the alien ineligible.”

o “shall be granted employment authorization pending final adjudication…”

o “shall be granted permission to travel…”

The carve-out from criminal activity would only apply to criminal activity going forwards (“unless the alien commits….”). Any criminal illegal alien who is in jail right now could file an application for amnesty and DHS might be prohibited from taking the criminal alien into custody upon completion of his jail sentence and deporting the alien.

With upwards of 12 million illegal aliens eligible to apply for the amnesty, it could take many years to adjudicate all of the applications. Yet the bill would grant all those individuals all of the benefits of legal status – e.g. travel and work authorization – before they establish eligibility.

Not only would we have had illegal aliens in the country and able to work, we’d have had to allow illegal aliens who were criminals to stay in the country for years. Illegals caught by the border patrol? They’d have been allowed to stay in the country for years.

How is it that two Republicans could come up with this bill? How could Bill Frist and George Bush publicly support it at one point? Worse yet, how is it that 38 Democrats could vote for cloture this bill[2]?

What a disgrace.

Hat tip to Kathryn Jean Lopez[3] at the Corner for the link to the Cornyn website.

  1. John Cornyn’s website:
  2. 38 Democrats could vote for cloture this bill:,2933,190931,00.html
  3. Kathryn Jean Lopez:

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