20 Loopholes in the Senate Immigration Bill

Press Release of Senator Sessions

Sen. Sessions Releases List of 20 Loopholes in the Senate Immigration Bill

Monday, June 4, 2007
WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) released a list of 20 loopholes in the comprehensive immigration bill today which reveals that the bill is fatally flawed and will not establish a functioning immigration system in the future.

The list of loopholes includes flaws effecting border security, chain-migration and assimilation policies.  The list exposes the lack of serious attention given to ensuring that the legislation fixes America’s failed immigration system. 

“I am deeply concerned about the numerous loopholes we have found in this legislation. They are more than technical errors, but rather symptoms of a fundamentally flawed piece of legislation that stands no chance of actually fixing our broken immigration system,” Sessions said. “Many of the loopholes are indicative of a desire not to have the system work.”

For example, one loophole in the “enforcement trigger” fails to require the U.S. VISIT system – the biometric border check-in/check-out system established by Congress in 1996, but never implemented – to be fully functioning before new worker or amnesty programs begin. Without the system in place, the U.S. has no method of ensuring that workers and their families do not overstay their visas.

Below is a partial list of the 20 loopholes for the full list see

  •  Loophole 1 – Legal Status Before Enforcement: 

Amnesty benefits do not wait for the “enforcement trigger.”  After filing an application and waiting 24 hours, illegal aliens will receive full “probationary benefits,” complete with the ability to legally live and work in the U.S., travel outside of the U.S. and return, and their own social security card.  Astonishingly, if the trigger is never met and amnesty applications are therefore never “approved,” the probationary benefits granted to the illegal alien population never expire, and the new social security cards issued to the illegal alien population are not revoked.   [See pp. 1, 290-291, & 315].
 

  • Loophole 2 – U.S. VISIT Exit Not In Trigger:

The “enforcement trigger,” required to be met before the new temporary worker program begins, does not require that the exit portion of U.S. VISIT system – the biometric border check-in/check-out system first required by Congress in 1996 that is already well past its already postponed 2005 implementation due date – to be in place before new worker or amnesty programs begin.  Without the U.S. VISIT exit portion, the U.S. has no method to ensure that workers (or their visiting families) do not overstay their visas. Our current illegal population contains 4 to 5.5 million visa overstays, therefore, we know that the U.S. VISIT exit component is key to a successful new temporary worker program.  [See pp. 1-2].

  • Loophole 3 – Trigger Requires No More Agents, Beds, or Fencing Than Current Law:

The “enforcement trigger” does not require the Department of Homeland Security to have detention space sufficient to end “catch and release” at the border and in the interior.  Even after the adoption of amendment 1172, the trigger merely requires the addition of 4,000 detention beds, bringing DHS to a 31,500 bed capacity.  This is far short of the 43,000 beds required under current law to be in place by the end of 2007, or the additional 20,000 beds required later in the bill.  Additionally, the bill establishes a “catch, pay, and release” program.  This policy will benefit illegal aliens from countries other than Mexico that are caught at the border, then can post a $5,000 bond, be released and never show up for deportation hearings. Annual failure to appear rates for 2005 and 2006, caused in part by lack of detention space, doubled the 2004 rate (106,000 – 110,000 compared with 54,000).  Claims that the bill “expands fencing” are inaccurate.  The bill only requires 370 miles of fencing to be completed, while current law already mandates that more than 700 miles be constructed [See pp. 1-2, & 10-11, and EOIR’s FY2006 Statistical Yearbook, p. H2, and The Secure Fence Act of 2004].

  • Loophole 4 — Three Additional Years Worth of Illegal Aliens Granted Status, Treated Preferentially To Legal Filers:

Aliens who broke into the country illegally a mere 5 months ago, are treated better than foreign nationals who legally applied to come to the U.S. more than two years ago.  Aliens who can prove they were illegally in the U.S. on January 1, 2007, are immediately eligible to apply from inside the U.S. for amnesty benefits, while foreign nationals that filed applications to come to the U.S. after May 1, 2005 must start the application process over again from their home countries.  Last year’s bill required illegal aliens to have been here before January 7, 2004 to qualify for permanent legal status.  [See pp. 263, 282, & 306].

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