ouse appropriators have the opportunity to reject soundly a measure granting amnesty to many illegal aliens.
Known as Section 245(i) of the immigration law, extremist flaks for runaway immigration are pushing this amnesty. Some plan to attach the measure to the supplemental spending bill in the House Appropriations Committee Tuesday.
Some people, including prominent Republicans, have wrongly described 245(i). Rep. Richard Armey told the Washington Times that it allows "people who do comply with our laws and are here legally and are trying to maintain their legal resident status and are failed by a dysfunctional agency that could not get the work done" not to be "separated from their family."
Similarly, Sen. Ted Kennedy last week on the Senate floor termed 245(i) "a vital provision of U.S. immigration law which allows individuals who already legally qualify for permanent residency to process their applications in the United States, without returning to their homes countries."
A March 28 Wall Street Journal editorial falsely claimed this provision applies "only to those immigrants who already qualify for permanent residence" and who "have done nothing wrong."
On the contrary, Section 245(i) applies almost exclusively to illegal aliens. Section 245(a) of the law takes care of those caught in INS dysfunction. These are the people Kennedy and the Wall Street Journal pine for, "those immigrants who already qualify for permanent residence."
245(a) provides for lawfully present aliens those who entered the country legally to adjust their status from nonimmigrant to permanent resident. A nonimmigrant is typically someone who holds a visitor's visa of some kind, such as student or tourist.
While Rep. Jose Serrano could offer a different version Tuesday, legislation the House considered earlier this year plainly states whom 245(i) applies to. Listed were classes of aliens who are physically present, albeit illegally. It includes those who entered without inspection (that is, snuck across the border), those who intentionally have overstayed a temporary visa and those who violated the terms of their visas.
In addition, 245(i) applies to physically present aliens who are "within one of the classes enumerated in subsection (c) of this section." But it pays to read the fine print something not enough House members did before casting their votes in March.
Subsection (c) includes aliens who are deportable under 8 U.S.C. 1227(a)(4)(B). Those who bother to flip over to that section read under the heading, "Terrorist activities," "Any alien who has engaged, is engaged, or at any time after admission engages in any terrorist activity (as defined in section 1182(a)(3)(B)(iii) of this title) is deportable."
Simply put, this part of the law makes foreign terrorists deportable. Yet 245(i) boosters bet most people won't read the fine print, so they cavalierly give these national security threats a shot at legalization. This might come as shocking news to the survivors of Sept. 11 victims or all Americans now facing increased scrutiny and new inconveniences.
245(i) applicants pay a $1,000 fee to get their names on the green card waiting list. But it will likely be years before their names come up. Meanwhile, these illegal aliens are allowed to stay in America waiting their turn. No background checks, no nothing.
Meantime, the addition of their names to their home country's visa quota waiting list means anybody who follows the law and petitions from the home country has to wait all the longer. The 4 million backlogged petitioners get another half million or million illegal aliens joining them for the INS to process, directly because of 245(i) extension.
Sen. Robert Byrd rightly calls it "sheer lunacy" to enact such an amnesty.
We must fix a runaway immigration system that allows citizens of other nations to determine who gets in and stays in our country. This runaway system allows millions of foreigners to exploit the laxity from overwhelming volume of immigrants, threatening our security, distorting labor markets, burdening taxpayers with the public costs of mass low-skilled immigration, and developing an underclass that the Heritage Foundation's Robert Rector has said damages the long-term work ethic and marriage ethic.
House appropriators should do the right thing. Deep-six the 245(i) amnesty.
James R. Edwards Jr., an adjunct fellow with the Hudson Institute, is coauthor of The Congressional Politics of Immigration Reform.