Interest Group to Pocket Reform-Bill Slush Funds

The avowed purpose of the immigration bill passed by the Senate and pending in the House is to provide a “path to citizenship” for the illegal immigrants in exchange for tough new enforcement measures that would prevent other such incursions in the future.

But buried deep within the immigration bill are hidden multimillion-dollar slush funds for left-wing nonprofit groups to provide services to the estimated 11 million illegal immigrants now in the U.S. Once enacted, the slush funds would total almost $300 million over three years and grow over time.

Reviewing the massive legislation, it’s obvious that lawyering would be needed. The 1,100-page proposal is a network of legal requirements and protections, waivers and exceptions, including a new “provisional immigrant” status (the first phase of legalization for illegals), appeals of adverse rulings, stays of deportation, applications for work visas, and countless other such guarantees.

Within this thicket of new rights are features that would vastly increase the flow of immigrants to perhaps 30 million or 40 million over the next decade. One is a set of “chain immigration” clauses, legalizing the spouses and children of illegals.

Another is the Dream Act, fast-tracking legal status for aliens of any age who came here before they were 16 (how this would be proved is not clear). A third is a “blue card” temporary visa that could be converted to permanent status and used by future illegals to get legal in a hurry.

Of course, a Spanish-speaking immigrant would likely know nothing of this maze of loopholes, benefits and protections and would on his own be unable to exploit them. So the bill sets up a fund of $50 million to aid illegals seeking “provisional” status, filing appeals, blocking efforts at deportation, obtaining naturalization, and so on.

The groups receiving the $50 million to give such assistance would be nonprofit “immigrant- serving” organizations whose staffs have “demonstrated qualifications, experience and expertise in providing quality services to immigrants.” Agents of such groups would be paid by the government to guide the illegals through the intricate processes in the legislation.

‘Chock-Full’ Of Pork

The bill provides a sizable slush fund for leftward groups in the immigrant serving, advocacy and lobbying business. As Sen. John Cornyn, R-Tex., puts it, the bill is “chock-full of de facto earmarks, pork barrel spending, and special interest sweeteners.”

Though the nonprofit agencies getting the money aren’t named in the bill, their identities can be deduced from the history and politics of the issue.

Foremost among such groups is the National Council of La Raza (meaning “the race,” or alternatively, “the people”), a group that opposes current U.S. immigration laws, defends illegals, and long promoted amnesty measures. It’s also an organization with significant leverage at the Obama White House and its former senior executive helped draft the Senate bill.

La Raza is already a recipient of federal grants and contracts — running at $8 million to $10 million per year — and would arguably be at the head of the line to receive new funding.

A second, allied group, the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund, says it receives no federal money but would likely qualify for subsidies under this legislation.

Laundry List Of Services

As to the services to be provided by such groups, the legislation lists:

• Supplying information to illegals and the public on “the eligibility and benefits of registered provisional immigrant status.”

• Completing application forms and petitions for immigrants, obtaining documents and other relevant data.

• “Applying for any waivers” from restrictions on illegals and qualifying family members.

• Helping individuals seeking to “adjust their status” to permanent residence.

• “Applying for United States citizenship …”

Among the features of the bill in terms of immigration enforcement are provisos concerning drunken driving in the U.S. Two prior convictions for this offense would not disqualify an immigrant for legalization, but a third offense, after the bill is passed, may disqualify a migrant from becoming a citizen.

Similar rules apply to counterfeiting or altering passports: three such instances are forbidden, meaning two would be permitted. As to selling or forging materials used in making passports, the bill says 10 such instances are verboten, that nine won’t be a problem.

Another provision would protect aliens who have been “ordered excluded, deported or removed” from the country. Such aliens, under the bill, “may apply for registered provisional status,” and, by this one step, avoid removal.

Pending approval of their applications, the aliens “shall not be considered unlawfully present” unless the Secretary of Homeland Security says so. This is unlikely, at best.

The secretary, or an immigration judge, could stop deportation of illegals on humanitarian or family-unity grounds or simply in “the public interest” if they decide to do so. “Public interest” is essentially undefined in the legislation.

Litigation Explosion

As noted by Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., “such open-ended waivers could all but ensure mass litigation and the end of immigration enforcement.”

Other parts of the bill go beyond amnesty and waivers to guarantee sanctuary and safe havens for illegal immigrants.

The sanctuary part (Section 3721) says immigration officers may not conduct “enforcement actions” at “sensitive locations,” except in the emergency circumstances, or with written advance permission from higher levels.

These no-enforcement zones are hospitals, health clinics, schools (vocational schools, universities and others are included), organizations helping children, pregnant women or people with disabilities, churches, synagogues and mosques — and any other “sensitive location” later designated by the federal bureaucracy.

For illegal immigrants who manage to get arrested, there are provisos also (Section 3715) to secure their release. Detainees, who cannot get a bond, can be turned over to “secure alternative” providers until they get a hearing.

These “secure alternatives” turn out to be, once more, “non-governmental community- based organizations” that would provide “community-based supervision programs” for detainees. So the nonprofits that get the federal funding could also get custody of their clients.

In these respects and others, the legislation echoes the agenda of La Raza (which long promoted the language of “comprehensive immigration reform” and a “path to citizenship”). Previously such efforts have been made by this group, with some federal dollars, but chiefly with funds from foundations, unions and corporations. Now, if the new bill passes, such activities could be much more generously backed by the taxpayers.

Another set of grants will go to “eligible organizations” that provide assistance to illegals seeking “blue card” or “provisional” status, collecting proof of eligibility and giving other such assistance.

What’s Another $100 Million?

One section creates a “New Immigrant Council,” including representatives of nonprofits “with legal and advocacy experience working with immigrant communities,” to “introduce and integrate” new immigrants “into the state.” The bill authorizes an additional $100 million — $20 million a year for five years — to finance these efforts. Thus a second slush fund is created.

A third grant program appears in a later section, funding an outreach “campaign” to inform immigrants and the public about employee “rights, responsibilities and remedies” in the legislation. This recruitment project too would be contracted to nonprofits, at a cost of $120 million — $40 million a year over a three-year span.

While the Senate bill is advertised as a “tough, conservative” measure, the largely unnoticed sanctuary funding and La Raza clauses may be the real point of the legislation. This seems likely since the bill was steered through the Senate by the Obama White House.
Overseeing a team of executive branch bill-drafters ensconced in the Dirksen Senate Office Building, guiding the legislative process, was Obama director of domestic policy Cecilia Munoz, the leading presidential staffer on immigration issues.

All For La Raza

Before assuming her job with the White House, Ms. Munoz was a senior policy analyst at La Raza. Thus a former La Raza official has been pushing through legislation that advances the La Raza program and could potentially fill its coffers.

This connection becomes even more eye-catching when we note that La Raza and Munoz were also involved in the last big amnesty go-round, in 1986, which supposedly traded legalization of illegals (then about 3 million) for tougher new enforcement.

In that case, the legalization happened but the enforcement didn’t. La Raza and similar groups lobbied for greater leniency toward illegals and against the employer sanctions that were the law’s main enforcement mechanism. Ms. Munoz in 1990 wrote a long La Raza essay saying legalization was good and should be expanded, but that sanctions against hiring illegals were discriminatory and should be abandoned.

She said further that groups like La Raza were unfairly burdened in providing costly legal services to immigrants — a problem that could obviously be solved by the slush funds in the Senate measure. She called her 1990 essay “Unfinished Business.” It looks as though the current bill completes the business La Raza launched back in the 1980s.

• Evans is a veteran journalist and author whose latest book is “Stalin’s Secret Agents.” Research for this article was underwritten by the American Media Institute (americanmediainstitute.com), a nonprofit investigative news service.

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