A bipartisan group of senators known as the Gang of Eight has put together a framework for the immigration reform for which America is supposedly waiting.
Provisions of the agreement have been widely leaked, and, from what I see, these senators should return to the drawing board.
If we are going to tackle immigration reform, there should be agreement at the outset on what objectives should be achieved. In my view, there should be three. It should enhance the freedom, fairness and security of the nation. If not, why bother?
The Gang of Eight proposal makes no gains on any of these fronts and, on at least one -- fairness -- makes a bad situation even worse.
It seems to be the way of Washington these days to take issues that are huge and complex, devise comprehensive megareforms -- too massive for any single person to read or grasp -- and pass new laws that exchange one set of problems for other, even bigger ones.
We just finished going through this with reforms of our financial services system and our health care system. Now we're about to do the same with immigration.
It's not smart to think that in one new law we can secure our border, deal with the estimated 11 million illegal immigrants now in the country, devise a new way of allowing skilled labor to enter the country and enable the employment of unskilled foreign labor.
But Washington is trying to do it all, and it seems that another legislative disaster is waiting to happen.
A purported achievement of the Gang of Eight is an agreement between Big Business and the Big Labor unions regarding hiring of unskilled foreign labor.
As our nation buckles under the load of excessive government, the proposal here is to give Washington even more power and build yet another new government bureaucracy.
The plan calls for a new Bureau of Immigration and Labor Market Research. And why create yet another new bureaucracy at a time of trillion-dollar deficits and canceled White House tours for students?
Quotas, which can be adjusted over time and market conditions, will be set for how many visas will be permitted for unskilled foreign labor. We'll need a new army of bureaucrats sitting in Washington to study and report on conditions of different labor markets.
The quota starts at 20,000 and can reach, over time, a ceiling of 200,000. At its peak, illegal immigration was about 500,000 per year. So in boom times, even at full quota, we could still have illegals sneaking over the border.
Government bureaucrats not only will determine how many can be hired but also what they can be paid.
In this case, it will be by "prevailing wage," which is a provision of the Davis-Bacon Act, passed in 1931 to keep unskilled black labor from competing with union workers -- at the time uniformly white -- on federally funded projects.
"Prevailing wages" are generally union wages and assure that taxpayers pay top dollar for government construction projects. Now, in the name of immigration reform, the "prevailing wage" standard is brought, for the first time, to the private sector.
Which gets to the fairness issue. Employment set-asides designated for unskilled foreign workers, with wage levels set by government, are nothing but a stick in the eye to competing low-wage workers in the American market.
It so happens that today these would be black workers. At 13.8 percent, black unemployment now is almost double the national average. But according to analysis done by Remapping Debate, (remappingdebate.org), unemployment among young black men with no high school diploma is 51.6 percent. Unemployment among all black men and women with no high school degree is 30 percent.
The Gang of Eight immigration reform proposal is a nonstarter. We must reject any reform that doesn't make our nation freer, fairer and more secure.
Star Parker is an author and president of CURE, the Center for Urban Renewal and Education. She can be reached at urbancure.org.