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Beltway Confidential

The worthless ‘triggers’ in the Gang of Ocho’s immigration bill

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Beltway Confidential,Conn Carroll

“If, in fact, this bill does not have real triggers in there, if there is not language in this bill that guarantees that nothing else will happen unless these enforcement mechanisms are in place, I won’t support it.” – Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., on The Rush Limbaugh Show, Jan. 29

Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., has staked his entire political future on producing an immigration reform bill with “real” border security “triggers” that will guarantee this latest “path to citizenship” is not just another amnesty.

Today, Rubio and the fellow members of his Gang of Ocho immigration group released a 19-page outline of what is in the bill. Only two “triggers” are identified.

First, 180 days after the bill passes, the secretary of homeland security must submit two strategies to Congress before any “immigrant in undocumented status” can be granted “registered provision immigrant” legal status. One strategy must be titled “Comprehensive Southern Border Security Strategy” and must outline how DHS plans to spend $3 billion securing the southern border. Another strategy must be titled “Southern Border Fencing Strategy” and must outline how DHS plans to spend $1.5 billion building more fencing on the southern border.

Second, five years after the bill passes, the secretary of homeland security must submit a “written certification” to the President and Congress that the bill’s “Goal for Border Security” has been met. In order to meet the bill’s security goal, DHS must certify that 90 percent of all people attempting to enter into the country illegally in “High Risk Border Sectors” are apprehended. If DHS fails to claim that the border has been secured, then the President, and the majority and minority leaders in the House and Senate must form a “Border Commission” which must issue a “Report and Recommendation” with in 180 days on how to spend another $2 billion securing the border. If the Border Commission fails to issue a report,the DHS gets the $2 billion anyway.

To recap, in order to get immediate legal status, the only trigger the Obama administration would have to meet is the submission of two strategies to Congress. That’s it. Just a plan for border security. And then, in order for those with legal status to become citizens, DHS must claim that the border is secure. That’s it. There is no way for Congress or a private citizen to challenge a DHS claim that the border is secure. And even if DHS did admit the border was not secure, all that happens is the creation of a Border Commission whose only power is to issue a report on how DHS should spend another $2 billion. No actual border security, our border fence, must be achieved.

None of these “triggers” assures the border will be secure in any way. Any future Democratic administration could simply say the border was secure, regardless of what the facts on the ground are, and U.S. citizens would have no way to hold them accountable.

As NBC Latino reports, “Despite the insistence of tying a path to citizenship to border security, the bill does not use triggers, but instead establishes border security ‘goals.’”

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