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Why Democratic objections to the Cornyn amendment are completely bogus

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Politics,Beltway Confidential,Conn Carroll,Immigration,Senate,Democratic Party

Democrats, apparently, are completely willing to blow up immigration reform if Republicans insist on adding Sen. John Cornyn’s, R-Texas, RESULTS amendment to the bill. The Washington Post‘s Greg Sargent explains why two of the new triggers in the Cornyn plan are deal breakers for Dems:

In the Cornyn amendment, if the 90 percent apprehension and 100 percent surveillance metrics are not being met, citizenship doesn’t happen.

Here’s why, in the view of immigration advocates, this constitutes a stealth effort to kill reform: It creates the possibility of manipulation of those metrics with the express purpose of killing citizenship.

In other words, if citizenship is dependent on those metrics being met, in 10 years a Republican Congress could redirect border security money elsewhere for the explicit purpose of falling short of achieving them, according to Frank Sharry, the head of the pro-immigration America’s Voice. Or a DHS secretary appointed by a Republican president could simply decline to find that the metrics have been met, he adds. In this scenario, Sharry concludes, you could have come very close to achieving those metrics, but if you fall just short of 100 percent surveillance or 90 percent apprehension in just one sector of the border (something that could be engineered deliberately), it could nix citizenship for millions.

But Congress doesn’t control the border security metrics: DHS does. If DHS wants to produce data showing that 90 percent of illegal border crossings are being apprehended, it will.

By contrast, if a Republican president is in control of DHS, and the DHS wants to produce data showing that only 80 percent of illegal border crossings are being apprehended, it will.

Whether or not the triggers under the Cornyn have or have not been met are left entirely up to the Executive Branch. If a president wants them to be met they will. If a presidents doesn’t want them met, they won’t.

But the exact same is true of the border security triggers in S. 744 right now! If a future president doesn’t want illegal immigrants to get citizenship, they will say that the border security plan has not been “substantially deployed,” which is S.744′s first trigger. If a future president doesn’t want illegal immigrants to get citizenship, they will say that border fence hasn’t been “substantially completed,” which is S.744′s second trigger. The exact same “possibility of manipulation” exists under both bills!

Under S.744, it is the Executive Branch that decides whether or not the triggers have been met, Congress doesn’t get a say. Same with the Cornyn amendment.

Cornyn tried to change this by working the Comptroller General into the mix, but he ran into separation of powers problems similar to those in Bowsher vs Synar. As a result, the Cornyn amendment only requires the Comptroller to submit a border report, which, like S.744′s Border Commission, is completely powerless to stop citizenship.

Bottom line: under S.744, certification of the completion of the border security triggers was at the complete discretion of the Executive Branch. The exact same is true under the Cornyn amendment. Democrats are just making up reasons to blow up immigration reform.

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