Marco Rubio's Theater of the Absurd
Just a few years ago, Senator Rubio said, "[I]f you grant amnesty ... in any form, whether it's back of the line or so forth, you will destroy any chance we will ever have of having a legal immigration system that works here in America."
Rubio is now advocating amnesty -- a proposal so ludicrous, so manifestly designed to betray reason and law, that it is best described as nihilistic.
The proposed act describes two "triggers" required for amnesty, which make up a two-step process. First, an illegal immigrant is placed on "registered provisional immigrant (RPI) status" (c, p. 10). This is not supposed to happen "until" the Homeland Security Secretary "has submitted to Congress" a plan to strengthen the border (c, p. 10-11).
Astonishingly, the act does not give Congress any power to approve or deny this plan. DHS simply dumps a report in Congress, and illegal immigrants take the first of two steps towards amnesty.
In the second step, the DHS secretary will "adjust the status of aliens who have been granted registered provisional immigrant (RPI) status" ([A], p.11). RPI status is adjusted, meaning upgraded, to lawful permanent resident status. This second step is not supposed to happen "until" the secretary gives Congress and the president a "written certification that" four additional triggers have been met.
The most important and outrageous fact about those triggers is that the "written certification" is not approved or denied by Congress (11-12). The DHS secretary could deliver a message in invisible ink to Congress, then proceed with amnesty. There is nothing in the text of the bill giving any representative the authority to verify that DHS is enforcing border security.
If the border effectiveness triggers are not reached in five years, a bipartisan "Southern Border Security Commission" will be established (Sec. 4, p. 14). This Commission is supposed to "submit to the President, the Secretary, and Congress a report setting forth specific recommendations for policies for achieving and maintaining the border security goals" ([d], 17).
Here we have another report! This is at least a pattern -- perhaps the only semblance of rationality contained in the amnesty bill.
It's important to take a step back and look at the farce built into the "enforcement mechanisms": If DHS cannot fix the border in five years, then the act creates a bipartisan Commission, which will give a report to Congress and DHS -- who together couldn't fix the border in the first place, thus necessitating the Commission.
Equally absurd, the act is silent about what happens if Homeland Security, Congress, and the Commission all fail to produce a plan, or the plan fails.
I posed this question to Alex Conant, Marco Rubio's press secretary. Here is our exchange:
Q: ...[T]he bill (p.10-12) is silent about what happens if Homeland Security, Congress, and the Commission all fail to produce a plan, or the plan fails. What happens in that event?
A: "If there is no plan, then there is no legalization at all."
Q: "...[T]he act itself does not explain what happens if there is no plan. If the act is passed, then people will expect amnesty. So the bill will simply leave them unsatisfied perpetually?"
A: "If there are no plans, then DHS can't give out temporary work permits -- let alone green cards. So they'll remain illegal."
That is the most likely outcome if the amnesty bill passes. It requires no imagination to see how this outcome would play out.
Picture the political scene in the near future after amnesty has passed. The country, and especially the estimated 11 million illegal immigrants here, are eagerly awaiting the upgrade to lawful status. The GOP's amnesty supporters are convinced that they've locked down the Latino vote, which "should be ours," claimed John McCain.
Because no promise to secure the border, properly enforce E-verify, or even deport known criminal illegal immigrants has ever been met, we can be assured that the bipartisan Commission will take over. Marco Rubio has basically conceded this point. In his current talk radio campaign, he repeatedly emphasizes the Commission whenever he's reminded that the federal government habitually lies about immigration enforcement.
So picture the bipartisan commission, meeting to discuss the future of 11 million people who expect amnesty, and are now getting more upset that politicians are dithering with their perceived entitlement. (Can there be any doubt that illegal immigrants will develop an entitlement attitude towards citizenship if amnesty is passed?)
So we're a few years down the road, the entitled illegal immigrants are angry, and a good number of citizens are still angry that amnesty passed to begin with. The pro-amnesty Republicans are starting to worry a bit as well. All this pesky border talk could interfere with their rightful hold over the Latino vote.
Not to worry -- the bipartisan Commission steps in. But what do bipartisan commissions do? The bipartisan budget super-committee failed to reach a deficit reduction deal in 2011. The bipartisan Simpson-Bowles proposal was rejected by...a bipartisan vote in 2012.
If the amnesty bill passes, the Commission will eventually have to be created. If the Commission fails, as Sen. Rubio's press secretary stated, "then DHS can't give out temporary work permits -- let alone green cards." Illegals will supposedly "remain illegal."
Despite the self-interested assurances of politicians, the bill doesn't actually say what happens if the Commission fails to create a plan. But the Act does provide for travel expenses for members of the Commission ([c], 17).
In short, the Gang of Eight crooks didn't explain what would happen to our nation's immigration law under the most likely eventual scenario if amnesty were to pass, but they had the foresight to provide for travel expenses.
Given past experience, immigration laws can be gutted via executive order or simple non-enforcement. If the amnesty bill passes, the 11 million illegal immigrants expecting their entitlement will receive it one way or another, whether enforcement happens or not. The enforcement triggers will turn into speed bumps on the path to citizenship.
Supine sentimentality is leading formerly sensible groups to favor amnesty. Assuming that amnesty passes, in the future, guilt-ridden religious denominations and even labor leaders will certainly insist that amnesty move ahead despite a failure to enforce the border.
Gibberish about the Statue of Liberty, the American Dream, and even John McCain's "Judeo-Christian" amnesty values will be used to justify shredding enforcement. On top of that, amnesty will be the new precedent for this nation's immigration law.
Meanwhile, America will feel less and less like home to more and more Americans, as "immigration reduces the wages of domestic workers" and poses a "political threat ... to the welfare state," as Paul Krugman once warned.
The original masters of the absurd were authors and playwrights, described as "technically dazzling" but presenting "a grotesque, meaningless, nihilistic world" (1).
Rubio and pro-amnesty Republicans are today's masters of the absurd; they have presented us with a bizarre plan to win elections by making new Democrats eligible to vote for an expansion of the welfare state.
If the awful amnesty bill is passed, enforcement will probably be a joke, at least 11 million illegals will certainly gain lawful status despite zero enforcement, and pro-amnesty conservatives will have nothing to show politically for their sell-out of working Americans.
John T. Bennett (MA, University of Chicago, Master of Arts Program in the Social Sciences '07; J.D., Emory University School of Law '12) is a former Army officer with tours of duty in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Djibouti. His writing has appeared in Townhall.com, World Net Daily, and The Chicago Tribune, among others.
1. Claude Schumacher, "The Theatre of the Absurd", in M. Coyle, P. Garside et al. (eds.) Encyclopedia of Literature and Criticism. London: 471.