Ira Mehlman

As a result of a deal cut by President Obama to secure the votes of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus for his health care legislation, amnesty for illegal aliens is back on the agenda for 2010. There is no actual legislative vehicle for amnesty just yet, but Senators Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) have rolled out an outline for what they are calling “comprehensive immigration reform.”

There will be ample opportunity to debate the merits of the bill when it is finalized. But aside from the question of whether granting amnesty to millions of people who broke the law is justified, there are even more practical issues that supporters of such a plan need to address.

Let’s start with the issue posed by the Department of Homeland Security Assistant Inspector General Frank Deffer, whose agency would be charged with carrying out an illegal alien amnesty. Testifying before the House Judiciary Committee on March 23, Deffer stated, “Adding 12 million more people to the system would be the mother of all backlogs. Clearly to us the systems could not handle it now.” The mother of all backlogs that Deffer warns about would come on top of the already formidable backlog of millions of people who are waiting their turn to come here legally.

But that’s just one question. Reading through the Schumer-Graham outline, other serious questions seem to jump off the page:

Background checks. Acknowledging the security challenges their proposal would pose, Schumer and Graham promise that amnesty applicants would have to pass a rigorous background check. Really? By DHS’s estimate, there are about 11 million illegal aliens in the country. How do you do rigorous background checks on 11 million people from countless different countries, many of whom have been using a variety of false identities?

How would fraud be prevented? Sen. Schumer admits that there was widespread fraud during the much smaller 1986 amnesty he helped broker as a member of the House. Faced with the “mother of all backlogs,” and under extreme pressure to process applications, how would DHS prevent even more massive fraud this time around?

Collect back taxes. On what? Never mind that they should have been paying taxes all along, how do you determine the tax liabilities of people who have been working off-the-books, or using a variety of fake or stolen Social Security numbers? Will the IRS simply take their word (and can the rest of us qualify for the same “punishment”)? Would they be eligible to collect refunds and the Earned Income Tax Credit (in which case we might end up owing them money)?

Ira Mehlman

Ira Mehlman is the Media Director of the Federation for American Immigration Reform.