Ira Mehlman

Some of the interests that stand to gain the most from the Senate Gang of Eight immigration bill, S. 744, are obvious.

Within six months of enactment of the bill, millions of illegal aliens would be eligible for Registered Provisional Immigrant (RPI) status – the first and most important step in the amnesty process. They would be granted permission to remain and work in the United States while they wait for green cards and eventual citizenship.

Also obvious winners in the 844-page bill are business interests that would gain easier access to foreign labor. S. 744 provides for significant increases in guest workers who would be made available to businesses, as well as new flows of low-skilled and skilled permanent immigrants.

But there are still others who would hit the jackpot if S. 744 were to become law: lawyers and an array of groups that advocate on behalf of illegal aliens.

The bill provides what amounts to an engraved invitation for illegal aliens to sue the government for amnesty, individually or as part of a class action, and in many instances authorizes the Attorney General to appoint attorneys to represent illegal aliens at taxpayers’ expense.

Not only does S.744 serve up potentially millions of new clients for immigration attorneys, the bill encourages illegal aliens to challenge a denial or revocation of RPI status. The bill authorizes illegal aliens to avail themselves of the federal court system, all the way up to the appellate court level, if they are turned down for amnesty.

Tying the federal court system in knots can be expensive, so S.744 also obligates American taxpayers, in many cases, to pay lawyers’ fees. First, the bill strikes the existing language that states that an alien’s right to counsel in an immigration case must be “at no expense to the government.”

The bill then goes on to grant the Attorney General “sole and unreviewable discretion, [to] appoint or provide counsel to aliens in immigration proceedings.” In cases involving unaccompanied minors, the legislation requires the Attorney General to appoint taxpayer-funded representation. Given Attorney General Eric Holder’s stated position that “creating a pathway to earned citizenship” for illegal aliens “is a matter of civil and human rights,” it is reasonable to assume that he will exercise his “sole and unreviewable discretion” rather broadly.

Ira Mehlman

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