And, Just In Case You Weren’t Already Upset Enough…
Another disgusting piece of information about the US Senate bill on illegal immigration trickles out:
The Bush administration insisted on a little-noticed change in the bipartisan Senate immigration bill that would enable 12 million undocumented residents to avoid paying back taxes or associated fines to the Internal Revenue Service, officials said.
An independent analyst estimated the decision could cost the IRS tens of billions of dollars.
A provision requiring payment of back taxes had been in the initial version of a bill proposed by Senator Edward M. Kennedy, the Massachusetts Democrat. But the administration called for the provision to be removed due to concern that it would be too difficult to figure out which illegal immigrants owed back taxes.
The dropping of the back-tax provision was not made clear in the announcement of the immigration reform proposal on Thursday. Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff, speaking in reference to illegal immigrants seeking legal status, said, “You’ve got to pay your taxes.” He did not state whether he was referring to back taxes, future taxes, or both.
White House spokesman Scott Stanzel, asked in a telephone interview yesterday to clarify Chertoff’s remark, said it referred only to future taxes.
“It is important that the reformed immigration system is workable and cost efficient,” Stanzel said. “Determining the past tax liability would have been very difficult and costly and extremely time consuming.”
Stanzel stressed that immigrants would be required to pay a fine of up to $5,000 if they want to apply for a green card to become a legal resident, although that fine is not for failure to pay taxes.
Laura Capps, a spokeswoman for Kennedy, said a provision for requiring back taxes was in Kennedy’s original bill and that Chertoff called for it to be removed. “Chertoff thought it would be too challenging to accurately determine the amount of an applicant’s back taxes,” she said.
Administration officials said many illegal immigrants do not get paychecks that can be audited, making it difficult to determine tax liability…
What if, in the spirit of being “cost-efficient,” all law-abiding citizens of America decided that paying their taxes was just too “difficult and costly and extremely time consuming” to do? Would we be given the same break that illegal immigrants – who have already broken laws to get into our country – could now receive with nothing less than the blessing of the Federal government? Of course not!
This bill is a slap in the face to all those legal immigrants who played by the rules to come into the United States. It is a slap in the face to all those immigrants who are still trying to enter the United States legally. And this latest news is nothing less than a slap in the face to all law-abiding citizens who pay their taxes and only ask that others be held to the same standards of fair play.
Why does the Bush administration choose to provide law-breaking illegal immigrants with an additional economic reward for their bad behavior? How could that ever build further respect for the rule-of-law in America?
This is a what happens when the public debate on a major bill is rushed before the bill itself is written and publicly available.
And this latest news brings us right back to the big-picture issues and why a lousy illegal immigration bill is worse than no bill at all.
More reactions here.
Fred Thompson sums it all up:
Most Americans know that we have an illegal immigration problem in this country, with perhaps as many as 20 million people residing here unlawfully. And I think most Americans have a pretty good idea about how to at least start solving the problem – secure our nation’s borders…
I’d tell you what was in the legislation, but 24 hours after the politicians agreed the bill looked good, the Senate lawyers were still writing what may turn out to be a one thousand page document. In fact, a final version of the bill most likely will not be made available to the public until after the legislation is passed. That may come five days from now. That’s like trying to digest an eight-course meal on a fifteen-minute lunch break…
The fact is our border and immigration systems are still badly broken. We were reminded of this when Newsweek reported that the family of three of the men, arrested last week for allegedly plotting to kill American military personnel at Fort Dix, New Jersey, entered the U.S. illegally more than 20 years ago; filed for asylum back in 1989, but fell off the government’s radar screen when federal bureaucrats essentially lost track of the paperwork. Wonder how many times that’s been replicated?
Is it any wonder that a lot of folks today feel like they’re being sold a phony bill of goods on border security? A “comprehensive” plan doesn’t mean much if the government can’t accomplish one of its most basic responsibilities for its citizens — securing its borders. A nation without secure borders will not long be a sovereign nation…
We should scrap this “comprehensive” immigration bill and the whole debate until the government can show the American people that we have secured the borders — or at least made great headway. That would give proponents of the bill a chance to explain why putting illegals in a more favorable position than those who play by the rules is not really amnesty.