Immigration

Is the Senate's Immigration Bill a Civil Liberties Nightmare? Depends on Who You Ask.

|

Courtesy of Gage Skidmore

Since the Senate passed its immigration bill on Thursday, a number of immigrant advocacy groups have dropped their support for the legislation. According to The Atlantic's Molly Ball, the Border Center for Human Rights called the Senate bill "a promise of abuse, violation and death," and 18 Million Rising said the bill will "exacerbate…the climate of fear created by criminalization and overreaching surveillance."

The source of their discontent is the 11th-hour Hoeven-Corker amendment, designed to placate immigration hard-liners who want reform to be contingent on securing the border. According to Republican Sen. John Hoeven's website, the amendment guarantees

  • An unprecedented surge of an additional 20,000 Border Patrol agents are deployed, maintained and stationed along the southern border, more than doubling the current force.
  • The Comprehensive Southern Border Security Strategy is deployed and operational, which includes, at a minimum, full implementation and activation of the $4.5 billion in specific technology and equipment requested by the Border Patrol to achieve full surveillance of the border.
  • The Southern Border Fencing Strategy has been implemented, and at least 700 miles of fencing has been completed along the southern border. (There are 350 miles of pedestrian fencing already deployed along the southern border. This amendment would double that and ensure a total of 700 miles of fencing along the border.)
  • The mandated electronic visa entry/exit system has been fully implemented at all air and sea ports of entry where U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers are currently deployed, which will improve the identification of those who overstay their visas.
  • E-Verify is being used by all employers in the country, making it virtually impossible to work in the United States illegally.

Defense News reports on the specific goodies that the Senate bill will fund (and alludes to DHS's leeway in buying additional gear): 

[F]our more drones on top of the 10 that the CBP already flies, 30 marine vessels, 17 more Huey helicopters, 10 converted and five new Black Hawk helicopters, and hundreds of ground sensors, and fixed and mobile surveillance systems.

The amendment also calls for sophisticated surveillance gear that has proven itself on the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan. It requests eight VADER (Vehicle Dismount and Exploitation Radar) systems for manned and unmanned aircraft.

The National Guard is also asked to provide additional drones and helicopters for use along the border, and to man road checkpoints in southwestern states.

Even with these expensive goals, the Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano "is being given pretty wide leeway to field these systems or buy other systems" if they're found to be more effective, Christopher Wilson, an analyst at the Woodrow Wilson International Center's Mexico Institute said.

Pro-immigrant groups aren't alone in sensing a threat to civil liberties. Last week the Libertarian Party of Florida tweeted its opposition, saying, "We don't want war zones, drones, National ID, surveillance & more big gov agents." And today former Rep. Ron Paul compared the bill's E-Verify provision–which makes the program mandatory and universal–to NSA spying:

It is not inconceivable that, should this bill pass, the day may come when you are not be able to board an airplane or exercise your second amendment rights without being run through the E-Verify database. It is not outside the realm of possibility that the personal health care information that will soon be collected by the IRS and shared with other federal agencies as part of Obamacare will also be linked to the E-Verify system.

Those who dismiss these concerns as paranoid should consider that the same charges were leveled at those who warned that the PATRIOT Act could lead to the government collecting our phone records and spying on our Internet usage. Just as the PATRIOT Act was only supposed to be used against terrorists but is now used to bypass constitutional protections in matters having noting to do with terrorism or national security, the national ID/mandatory E-Verify database will not only be used to prevent illegal immigrants from gaining employment. Instead, it will eventually be used as another tool to monitor and control the American people.

The recent revelations of the extent of National Security Agency (NSA) spying on Americans, plus recent stories of IRS targeting Tea Party and similar groups for special scrutiny, demonstrates the dangers of trusting government with this type of power. Creation of a federal database with photos and possibly other "biometric" information about American citizens is a great leap forward for the surveillance state. All Americans who still care about limited government and individual liberty should strongly oppose E-Verify.

Other civil liberties advocates think the Senate bill is, on the whole, a good one. "The good portions of this immigration reform bill still outweigh the bad but we cannot afford too many more Hoeven-Corker amendments," Cato's Alex Nowrasteh wrote last month. The ACLU's Laura W. Murphy said in a June 27 press release that despite the Hoeven-Corker amendment, "the bill will make a real, substantive difference to the lives of millions of aspiring citizens."

Murphy hopes to remove the "border surge" language from the final bill:

"Over the coming weeks, the ACLU will pursue every avenue to have the problematic new border surge language removed, and to make other civil liberties improvements, before the bill heads to President Obama's desk. The ACLU will continue to work with the House to adopt legislation that will not compromise civil liberties and will provide a path to citizenship for the millions of immigrants who contribute every day to the vitality of our country. We're confident that continued public pressure will be instrumental in forcing the House to move forward on immigration reform."

That seems like a longshot considering what Rep. John Boehner has said thus far. 

NEXT: Snowden Has Reportedly Applied for Asylum in Russia

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. Other civil liberties advocates think the Senate bill is, on the whole, a good one.

    Because increasing the scope, power, and reach of the Government in an effort to expand liberty always ends well.

    1. Other civil liberties advocates think the Senate bill is, on the whole, a good one.

      “On the whole …”

      So, there’s sufficient good in it to cancel out the stupid and evil parts?

      Or do these advocates merely mean that a thousand-page bill just *has* to be good?

      1. The advocate is Cato.

        1. “Not now, Cato!”

        2. Cato seems to think a few crumbs thrown to immigrants outwighs fucking over 3% of the U.S. workforce who will find it impossible to get a job because they are responsible for fixing errors on govt databases – errors they have no idea exist.

          Since the objectivists started taking over, Cato has been exploring how to hook-up with the state; should they give it a hand job first or engage in heavy petting first.

          1. I’m a big fan of CATO, but they have been dropping the ball quite regularly for the past couple of years.

            1. Inevitably, it’s going to end up as a disaster – like Ayn Rand endorsing Dicky price-controls Nixon; I perceive that like moths drawn to the bug-zapper, Objectivists just can’t shake their desire for power over the vulgar masses and are drawn irresistibly to hook up with the state to satisfy that peculiar appetite.

              1. Go fuck off somewhere. Not every Objectivist is like that, your one-note ham-fistedness notwithstanding. You’d do better to take allies where you can find them rather than insulting them.

                1. Thank you NK. Tarran is full of shit Cato’s ‘issues’ popped up long before an Objectivist headed it. Yaron Brook and that other ARIan at Forbes are as pro-immigration as it gets.

                2. You’d do better to take allies where you can find them rather than insulting them.

                  ROFL!

                  Objectivists aren’t allies. At best, like Stalin in WW-II they are enemies of enemies, but they ain’t allies.

                  Objectivism is totalitarian; from ethics, to law, to politics, it dictates that there is one correct answer/stance, and that all others are evil and to be suppressed – violently if need be.

                  And every interaction I and my non-objectivist acquaintances have with them (the hard-core ones, not the ones who grow out of the philosophy) leave me increasingly convinced that they would cheerfully send me to a death-camp if they thought it would secure their utopia.

                  Fortunately, it’s a dying movement, most people recoil at its demand of total submission of their individuality, and the ones who don’t – the ones who make promoting the philosophy their primary activity – produce so many quislings from their ranks that the movement will never be attractive to even a significant minority of freedom lovers let alone a majority of them.

                  1. Whoops, an edit:

                    “Objectivism is totalitarian; from ethics, to law, to politics,”

                    should have read

                    “Objectivism is totalitarian; from ethics, to law, to politics, to aesthetics”

                    1. That’s just a top-to-bottom lie. Way to lack integrity. You sound like Whittaker Chambers, and you have that much intellectual firepower to boot.

                      Note: not a compliment.

                    2. Which Objectivists? There are plenty more Objectivists than the ones who believe Rand’s words and actions are holy infallible writ. You are aware that there was a split in the movement some time ago right?

  2. Nick Gillespie attacked Ted Cruz for not supporting this shit.

    1. The Jacket has been a little off kilter lately.

      1. Cocktail party circuit can mess with your head….of course he could be feeling like I do much more frequently these days that the American people…as well as the aspirants…deserve to get it, good and hard!

  3. This is a disaster.

  4. designed to placate immigration hard-liners

    It “placated” the 68 Senators like Jeff Flake who voted for it. The so-called “hardliners” voted no.

    1. Because to the hardliners, nothing short of immediate execution for anyone caught without Papers is acceptable.

      1. Not offering a “path to citizenship” as part of the amnesty and allowing more skilled immigrants is “immediate execution”?

      2. And for those same hardliners you clearly support gang rape and then execution by being impaled and burned alive?

        I love Hyperbole day!

      3. This is true. Most of this bill’s crappiness stems from trying to appease the nativist assholes who should just be ignored.

        1. Those “nativist assholes” represent a gigantic swath of American popular opinion. Once again demonstrating that beneath the thin veneer of libertarianism beats the heart of a dicatorship lover. (if we can consider libertarian a person who thinks it’s OK to incinerate women and children for the crime of being Muslim)

  5. It requests eight VADER (Vehicle Dismount and Exploitation Radar) systems for manned and unmanned aircraft

    “You are part of the Rebel Alliance and a Mexican. Take her away.”

    1. What?!

      No womanned or unwomanned aircraft?

      *There’s* your ticket to defeating this thing.

    2. +1 Pray the deal isn’t altered further

      1. “Hold your fire. There are no life forms aboard that truck.”

        1. This isn’t the cheap labor you’ve been looking for….they can go about their business.

          /republico wan kenobi

    3. Was that acronym intentional? Like were they really going for the Star Wars plug?

      1. Please! Developed by geeks for thugs!

      2. It must have been – there’s no “A” in the phrase.

    4. “I sense something, a presense I haven’t felt since…”

      *thinks back to last time he had good Tequila in a small Mexican tavern*

  6. Shit sandwich, now with extra turds.

  7. Not even the House of Representatives would be dumb enough to swallow a poison pill like that? Right? Guys?

    1. They’ll probably reject it… for all the wrong reasons, but they’ll reject it… I hope! /fingers crossed.

    2. If the House doesn’t it is only because they hate brown people.

      1. Not because they love the taste of DHS cock?

        1. Cato and the ACLU are taking that DHS cock balls deep:

          Other civil liberties advocates think the Senate bill is, on the whole, a good one. “The good portions of this immigration reform bill still outweigh the bad but we cannot afford too many more Hoeven-Corker amendments,” Cato’s Alex Nowrasteh wrote last month. The ACLU’s Laura W. Murphy said in a June 27 press release that despite the Hoeven-Corker amendment, “the bill will make a real, substantive difference to the lives of millions of aspiring citizens.”

          1. So, wait, SIV, are you an open-borders advocate, or are you opposed to this for the wrong reasons as well?

            I bet I know the answer.

            1. I bet you’re wrong.

          2. Lrn2read chimp aids. They reject the HC amendment. Are you and John totally incapable of honesty on this issue? Why not just leave and have a circle jerk with the other xenophobes at Breitbart?

            1. Cato and the ACLU support the senate bill as written which includes the HC amendment. As no “immigration hardliners” were swayed into supporting this shitpile by the Rio Grande Wall and Millions More DHS provisions you can’t blame those people for that part of the bill. Cato,Chuck Shumer, Jeff Flake, Lindssey Graham and the ACLU are the ones who want HC.

    3. In our dreams. Once they have this loaded up with 5x the pork and other things unrelated to immigration, they will pass it.

      1. Odds on the farm bill somehow getting tacked on as an ammendment?

  8. The ACLU’s Laura W. Murphy said in a June 27 press release that despite the Hoeven-Corker amendment, “the bill will make a real, substantive difference to the lives of millions of aspiring citizens.”

    Goddammit, we do not need more uneducated citizens voting in our elections — especially ones in the process of being cultivated by the public school system and the various grievance groups as another potential font of radicalized ethnic politics.

    Empirically, we need more *workers*, who are by and large excluded from this bill. God knows, we don’t need an expansion of the surveillance state.

    1. Funny thing, Mike Pence had a good bill that would have resolved the problems with immigration vis a vis labor — there were few takers in the House in support, of course.

  9. Is the Senate’s Immigration Bill a Civil Liberties Nightmare? Depends on Who You Ask.

    Seriously, the answer is obviously yes and it applies to just about any bill passed by the Senate on any subject.

  10. “It is not inconceivable that, should this bill pass, the day may come when you are not be able to board an airplane or exercise your second amendment rights without being run through the E-Verify database.”

    And god help you if that system ever goes down while your 2,000 miles away from home.

  11. We do need reform of some sort, but anything is e-verify is a non-starter with me.

    1. Same. I wanted to support this bill but E-verify is a poison pill.

      1. Same. Surprisingly, open-borders libertarians also oppose e-verify. /s

        1. I’m no libertarian, and I oppose e-verify.

  12. I predict more unconstitutional searches by such an increased Border Patrol “within 100 miles of the US border”

  13. The Atlantic’s Molly Ball, the Border Center for Human Rights called the Senate bill “a promise of abuse, violation and death,” and 18 Million Rising said the bill will “exacerbate…the climate of fear created by criminalization and overreaching surveillance.”

    If only….

  14. Other than eVerify I don’t see any civil liberties problems/government expansion in this bill; the technology and manpower that is listed simply enables the BP to do the job it’s already supposed to be doing.

    eVerify is a very bad thing, of course.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.