House Speaker John Boehner (R–OH) has said that the House will not vote on the Senate-passed immigration bill and will instead deal with the issue on a piece-by-piece basis. One of the many problems in the Senate bill is the slush funds that would help finance the budgets of radical immigration advocacy groups and pay for lawyers to sue the U.S. government. All of which, of course, would be at the expense of the U.S. taxpayer.
The bill establishes various grants to assist individuals seeking a change in immigration status. As highlighted in a Heritage Issue Brief, one such program channels $100 million to assist aliens seeking registered provisional immigrant status (amnesty) via a newly established nonprofit, the United States Citizenship Foundation (USCF). The authority and funding given to the USCF are virtually unlimited—the USCF is authorized to provide any assistance it deems “useful to aliens who are interested in applying for registered provisional status.” Thus, it will be able to pour money into the nonprofit advocacy world, giving grants to organizations such as the National Council of La Raza, one of the most virulent pro-illegal-alien groups in the country.
And while $100 million is authorized for the first five years of this effort, the bill provides for such additional “sums as may be necessary for fiscal 2019 and subsequent years.” In other words, a blank check.
Another assistance program provides $50 million in grants to nonprofits to help illegals upgrade to legal status or change from provisional status to permanent residents. These grants can be used for legal assistance, thus committing the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to providing funding for lawsuits against itself.
A third program provides $120 million for a public relations campaign by advocacy groups to inform immigrants of their employee rights. All of these and other various programs total at least $300 million and will grow over time.
The Senate bill would also be the best stocking stuffer immigration lawyers have ever seen. For example, the Legal Services Corporation (LSC)—a federally funded nonprofit that provides legal services for low-income Americans—would be further authorized to provide legal services to aliens for a variety of reasons, including class-action claims against the government. Similarly, class-action litigation is specifically authorized for any “regulation, written policy, or written directive, issue or unwritten policy or practice initiated by or under the authority of the Secretary of Homeland Security.”
In short, an immigration lawyer can bring a class-action lawsuit for any policy or action of DHS—and do so on the taxpayer’s dime.
Using the guise of improving immigration court efficiency, the bill drastically expands the parameters for appointed counsel in immigration proceedings at the taxpayer’s expense. The Attorney General would be required to provide counsel for any alien who “is considered particularly vulnerable when compared to other aliens in removal proceedings, such that the appointment of counsel is necessary to help ensure fair resolution and efficient adjudication of the proceedings.” That is in direct contrast to current policy, which allows aliens to have counsel at immigration proceedings but “at no expense to the government.”
How much will all of this cost? We don’t really know. But these seemingly limitless taxpayer-funded resources provided to defend against deportation are in stark contrast to the limited means given to the Department of Justice to actually bring deportation actions.
None of this should come as a surprise. After all, as journalist Stan Evans points out, the Senate bill was drafted by a group overseen by Cecelia Munoz, President Obama’s director of domestic policy and a former senior policy analyst at La Raza. As Evans says, “a former La Raza official has been pushing through legislation that advances the La Raza program and could potentially fill its coffers.”
We don’t need more slush funds, special-interest handouts, and blanket grants of power to the executive branch. What we do need is border security, real enforcement, and reforms that encourage lawful immigration and discourage illegal immigration.