American Citizenship: A Privilege, Not a Right
We Must Close Loopholes That Will Allow Felons to Legalize
By Senator John Cornyn Posted in Congressional Contributors | Immigration — Comments (25) / Email this page » / Leave a comment »
As the Senate debates the compromise immigration bill this week, an important question is before my colleagues: Whether or not Congress should permanently bar from the United States and from receiving any immigration benefits, the following categories of individuals: members of terrorist organizations, violent gang members, sex offenders, repeat drunk drivers, and those convicted of felony identity theft.
The answer to that question would appear to be simple – yes, they should be barred.
It’s for this reason that I hoped to find strong bipartisan support for an amendment with a very simple premise – that we ought not to make citizens out of violent or aggravated felons. My amendment would close several gaping loopholes in the current bill to that effect.
Read on . . .
Remarkably, a number of my Democrat colleagues, and I might add, the New York Times editorial board, have vigorously objected. In fact, as the Associated Press reports this evening, the vote on my amendment, which is scheduled to take place Wednesday morning, is expected to be quite close. I for one find that to be astonishing.
The primary objections being put forward by some of my Democrat colleagues, with the notable exception of Senator Ben Nelson (D-NE), is that this amendment is too harsh – that it would, as the Chicago Tribune reports today, “punish individuals with clean records whose only encounters with law enforcement are those related to their status as illegal immigrants.”
It’s important to examine this objection in close detail. First, let’s look at just one of the many crimes that might relate directly to their “status as illegal immigrants.” Among those who would be barred from legalization, and ultimately U.S. citizenship, under my amendment are those who have previously been investigated, indicted and convicted by a judge or jury of felony identity theft. Remarkably, this was one of the provisions that the New York Times editorial similarly took issue with when the paper accused me yesterday of trying to sabotage the bill “by attacking one of its pillars.” In response to their attacks, I have posted a “fact check sheet” on my website.
Apparently, the New York Times would have the American people believe that such offenses (serious felonies under current U.S. Law), are neither dangerous nor serious. They would have you believe that these are victimless crimes. Unfortunately, almost 9 million American citizens could tell you just how victimless identity theft is. In a 2006 report, Javelin Strategies, working with the Better Business Bureau released a survey showing that for the 8.9 million victims that year, identity fraud had cost a combined $56.6 billion. On average identity fraud cost each victim $6,383.
Identity Fraud is a serious crime which we cannot reward with legalization, and ultimately U.S. citizenship. It would be hard to argue the justice of a system in which a citizen is left to cover the costs of the crime, while the perpetrator can buy, for less than the cost to the victim, citizenship in the United States.
The New York Times was not wrong, however, when it reported I wanted to expand “the universe of offenses that make someone ineligible for legalization.” The current immigration bill, without this amendment, makes those convicted of rape, assault, terrorism, and theft potentially eligible for legalization. We have enough trouble policing our own citizenry. Legalizing convicted felons, who have already shown disdain for our justice system, simply exacerbates the problem.
I still believe that being an American citizen is a privilege, and that anyone who wants to be a part of our nation must show that they respect its laws and its people. I hope my colleagues in the Senate will see how costly these crimes are, and how important it is that we keep these criminals out of our country when they vote on my amendment Wednesday morning.