Horizon, Host: Ted Simons

April 12, 2006


Host: Michael Grant

McCain-Kennedy Bill


  • Local experts discuss national immigration bills currently debated in congress, among them the McCain-Kennedy bill.
Guests:
  • Senator Jon Kyl -
  • Adrian Pantoja - assistant professor of political science, Arizona State University


View Transcript
Michael Grant:
Tonight on Horizon. Congress is in recess and one of our very own from Capitol Hill makes his way to Horizon. Senator Jon Kyl is here with us tonight to share his views on several pending issues that may affect Arizona. And we'll take a look at the current immigration bill being debated in the Senate.
We'll talk to a local expert on that and more next on Horizon.

Announcer:
Horizon is made possible by contributions from the friends of eight, members of your Arizona PBS station. Thank you.

Michael Grant:
Thank you for joining us on Horizon. I'm Michael Grant.

Michael Grant:
Joining us tonight to talk about his pending bills in Washington, his views on current Arizona issues, and possibly even immigration, is U.S. Senator Jon Kyl, who by the way, has taken the time from his legislative recess to join us.

Michael Grant:
Thank you, Jon.

Sen. Jon Kyl:
You're welcome.

Michael Grant:
I hate this question, but I think it's appropriate in this context to ask, what's your reaction to what's been happening the last three weeks, 24th street a couple weeks ago and obviously a 100,000 plus on Monday?

Sen. Jon Kyl:
First of all it's an amazing demonstration. I don't think anybody thought you could get that many folks out. I talked to one of the organizers of the march the Saturday before the last one, the big one, and he was very concerned there could be incidents. There weren't any. I know he was happy about that. That's a testament to the organizers, the people who marched and the law enforcement folks and everyone else. It is an incredible showing. Harder to say exactly what all the messages were to come out of it. A reporter told me that he talked to10 people and had 9 different messages coming out of it. But I think generally there was an overall message of "treat us or treat our friends in a humane way and get some legislation passed that does that." I also think there's probably a bit of a reaction from folks who were not marching and who might have a different point of view. And it might have stimulated some counter activity. I gather that by the number of calls coming into my office. So a lot of interesting facets to it.

Michael Grant:
Yeah. It seems to me that for a lot of people, immigration obviously has been a major issue of concern. All the polls have been showing that for quite some time. But it seems to me that this, for both sides, but perhaps more for the Anglo side, has moved it from an issue of concern but a somewhat hypothetical issue of concern to a more real issue, triggering whatever their reaction may be.

Sen. Jon Kyl:
Exactly. I think it's all coming to a head. And I just hope that it is a rational discussion of a complex issue. And I'm not exactly sure that's the way it's working out. First of all, it's fine to march and to get a general point across. But obviously to solve the problems we have to get down to a very complicated, serious discussion. We're trying to do that in Washington, D.C. and there are reactions and counter reactions and one hopes that we can have a rational dialogue and not emotionally charged rhetoric. This problem is tough enough even if we all agreed. It will be even tougher if it's controlled bipartisan politics or emotion.

Michael Grant:
Sort of the headline analysis the past couple of days has been, marches changing minds on Capitol Hill. Accurate analysis or not?

Sen. Jon Kyl:
Well, we began the Easter recess, the time to be out visiting with our constituents before the march so I have no way of evaluating whether this has changed any point of view.

Michael Grant:
Understood. But you know more about that environment currently than we do. What's your feeling?

Sen. Jon Kyl:
My guess is, and this is purely a guess, that whatever your views were before, they may be hardened, that is to say --

Michael Grant:
Entrenchment?

Sen. Jon Kyl:
Yeah. The folks who tended to be sympathetic with the message marchers are going to be validated by the size of the march. Those who felt the counter reaction to that are probably going to consider their view validated by the silent majority. So I'm not sure it will really change views. But we'll see.

Michael Grant:
Senator, what's the politics of this, pre-November? Are those on, for lack of a better term, the left or liberal side of this concerned about the left or liberal side of their party? And those on the conservative or right side of this issue concerned about the right or conservative side? And both sides are fearing "I can't move closer to the middle because I fear the electoral repercussions?"

Sen. Jon Kyl:
I think it's a lot more complicated than that. This is a many-faceted issue and problem. Just take out the politics for a second. We'll come back to that. On the democratic side you have some union folks who are very weary of having 40 million green card holders in the next 10 years. They see this as depressing wages of American workers, of being apathetical to more employment of American workers. But you also see democratic and liberal politicians who see it as a great opportunity politically and for other reasons support a more liberal kind of legislation. On the republican side you have the historic view of business, which animates some folks.

Michael Grant:
Right.

Sen. Jon Kyl:
But it certainly doesn't animate others. You have more of a perception base being pro voters and so on but you have a large number of media that seems to be drum beating a more liberal solution. It cuts different ways. Then throw in, and I just have to say this, in the bill we were debating in the senate could have passed. I would hope to have been able to amend it and I didn't like the bill. But the democratic minority leader prevented any amendments from being voted on. Under senate rules you can do that if you want to. And I think the reason was because while people like Ted Kennedy wanted a bill, there were others who wanted an issue more. So politics has intruded, too. And that makes it even more difficult.

Michael Grant:
But if it's that complicated, isn't the normal response to that, all right. I'm not moving on this thing until -- I'm not sure what election day is in November -- but I'm not moving on this until the Tuesday after the first Monday in November?

Sen. Jon Kyl:
There are some who are not directly impacted by this who have expressed that exact point of view. There are others from a state of like Arizona, for example, Senator McCain and myself, who have somewhat different views as to what ought to be done, and in total agreement that we got to do it. Whatever it is we've got to come to some kind of resolution of this. The longer we wait the more difficult the problem is I have one bill, he's got another bill. There are many other ideas out there. But the longer you wait to solve the problem, the more difficult it is to solve. So you have to tackle it now. I don't know whether we'll be able to get something passed this year, even in the senate, and if we do whether we can reach an agreement with the house in a conference committee between the two. But I think those of us who are most directly impacted really want to get to trying to solve the problem.

Michael Grant:
All right well, let's move to the legislation. Now, I think one of the amendments that you were trying to move had to do with false swearing, did it not, in terms of -- you feel the amnesty experience about 20 years ago led to a whole lot of false certifications as to how long someone had been in the country.

Sen. Jon Kyl:
That's right. Instead of one million who received amnesty it was three and that's because they got false letters that said that they had been here employed for six years when in fact they hadn't. And there was no real way to prosecute that then. One of the amendments that will be offered to this bill is to ensure that there is a way to prosecute that type of fraud. It's not in the bill right now but that's one of the amendments. Another amendment I have offered is to ensure that however we deal with the people who are here illegally today, we would not allow benefits to people who have committed serious crimes, who have been convicted of a felony of three misdemeanors. I'm not talking about immigration crimes but other kind of crimes. But who are so-called absconders, people who are here illegally, have done something serious, have been ordered by an immigration judge to leave the country, have refused that order and ignored it and gone back into hiding. Much of this bill is going to rely on people complying with the law. And at least it seems to me that people who have shown a propensity not to do that up to now shouldn't be given the benefits of the law.

Michael Grant:
Much of the focus has been on the guest worker program. And I think less attention recently in terms of what's been happening to the bill on the senate side has been focused on the border security aspects of it. What is the current version of the bill in relation to border security?

Sen. Jon Kyl:
It's pretty good in the so far so good category. We got a lot of good enforcement provisions in the bill both in terms of more authorization for border patrol, some additional fencing and replacement of existing fencing in Arizona, more detention spaces for those people who are apprehended from countries other than Mexico and therefore have to be held pending their return to their country of origin, more technology purchases and the like. The question as the chairman of the budget committee put to us the other day, is that it's fine to put this in the bill as authorization. Do you know where we're going to come up with the money?

Michael Grant:
What's the price tag?

Sen. Jon Kyl:
Well, it's hard to say. I mean, you have to separate out different things. But it could easily be a couple of billion dollars a year in addition to what the department of homeland security is already spending. It could be more than that, as a matter of fact.

Michael Grant:
How many additional border guards does that buy you for Arizona? For that package?

Sen. Jon Kyl:
The idea is to buy another 5 to 8,000 border patrol agents which is not a huge number, if you just put it in comparison. New York city has four times as many police officers as we have border patrol agents on the entire border.

Michael Grant:
Amazing.

Sen. Jon Kyl:
So you've got to get a lot more border patrol agents. Fencing really only works if you have border patrol agents to patrol the fencing. Because you can always cut a hole in the fence. So you really need both. And it helps to have the kind of surveillance we have now. I was down on the border Saturday. People down there briefed me on the uav's. So there are a lot of things being done. And if you actually follow up with the authorization and appropriate the money to do these things and get to it, then you can make substantial progress in securing the border. And Michael, very quickly, we need to secure the border for reasons other than the problem of people coming here to work. Over 10\% of the people now coming in here are criminals, and I mean serious criminals. And that's the people we apprehend. And the rule of thumb there's about three times as many come in that we don't apprehend them. Between 10 and 15\%. You have now hundreds of thousands of people coming in from countries other than Mexico.

Michael Grant:
So called otm's.

Sen. Jon Kyl:
Other than Mexican illegal immigrants who are coming from countries including countries that terrorists come from. The number of assaults on the border last year increased 108\% according to Paul Charleston, the U.S. attorney who testified in my senate subcommittee. There is a huge amount of crime, drugs and violence on the border, not to mention the environmental degradation, injure to the gunry range and other reasons. So we need to secure the border for a lot of reasons other than to deal with this illegal immigration problem.

Michael Grant:
Arizona senator Jon Kyl, we appreciate you joining you us.

Michael Grant:
For the past year, congress has debated the issue of immigration, trying to come to some agreement to both protect our borders and deal with the millions of undocumented in the U.S. the bill that's gained the most ground is the McCain-Kennedy bill. Just last week, the senate judiciary committee took that measure and made it the core of its bill. In two weeks it will make its way to the senate floor for a vote. Nadine Arroyo gives us a glimpse of the revised bill.

Nadine Arroyo:
As rallies, marchers and protests for immigration reform unfolds throughout the country, debates as to how to best deal with the problem of immigration continues on Capitol Hill. The most current bill on the legislative floor is a Senate Judiciary Committee measure, which incorporates portions of several bills, however, it maintains the McCain-Kennedy bill core provisions. Under the Senate Judiciary plan, immigrants who can prove they've been in the U.S. for more than five years can apply for legal status without leaving the country. But to do so they would have to pay a $2,000 fine, pay back taxes, pass a national security background check, and demonstrate knowledge of the English language. If an immigrant has been living in the U.S. between two to five years they are eligible for a temporary work visa, but they must first check with a designated port of entry, exit the country and then enter again once the fingerprint process is completed. For those immigrants who have been in the country for less than two years they receive no opportunity to become legal. They must exit the country and then they can apply for any of the available work visas on a first come, first serve basis. Provisions for border security include adding a significant number of new border patrol agents, would set unmanned vehicles, cameras and sensors at the border to monitor it and create a virtual border wall. In addition, the bill calls for the U.S. to partner with Mexico to promote economic opportunities south of the border, to reduce the pressure of immigrants crossing to the north. Also it encourages multilateral partnership between North America and Mexico to establish cooperation between the two and improve border security.

Michael Grant:
Joining us to talk about the different bills and how the events which have developed in the past several days effects our state and national legislation is ASU assistant professor of political science, Adrian Pantoja.

Michael Grant:
Adrian, thank you for being here. You know, Senator Kyl on his way out says it would probably be more like 5 to 6-weeks before they have substantive movement on the bill in the senate. They have a couple additional weeks after they come back to what I refer to as spring break. So we'll see.

Adrian Pantoja:
Right.

Michael Grant:
You know, it was not until quite recently that I understood that one of the compromise aspects of this is that sort of three-tiered plan we were just outlining in the package. Obviously an attempt to compromise on the what is now called the a issue, the amnesty issue and put in these different levels. Good approach, in your opinion?

Adrian Pantoja:
You know, I think it's a good start. It's a good compromise. There are individuals who initially did not want to include any type of guest worker program, did not want any path towards citizenship. On the other hand you have the Kennedy-McCain Bill who wanted to try to bring as many people out of the shadows as possible, the 11 million, 12 million plus individuals, put them on this temporary guest worker program and ultimately maybe not all will qualify. You certainly have to have background checks, be of good moral character and not be a public charge and put you on a path toward citizenship. It was supposed to be an 11-year process. This compromise tiers the system into three categories. Those who have been here longer than 5-years, the basic assumption being that the longer you're here stronger your roots are, perhaps you have family, children here. If you're here between 2 and 4 years, a little less than 5 years then you need to go back to one of the 16 ports along the border, reapply for entry, come here legally and work as a temporary worker.

Michael Grant:
Part of the reason for that, to get a more thorough background check on what you've been doing in the past 2 to 5-years?

Adrian Pantoja:
I think part of the reason has to do with, yeah, the background checks, making sure individuals who are eligible or who don't have criminal records aren't allowed to stay. But also those who have only been here, let's say, less than two years, maybe recently arrived, they're not eligible for this program. And I think politically that's a way of satisfying individuals who initially said, we don't want any of this. At least they're saying, well, this is a middle ground. We have some of the McCain Kennedy bill but we also have the strict enforcement and other provisions which would say, look. Not everybody is going to get a chance towards the guest worker program or citizenship.

Michael Grant:
Professor, I realize we're doing a lot of guessing here including but not limited to the universal number often discussed is a number in the vicinity of 10 to 12 million. Do we have any time value for that? For example, do we know how much of that if we assume a 10 to 12 million illegal universe how much of that has been here 5 years or more?

Adrian Pantoja:
Those are hard numbers to really grasp. And some of the estimates I've seen are as high as two-thirds have been here over the 5-year period so they'll qualify for these provisions. Others suggest maybe 2 million, 3 million, perhaps even higher have recently arrived within the past 2, 3-years. Regardless of the length of time, there are some individuals who fall into that, let's say the 2-year category, less than two years who are supposed to -- the program doesn't apply to you, you need to go back. Some of those might actually have children within that two-year time period who were born here. Some of those might have other family members or were married in the time period. So it complicates the issue.

Michael Grant:
Yes.

Adrian Pantoja:
I don't think the time period is a good start, but that in itself does not tell us the degree to which the person has roots or has connections with the country. You could be here over 5-years and no have any children here, perhaps your roots are not as closely established as someone who lives here and does have children who is here less than two years.

Michael Grant:
On the other hand, and after all you are an assistant professor of political science if you're trying to craft a political compromise, the art of compromise is I'll take half of something.

Adrian Pantoja:
Politics is the art of possible. And when it comes to immigration I applaud those in the congress and senate and House of Representatives. This is a tough issue. The reality is it is a political hot potato. Nobody wants to deal with this issue. The voters understand. Part of why proposition 200 passed is there was this perception the politicians don't want to deal with this issue. Now they're dealing with it and it's a complicated issue. It could in many ways be described as a political quagmire, people are now wishing they hadn't supported a particular provision and things are getting kind of messy.

Michael Grant:
Let me go to a couple of other aspects. This would increase green cards to 450,000 annually. That's a -- it's not quite a doubling. Adequate or not?

Adrian Pantoja:
You know, that's the -- for viewers, one of the most important issues they need to understand, when I watch individuals interviewed they say, why can't people -- why do they have to come here illegally? Why do people do it -- do not pursue the proper channels? The reality is, if undocumented immigrants were asked they would say, yes, we would like to pursue the regular channels. The problem is with obtaining a green card. If I'm a legal permanent resident and I have my green card here and my wife lives let's say in Mexico and I want her to join me, it can take upwards to 5, even more years before she can get a green card because there are so many people applying for these visas these green cards, there's so many you can accommodate. We have a very generous immigration system. Nonetheless the whole world wants to come here and we can't accommodate the entire world. So for people in close proximity, like Mexico, the question is, do I wait 5-years, 8 years, 10 years or do I just come now? And people are opting to come now to join family members.

Michael Grant:
Obviously it places strains on the safety net. You have other political considerations as well. You have the, for lack of a better term, indigenous work force that it impacts. So you have to try to fix some level. You were making the comment before we went on the air that there's just a ton of people in the who would to come to the United States. But absent some discipline the United States would not be what the United States is…but 450,000. That would be 5 million more people over the next 10 years. It has a sunset provision. It seems to me it is not an ungenerous allowance. I'll put it that way.

Adrian Pantoja:
Not an ungenerous allowance. But keep in mind that apprehension at the borders -- these are apprehension statistics. We're not saying this many people try to come across, but they range around 1 million a year or slightly over 1 million a year apprehension rates at the border. So, yes, half a million very generous. But you have many -- millions trying to make their way into this country.

Michael Grant:
What about employer sanctions? In the current version of the bill? How is that subject dealt with?

Adrian Pantoja:
Well, the reality is the current bill wants to increase the fines that employers must pay. Now, in 1986 with immigration reform and control act there were employer sanctions. Employer sanctions have existed since 1986. The question is one of enforcement. It's not worth the paper it's written on if the sanctions are not going to be enforced. You can increase the fine but if there's no enforcement you can increase the fine 2, 3 fold. Enforcement is a factor toward making employer sanctions work.

Michael Grant:
The major point made there, though, is that the verification system is really pretty loose.

Adrian Pantoja:
Yeah.

Michael Grant:
And you need to really slave this with the way you can say, hold it. You knew this person was illegal when you hired them.

Adrian Pantoja:
Right.

Michael Grant:
They're making computer strides in that area.

Adrian Pantoja:
Right. And employers would say, look. We're not border patrol agents. We don't work for the I.N.S. I don't now whether this card showing me is an illegal card or whether this card -- the person is eligible to work. You can go down Mill Avenue and college students under 21 are going into bars with fake ids. How do you check these? It's a cottage industry. So they are trying to make these tamper proof cards. But that's a challenge.

Michael Grant:
More solid computer verification program that can be expanded nationwide. The pilot is pretty good but it has capacity issues, as I understand it.

Adrian Pantoja:
Right.

Michael Grant:
Professor Adrian Pantoja, thank you for joining us.

Adrian Pantoja:
Thank you for having me.

Mike Sauceda:
What kind of impact is illegal immigrant having on the United States economy? An ASU economics professor will talk about that including how it impacts wages. Plus we'll tell you about the long arduous process it takes to get into the United States legally. Learn about more topics Thursday at 7 on Horizon.

Michael Grant:
Also please tune into Horizonte tomorrow for a look at the economic impact of illegal immigration and of course join us again on Friday for the ‘Journalist Roundtable' where we will wrap up and discuss the week's top news stories. Thank you very much for being here on this Wednesday evening. I'm Michael Grant. Have a great one. Good night. ¶¶[music]¶¶

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senator Kyl proposed legislation


  • Michael Grant talks with Sen. Jon Kyl about the Comprehensive Enforcement and Immigration Reform Act he introduced in the Senate.
Guests:
  • Senator Jon Kyl -
  • Adrian Pantoja - assistant professor of political science, Arizona State University


View Transcript
Michael Grant:
Tonight on Horizon. Congress is in recess and one of our very own from Capitol Hill makes his way to Horizon. Senator Jon Kyl is here with us tonight to share his views on several pending issues that may affect Arizona. And we'll take a look at the current immigration bill being debated in the Senate.
We'll talk to a local expert on that and more next on Horizon.

Announcer:
Horizon is made possible by contributions from the friends of eight, members of your Arizona PBS station. Thank you.

Michael Grant:
Thank you for joining us on Horizon. I'm Michael Grant.

Michael Grant:
Joining us tonight to talk about his pending bills in Washington, his views on current Arizona issues, and possibly even immigration, is U.S. Senator Jon Kyl, who by the way, has taken the time from his legislative recess to join us.

Michael Grant:
Thank you, Jon.

Sen. Jon Kyl:
You're welcome.

Michael Grant:
I hate this question, but I think it's appropriate in this context to ask, what's your reaction to what's been happening the last three weeks, 24th street a couple weeks ago and obviously a 100,000 plus on Monday?

Sen. Jon Kyl:
First of all it's an amazing demonstration. I don't think anybody thought you could get that many folks out. I talked to one of the organizers of the march the Saturday before the last one, the big one, and he was very concerned there could be incidents. There weren't any. I know he was happy about that. That's a testament to the organizers, the people who marched and the law enforcement folks and everyone else. It is an incredible showing. Harder to say exactly what all the messages were to come out of it. A reporter told me that he talked to10 people and had 9 different messages coming out of it. But I think generally there was an overall message of "treat us or treat our friends in a humane way and get some legislation passed that does that." I also think there's probably a bit of a reaction from folks who were not marching and who might have a different point of view. And it might have stimulated some counter activity. I gather that by the number of calls coming into my office. So a lot of interesting facets to it.

Michael Grant:
Yeah. It seems to me that for a lot of people, immigration obviously has been a major issue of concern. All the polls have been showing that for quite some time. But it seems to me that this, for both sides, but perhaps more for the Anglo side, has moved it from an issue of concern but a somewhat hypothetical issue of concern to a more real issue, triggering whatever their reaction may be.

Sen. Jon Kyl:
Exactly. I think it's all coming to a head. And I just hope that it is a rational discussion of a complex issue. And I'm not exactly sure that's the way it's working out. First of all, it's fine to march and to get a general point across. But obviously to solve the problems we have to get down to a very complicated, serious discussion. We're trying to do that in Washington, D.C. and there are reactions and counter reactions and one hopes that we can have a rational dialogue and not emotionally charged rhetoric. This problem is tough enough even if we all agreed. It will be even tougher if it's controlled bipartisan politics or emotion.

Michael Grant:
Sort of the headline analysis the past couple of days has been, marches changing minds on Capitol Hill. Accurate analysis or not?

Sen. Jon Kyl:
Well, we began the Easter recess, the time to be out visiting with our constituents before the march so I have no way of evaluating whether this has changed any point of view.

Michael Grant:
Understood. But you know more about that environment currently than we do. What's your feeling?

Sen. Jon Kyl:
My guess is, and this is purely a guess, that whatever your views were before, they may be hardened, that is to say --

Michael Grant:
Entrenchment?

Sen. Jon Kyl:
Yeah. The folks who tended to be sympathetic with the message marchers are going to be validated by the size of the march. Those who felt the counter reaction to that are probably going to consider their view validated by the silent majority. So I'm not sure it will really change views. But we'll see.

Michael Grant:
Senator, what's the politics of this, pre-November? Are those on, for lack of a better term, the left or liberal side of this concerned about the left or liberal side of their party? And those on the conservative or right side of this issue concerned about the right or conservative side? And both sides are fearing "I can't move closer to the middle because I fear the electoral repercussions?"

Sen. Jon Kyl:
I think it's a lot more complicated than that. This is a many-faceted issue and problem. Just take out the politics for a second. We'll come back to that. On the democratic side you have some union folks who are very weary of having 40 million green card holders in the next 10 years. They see this as depressing wages of American workers, of being apathetical to more employment of American workers. But you also see democratic and liberal politicians who see it as a great opportunity politically and for other reasons support a more liberal kind of legislation. On the republican side you have the historic view of business, which animates some folks.

Michael Grant:
Right.

Sen. Jon Kyl:
But it certainly doesn't animate others. You have more of a perception base being pro voters and so on but you have a large number of media that seems to be drum beating a more liberal solution. It cuts different ways. Then throw in, and I just have to say this, in the bill we were debating in the senate could have passed. I would hope to have been able to amend it and I didn't like the bill. But the democratic minority leader prevented any amendments from being voted on. Under senate rules you can do that if you want to. And I think the reason was because while people like Ted Kennedy wanted a bill, there were others who wanted an issue more. So politics has intruded, too. And that makes it even more difficult.

Michael Grant:
But if it's that complicated, isn't the normal response to that, all right. I'm not moving on this thing until -- I'm not sure what election day is in November -- but I'm not moving on this until the Tuesday after the first Monday in November?

Sen. Jon Kyl:
There are some who are not directly impacted by this who have expressed that exact point of view. There are others from a state of like Arizona, for example, Senator McCain and myself, who have somewhat different views as to what ought to be done, and in total agreement that we got to do it. Whatever it is we've got to come to some kind of resolution of this. The longer we wait the more difficult the problem is I have one bill, he's got another bill. There are many other ideas out there. But the longer you wait to solve the problem, the more difficult it is to solve. So you have to tackle it now. I don't know whether we'll be able to get something passed this year, even in the senate, and if we do whether we can reach an agreement with the house in a conference committee between the two. But I think those of us who are most directly impacted really want to get to trying to solve the problem.

Michael Grant:
All right well, let's move to the legislation. Now, I think one of the amendments that you were trying to move had to do with false swearing, did it not, in terms of -- you feel the amnesty experience about 20 years ago led to a whole lot of false certifications as to how long someone had been in the country.

Sen. Jon Kyl:
That's right. Instead of one million who received amnesty it was three and that's because they got false letters that said that they had been here employed for six years when in fact they hadn't. And there was no real way to prosecute that then. One of the amendments that will be offered to this bill is to ensure that there is a way to prosecute that type of fraud. It's not in the bill right now but that's one of the amendments. Another amendment I have offered is to ensure that however we deal with the people who are here illegally today, we would not allow benefits to people who have committed serious crimes, who have been convicted of a felony of three misdemeanors. I'm not talking about immigration crimes but other kind of crimes. But who are so-called absconders, people who are here illegally, have done something serious, have been ordered by an immigration judge to leave the country, have refused that order and ignored it and gone back into hiding. Much of this bill is going to rely on people complying with the law. And at least it seems to me that people who have shown a propensity not to do that up to now shouldn't be given the benefits of the law.

Michael Grant:
Much of the focus has been on the guest worker program. And I think less attention recently in terms of what's been happening to the bill on the senate side has been focused on the border security aspects of it. What is the current version of the bill in relation to border security?

Sen. Jon Kyl:
It's pretty good in the so far so good category. We got a lot of good enforcement provisions in the bill both in terms of more authorization for border patrol, some additional fencing and replacement of existing fencing in Arizona, more detention spaces for those people who are apprehended from countries other than Mexico and therefore have to be held pending their return to their country of origin, more technology purchases and the like. The question as the chairman of the budget committee put to us the other day, is that it's fine to put this in the bill as authorization. Do you know where we're going to come up with the money?

Michael Grant:
What's the price tag?

Sen. Jon Kyl:
Well, it's hard to say. I mean, you have to separate out different things. But it could easily be a couple of billion dollars a year in addition to what the department of homeland security is already spending. It could be more than that, as a matter of fact.

Michael Grant:
How many additional border guards does that buy you for Arizona? For that package?

Sen. Jon Kyl:
The idea is to buy another 5 to 8,000 border patrol agents which is not a huge number, if you just put it in comparison. New York city has four times as many police officers as we have border patrol agents on the entire border.

Michael Grant:
Amazing.

Sen. Jon Kyl:
So you've got to get a lot more border patrol agents. Fencing really only works if you have border patrol agents to patrol the fencing. Because you can always cut a hole in the fence. So you really need both. And it helps to have the kind of surveillance we have now. I was down on the border Saturday. People down there briefed me on the uav's. So there are a lot of things being done. And if you actually follow up with the authorization and appropriate the money to do these things and get to it, then you can make substantial progress in securing the border. And Michael, very quickly, we need to secure the border for reasons other than the problem of people coming here to work. Over 10\% of the people now coming in here are criminals, and I mean serious criminals. And that's the people we apprehend. And the rule of thumb there's about three times as many come in that we don't apprehend them. Between 10 and 15\%. You have now hundreds of thousands of people coming in from countries other than Mexico.

Michael Grant:
So called otm's.

Sen. Jon Kyl:
Other than Mexican illegal immigrants who are coming from countries including countries that terrorists come from. The number of assaults on the border last year increased 108\% according to Paul Charleston, the U.S. attorney who testified in my senate subcommittee. There is a huge amount of crime, drugs and violence on the border, not to mention the environmental degradation, injure to the gunry range and other reasons. So we need to secure the border for a lot of reasons other than to deal with this illegal immigration problem.

Michael Grant:
Arizona senator Jon Kyl, we appreciate you joining you us.

Michael Grant:
For the past year, congress has debated the issue of immigration, trying to come to some agreement to both protect our borders and deal with the millions of undocumented in the U.S. the bill that's gained the most ground is the McCain-Kennedy bill. Just last week, the senate judiciary committee took that measure and made it the core of its bill. In two weeks it will make its way to the senate floor for a vote. Nadine Arroyo gives us a glimpse of the revised bill.

Nadine Arroyo:
As rallies, marchers and protests for immigration reform unfolds throughout the country, debates as to how to best deal with the problem of immigration continues on Capitol Hill. The most current bill on the legislative floor is a Senate Judiciary Committee measure, which incorporates portions of several bills, however, it maintains the McCain-Kennedy bill core provisions. Under the Senate Judiciary plan, immigrants who can prove they've been in the U.S. for more than five years can apply for legal status without leaving the country. But to do so they would have to pay a $2,000 fine, pay back taxes, pass a national security background check, and demonstrate knowledge of the English language. If an immigrant has been living in the U.S. between two to five years they are eligible for a temporary work visa, but they must first check with a designated port of entry, exit the country and then enter again once the fingerprint process is completed. For those immigrants who have been in the country for less than two years they receive no opportunity to become legal. They must exit the country and then they can apply for any of the available work visas on a first come, first serve basis. Provisions for border security include adding a significant number of new border patrol agents, would set unmanned vehicles, cameras and sensors at the border to monitor it and create a virtual border wall. In addition, the bill calls for the U.S. to partner with Mexico to promote economic opportunities south of the border, to reduce the pressure of immigrants crossing to the north. Also it encourages multilateral partnership between North America and Mexico to establish cooperation between the two and improve border security.

Michael Grant:
Joining us to talk about the different bills and how the events which have developed in the past several days effects our state and national legislation is ASU assistant professor of political science, Adrian Pantoja.

Michael Grant:
Adrian, thank you for being here. You know, Senator Kyl on his way out says it would probably be more like 5 to 6-weeks before they have substantive movement on the bill in the senate. They have a couple additional weeks after they come back to what I refer to as spring break. So we'll see.

Adrian Pantoja:
Right.

Michael Grant:
You know, it was not until quite recently that I understood that one of the compromise aspects of this is that sort of three-tiered plan we were just outlining in the package. Obviously an attempt to compromise on the what is now called the a issue, the amnesty issue and put in these different levels. Good approach, in your opinion?

Adrian Pantoja:
You know, I think it's a good start. It's a good compromise. There are individuals who initially did not want to include any type of guest worker program, did not want any path towards citizenship. On the other hand you have the Kennedy-McCain Bill who wanted to try to bring as many people out of the shadows as possible, the 11 million, 12 million plus individuals, put them on this temporary guest worker program and ultimately maybe not all will qualify. You certainly have to have background checks, be of good moral character and not be a public charge and put you on a path toward citizenship. It was supposed to be an 11-year process. This compromise tiers the system into three categories. Those who have been here longer than 5-years, the basic assumption being that the longer you're here stronger your roots are, perhaps you have family, children here. If you're here between 2 and 4 years, a little less than 5 years then you need to go back to one of the 16 ports along the border, reapply for entry, come here legally and work as a temporary worker.

Michael Grant:
Part of the reason for that, to get a more thorough background check on what you've been doing in the past 2 to 5-years?

Adrian Pantoja:
I think part of the reason has to do with, yeah, the background checks, making sure individuals who are eligible or who don't have criminal records aren't allowed to stay. But also those who have only been here, let's say, less than two years, maybe recently arrived, they're not eligible for this program. And I think politically that's a way of satisfying individuals who initially said, we don't want any of this. At least they're saying, well, this is a middle ground. We have some of the McCain Kennedy bill but we also have the strict enforcement and other provisions which would say, look. Not everybody is going to get a chance towards the guest worker program or citizenship.

Michael Grant:
Professor, I realize we're doing a lot of guessing here including but not limited to the universal number often discussed is a number in the vicinity of 10 to 12 million. Do we have any time value for that? For example, do we know how much of that if we assume a 10 to 12 million illegal universe how much of that has been here 5 years or more?

Adrian Pantoja:
Those are hard numbers to really grasp. And some of the estimates I've seen are as high as two-thirds have been here over the 5-year period so they'll qualify for these provisions. Others suggest maybe 2 million, 3 million, perhaps even higher have recently arrived within the past 2, 3-years. Regardless of the length of time, there are some individuals who fall into that, let's say the 2-year category, less than two years who are supposed to -- the program doesn't apply to you, you need to go back. Some of those might actually have children within that two-year time period who were born here. Some of those might have other family members or were married in the time period. So it complicates the issue.

Michael Grant:
Yes.

Adrian Pantoja:
I don't think the time period is a good start, but that in itself does not tell us the degree to which the person has roots or has connections with the country. You could be here over 5-years and no have any children here, perhaps your roots are not as closely established as someone who lives here and does have children who is here less than two years.

Michael Grant:
On the other hand, and after all you are an assistant professor of political science if you're trying to craft a political compromise, the art of compromise is I'll take half of something.

Adrian Pantoja:
Politics is the art of possible. And when it comes to immigration I applaud those in the congress and senate and House of Representatives. This is a tough issue. The reality is it is a political hot potato. Nobody wants to deal with this issue. The voters understand. Part of why proposition 200 passed is there was this perception the politicians don't want to deal with this issue. Now they're dealing with it and it's a complicated issue. It could in many ways be described as a political quagmire, people are now wishing they hadn't supported a particular provision and things are getting kind of messy.

Michael Grant:
Let me go to a couple of other aspects. This would increase green cards to 450,000 annually. That's a -- it's not quite a doubling. Adequate or not?

Adrian Pantoja:
You know, that's the -- for viewers, one of the most important issues they need to understand, when I watch individuals interviewed they say, why can't people -- why do they have to come here illegally? Why do people do it -- do not pursue the proper channels? The reality is, if undocumented immigrants were asked they would say, yes, we would like to pursue the regular channels. The problem is with obtaining a green card. If I'm a legal permanent resident and I have my green card here and my wife lives let's say in Mexico and I want her to join me, it can take upwards to 5, even more years before she can get a green card because there are so many people applying for these visas these green cards, there's so many you can accommodate. We have a very generous immigration system. Nonetheless the whole world wants to come here and we can't accommodate the entire world. So for people in close proximity, like Mexico, the question is, do I wait 5-years, 8 years, 10 years or do I just come now? And people are opting to come now to join family members.

Michael Grant:
Obviously it places strains on the safety net. You have other political considerations as well. You have the, for lack of a better term, indigenous work force that it impacts. So you have to try to fix some level. You were making the comment before we went on the air that there's just a ton of people in the who would to come to the United States. But absent some discipline the United States would not be what the United States is…but 450,000. That would be 5 million more people over the next 10 years. It has a sunset provision. It seems to me it is not an ungenerous allowance. I'll put it that way.

Adrian Pantoja:
Not an ungenerous allowance. But keep in mind that apprehension at the borders -- these are apprehension statistics. We're not saying this many people try to come across, but they range around 1 million a year or slightly over 1 million a year apprehension rates at the border. So, yes, half a million very generous. But you have many -- millions trying to make their way into this country.

Michael Grant:
What about employer sanctions? In the current version of the bill? How is that subject dealt with?

Adrian Pantoja:
Well, the reality is the current bill wants to increase the fines that employers must pay. Now, in 1986 with immigration reform and control act there were employer sanctions. Employer sanctions have existed since 1986. The question is one of enforcement. It's not worth the paper it's written on if the sanctions are not going to be enforced. You can increase the fine but if there's no enforcement you can increase the fine 2, 3 fold. Enforcement is a factor toward making employer sanctions work.

Michael Grant:
The major point made there, though, is that the verification system is really pretty loose.

Adrian Pantoja:
Yeah.

Michael Grant:
And you need to really slave this with the way you can say, hold it. You knew this person was illegal when you hired them.

Adrian Pantoja:
Right.

Michael Grant:
They're making computer strides in that area.

Adrian Pantoja:
Right. And employers would say, look. We're not border patrol agents. We don't work for the I.N.S. I don't now whether this card showing me is an illegal card or whether this card -- the person is eligible to work. You can go down Mill Avenue and college students under 21 are going into bars with fake ids. How do you check these? It's a cottage industry. So they are trying to make these tamper proof cards. But that's a challenge.

Michael Grant:
More solid computer verification program that can be expanded nationwide. The pilot is pretty good but it has capacity issues, as I understand it.

Adrian Pantoja:
Right.

Michael Grant:
Professor Adrian Pantoja, thank you for joining us.

Adrian Pantoja:
Thank you for having me.

Mike Sauceda:
What kind of impact is illegal immigrant having on the United States economy? An ASU economics professor will talk about that including how it impacts wages. Plus we'll tell you about the long arduous process it takes to get into the United States legally. Learn about more topics Thursday at 7 on Horizon.

Michael Grant:
Also please tune into Horizonte tomorrow for a look at the economic impact of illegal immigration and of course join us again on Friday for the ‘Journalist Roundtable' where we will wrap up and discuss the week's top news stories. Thank you very much for being here on this Wednesday evening. I'm Michael Grant. Have a great one. Good night. ¶¶[music]¶¶

Announcer:
If you have comments about Horizon, please contact us at the addresses listed on your screen. Your name and comments may be used on a future edition of Horizon.

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