***update: a reader notes that the RNC chair has to be elected by GOP state chairmen (they meet in January)…are there any out there who are listening to conservatives and who will oppose Martinez?…A RedState blogger calls Martinez “the Harriet Miers of RNC chairs”…send your comments to firstname.lastname@example.org***
Oh, well. Michael Steele has been passed up for Sen. Mel Martinez. Yes, a squish on border security is now the RNC chair. Has the GOP learned anything?
Here’s a reminder of the Center for Immigration Studies analysis of Martinez’s amnesty bill:
Hagel-Martinez Amnesty. The Hagel-Martinez bill, or Senate bill 2611 (also called S. 2611), has three separate amnesties or legalizations: One for illegals in the country five or more years, one for those who have been here two to five years, and one for those who work in agriculture. Like the 1986 legalizations, the current amnesties involve paying a fine and undergoing a background check. The largest of the new amnesties is for those in the country five or more years. Illegal aliens in this category are placed on what can be described as a “glide path” to Lawful Permanent Residence (LPR). Individuals in the glide path can start to apply for LPR status, also called a green card, once the immigration service has worked through all existing applications or after eight years, whichever is shorter.
There is also an amnesty for illegals who have been here for between two and five years. These individuals can apply for what is called “deferred mandatory departure” (DMD), which can last up to three years. Those with DMD can, like those on the glide path, live and work in the United States. Those with DMD can also at any time apply for the new “guest worker” program referred to as the H2C visa, which Hagel-Martinez creates. To apply for the H2C program, those with DMD will have to go to a port of entry to apply. There is no requirement, however, that they go back to their home countries or stay out of the United States for any length of time. Although it is called a “guest” worker program, the H2C program allows individuals to begin applying for green cards after four years, or sooner if employers apply on their behalf. Although there is an annual limit of 200,000 on the H2C program, those with DMD (i.e., former illegal immigrants) are explicitly exempt.
The third amnesty is for illegal immigrants who have worked in agriculture for a certain number of hours in the years prior to the enactment of S. 2611. These individuals can sign up for the new “blue card” program, the fine for which is smaller than in the other amnesties. Individuals with a blue card can then apply for LPR status after working in agriculture for an additional three to five years. While there are some differences in the way each of these amnesties works, they all share in common the fact that recipients can live and work in the United States and have the opportunity to eventually receive green cards and citizenship.
How Many Will Receive Amnesty? The top portion of Table 1 shows the number expected to legalize legitimately in each of the three categories. Although the actual size of the illegal population is unknown, some research indicates that there are 7.7 million illegals who have been here for five or more years and 2.2 million who have been here for two to five years.7 The number of illegal farm workers who could qualify under the work provision of the “blue card” program has been estimated by the Congressional Budget Office at 1.1 million.8 This estimate seems reasonable, but not all of these individuals have been here for at least two years. Based on our analysis of illegals in the Current Population Survey who work in agriculture, we estimate that 75 percent (830,000) have been here for more than two years and should be excluded from the potential pool of nearly 10 million beneficiaries for the two non-agricultural amnesties in S. 2611.
We exclude the 830,000 agricultural workers here for more than two years because the blue card is a cheaper and faster route to a green card and therefore we expect those who can take advantage of that program will choose to do so. This means that the potential applicant pool for the two non-agricultural amnesties is 9.07 million. To this number must be added the 1.1 million who can apply for the blue card program, for a total potential applicant pool of 10.17 million for the three amnesties.
More thumbs down from the conservative base, not that anyone cares about them anymore.
Martinez will keep his Senate seat while some staffer handles day-to-day RNC chair duties. Reader Rick reacts:
The Martinez choice by the President is even worse than you note. First, to put a sitting senator in the job immediately compromises every position that the party must take which puts Republicans even more (if that is possible) on the defensive. Second, here we are with what will surely be an all out battle for the next two years between the two parties, and the Republicans decide that what is needed is a part-timer to do the job. Gheesh!!!! I hate to say it, but I think President Bush is tired and wants to go home. Could Republicans be in any worse position when it comes to a dearth of strong, resolute and decisive leaders?
John Little is having a hard time finding any positive reaction to this announcement.
Related: Sen. Jon Kyl was on the Laura Ingraham show this morning–talking about a possible GOP filibuster of the Bush amnesty plan.
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