On October 23rd, 2013, Republican Darrell Issa announced that he was going to introduce an immigration proposal called the Alien Accountability Act. Even though an article ran in Politico about the AAA, it was never actually proposed as law. It just vanished as House Republicans pulled back on immigration reform until after this year’s midterm elections.
I’ve gotten my hands on the leaked one page memo from Issa’s office summarizing the Alien Accountability act and I’m publishing it here for the first time.
Click here for Darrell’s Issa’s Alien Accountability Act Memo
(Note: Handwritten marks on document are mine, not from Issa’s office.)
In his Politico interview from October, Rep. Issa tried to make the Alien Accountability Act sound fair and balanced. (You know, just like Fox News.) He said:
“It’s halfway – and it always has been – halfway between full amnesty and simply rejecting people,” Issa told POLITICO on Wednesday. “I think if we’re going to break this logjam that’s occurred for my whole 13 years I’ve been in Congress, we have to find middle ground.”
This leaked memo proves that Issa’s approach to removing immigrants from the United States isn’t just draconian, it’s ready and willing to shred the U.S. Constitution to please the anti-immigrant Republican base.
The Outrages In The Issa Memo
Issa’s proposal is that all undocumented immigrants need to register and cooperate with the Department of Homeland Security within six months (according to a prior version of the bill)… but of course, not all immigrants are eligible.
There are two outrageous shockers in Issa’s Alien Accountability Act memo. Immigrants who Issa says aren’t allowed to participate and must leave immediately include:
- Relatives of participating aliens
- Aliens with a pending deportation case
The ‘relative of participating aliens’ proposal creates an immediate and obvious problem; a race among immigrant relatives to see which family member cooperates with the DHS first. The winner of this Amazingly Cruel Race gets to (possibly) stay in America while everyone else in their family become The Biggest Immigration Losers.
Excluding “aliens with a pending deportation case” isn’t merely cruel but unconstitutional and borderline insane.
The idea here must be that the people in immigration proceedings already are the low hanging fruit: the people already out of the shadows with names and addresses on file, so they are easy to detain and deport.
Sure, it throws out the U.S. Constitution and the right to due process but it gives Issa an easy way to say he deported half a million people or so who’d put their faith in the American legal system.
While this maneuver might bring cheers from the Republican base who imagine Mexican and Central American immigrants currently in deportation proceedings being tossed over the fence and back south of the border, conservatives would do well to remember that the immigrants Issa’s plan would kick out include every immigrant, not just the brown skinned people who cut your lawn and who built your home.
Darrell Issa mandates that if you’re in an immigration proceeding, back you go. That means everybody goes back; from Castro-hating Cubans seeking a better life to pale skinned Brits who fell in love with an American to Iranian Christians fearing religious persecution.
The History: Why Did Issa Pull The Bill?
If you want to understand why Republican leader Issa first hinted that he was going to announce the Alien Accountability Act and then made it disappear, it helps to look at the history.
After both President Barack Obama and Congressional leaders spent most of 2013 saying that they planned to make immigration reform a real legislative priority and finally fix the problems in the system, the GOP’s government shutdown took over the news cycle in October and smothered any hope of bipartisanship.
For two weeks at the beginning of October, the obstructionist Republicans brought the federal government to a grinding halt with their shutdown. Over two million federal workers were either furloughed or forced to work without knowing whether they’d be paid.
The impact on the immigration reform movement was immediate and brutal. This headline from The Christian Science Monitor says it all– Government Shutdown Overshadows Immigration Reform Efforts.
Immigration reform advocates held out hope and planned nationwide rallies, as reported on October 9th.
This marks the beginning of the escalation for the pro-immigrant-rights movement,” says Dawn Le, deputy campaign manager for the Alliance for Citizenship in Washington.
But reviving immigration reform in 2013 wasn’t meant to be. The government shutdown was the only story in town, it seemed.
However, the Republican’s blockade wasn’t going as well as they’d hoped, either. When the shutdown ended, the Republican right was rightfully facing a public relations disaster.
The more clear headed Republicans wanted to show the America public that they could actually be part of a functioning government. They announced that they were willing to work on immigration reform, again.
That’s the atmosphere that Darrell Issa was in when he told Politico he was about to propose the Alien Accountability Act.
So, what happened? The “Obamacare Website” happened.
The GOP caught a lucky break when the website that allowed people to sign up for the Affordable Care Act experienced glitches. By October 21st, President Obama was taking responsibility for the technical problems and trying to make things right. The Republican rampage continued, however.
By October 29th the Republicans realized that they had a political winner on their hands by declaring an ‘Obamacare disaster’ and creating pointless Congressional panels to annoy the people trying to fix the problems. For Americans with a short attention span, the Republican government shutdown was forgotten and so was any talk of immigration reform in 2013.
Issa’s bill was never introduced and until now, nobody knew exactly how outrageous it really was. It does provide an ominous glimpse of things to come, however.
Immigration Reform Today
Right now, Republicans are using their usual shtick of scaring the Fox News faithful by blaming Obama for everything, saying immigration legislation is dead for now because the Obama administration supposedly won’t enforce their piecemeal edicts.
In reality, everyone knows that the House Republicans pulled back because immigration reform is a losing issue for them. The only bill their base will accept is one as crazy or somehow ever crazier than Issa’s Alien Accountability Act. The problem is that a crazy, unconstitutional bill won’t pass the current Senate. The GOP has to cross their fingers and hope they can turn the Senate crazy in the November elections, too.
In the meantime, immigrants and their families will continue to suffer from a system desperately in need of reform.
Update: February 10, 2014 @ 14:56 EST: Right Wing Press (Breitbart News) Responds Predictably
Frederick Hill, a spokesman for Issa, said the proposal, including its title, is still being refined.
“Rep. Issa continues to update and refine a proposal, however the lack of trust in this Administration’s commitment to border security and enforcement is a substantial obstacle to achieving broader reforms. Ongoing discussions have continually identified new issues to address – key provisions and even the bill title are still under development,” Hill said. [emphasis added].
Issa’s response is “mostly false.” The Alien Accountability Act leaked by this blogger today, is remarkably similar to the Criminal Alien Accountability Act proposed by Darrell Issa ten years ago, in 2003.