"Not a single word": On Rosen's show, Tancredo distorted immigration reform proposal

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Appearing as a guest on The Mike Rosen Show, Republican U.S. Rep. Tom Tancredo issued the falsehood that "[n]ot a single word" in a Senate immigration reform proposal states consequences for those who entered the United States illegally after January 1, 2007. Rosen did not challenge Tancredo's statement even though the most recent draft of the bill does not alter the part of existing federal law that provides for the deportation of illegal immigrants or people trying to gain illegal entry into the country.

On the May 21 broadcast of Newsradio 850 KOA's The Mike Rosen Show, U.S. Rep. Tom Tancredo (R-CO) falsely claimed that "[n]ot a single word" in proposed immigration reform legislation addresses consequences for illegal immigrants who unlawfully entered the United States after January 1, 2007. According to the Senate measure, that is the date by which an illegal immigrant must have been present in the United States in order to be eligible for eventual citizenship. Tancredo, a guest on Rosen's show, made the same claim regarding immigrants who Rosen suggested might fraudulently claim presence in the country before the cutoff date. However, the most recent draft of the bill directly addresses "illegal entry" as well as "immigration fraud" offenses, mainly by upholding current federal immigration law.

A May 18 Washington Post article reported that a bipartisan group of U.S. senators and the Bush administration agreed upon the proposal, which would "grant temporary legal status to virtually all illegal immigrants in the country, while allowing them to apply for residence visas and eventual citizenship." The Post continued:

A temporary-worker program would allow as many as 400,000 migrants into the country each year, but they would have to leave after two years. And the current visa system, which stresses family ties, would be augmented by a complex point system that would favor skilled, educated workers. Most of those changes would take effect only after the implementation of tough new border controls and a crackdown on the employment of undocumented workers.

[...]

This year's legislation would grant undocumented workers who came into the country before January a permit to remain. They could then apply for a new, four-year "Z Visa," renewable indefinitely, as long as they pay a $5,000 fine, a $1,500 processing fee, show a clean work record and pass a criminal background check.

During his May 21 broadcast, host Mike Rosen asked Tancredo, "Suppose somebody comes in after, way after January 1st, and doesn't have any documentation, false documentation, to demonstrate they were here earlier, what's, what do we do with those people ... according to the language of this bill, who are in the country illegally after January 1st, 2007? Is there anything in the bill that deals with the apprehension and deportation of those people?" Tancredo replied, "Not a word. Not a single word." He then added that "for anybody else who enters the country illegally ... nothing is in the bill about what would happen to them. Absolutely nothing."

In fact, the latest draft of the Senate proposal preserves language from earlier drafts of the bill that allude to existing federal immigration law, including the apprehension or deportation of people accused of "illegal entry" and "immigration fraud." Rosen did not challenge Tancredo's false statement, ignoring the fact that the measure would not alter existing U.S. law that provides for deportation of illegal immigrants or people trying to gain illegal entry into the country.

According to Title II, Section 275 ("Illegal Entry") of the current Senate proposal, which amends Title 8, §1325 of current U.S. law, "An alien shall be subject to the penalties set forth in paragraph (2) if the alien ... knowingly enters or crosses the border into the United States at any time or place other than as designated by the Secretary of Homeland Security." The penalties are fines and/or imprisonment for terms that vary depending on the number of immigration violations and the criminal record of the immigrant. However, U.S. law already states that "[a]ny alien who is present in the United States in violation of this chapter or any other law of the United States ... is deportable." The proposed legislation does not amend this section of federal law except to add to the list of deportable offenses the participation in or support of criminal gangs and certain acts of documentation fraud.

Furthermore, Section 604(e) of Title VI ("Nonimmigrants in the United States Previously in Unlawful Status") in the latest draft proposal states that the secretary of Homeland Security "may audit and evaluate information furnished as part of any application" for a Z visa "for purposes of identifying fraud or fraud schemes, and may use any evidence detected by means of audits and evaluations for purposes of investigating, prosecuting or referring for prosecution, denying, or terminating immigration benefits." Section 609(b) further states that an alien who violates section 1546 -- which allows up to 15 years imprisonment and a fine for "immigration document" fraud -- "during the period beginning on the date of the enactment of such Act and ending on the date that the alien applies for eligibility for such benefit may be prosecuted for the violation if the alien's application for such benefit is denied."

From the May 21 broadcast of Newsradio 850 KOA's The Mike Rosen Show:

TANCREDO: The day, the day this bill passes -- if this bill is the, you know, is in its form today is the one that passes -- the day it passes, every single person who is presently in the country illegally and does not have a criminal, a felony criminal record that can be identified when they go in, every single one of them will get a permit, a, a worker permit, a Social Security number, and a guarantee that, that they cannot be deported. That's the very next day the bill, after the bill passes. That's what they can do -- 12 to 20 million people. Now -- the other thing, Mike, about, when people talk about, "Well, at some point they'll have -- even if they want to get in line for, to become a citizen they have to go to the end of the line." Who the heck doesn't have to go to the end of the line? I mean the back of the line. You, you -- if you want to come into this country legally you go to the back of the line. There -- you know what I mean? There, there is no penalty to going to the back of the line because that's where everybody goes when you want to start the process of coming into the country. So it, it just makes it sound as though somehow this is a penalty. It is certainly not. And saying that you have to be working in the United States for a certain period of time -- well, you know what, a job here is not a penalty. It is the thing for which they came.

ROSEN: Here's another question I have for you. There's a cutoff date in this draft bill. It says in order to be eligible for this Z visa, one must have been illegally present within the United States before January 1st, 2007.

TANCREDO: Right.

ROSEN: That, that seems to imply --

TANCREDO: There will not be a single soul -- there will not be a single soul in this country. I guarantee you, no one will have been here subsequent to that.

ROSEN: Yeah.

TANCREDO: Because every -- every copy machine will be printing out utility bills, rent statements. No one will be here subsequent to that date when it comes in, when, when people start coming in. And by the way --

ROSEN: Meaning even if they came in after that date they would claim that they were here before and they'd produce documentation that would probably be sufficient to verify that even if it isn't true. But let me ask you this: Suppose somebody comes in after, way after January 1st, and doesn't have any documentation, false documentation, to demonstrate they were here earlier, what's, what do we do with those people --

TANCREDO: That's right.

ROSEN: -- according to the language of this bill, who are in the country illegally after January 1st, 2007? Is there anything in the bill that deals with the apprehension and deportation of those people?

TANCREDO: Not a word. Not a single word. And that -- you're absolutely right that there is -- and not just for those people, but, but for anybody else who enters the country illegally and -- or who, or who does not go for this, go forward to get the Z visa and therefore would end up being here illegally, right? If they don't go through the process --

ROSEN: Right.

TANCREDO: -- even if they're here, nothing is in the bill about what would happen to them. Absolutely nothing.

ROSEN: So they can --

TANCREDO: Because, of course, you know and I know, nothing will happen to them.

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