Columnist Curt Dale of Colorado Community Newspapers misrepresented an immigration reform proposal and dubiously suggested that the bill would open “the floodgates” for illegal immigrants. As Colorado Media Matters has noted, numerous Colorado media figures have similarly mischaracterized the proposal.
Following a media trend that Colorado Media Matters has noted, Curt Dale in his May 24 column for Colorado Community Newspapers misrepresented proposed immigration reform legislation endorsed by U.S. Senate leaders and the Bush administration.
Dale criticized Republicans for supporting the bill, which he suggested would hurt the GOP politically and help Democrats. He also dubiously suggested that as a result of the bill, “the floodgates will open” for illegal immigrants and that "[n]othing will be done to secure the border."
From Curt Dale's column, “Party's suicide is depressing,” first published May 23 on the website of Colorado Community Newspapers:
As I watch backroom negotiations slowly revealed, I realize that a few Republican leaders are deliberately and methodically arranging the suicide of the GOP.
The Immigration Reform Bill that President Bush is touting, and which is being cobbled up in bipartisan secrecy by Sens. Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., John McCain, R-Ariz., Arlen Specter, R-Pa., and Ted Kennedy, D-Mass., will do nothing to solve the illegal immigration problem. But it'll assure the demise of the GOP as I know it today.
From all that I read and hear of this sellout of our Republic, we'd be far better off to do absolutely nothing. At least we know where we stand at the moment. But with amnesty assured, the floodgates will open. Nothing will be done to secure the border. No fence was funded from the legislation of last year. None is mentioned in this reform bill. A few airplanes are added to the border patrol fleet. Wanna bet they won't be funded, either?
Democrats don't want to stop the flow, particularly if they get this bill passed. Every illegal alien that comes across the border with the portent of becoming a citizen -- voting citizen -- is, in Democrat eyes, most likely another vote for the Democrats. Yet, these defecting Republicans can't fathom that.
Contrary to Dale's suggestion that the measure would prompt a wave of immigration by offering illegal immigrants a plan to achieve legal status -- which he calls “amnesty” -- the bill's visa and naturalization provisions apply only to illegal immigrants who can prove they were in the United States before January 2007. As Colorado Media Matters has noted, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff emphasized this at a May 17 White House press briefing to announce and explain the plan:
And here's the really important announcement I want to make -- it needs to get out there. There is a cutoff date for Z visas for people who are undocumented. The only people who will be eligible to get a Z visa as a person who is here illegally is someone who arrived in this country prior to January 1 of 2007. You're going to have to prove that you were in the country prior to January 1, 2007.
Additionally, Dale misrepresented the bill when he suggested that the supposed lure to increased illegal immigration would be accompanied by a failure to implement the bill's promised border security measures. As the White House noted in a May 22 news release, the bill stipulates that the provisions to give legal status to qualifying illegal immigrants cannot be implemented until after the border security measures have been implemented (emphases in original):
2. Strengthening Border Security
Tough Border Security Benchmarks Must Be Met Before The Z Visa And Temporary Worker Programs Go Into Effect. These triggers include constructing 370 miles of fencing and 200 miles of vehicle barriers at the border and finishing doubling the size of the Border Patrol since the President took office -- a goal previously set by the President and already well on its way to achievement.
- The Department Of Homeland Security Is On Track To Build 150 Miles Of Fence By The End Of September 2007 And To Build 370 Miles By The End Of Calendar Year 2008. Currently, about 86 miles of fence have been built along the border, with 64 additional miles planned by the end of September 2007.
- We Have Expanded The Border Patrol From About 9,000 Agents In 2001 To More Than 13,000 Agents Today, And By The End Of 2008, We Will Have More Than 18,000 Agents On The Job.
With Enhanced Enforcement, We Have Already Seen A Tremendous Change At The Border. The number of people apprehended for illegally crossing our Southern border is down by nearly 27 percent in 2007 from this point in 2006.