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Brooks Jackson of FactCheck, fact checked (Newt Gingrich on Senate amnesty)

Brooks Jackson, Emi Kolawole & Lori Robertson of FactCheck.org offer "Gingrich Distorts Immigration Bill". It needs its own fact-checking, which I'll be happy to provide; this isn't the first time I've noticed that FactCheck.org tends to distort immigration matters, although I don't appear to have posted about the past instance.

In the current case, FactCheck has at least two issues: a) strictly and thus incorrectly defining amnesty, and b) failing to note that they and Gingrich are discussing different versions of the bills and failing to read the bill in its entirety.

Regarding b), they say:

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich made false claims about the Senate immigration bill in a TV ad for a conservative group. He said it "will put...potential terrorists and gang members on a path to U.S. citizenship," which is contrary to the language of the legislation... Actually, the bill grants authority to deport any alien who "at any time has participated in a criminal gang." And as for terrorists, the measure also gives the government authority to deny temporary visa status to an illegal alien if "there are reasonable grounds for regarding the alien as a danger to the security of the United States."

First, they're discussing apples and oranges, in this case different versions of the bill. They link to S.1639 (PDF), dated June 18. The Gingrich commercials were almost certainly made before that date and were based on the previous version of the bill.

For instance, from this June 1 post:

In Section 601 (g) (2), it states that gang members would be eligible to receive amnesty if they sign a statement that renounces their gang membership.

And, from June 5, one of Senator Jeff Session's "20 Loopholes" was this:

the bill will allow violent gang members to get amnesty as long as they "renounce" their gang membership on their application. [See p. 289: 34-36].

Their second paragraph above is a reference to this from page 121 of the new bill; see if you can spot the gigantic loophole:

Unless the Secretary of Homeland Security or the Attorney General waives the application of this subparagraph, any alien who a consular officer, the Attorney General, or the Secretary of Homeland Security knows or has reason to believe participated in a criminal gang, knowing or having reason to know that such participation promoted, furthered, aided, or supported the illegal activity of the gang, is inadmissible.

Somehow I see a lot of "waiving" ahead. Consider also this:

The application form [for Z nonimmigrant status] shall request such information as the Secretary deems necessary and appropriate, including but not limited to, information concerning the alien's physical and mental health; complete criminal history, including all arrests and dispositions; gang membership, renunciation of gang affiliation; immigration history; employment history; and claims to United States citizenship.

As with the previous version of the bill, the renunciation is still in there, strongly implying that it intends to be used to, in fact, allow gang members who've renounced their membership to receive the Z visas.

As for FactCheck raising issues with the Gingrich claim that "potential terrorists" can be legalized, obvious to everyone except them that means that someone who is not known (or shown by a cursory check) to be a terrorist could be legalized, as has happened before.

FactCheck also says that calling the Senate bill amnesty is misleading, relying on the dictionary definition of the word. Are the millions of prospective illegal aliens going to rely on the dictionary definition? Of course not. They're going to concentrate on the implicit U.S. policy of legalizing anyone who can live here long enough. Those millions of prospective illegal aliens will come a-running for what they perceive to be amnesty, whether Brooks Jackson, Emi Kolawole & Lori Robertson are standing on the border pointing to the Merriam-Webster definition or not.

Please contact Editor *at* FactCheck.org and let them know what you think.

UPDATE: The points made above about the new bill apply to the "clay pigeon" amendments as well. The pigeon has a similar waiver (link) and a similar mention of a "renunciation" (link).

Immigration2007a · Wed, 06/27/2007 - 09:18 · Importance: 1

Wed, 06/27/2007 - 18:14
Hal K

Letter to FactCheck I am disappointed to see that an organization that calls itself "fact check" would take such a biased and politically motivated view towards the Senate immigration bill. Please, can we stop arguing over the meaning of the word amnesty? The bill provides more or less instant and indefinitely renewable legal status to illegal immigrants. The argument over whether it is truly "amnesty" is a waste of everyone's time and revisiting this should not pass for "fact checking." Besides arguing over the meaning of "fact checking" and "amnesty" perhaps we could also argue over the meaning of "compromise," since I do not consider this bill to be a compromise, as it mainly represents the interests of employers who hire illegal immigrants and ethnic advocacy groups. Bottom line: File your article under "rhetoric," not "fact checking."

Wed, 06/27/2007 - 19:42
eh

_The bill provides more or less instant and indefinitely renewable legal status to illegal immigrants._ Yes it does. _The argument over whether it is truly "amnesty" is a waste of everyone's time and revisiting this should not pass for "fact checking."_ Absolutely. Some of what these dumbfucks come out with is just pathetic. If illegals get to stay, then IMO it's not inappropriate to call it "amnesty", because everyone has a sense of what that means, and getting to stay after entering illegally -- the 'ill-gotten gains' here -- qualifies as "amnesty", whether they have to pay a fine or not or whatever. If you rob a bank and get caught, you go to jail and you have to give back the money -- you don't get to keep the money if you go to jail. But this is the only argument they have -- nitpicking over the definition of "amnesty".

Wed, 06/27/2007 - 22:01
amanda

Amnesty (or pardon) is cancellation of a punishment. The punishment for being in the country illegally is deportation. Thus, if an illegal alien is granted a permanent right to remain in the U.S. it's amnesty as the original prosecution/punishment is dropped. As Pitchfork Pat said, if one day you're not supposed to be in a country and the next you have the right to stay, that's amnesty. Technically, I guess, the Senate bill is not an absolute pardon if you have to pay even a nickel fine. But it's also not a partial pardon because the fine is unrelated to the original punishment. If the amnesty is to be qualified in some way, it is conditional--upon the initial fine. I don't consider later Z-visa requirements because by then you already have received the initial Z status. I consider them steps toward a formal green card but the de facto green card has already been granted.