As the Gang of Eight’s bill continues its rush through the Senate, opposition is growing across the nation. One opponent of the bill is Dr. Juan Torres, a legal immigrant from Ecuador in the 1980s who became an American citizen.
Dr. Torres has long supported the principles and positions of the Tea Party, and founded the Latino American Tea Party. He currently lives in Orlando, Florida, where he runs a private practice that focuses on infectious diseases. He is also the director for Central Florida’s Bear Witness Central and Libertad USA.
Dr. Torres and I sat down last Thursday, the evening of the Senate’s mark-up of the immigration bill, to discuss his concerns about the legislation.
Dustin Siggins: Why is immigration an issue that’s so important to you?
Dr. Juan Torres: I came to the U.S. in the 1980s. It was my dream to immigrate to the U.S., so I went through the necessary legal process. I was a legal resident for years, and then became a citizen. I think that’s the way to do it, though I understand there are many problems with that process as it exists now.
The immigration process itself is in chaos. It needs to be addressed in a different way. The Senate’s bill fails to address many issues, such as the visa tracking system and border security. Given the times in which we live, and the risk of terrorist attacks, it’s something that must be reviewed with great caution, the sooner the better.
DS: The immigration bill mark-up took place in the Senate Judiciary Committee today. What do you think of the process thus far?
JT: Three things concern me most about this bill. First, amnesty. I say amnesty because in the history of the country, one amnesty is followed by another amnesty. Amnesty is no more than an incentive for another amnesty, to be honest. Since 1986, there have been multiple amnesty bills being passed. None of them prevented another illegal immigration problem. Actually, it was the opposite. Every time we passed amnesty, the illegal immigration worsened.
The current bill must address this issue by preventing amnesty now and in the future.
Second, border security needs to be done first. Immigration reform should come second. This is very important. It doesn’t matter what the politicians say, the borders are not secure. Anyone who lives on the border can tell you that.
Related, we do not even have an effective Visa tracking system. Many of the terrorists on 9/11 entered the country on student visas or tourist visas. The terrorists in Boston did the same thing. In other words, we have not yet learned the lessons of 9/11. That should tell you how bad the system is. We need a Visa tracking system that prevents terrorists from coming into this country.
Another huge concern is the cost. The Heritage Foundation just released a report showing that the cost of amnesty will be $6.3 trillion to the taxpayers. This is a big problem. If we add $6.2 trillion of ObamaCare we are talking about more than 12 trillion dollars added to the pocket of taxpayers, including Hispanics or any legal immigrant working in this country.
Do you remember when President Obama said that the Healthcare reform would not cost one penny to the American people? I hope nobody says that the Immigration reform is another government program free of any cost.
DS: One of the concerns by Tea Party activists about this bill is the process. It’s big, it’s complex, and they are pushing it through relatively quickly. Do you also have concerns about this?
JT: Of course. This bill reminds me of Obamacare, in a way. Its smaller than Obamacare, but it’s still big, at 844 pages. It is being pushed through Congress, yet we don’t know all the details. I am sure many surprises will surface after the bill is passed just the way it happened with ObamaCare. This bill has to be reviewed carefully for its financial and national security implications.
Everyone should ask this question: How much am I willing to give away, as a taxpayer, to support this bill? Again, according to Heritage, amnesty will cost $6.3 trillion, and this is the initial estimation. We all know that government programs are much more expensive than what our politicians originally claim.
DS: You are a constituent of Senator Rubio’s; have you contacted his office?
JT: No. I participated in a conference call with him, but I have not talked to anyone in his office. However, the more we know the more questions we have. Senator Rubio has said the bill needs further review because of border security concerns.
DS: The bill seems to lack some oversight – there are many so-called “triggers,” and Secretaries are given various flexibilities to implement policies. Is this concerning to you?
JT: Yes. This is just like Obamacare. It has not been fully written yet. The process is very important. This has to be a very transparent debate, and I think the bill needs to be presented to the American people in a transparent debate. Every aspect should be discussed publicly: why or why this bill will not prevent another amnesty. What is the status of the border? How much will this cost taxpayers? The process should be discussed publicly, and evaluated with immigration experts as well as independent economists and national security staff.
For a law that has so many implications for everyone’s pockets, it should be implemented in a very careful process. I have a feeling that’s not going to happen, similar to Obamacare.
And what about the millions of people who are waiting to enter this country legally? Why is it that nobody talks about them? For a law that has so many implications for national security and everyone’s pockets, it should be implemented in a very careful process.
I am pro-immigration reform. It is something that is needed but we should not try to fix one problem while creating another that will hurt the pocket of everybody, even the relatives of those illegal immigrants. It has to be fixed permanently following the legal channels and addressing those three critical issues; amnesty, border security and the financial burden to the American people.
We should use American compassion in a way that does not hurt others or make our entitlement and welfare systems even worse. I also believe that if we voluntarily decide to be Americans we should assimilate, respect, and follow the principles upon which this country was founded; just the same way we would like to see when a foreign person becomes a citizen of any other country.