Four Pieces of the Immigration Bill That Don't Seem to Have Anything to Do With Immigration

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
June 24 2013 11:44 AM

Four Pieces of the Immigration Bill That Don't Seem to Have Anything to Do With Immigration

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People gamble in a casino in Las Vegas, Nevada, on November 12, 2011. Thanks, immigration reform!

Photo by JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images

The amended version of the Senate's immigration bill is up here. It's been there all weekend. Holdouts bristle that they haven't had time to read it. Their colleagues insist that a 1,109-page bill really isn't that long or complicated. In floor debate, Sen. Bob Corker kept insisting that a "middle school student" could tear through the thing no problem.

David Weigel David Weigel

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

Possibly—hopefully—middle schoolers have more hobbies than this. Anyone who does read the bill is going to stumble across odd additions that appear wholly disconnected from the "immigration crisis." Just to start:

- Title V, the Youth Jobs Fund. People unfamiliar with Bernie Sanders' obsessions may have been surprised last week when the Vermont socialist* attacked the immigration bill. He was angry that more workers would be brought into the force while American unemployment and wages stayed stagnant. He should be less angry after getting this:

There is established in the Treasury of the United States an account that shall be known as the Youth Jobs Fund (referred to in this title as ‘‘the Fund’’).

DEPOSITS INTO THE FUND.—Out of any amounts in the Treasury not otherwise appropriated, there is appropriated $1,500,000,000 for fiscal year 2014, which shall be paid to the Fund, to be used by the Secretary of Labor to carry out this title.
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- SEC. 4503, Encouraging Canadian Tourism to the United States. This makes it easier for Canadian retirees (i.e., people who won't be fighting Americans for jobs) to stick around Maine or Seattle a little longer. "Eligibility for admission under this subsection, maintenance of a residence in the United States shall not be considered evidence of intent by the alien to abandon the alien’s residence in Canada."

- The Corporation for Travel Promotion. It's listed in the bill under "additional border patrol" funds, and Matt Boyle was the first to spot a change that, rather than actually hiring border patrol agents, funds the Vegas-friendly tourism outfit in perpetuity.

Sec- 9(d)(2)(B) of the Travel Promotion Act of 2009 (22 U.S.C. 2131(d)(2)(B)) is amended by striking "For each of fiscal years 2012 through 2015,’’ and inserting ‘‘For each fiscal year after 2012."

- Sec. 4408—Summer work travel program in seafood processing. This ultra-specific line item really just applies to Alaska, as the sharp-eyed skeptics at CIS noticed. As long as temporary immigrants are "employed in seafood processing positions in Alaska," the State Department has to lay off them.

*Not an insult, as this is how he characterizes his politics.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter.