How Did We Get Here? Part Two: Immigration Becomes A Political Tool

800px-Immigration_Bill_Signing_-_A1421-33a_-_10-03-1965Bill Clinton’s view of his presidency had a fractured personality. He fancied himself America’s first “black president” as well considering himself a Kennedy in spirit. As far as immigration went, the Kennedy likeness was apt.

In 1994, Clinton made an adjustment to the Immigration and Nationality Act. Its specific purpose was to change the status of those residing in the United States illegally. Prior to October, 1994, only legal non-residents were permitted to avail themselves of a status modification, and only if a visa became available.

Clinton’s “adjustment” changed all that. Now, illegals had the practice extended to them … without requiring them to leave the country and wait for visa approval. It also required each applicant to pay a $1,000 fee. The law also included those who had entered the United States but committed visa violations during their stay. A provision that later benefited Tamerlan Tsarnaev, of recent Boston Marathon bombing infamy.

In 1997, Clinton’s Congress passed NACARA, the Nicaraguan Adjustment and Central American Relief Act, which granted legal status to people from Guatemala, El Salvador, Cuba, Nicaragua and nationals of the former Soviet bloc. This law also provided some protection from deportation. Castro emptied the Cuban prisons into America on the strength of NACARA.

Not satisfied with his previous fine tuning, in December 2000 Bill Clinton signed the Legal Immigration Family Equity (LIFE) Act, which allowed those in the United States illegally to apply for and receive a green card even if they wouldn’t normally be eligible to receive one. Regardless of how the individual had entered the country, whether working illegally in the country or if the individual failed to “maintain lawful status” since his/her arrival in the United States, legitimacy was now assured.

Knowing that the next presidential election would be a tight race, Clinton initiated the not-so-clandestine Clinton/Gore “Project 500,000.” Gore was put in charge of boosting immigration, legal or not, in order to augment Democrat voting rolls by an additional 500,000 + voters. Among other things, Gore ordered adjudicators to abstain from criminal background checks, told immigration officials to ignore the requirement of English for interviews and waived the $1,000 application fee. Many thousands of foreign criminals received citizenship this way.

About the author: Marilyn Assenheim

Marilyn Assenheim was born and raised in New York City. She spent a career in healthcare management although she probably should have been a casting director. Or a cowboy. A serious devotee of history and politics, Marilyn currently lives in the NYC metropolitan area.

View all articles by Marilyn Assenheim

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