Chuck Schumer and Lindsey Graham have put forth the outlines of an immigration plan, which has been endorsed by Obama as the basis for immigration reform.
While there is no legislative text, as described by Schumer and Graham, the key is that illegal aliens automatically would gain legal status if they followed certain steps:
For the 11 million immigrants already in this country illegally, we would provide a tough but fair path forward. They would be required to admit they broke the law and to pay their debt to society by performing community service and paying fines and back taxes. These people would be required to pass background checks and be proficient in English before going to the back of the line of prospective immigrants to earn the opportunity to work toward lawful permanent residence.
Assuming the eventual legislation followed this path, the key point is that illegal aliens automatically would be turned into legal aliens from the moment they enter the system. They may have to wait for “lawful permanent residence” but they would not be here illegally anymore.
There are tremendous implications of this automatic change in status for the pending health care bill, which appears headed for a vote Sunday.
The Senate health care bill, which is the foundation of Obamacare, treats legal aliens on par with citizens when it comes to the health care exchanges.
The key phrase is “an alien lawfully present in the United States,” which bestows upon such person all the benefits of the exchanges as a “qualified individual” (emphasis mine):
Sec. 1312(f)(3) ACCESS LIMITED TO LAWFUL RESIDENTS.—
If an individual is not, or is not reasonably expected to be for the entire period for which enrollment is sought, a citizen or national of the United States or an alien lawfully present in the United States, the individual shall not be treated as a qualified individual and may not be covered under a qualified health plan in the individual market that is offered through an Exchange. [pg. 161]
This same term, “an alien lawfully present in the United States,” is the term used in section 1401 providing tax credits (emphasis mine):
(2) LAWFULLY PRESENT.—For purposes of this section, an individual shall be treated as lawfully present only if the individual is, and is reasonably expected to be for the entire period of enrollment for which the credit under this section is being claimed, a citizen or national of the United States or an alien lawfully present in the United States. [pg. 253]
Similar language applies to the “reduced cost sharing provisions” of section 1402 (pg. 266).
The CBO cost estimates (which themselves are based on falsely rosy assumptions) do not take into account the more than 10 million people who will fully participate in the exchanges and receive subsidies (depending upon income) automatically if the Schumer-Graham proposal became law.
The Schumer-Graham proposal, which is endorsed by Obama, is just another warning sign that the CBO cost estimates are pure fantasy.