The PJ Tatler

No 'Marcophones' in Immigration Bill

A report circulating earlier today that the immigration reform bill contained free cell phones for immigrants has proved to be erroneous.

Javier Manjarres of the political blog Shark Tank broke the news today:


With the new ‘Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act’ finally being filed in the U.S. Senate, concerns over how much money the immigration reform bill will cost an already debt-ridden United States continues to swirl among Americans who are already strapped for cash.

According to the newly filed bill, immigrants who are allowed to enter the United States under a work visa, will be ‘granted’ a taxpayer funded cellular phone. Move over “Obama phone,” we present the new ‘Hola, Como Estas?!’ MarcoPhone.

Brietbart picked up on the story, as did a few other anti-reform blogs. Fortunately, as NRO’s Andrew Stiles points out, the report is incorrect:

Several conservative sites are suggesting that the Gang of Eight’s comprehensive immigration-reform bill contains a provision under which immigrants will be eligible for taxpayer-funded cell phones that they’ve labelled “Marcophones,” a nod to the infamous “Obamaphone” lady. But the claims appear to be little more than misguided speculation.


It was lifted almost verbatim from the Border Security and Enforcement Act of 2011, legislation introduced by Republican senators John McCain and Jon Kyl of Arizona. That bill did not include any provisions with respect to immigration, or a legalization process; it was focused solely on border-security measures, such as deploying 6,000 National Guard troops and 5,000 Border Patrol agents along the U.S.-Mexico border and improving law-enforcement communication in the region.

To that end, the bill called for a grant program that would provide satellite communications equipment and service to individuals living in remote areas along the southern border, many of whom lack cell-phone coverage, so that they could report illegal activity. The Gang’s bill simply incorporated that provision, which was proposed in response to the 2010 fatal shooting of an Arizona rancher, Robert Krentz, in a remote area with little to no cell-phone reception. It took a search team 13 hours to find Krentz’s body due to the sparse coverage, which meant authorities couldn’t track his location using the GPS from his cell phone.

Appearing on Laura Ingraham’s radio show earlier today, Rubio insisted the provision was “not for the illegal immigrants,” but for “U.S. citizens and residents who live in the border region so that they can have access to calls.”


I’ve seen this mistake countless times. It’s due to us lay people’s inability to get our heads around the arcane, convoluted legalese that substitutes for plain English in most of the legislation that comes before Congress.

In short, our logical, literal minds are incapable of turning itself into a pretzel to understand the intent and, in this case, the specifics contained in legislation.

The culprit? The Office of the Legislative Counsel whose only job in life is to make sure you have to hire a lawyer to understand any law you might accidentally break while minding your own business. There have been several attempts over the years to bring “plain language” legislation to Capitol Hill but to no avail. The law must be kept beyond the ken of understanding of us lowly folk. For if we truly understood what Congress was trying to put over on us, revolution would follow.

Every once and a while we’ll get an email from some over-excited citizen pointing to the language in some proposed bill that would end our liberty and destroy the country — if the citizen’s interpretation were correct. Fortunately, there’s Google search and it’s a snap to find someone who has been confronted with the same question and received a satisfactory answer.


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