Casinos, Senators and Cronyism.

When the Gang of Eight Immigration bill was first brought forward we all assumed it would be the dominant story for months. Since then we have experience a whirlwind of breaking news; the Boston Bombings and successive scandals involving the Federal government have kept all of our attentions. Meanwhile, the immigration bill has been quietly working through the Senate as deals are reached and backs scratched.

A clear example of this behavior is exemplified by Nevada’s two senators. They have worked into the bill an open-ended continuation of the “Travel Promotion Act”, which was passed in 2009 and was set to expire in 2015. The “TPA” created the non-profit corporation “Brand USA” which spends its money on luring foreigners to visit the US. Its money is supplied by a $10 fee charged on foreign visitors when they use the ESTA system for their travel visa into the US. This is effectively a cost-free advertising campaign for Casinos and other large entertainment businesses, enforced by the government and funded by a tax on foreign tourists.
 Our Senator’s motives are clear, a quick Google search reveals that all of the casino corporations are major donors to both of them. The disgusting cycle of corporations or individuals supporting candidates who then use their power and influence to funnel public money back to their supporters is an embarrassment to our country. This type of behavior is essentially the definition of “Crony Capitalism”. It is something that all both parties are guilty of, even though it is opposed by a majority of citizens regardless of political affiliation. 
I feel confident in saying that any foreign tourist who is looking to plan a vacation is aware of the United States as an option; we don’t need a Federal government program to remind the world of our existence. Advertisement of specific locations should be handled by those entities. The city of Las Vegas and the casinos have resources of their own to draw attention to them as international destinations. We shouldn’t be abusing foreign tourists by making it more difficult and costly to get into our country for the benefit of corporations.

But that is not the only problem with Reid and Heller’s actions. By doing this they are contributing to the poor reputation of the Immigration Bill. 
The current bill is up to about twelve hundred pages, a perfect place to hide kickbacks to your major donors. Many people support immigration reform and support the general idea of the bill. However the bill is so convoluted with Washington nonsense that it makes it hard for the average person to support it. Because in the end, they don’t know what is in the bill they are supporting. I support the overall plan outlined with the Gang of Eight’s bill. A path to citizenship for hardworking prospective immigrants while divesting us of the criminal, unproductive element and secures the border. But with the amount of loopholes that undermine the integrity of the bill’s goals and the pet projects like the one put forward by Reid and Heller, how am I supposed to support the bill?

With support of Congress at record lows, our Senators would be better advised to deal straightforwardly the American people. Instead they are jumping at every chance to enhance their private goals at the expense of the support of their constituents.


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