By AFP Staff
Congress left to go on an 11-day vacation Thursday, May 24, before completing a deal on much-needed immigration reform—something that legislators have been promising their constituents for years now.
Despite having solid majorities in the House and the Senate in the 115th Congress—237 seats out of the 430 in the House, and 52 out of 100 in the Senate—and a Republican president, so far, legislators have been unable to produce immigration reform that funds the president’s requests for a border wall and more Border Patrol on the border.
According to The Hill, a Capitol Hill daily, the GOP is “nearing the end game” on immigration. The problem is, the end game involves protecting hundreds of thousands of so-called “Dreamers,” the children of illegal aliens born in the United States. The Republican leadership has been able to keep most Republicans in line, but increasingly in states where Republican legislators are finding themselves in tough campaigns, a few have folded and support a Democrat-backed deal that aids Dreamers.
While the U.S. is a nation of immigrants, illegal immigration is a slap in the face of every immigrant who went through the long and often difficult process of gaining U.S. citizenship legally. Even the United States’s neighbor to the south, Mexico, takes an aggressive stance on illegal immigration. In 2015, Mexico went so far as to deport several thousand U.S. citizens who had been living in the country illegally. On average, every year, Mexican authorities deport over 100,000 illegal immigrants who come to Mexico from all over Central and South America.
There are currently several bills addressing illegal immigration that are pending in Congress. One bill that has the backing of conservatives is immigration legislation sponsored by Reps. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) and Michael McCaul (R-Texas).
According to a press release issued by Goodlatte’s office, the Securing America’s Future Act:
- Ends the Diversity Program—Eliminates the visa lottery green card program;
- Ends Chain Migration—Eliminates green card programs for relatives (other than spouses and minor children); creates a renewable temporary visa for parents of citizens to unite families at no cost to taxpayers;
- Reduces Overall Immigration Levels—Reduces immigration levels (now averaging over 1,060,000 a year) by about 260,000 a year—a decrease of about 25%;
- Increases Immigration Levels for Skilled Workers—Increases the number of green cards available in the three skilled worker green card categories from about 120,000 a year to about 175,000—an increase of 45%;
- Agricultural Workers—Creates a workable agricultural guest worker program to grow our economy;
- Visa Security—Sends additional ICE agents to more high-risk embassies overseas to vet visitors and immigrants;
- Build the Border Wall—Authorizes border wall construction;
- Advanced Technology—Additional technology, roads and other tactical infrastructure to secure the border;
- Secures Ports of Entry—Improves, modernizes, and expands ports of entry along the southern border;
- More Boots on the Ground—Adds 5,000 Border Patrol Agents and 5,000 CBP Officers;
- Use of the National Guard—Authorizes the Guard to provide aviation and intelligence support for border security operations;
- Biometric Entry-Exit System—Requires full implementation at all air, land, and sea ports of entry;
- Makes E-Verify Mandatory—Employers must check to see that they are only hiring legal workers;
- Cracks Down on Sanctuary Cities—Authorizes the Department of Justice to withhold law enforcement grants from sanctuary cities/allows victims to sue the sanctuary cities that released their attackers;
- Facilitates Cooperation with Local Law Enforcement—Establishes probable cause standards for ICE detainers/indemnifies localities that comply/requires ICE enter into 287(g) agreements requested by localities;
- Detaining Dangerous Individuals—Allows DHS to detain dangerous illegal immigrants who cannot be removed;
- Kate’s Law—Enhances criminal penalties for deported criminals who illegally return;
- Combats Asylum Fraud—Tightens the “credible fear” standard to root out frivolous claims and increases penalties for fraud/terminates asylum for individuals who voluntarily return home;
- Keeps Out and Removes Dangerous Criminals—Makes illegal immigrants removable for being gang members/makes those with convictions for aggravated felonies, not registering as sex offenders, and multiple DUIs removable;
- Visa Overstays—Makes illegal presence a federal misdemeanor (illegally crossing the border already is a crime);
- Safely Returns Unaccompanied Minors—Ensures the safe and quick return of unaccompanied minors apprehended at the border; allows for the detention of minors apprehended at the border with their parents;
- Legislatively Provides Legal Status—Individuals who received deferred action on the basis of being brought to the U.S. as minors get a 3-year renewable legal status allowing them to work and travel overseas (without advance parole). There is no special path to a green card. Recipients may only make use of existing paths to green cards;
- No Criminals—No gang members or those with criminal convictions/convictions in juvenile court for serious crimes are eligible;
- Combats Fraud—Strong anti-fraud measures/allows for prosecutions for fraud.