House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) has introduced a bill that would provide legal status for those in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, funds for a border wall, and immigration reforms. Goodlatte, along with Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX), Raul Labrador (R-ID), and Martha McSally (R-AZ), provided details in an op-ed in The Wall Street Journal:

A priority of our legislation is to increase the security of the southern border. Our bill would provide $30 billion to build a wall, to invest in new technology, and to improve, modernize and expand ports of entry. It would add boots on the ground: an additional 5,000 Border Patrol agents and 5,000 Customs and Border Protection officers. It would provide for the construction of additional ports of entry and a full implementation of the biometric entry-exit system, while authorizing the National Guard to provide aviation and intelligence support.

Why all the talk on immigration? Because the Democrats won’t accept a government spending bill without DACA protection..or in their words, immediate citizenship for those given protection via a DHS memo. I still cannot get over how people who care and are supposed to uphold the Constitution want to side step our laws for a memo (emphasis mine):

Finally, as requested by President Trump, our bill provides a legislative solution for the beneficiaries of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, who were brought to the U.S. illegally as minors. DACA was first imposed through an unconstitutional abuse of executive power by President Obama in 2012. The Constitution specifically delegates the power to make immigration law to Congress.

(The representatives are wrong in this case. It was a DHS memo, not even an executive order.)

But this is where, as Professor Jacobson noted the other day, it gets worrisome. During the roundtable discussion between Trump and Congressional leaders, the professor couldn’t help but think, “here comes amnesty.” Well, it’s not exactly amnesty:

Our bill would allow DACA beneficiaries to receive a three-year renewable legal status, codifying the program the right way—by a duly enacted statute. But to be clear, there is no new or special path to citizenship for these individuals in our bill.

Importantly, our bill will help ensure that the distressing DACA dilemma does not recur after a few short years. The legislation would end “catch and release,” battle asylum fraud and require that unaccompanied minors caught at the border be treated equally regardless of their home country. Together this will ensure that the law no longer tempts minors and their parents to make the dangerous illegal journey to the U.S.—or to line the pockets of cartels that make a business of supporting these journeys.

Goodlatte appeared on a Boston radio show to explain that this is not amnesty:

On whether or not he would be willing to negotiate on paths to green cards or citizenship for DACA recipients

“I would not be willing to give people who entered the country illegally a special pathway to citizenship. That would put them ahead of people who have gone through the long legal process to enter this country. It’s simply not a fair thing to do. And I think this status, which not only gives legal certainty to the DACA recipients, but also makes it renewable for indefinite times and therefore a permanent situation, and allows recipients of the DACA program to make use of existing paths to green cards, is a much fairer way to do that.”

The representatives stressed that the job doesn’t stop with border security. America must make actual changes to our immigration system:

Our bill would achieve these goals by cracking down on people who overstay their visas, by requiring employers to use the accurate and hugely successful E-Verify system to ensure that they hire only legal workers, and by making it easier to deport aliens who are gang members, who are aggravated felons, who fail to register as sex offenders, or who have multiple DUIs.

Our bill would put an end to chain migration, the process by which citizens and green-card holders can sponsor extended family members for their own green cards (who in turn can eventually sponsor their own extended family members, ad infinitum). It also would stop the Diversity Visa program, which awards green cards by random lottery to people with no ties to the U.S. Neither of these programs prioritizes the skills of people entering the country.

Trump described the bill as a “good starting point.” It’s possible the GOP can receive 218 votes from those within the party, “which could help them avoid getting jammed with an unpopular immigration deal from the Senate.”

Some do not think the bill could get the 218 votes. Even if it did, it will face trouble in the Senate because the GOP will need nine Democrats to avoid a filibuster. Plus, the GOP only has a one seat majority in the Senate. As we saw in 2016, GOP senators like Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) and Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) do not fear going against their party.

Goodlatte presented the plan to members of the party at a conference meeting. We do not know yet if the leadership will bring the bill to the floor, but Rep. Mark Walker (R-NC) said that no one objected to it at the meeting.

Rep. Charlie Dent (R-PA) provided some reality:

“Even if we did have 218 Republican votes for a DACA bill, it’s not going to be close to what the Senate passes. … We need to pass a DACA bill with over 300 votes,” said Rep. Charlie Dent (R-Pa.), co-chairman of the moderate Tuesday Group.

“We we can go through this exercise for a while, until we ultimately get jammed by the Senate. We’ll indulge all these folks with this fanciful notion that we’ll somehow pass a DACA bill with 218 Republican votes — and then unicorns fly.”


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