Join Jim and Greg as they applaud South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott for a pragmatic approach to police reform and for rightly hammering the Democratic characterization of his legislation as a “token” approach. They also rip Chief Justice John Roberts for siding with the four liberal justices in blocking the Trump administration’s effort to end DACA, which was unconstitutionally created in the first place. And they wade into the ugly back and forth between President Trump and former National Security Adviser John Bolton over Bolton’s scathing new book.
Immigration remains a highly volatile issue and the odds of finding common ground on any meaningful reform seems less and less likely as the nation heads into a presidential election year.
Immigration was also front and center at the Supreme Court Tuesday, as justices heard arguments concerning President Trump’s decision to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, better known as DACA.
DACA was created by the Obama administration in 2012 to grant legal status and work permits to people brought to the U.S. illegally when they were small children. Roughly 700,000 people enrolled in the program.
But Center for Immigration Studies Executive Director Mark Krikorian says Americans need to understand what the court is actually deciding here.
“This case is not about whether DACA is a good idea or not or whether it will cause people hardship to have their work permits not be renewed,” said Krikorian. “This is purely about whether a president has the authority to end a program that a previous president made up.”
Krikorian says that question is a constitutional no-brainer in Trump’s favor and he is appalled that the matter even reached the Supreme Court.
Krikorian, who is firmly in favor of lowering the number of legal immigrants, believes keeping DACA could be useful if the accompanying legislation limits practices such as chain migration.
However, he places the odds at any significant immigration reform in the next year at zero. Krikorian says election year politics and the leftward lurch of many Democrats in this debate make common ground hard to find.
Recently, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vermont, said if elected he would move to abolish Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Customs and Border Patrol. He would also decriminalize illegal immigration, making it a civil offense. In addition, Sanders would suspend deportations and allow 50,000 climate migrants into the U.S. in his first year in office.
Krikorian says those are quickly becoming the standard positions inside the Democratic Party.
“It has become truly radicalized on immigration and I don’t use that word lightly,” said Krikorian. “That fringe perspective on immigration, that immigration control of any kind is illegitimate, that borders are illegitimate, that’s not fringe anymore in the Democratic Party. That is the basic mainstream position of Democratic elected officials.”
Listen to the full podcast to hear Krikorian’s full breakdown of the Supreme Court arguments and the dwindling prospects for any constructive immigration reform.
A rebel band of moderate Republicans in the House are on the verge of teaming with 200 Democrats to sidestep GOP leaders and advance legislation granting amnesty to people brought to the U.S. illegally as children.
Led by Reps. Jeff Denham, R-Cal., and Carlos Curbelo, R-Fla., at least 20 Republicans are on board with what’s known as a discharge petition. If a majority of House members sign a petition in solidarity on a given issue, they can force the issue on the House floor in defiance of leadership in the majority party.
“That allows them to leapfrog over leadership and take control of the House floor, and (House Minority Whip) Steny Hoyer has promised them 200 Democrat votes. Right off the bat, you’re scratching your head. Why would 25 Republicans give the floor over to the Democrats to pass a bill,” said Rep. Dave Brat, R-Va.
House Speaker Paul Ryan and House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy are imploring Republicans not to join the discharge petition. Brat, whose 2014 primary stunner over then-Majority Leader Eric Cantor was due largely to his tough stance on immigration, says Ryan and McCarthy know that this move could be lethal to the party in November.
“This is the one issue that has the capacity to keep our base at home in the elections coming up, which are just so critical,” said Brat, who is a prime target for Democrats in Virginia’s seventh congressional district.
If the discharge petition succeeds, supporters would then proceed to the “Queen of the Hill” strategy, which would allow for votes on four different measures that would address the fate of people in the country illegally but who are eligible for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA. The bill getting the most votes would then advance to the Senate.
One option is the Goodlatte bill, which is favored by immigration hawks because it confers legal status but not a pathway to citizenship for DACA enrollees and does not grant legal status to those eligible for DACA but failed to enroll. It would also limit chain migration, scrap the diversity lottery, tighten internal enforcement, mandate E-Verify to screen all job applicants and beef up border security.
But that bill doesn’t have enough votes to pass, and with 200 Democrats champing at the bit, it’s a clean amnesty bill that would attract the most votes.
“The one with the more Democrat votes wins. The American people didn’t give the House and the Senate and the White House to Republicans in order to do a giant, huge amnesty bill,” said Brat, who says the amnesty plan would extend a lot farther than just the DACA enrollees.
“The Democrats would have an all-out amnesty bill, which grants amnesty to about four million folks and then ten million folks over ten years without any border control, without any E-Verify to make sure you’re having legal hiring, without taking any account of chain migration,” said Brat.
Brat says this discharge petition tactic shows the Democrats and their GOP allies cannot win an open debate and they must resort to other tactics to advance their agenda.
“Democrats know they can’t win politically. They know they can’t win in the public realm on the exchange of ideas, so they try to do it behind the scenes with these tricky little procedures,” said Brat.
Brat says he’s surprised that 25 Republicans have not yet signed on to the discharge petition, noting “they have plenty more ready to roll” but wonders whether Ryan and McCarthy warning them about the possible midterm calamity caused some to back away from the idea.
The debate took on a new dimension this week when Democrats savaged President Trump for allegedly referring to illegal immigrants as “animals.” Even when they learned the president was specifically discussing members of the Latin American MS-13 gang, known for sadistic murders and sex trafficking, some, including House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, still chided Trump for questioning the humanity of the gang members.
“When you have these people on record battering children over the heads with baseball bats and these gruesome activities, I think the left has to agree something has gone wrong with the humanity of that person,” said Brat.
Even if the discharge petition succeeds, the effort will not result in the bill becoming law. The legislation would still require 60 votes to pass in the Senate and even then it would face a certain veto from President Trump.
While Brat hopes the issue won’t tank Republican hopes in the midterms, he says this issue and many others present a stark choice to voters in November.
“If you want more federal government running your life, vote Democrat, and if you want to return to all the principles that made the country great in the first place, vote for that,” said Brat.
The U.S. Senate rejected multiple attempts at immigration reform legislation, suggesting it is unlikely Congress can reach a deal this year that tightens up the nation’s immigration system and also clarifies the future for those holding legal status under the expiring DACA program.
President Trump announced last year that the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, program would expire in March 2018. DACA is the 2012 initiative taken by President Obama to grant legal status to people in the U.S. who were brought here illegally as children. Roughly 700,000 enrolled in DACA.
In announcing the end of DACA, President Trump made it clear he wanted Congress to address the issue through legislation and use the opportunity to make changes in immigration law such as ending the visa lottery and significantly reducing chain migration, by which family members can be sponsored by new citizens to come to the U.S.
Democrats want nothing to do with that approach, insisting only a “clean” DACA fix of simply granting legal status and a pathway to citizenship is acceptable.
In January, Democrats ended a brief government shutdown after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell promised to allow debate on the issue in the weeks to come. That promise was kept last week, but no bill was able to get the 60 votes needed to end debate and proceed to a final vote.
There is little likelihood that stalemate will be broken anytime soon.
“It’s unclear what will happen now, probably not much,” said Steven Camarota, director of research at the Center for Immigration Studies.
Only 39 senators voted for the bill most closely resembling President Trump’s wish list. He wants a pathway to citizenship for 1.8 million people, which includes DACA recipients and those who qualify but never enrolled. Trump would also scrap the visa lottery and limit the chain migration policy to spouses and minor children.
He also wants $25 billion to secure the border and begin constructing major portions of a border wall.
The highly-touted “bipartisan” bill sponsored by Republicans Susan Collins, R-Maine, and Mike Rounds, R-S.D., and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., fell six votes short of the 60-vote threshold. It kept the 1.8 million number in place as well as $25 billion in border security.
However, Camarota says it fell far short in reforming the legal immigration system.
“It did not have any ending or phasing out of the chain migration categories. And it had other things, like how priorities on enforcement would move forward and it seemed it was going to make it more difficult to enforce the law in some other areas. So while the border might be more secure, the interior might be less secure,” said Camarota.
So why did the bill Camarota considers weaker than the Trump-backed measure get 15 more votes in a GOP-controlled Senate? Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, says many in his party are now to the left of Barack Obama on immigration, at least compared to the parameters Obama imposed on DACA.
Camarota sees Cruz as hyperbolic in that comparison given that Obama wanted legal status and a pathway to citizenship for 10-11 million people in the U.S. illegally. But he says Cruz does bring up an important point.
“His basic insight is not ridiculous. If you’re the party of enforcement against amnesty, the president was agreeing to a pretty generous amnesty of 1.8 million.
“I think the reason he did that, and this is the way politics works and you have to decide what you think of it. He thought it was the only way he could get the things that he wanted, like the reform of the legal immigration system and the wall. The hope was that this trade-off would go through, but some of his own party and the Democrats didn’t want it,” said Camarota.
And what do the Democrats want?
“The Democrats are pretty unified that they want to keep immigration (numbers) as high as possible, letting the most number of people in and increase it. (They want) as expansive an amnesty as possible and tend to not want to spend more on enforcement. There are a lot of Republicans who tend to support that agenda,” said Camarota.
While the Center for Immigration Studies likes Trump’s efforts to limit chain migration, Camarota says the group has major misgivings about the president’s willingness to place the so-called Dreamers on a path to citizenship.
“One of the reasons you want to reform the chain migration system or give citizenship to DACA members is that pretty quickly it means they might be able to sponsor their parents, and the parents are the ones who brought them here.
“The whole idea of a DACA amnesty was that we’ll do this for people who aren’t to blame, but eventually it means amnesty for everyone who is to blame unless you end those categories. Don’t allow people to sponsor their parents to come in or don’t give citizenship to the DACA recipents,” said Camarota.
With just two weeks until DACA is rescinded, Camarota says the courts may end up having a critical say in how this debate plays out.
“Although the DACA program is ending so people will not be able to renew, more than one judge as ruled – crazy as it may sound – that although it was a discretionary policy and that’s how it was sold, that the administration can’t end the program,” said Camarota.
“If, which seems likely, the administration can overcome the ridiculous judicial activism that says they can’t end the program, then it would put more pressure on Democrats and then we might see some meaningful reform,” said Camarota.
David French of National Review and Greg Corombos of Radio America are amused by the media frothing over President Trump allegedly trying to have Special Counsel Robert Mueller fired seven months ago, while largely overlooking the fact that Mueller wasn’t fired. They also discuss President Trump’s major concessions on amnesty in his his immigration legislation framework – concessions that haven’t stopped his critics from accusing the president of being a white supremacist who is tearing apart families. And they throw up their hands as the majority leader in the California State Assembly proposes penalties of six months in jail or $1,000 fines for any waiter who gives a customer a plastic straw without being asked.
The author of the House of Representatives bill to clamp down on illegal immigration and address the fate of people brought to the U.S. illegally as children says there is no reason for lawmakers to rush immigration legislation and says his goal is to make sure the nation never faces an illegal immigration crisis again.
Senate Democrats tried to attach immigration legislation to efforts to keep the government funded past January 19. Three days later, they agreed to fund the government in exchange for a promise that an immigration debate would begin prior to the next funding deadline of Feb. 8.
At issue is the fate of roughly 700,000 people who were brought to the U.S. illegally as children. President Obama granted legal status for anyone who enrolled in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA, through executive action in 2012. In September, President Trump announced the executive DACA program would end in March 2018.
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., is author of the Securing America’s Future Act. He says despite some lawmakers waving frantically at the calendar, Congress does not need to race to get legislation done.
“We should take our time and not feel we’re compelled to do anything by any deadline. There is no deadline. February 8 is not a deadline to solve this bill. It is a deadline to keep the government funded but not to solve this problem. March 5, the deadline the president has set, can be changed if necessary,” said Goodlatte, who also notes a federal judge has ordered a stay on Trump’s order.
“We should use all the time that’s necessary to get this done right and not a minute longer,” said Goodlatte.
The Goodlatte bill and the Senate’s Gang of Six legislation differ significantly in many ways. It allows current DACA enrollees to receive legal status for three years, which they can renew in perpetuity. The bill does not offer them a pathway to citizenship, and it grants no legal status to people eligible for DACA but failed to enroll.
The Senate plan offers a pathway to citizenship to DACA recipients as well as the other so-called “Dreamers.” It also confers legal status on the very parents who broke the law to bring their families to the U.S.
Goodlatte’s plan would also greatly limit chain migration to only spouses and minor children, kill the visa lottery, authorize whatever is necessary to beef up border security, and make overstaying one’s visa a crime.
Goodlatte says his legislation comes from a very straightforward premise.
“We agreed we would negotiate on four points: security, chain migration, ending the visa lottery, and DACA. That’s what my bill does,” said Goodlatte.
He also explained his mindset in crafting the legislation. He wants “a fair way way to deal with the problem created by President Obama in this unconstitutional program and ended by President Trump.”
“But then [Trump] turned around and said these individuals need a solution and Congress should do it. We provided that in our bill,” said Goodlatte.
He also wants this to be the last time Congress has to deal with the immigration mess.
“We also are the only plan that addresses Speaker Ryan’s concern and that is that we not allow this problem to happen again,” said Goodlatte.
While the Senate and the media focus on the Gang of Six bill, Goodlatte says he has assurances from Republican House leaders that his legislation will come to the House floor. He says before that time, he plans to educate his colleagues on why all of the various enforcement mechanisms are required and why he thinks they will be effective.
Goodlatte is ready to defend his bill, starting with his refusal to grant DACA enrollees a pathway to citizenship.
“We don’t object to people who are DACA recipients finding an opportunity to get a green card and U.S. citizenship as long as they follow the existing law like anybody else who has followed the rules and come here legally,” said Goodlatte.
“Under our bill, DACA recipients would be allowed to live in the United States permanently with three-year renewables but indefinitely. [They can] work in the United States, own a business in the United States, travel in and out of the country and if they find a way under the normal law to qualify for U.S. citizenship that’s fine, but not a special pathway to citizenship,” said Goodlatte.
He says the parents who perpetrated the crime of illegal immigration should not be rewarded in any way.
“I am not unsympathetic to the situation, but it is a situation that their parents created for them and one we have to respond to with that in mind. In other words, take care of them but don’t give them an opportunity to petition for those same parents who were responsible for coming here illegally in the first place,” said Goodlatte.
In exchange for granting legal status for DACA recipients, Goodlatte’s bill clamps down hard on chain migration, ending the practice of an immigrant sponsoring many extended family members to come into the U.S. It also ends the visa lottery.
“The visa lottery is a crazy program that gives 55,000 people green cards every year, not based on family relations, not based on job skills, but based upon pure luck. That is totally unfair and it is a national security concern as well,” said Goodlatte.
When it comes to border security, President Trump has made it clear that there will be provision for a border wall or he will not agree to DACA legislation. Goodlatte says Republicans are in agreement on what that means.
“There is a need to repair fences, to extend the wall and build a wall in some places, particularly in high population areas and in high crime areas where there is a lot of smuggling going on. You do not need it where there are mountains, where there are large deserts, or where there are rivers,” said Goodlatte.
But he cautions enforcement advocates that there is a lot more to preventing the influx of illegal immigration than just the wall.
“That is one tool but it doesn’t at all address the 40 percent of [illegal immigrants] who come into this country legally and them simply ignore the laws and overstay their visas. Nor does it address the people who come into the country illegally and are not trying to evade the border patrol but are actually going to them and turning themselves in,” said Goodlatte.
He says those people are then released into the U.S. and told to show up for a court hearing, which they rarely do.
Goodlatte’s bill is officially known as H.R. 4760.
Senate Democrats abandoned their hopes of attaching an immigration bill to legislation to fund the federal government , but Rep. Dave Brat, R-Va., warns a fierce fight over immigration policy is still coming that conservatives must win.
Brat also expounded upon why he and dozens of other House Republicans want to make public a FISA memo on FBI and Justice Department conduct in recent years.
However, the big story on Capitol Hill Monday was Senate Democrats agreeing to a GOP plan to fund the federal government through February 8 in exchange for a promise to start a debate on legislation to grant legal status and possibly a path to citizenship for people brought to the United States illegally when they were children.
Until Monday, Democrats has insisted upon immigration being tied to the funding, but Brat says reality smacked the minority party in the face since the government partially shuttered operations at midnight Saturday morning.
“I think they heard plenty of feedback coming back that said, ‘What are you guys doing?'” said Brat, noting the position of Democrats was tantamount to withholding pay for our military and funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program all for the sake of helping people in the U.S. illegally.
Brat says the untenable position of Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-New York, and other Democrats even overwhelmed efforts in the media to paint Republicans as responsible for the shutdown since they control the White House and both chamber in Congress.
“It’s amazing that you have to have a debate on who shut the government down. You’ve got 95 percent in the House and the Senate on the Democrat side voting to shut it down. If you forego rationality and language in the public square, that’s a hint where your society is,” lamented Brat.
In addition to wanting legislation to provide legal status for 800,000 people enrolled in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA, Brat says Democrats wanted the provision with no conditions.
“They got out way over their skis. They’re saying they want a DACA debate. We’re going to have a DACA debate. What they really mean is they want a clean, Democrat DACA bill and no border security,” said Brat.
It’s not just Democrats pushing for a generous DACA bill. The so-called Gang of Six includes Republican Sens. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., and Cory Gardner, R-Colo.
The legislation they crafted with Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin, D-Ill., not only grants permanent legal status to the roughly 800,000 DACA enrollees but to all people here illegally who are eligible for DACA but never signed up for it. All of them would also be allowed to pursue a “pathway to citizenship.”
In addition, the parents of all of those people would also get legal status despite being responsible for the law-breaking to enter the U.S. in the first place. All told, some 10 million people could gain legal status as a result of the Gang of Six bill.
The offsets in the legislation amount to very little. The Gang of Six bill would tweak but not fundamentally change current chain migration and visa lottery policies and only allocate money to maintain existing border fencing.
Brat says that approach is reckless, and he is particularly frustrated about the lack of action on chain migration, which allows citizens to sponsor immediate and extended family members to come to the U.S. legally.
“You have all of the leading conspirators on the other side – Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi and Dick Durbin – all coming out against chain migration as early as five years ago. They’ve totally switched sides,” said Brat.
Brat says the progression of legalizing DACA recipients and their extended families results in an economic nightmare.
“If you allow the DACA piece to go through that will have a lot of unintended consequences like chain migration and extended families. That will lead to millions more, while we’re trying to get 20 million American citizens that have left the workforce back in the workforce,” said Brat.
“We’ve got to get all of our own citizens back in the labor force and then you see if you have a labor shortage. The other key piece is we’re trying to move towards a rational skills and merit-based immigration system instead of the familial piece that has gotten us in this boat in the first place,” said Brat.
Brat also says following the Gang of Six prescription will result in another huge bill to pay for a nation already more than $20 trillion in debt.
“Who’s gonna pay the bill? That’s where you get the issue: health care, if you’ve got two kids in public schools that’s $26,000 a year. Every person in the country with a certain status is eligible for $40,000 of federal benefits a year. That’s one of the reasons we’ve got a welfare crisis right now,” said Brat.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell agreed to begin a DACA debate before government funding runs out again on Feb. 8. Given the easy passage of the Gang of Eight bill in the Senate in 2013, passage of the Gang of Six bill seems likely.
That would put immense pressure on the House and President Trump to go along, but Brat says 2013-2014 proves stopping a bad bill is not impossible.
Brat should know. His upset primary win over the sitting House majority leader in June 2014 was a major factor in derailing the Gang of Eight plan.
“It did blow up in the House. I think there was an election that had something to do with it in Virginia’s seventh district. I’ve heard rumors,” cracked Brat.
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., is sponsoring a far different immigration reform plan. He would grant legal status to DACA recipents with no pathway to citizenship. He would also limit chain migration to spouses and children and ditch the visa lottery altogether. His bill would authorize border wall construction but fails to appropriate money for it.
Brat says commitment to Goodlatte’s approach and a President Trump veto as a backstop gives amnesty opponents plenty of firepower.
“We need to start off strong with the Goodlatte bill. Then you could have a debate between the Goodlatte bill and the Senate. Then the president is the ultimate veto threat, so a lot of it is going to depend on where President Trump comes down on this,” said Brat.
Brat is also one of several dozen House Republicans who have seen the FISA memo from the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence that GOP members describe as alarming “alarming” to “stunning” to sure to land people in prison. While specifics are still under wraps, the four-page memo focuses on alleged FISA abuses by the FBI and Justice Department during the 2016 campaign.
The top Democrat on the intelligence panel, Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., says the memo should not be released because the American people will not be able to understand it without the supporting documentation.
Brat says the memo should be made public because the people have the right to make up their own minds about what’s in it and what the fallout should be.
“We’re a democratic republic. The people are our boss. We’re not the boss. Maybe he got his eighth grade civics upside down but I still believe in the good old school stuff where the people are my boss and I’m going to let them see the information, let them make up their mind, and then I’m going to represent them. That’s my job,” said Brat.
Despite the strong adjectives used by other Republicans, Brat says he is not worried about the memo being over-hyped.
“There’s something just very, very wrong at the highest levels of our Justice Department,” said Brat. “I’m not too worried about the over-hype on this. You cannot over-hype any corruption at all in the highest levels of government.”
While the media and many politicians focus on President Trump’s verbiage in response to the immigration legislation presented by the “Gang of Six,” one major immigration reform group says the plan itself is nothing but an amnesty push for more than 10 million people.
The Gang of Six is led by Sens. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and Jeff Flake, R-Ariz.
At issue is the effort to provide legal status to young people brought to the U.S. illegally by their parents. In 2012, President Obama unilaterally granted legal status to young people who agreed to sign up with the Deferred Action for Child Arrivals program, or DACA.
President Trump announced in September that he would end the program in March of this year and lawmakers were ostensibly working on a bill to continue granting legal status to DACA enrollees while also tightening some immigration restrictions. Most estimates suggest there are between 800,000-850,000 people impacted by DACA.
Instead, Numbers USA reports the Gang of Six bill extends permanent legal protection to all illegal immigrants who fit the DACA criteria rather than those who actually enrolled and sets them on a path to citizenship.
“They expand DACA to include the entire pool of dreamer illegal aliens. The Migration Policy Institute estimates that that population exceeds three million and is about 3.3 million,” said Numbers USA’s Chris Chmielinski.
In fact, Numbers USA has released a worksheet comparing the Gang of Six bill with a much more conservative plan from house Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte, known as the Securing America’s Future Act. It also lines up both plans against President Trump’s immigration reform priorities.
He says there’s a big difference between DACA and everyone who fits under the ‘dreamer’ label.
“When President Obama announced the DACA program, he limited it to folks that entered prior to 2007, had maintained continuous presence until 2012 and were under the age of 31.
“The dreamer population is much, much more broadly defined than that. And again, the Migration Policy Institute estimates that population is about 3.3 million,” said Chmielinski.
So how does the estimate get to 10 million? By opening the doors for the parents of the dreamers.
“It also offers an amnesty for the parents of the dreamers. So if you assume that all the parents have two parents, that’s another 6.6 million. 6.6 million plus and 3.3. million and you’re at 10 million,” said Chmielinski, who says that is clear-cut amnesty even though the parents are not in line for citizenship.
“We define amnesty as anything that allows illegal aliens to stay in the country and work in the United States,” said Chmielinski.
Furthermore, Chmielinski says those parents actually could wind up being rewarded with citizenship.
“Once the dreamers become citizens, they will be able to sponsor their parents under the chain migration laws, because even though they say they address chain migration, they really don’t,” said Chmielinski.
In fact, it’s unclear what immigration enforcement advocates get in exchange for legalizing DACA in the Gang of Six bill. Chmielinski points out the plan does not address chain migration or the visa lottery in any serious way. It does provide almost $1.6 billion for border fencing, but it comes with a massive caveat.
“They appropriate a little funding towards border fencing, but they say that this $1.6 billion they’re assigning can only be used for existing fencing. They’re telling the administration that as part of this deal, you cannot build any new fencing or any new walls. You can only use the money to repair existing fencing,” said Chmielinski.
The Goodlatte bill, in contrast, gives the government broad authority to build new fences and even walls. However, it does not include funding for such projects, meaning lawmakers would have to approve a separate bill to pay for such construction.
Overall, Chmielinski is encouraged by the Goodlatte bill. He says it limits chain migration to an immigrant’s spouse and children, although there is an exception for elderly parents to come over without a path to citizenship so that their children can care for them.
The Goodlatte plan also scraps the visa lottery entirely, makes overstaying a visa a crime and mandates all employers use E-Verify to confirm their new and existing employees are all in the country legally.
Chmielinski also says Goodlatte wants to use cutting edge technology to keep track of who is in the country.
“It requires the implementation of a bio-metric entry-exit system. This is something that was actually passed by Congress in the mid-2000’s as a recommendation of the 9/11 Commission. This is basically a tracking system. Every non-citizen that enters the United States is checked in to the country and then we check them out when they leave, so we know when folks overstay,” said Chmielinski.
The Goodlatte bill seems to have little traction on Capitol Hill right now and the mainstream media have ignored it completely while often hailing the Gang of Six bill. The issue prominent this week as Democrats try to attach legalization of DACA to legislation to keep the federal government running at full capacity.
So what is likely to happen? Chmielinski doesn’t expect much to happen for a few weeks.
“You’ll see a [continuing resolution] passed for about a month. Then over the next three to four weeks, this DACA situation will completely play out. But I think this might be the last time we’re talking about it. I think if nothing’s taken care of over the next month, then nothing will probably happen on it,” said Chmielinski.
While Republicans and Democrats work to produce legislation to grant legal status and a pathway to citizenship for people brought to the United States illegally when they were children, one Republican congressman says Congress should refuse to enshrine that policy into law to avoid a flood of new illegal immigrants looking to benefit from the same policy.
In September, President Trump announced that the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA, would end in March 2018, but also suggested that the people impacted by his decision ought not to worry. President Obama enacted DACA in 2012 and the program survived despite fierce criticism that such a change in the law could come through an act of Congress.
With the DACA expiration now just weeks away, House and Senate leaders in both parties appear united in wanting to pass legislation to protect those impacted by the policy. A “Gang of Six” in the Senate is working on the bill, although President Trump has rejected their first overture.
Many conservatives are urging GOP leaders and President Trump to use DACA as leverage to squeeze concessions out of Democrats, including a reduction in chain migration, and end to the visa lottery, expanded E-Verify at businesses and greater border security including at least portions of a new border wall.
However, Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, R-Calif., rejects the premise of the discussions. He doesn’t want DACA as part of federal law.
“If we legalize the status of 850,000 young people who are here illegally, we can expect tens of millions of young people throughout the world to notice that.
“If they would like the government benefits of health care and education that comes from legally being in the United States, there is no reason for me to believe this won’t obliterate out chances of getting control of our border,” said Rohrabacher.
The congressman says once Congress gives the green to putting “dreamers” on the path to citizenship, it may be impossible to restore integrity to our immigration system.
“We’re talking about millions of people here who will be brought into this country and there’s no way we can build a wall high enough or dig a ditch deep enough to stop it after we’ve given them a treasure house of medical care and education. We are going to undo any good we can possibly do otherwise,” said Rohrabacher.
Rohrabacher says even if the legislation agrees to significant limits on chain migration, providing legal status to people who came to the U.S. illegally will still be crippling.
“We cannot secure our borders as long as we’re giving this ultimate prize to people who have made it across the border illegally. When we have young people like this, we’re notifying parents all over the world, ‘Whatever you do, get your kid to the United States,'” said Rohrabacher.
While Rohrabacher admits many young people are suffering terribly in our own hemisphere and around the world, the resources of the United States only go so far.
“There are people who are living in horrible situations overseas. Young people. We cannot afford to take care of every one of them while we don’t even have the money now to take care of our own people, meaning the veterans and the seniors, and yes, the young people who need educational training here,” said Rohrabacher.
At an on-camera negotiation this week, President Trump was open to a two-step approach to immigration offered by Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., who wanted a “clean” DACA bill now with a commitment to address comprehensive immigration reform later. Trump later explained he considers a border wall part of a clean DACA bill.
Rohrabacher has no interest in that.
“The only thing I would have a stomach for if DACA comes first is if it’s defeated,” said Rohrabacher.
With Republicans, Democrats and the president seemingly agreeing to the general path forward to enshrine DACA, Rohrabacher says other critical voices are being ignored yet again.
“What hasn’t changed is the American people. They keep getting left out of this as if their point of view doesn’t count. Up until now, nobody’s made the case to the American people of the magnitude of what we’re talking about,” said Rohrabacher.
He says people who casually follow the debate think it’s about helping a few impoverished kids from Latin America or Asia when the facts are very different.
“They don’t know that they’re talking about the large number of people that we’re talking about and the impact that it will have later on as people all over the world pay attention to the fact that if young people can get to the United States, we don’t have the heart to send them back. Then what we’ll see is a flood of millions more people coming in,” said Rohrabacher.
Rohrabacher has been part of efforts to beat back immigration legislation in 2006, 2007, and 2013. He says public pressure clearly makes a difference.
“The only thing that’s saved us from a massive onslaught of people crossing our borders from all over the world, many of whom probably would have been detrimental to us in terms of terrorism, it’s been alerting the American people that’s given us the leverage,” said Rohrabacher.
President Trump campaigned vigorously on enforcing immigration laws and beefing up border security, most famously with a wall. However, Rohrabacher says the performance of Republicans in the televised meeting suggests most GOP members have no intention of pursuing Trump’s campaign vision.
“I don’t think there was anybody in that meeting that was someone who was, on principle and in practicality, opposed to legalization of illegal immigrants,” said Rohrabacher, who admits no lawmakers would admit to such a label.\
However, the congressman says actions speak louder than words and the emerging talks suggest a major disconnect between lawmakers and the voters who sent them there. He says it could have a major impact come Election Day 2018.
“We could turn off our base the same way moderate Republicans have turned off their base and lost elections for the last 20 years,” said Rohrabacher.
Interestingly, despite his vehement opposition to congressional legislation on DACA, Rohrabacher is not guaranteeing a ‘no’ vote.
“I’m not telling you that if I lose in my argument that I will vote against any bill that has DACA in it or any other type of immigration reforms or changes they plan to make,” said Rohrabacher.
“I’ll pay attention to the compromise to see if it’s possible that I could vote for it. I’ll keep an open mind, but I think it will do us great harm, so I would prefer not to have a legalization, especially of 850,000 young people,” said Rohrabacher.
President Trump and Democratic Party leaders in Congress say they are closing in on a deal that would have Congress enshrining the legal status of illegal immigrants who came here as children in exchange for what Trump calls “massive border security,” but a leading immigration activist thinks the president is getting snookered.
“I’m afraid the president is getting rolled,” said Center for Immigration Studies Executive Director Mark Krikorian. “He simply let (Senate Minority Leader) Chuck Schumer set the terms of this debate.”
Trump met with Schumer and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi Wednesday night at the White House to discuss the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA. Following the meeting, Schumer and Pelosi released a statement suggesting a deal was done to approve legislation to give young people here illegally and enrolled in the program permanent legal status.
Trump later tweeted that there was not a done deal and all later said the details still needed to be worked out on border security, although the Democrats reiterated that they would not approve funding to build a wall on the southern border.
Krikorian says Schumer has the upper hand in this debate, as he’s been immersed in it for decades.
“Chuck Schumer has been doing immigration for 30 years. He was responsible for the 1986 amnesty, the last push to get it over. He was in the House of Representatives then,” said Krikorian. “He was the motivating force behind the Gang of Eight that passed the Senate.”
Krikorian says Trump is not well-versed at all in immigration policy and he can see Schumer winning Trump over in the language Trump is now using.
“President Trump doesn’t know anything about the immigration issue. So Schumer tells him, ‘This wouldn’t be an amnesty, Mr. President, because they wouldn’t get citizenship.’ Trump just mouths those cliches that we have been hearing now for years that are straight out false,” said Krikorian.
“The president has no idea about any of this stuff. I am happy to stipulate that he is good at real estate deals. That may well be the case. But dealing with mob and labor bosses and crooked building inspectors, those guys are much more reliable negotiating partners than Chuck Schumer. The president is like a babe in the woods. He’s getting taken for a ride,” said Krikorian.
Krikorian suspects the challenge for Trump is getting even steeper given the myriad of staff changes that leave very few immigration hawks in the White House.
“Everybody with a position of authority is either a liberal Democrat or is a non-political retired general who really don’t have strong political views. They just want to see things fixed and work better. And that’s a recipe for the president alienating himself from his base,” said Krikorian.
He says Trump and everyone else in the debate needs to see that granting permanent legal status to young illegal immigrants enrolled in DACA amounts to amnesty and they must proceed accordingly.
“Every amnesty – and that’s what this is is an amnesty, if you let illegals stay that’s an amnesty – every one always draws new illegal immigration into the country and then causes a surge of legal immigration down the stream as their relatives come in,” said Krikorian.
Krikorian believes Obama’s creation of DACA through the executive branch in 2012 was blatantly illegal, but he says that’s not the fault of the people who enrolled and the humanitarian thing to do is to make good on that promise.
However, he says only those actually enrolled in DACA, and not all illegal immigrants brought here as young children, should be considered for the legislation. He also urges businesses to use the E-Verify system to check the immigration status of job applicants and for the government to crack down on employers who knowingly hire people in the U.S. illegally.
Krikorian urges Trump to use this moment to make tough demands of Democrats in exchange for relenting on DACA.
“What kind of provisions do you include in a bill like that to make sure that an amnesty that may be 700,000 or 800,000 people doesn’t do more harm than good,” said Krikorian.
He strongly encourages Trump and congressional Republicans to insist that portions of the RAISE Act be included in any bill. In addition to favoring prospective immigrants with college educations and the ability to provide for themselves, the legislation would also tighten which family members could later be brought in by immigrants.
Krikorian says giving DACA enrollees the ability to confer legal status on their parents must be prevented.
“Their parents knew what they were doing when they came here. They weren’t children. They don’t deserve the benefit from this amnesty, so what we need is to change the family immigration system so that it only focuses on husbands, wives, and little kids and not all these other adult relative categories we have now,” said Krikorian.
And he says all of this must be included in the same legislation as the enactment of DACA or the Democrats will win everything they want in exchange for nothing.
“It absolutely has to be in one piece. If they get everything they want then it’ll be just like 1986, where they got their amnesty first and the enforcement never happened,” said Krikorian.