During yesterday's committee mark-up of the Homeland Security Appropriations bill, Reps. Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-N.J.) and Kevin Yoder (R-Kan.) allowed for the passage of several amendments that would undermine the Trump Administration's immigration enforcement efforts and increase foreign-worker competition for vulnerable American workers.
Rep. Frelinghuysen announced his retirement earlier this year and is known for kowtowing to the immigration expansionists, so his disregard for immigration enforcement and American workers doesn't come as a surprise. But Rep. Yoder's role in yesterday's markup is more surprising given the difficult race he faces this fall. His district is rated as a toss-up by Real Clear Politics and his actions yesterday surely won't appeal to many of his voters.
The most direct challenge to Pres. Trump's enforcement efforts was through Rep. David Price's (D-N.C.) amendment that passed by a voice vote. The Price amendment would block the Trump Administration's efforts to strengthen the credible fear standard for asylum seekers.
Earlier this year, when border apprehension numbers began to spike, Attorney General Jeff Sessions clarified that the law does not allow individuals to receive asylum for fear of gang violence or domestic abuse perpetrated by non-governmental actors, despite Obama's expansion of asylum well beyond the statute. AG Sessions ruled that the "mere fact that a country may have problems effectively policing certain crimes or that certain populations are more likely to be victims of crime, cannot itself establish an asylum claim." He ruled that credible fear claims should only be approved when the alien has a well-founded fear of persecution in their home country because of their race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or membership in a particular social group, mirroring federal law.
Earlier this month, USCIS Director Francis Cissna issued guidance instructing USCIS asylum adjudicators to implement AG Sessions' ruling.
The Price Amendment would block funding for implementation of the Sessions' ruling, requiring asylum adjudicators to approve credible fear claims where the alien claims a threat of gang violence or domestic violence.
It's appalling that Reps. Frelinghuysen and Yoder allowed the amendment to pass by a voice vote; the outcome may have been very different if Members were forced to vote on the record. But even more appalling is that Rep. Yoder spoke in FAVOR of the amendment. It's not clear whether Rep. Yoder understands federal asylum law and how illegal aliens have routinely used the credible fear loophole to gain entry into the United States and eventually obtain a work permit regardless of their chances at actually receiving asylum.
But Rep. Yoder didn't stop there. He also introduced his own legislation, H.R. 392, the Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act, as an amendment. The amendment would eliminate the per-country caps for employment-based green cards and raise the per-country caps for family-based green cards. The amendment was also approved by voice vote. While H.R. 392 doesn't increase the total number of green cards issued each year, it still reflects a massive change in immigration law through a voice vote on an appropriations committee, outside of the proper committee of jurisdiction.
Reps. Frelinghuysen and Yoder also allowed two major changes to the low-skilled guest worker programs.
Rep. Dan Newhouse (R-Wash.) introduced an amendment that would allow the H-2A agricultural guestworker visa to be used for year-round workers. Currently, the visa is limited to temporary or seasonal workers in agriculture. The change would essentially extend the already unlimited number of H-2A visas issued each year to dairy farmers. The Newhouse amendment was also approved by a voice vote.
Rep. Andy Harris (R-Md.) introduced an amendment that would permanently exempt returning workers from being counted against the H-2B cap of 66,000 per year. The H-2B visa is used by employers to hire low-skilled foreign workers in jobs that are temporary or seasonal in nature. They are most widely used by the landscaping, hospitality, and seafood processing industries. The Harris amendment would potentially allow for a quadrupling of the number of H-2B visas issued each year. It was also approved by a voice vote.
Reps. Frelinghuysen and Yoder allowed each of these major reforms to pass by a voice vote. It's ludicrous that Members were not forced to publicly state for the record where they stand on these issues. Instead, constituents are left guessing where their Members stand on asylum reform and increasing guestworkers during an election year.
Furthermore, each of these reforms goes contrary to the Trump Administration's actions on immigration. The administration has taken steps to strengthen immigration enforcement, not weaken it, and to protect American jobs, not open them up to foreign workers. Both Reps. Frelinghuysen and Yoder have shown that they put the interests of illegal aliens and foreign workers ahead of their own constituents.
With the House in recess for the month of August, the Homeland Security Appropriations bill won't come to the floor for a vote until September before funding runs out on September 30.
CHRIS CHMIELENSKI is the Deputy Director of NumbersUSA
Updated: Thu, Aug 9th 2018 @ 11:45am EDT