Once again, we dodged a last-minute push to include a no-strings amnesty for DACA recipients in the $1.3 trillion spending package that will fund the government through the end of September. But lawmakers couldn't resist a push by business groups to increase the number of H-2B visas issued to foreign workers in 2018.
Congressional Leaders released the text of the massive spending bill last night. The House is expected to vote on Thursday, and the Senate hopes to vote on Friday before the midnight deadline.
Last week, the White House announced that it was open to adding a three-year amnesty for approximately 690,000 illegal aliens who had received Pres. Obama's DACA executive amnesty in exchange for border wall funding in the spending package. After first dismissing the offer, Republican Leaders in Congress warmed up to it over the weekend. But unrealistic demands from Democratic negotiators and massive grassroots pressure helped keep the amnesty out of the final bill.
Unfortunately, the bill does include the same H-2B guest-worker provision that was included in last year's omnibus bill that authorizes the Department of Homeland Security to issue H-2B visas above the annual cap if the agency and the Department of Labor determine that there's a need for more visas. Under this provision, DHS could more than double the number of H-2B visas issued. And like last year, employers have no doubt started lobbying DHS while Congress again shirks its legislative responsibility.
This is the third year in a row that Congressional Leaders have given in to employers' demands. Back in 2016, Congress slipped a provision into the spending bill that exempted returning workers from the cap. That provision could have quadrupled the number of visas issued.
On the enforcement side, the spending bill includes $108 million for E-Verify and $1.6 billion for border fencing, but the border funding is limited in how it can be spent. It also includes a small increase in detention beds for detained illegal aliens and some small staffing increases for both Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the Border Patrol.
CHRIS CHMIELENSKI is the Director of Content & Activism for NumbersUSA
Updated: Thu, Apr 5th 2018 @ 10:50am EDT