Speaking at a Washington, D.C. event, Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte said that immigration law enforcement and border controls must be “up and operating effectively” before the House will vote on any immigration legislation. “Enforcement has to take place first,” he said. Then the House will address legal immigration and figure out “what to do about the people who are not lawfully here.”
Politicians who use the phrase “enforcement first” ultimately have an interest in immigration enforcement as well as amnesty for illegal aliens and legal immigration increases. During the Senate debate over S 744 one year ago, proponents said the measure provided “enforcement first” even though the amnesty – a legalization with work permits – came up front before any enforcement occurred. Speaker John Boehner’s (R-Ohio) “enforcement first” immigration principles, which Chairman Goodlatte supports, also provide for a legalization with work permits up front.
Is Chairman Goodlatte advocating the same approach now or a different one in which the Obama Administration must achieve some enforcement threshold before any House action can take place?
Rep. Goodlatte said, "I do not see the president enforcing the present laws, so I don't see him enforcing laws that will be passed in the future. He needs to be faithfully executing the laws on the books and not trying to rewrite the laws with his pen and his cellphone….When that [enforcement] regime is up and operating effectively, we do need to address the legal reforms that are necessary and what happens with people who are not lawfully present, including children who were brought here illegally by their parents.”
Regarding his latter point, former Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., had been working on a so-called Kids Act before he was defeated in his primary earlier this month. “To my knowledge, there never was a bill that Eric Cantor was working on,” Goodlatte said. “There was a lot of discussion about how we would handle that issue as part of the step-by-step approach, but there is no legislation out there…We’re not going to get to those discussions until we see enforcement of the law.”
Goodlatte said Republican candidates face great pressure from many of their constituents to show “zero tolerance of illegal immigration.” And he noted that Obama’s approval ratings have “plummeted” in part due to immigration. This has made it harder for Republican in Congress “who agree with him.” He said “I think members are discussing immigration with their constituents…People want enforcement of the law. And if they don’t hear about that [from candidates], they are upset.”
Goodlatte said Republicans are waiting for the president to enforce current laws, stop illegal entry and turn back the surge of unaccompanied alien children (UACs). He blamed Administration policies for the flood of UACs and said legislation was needed to address impediments to their return home. That legislation, however, would not be coupled with broader reforms.
The Chairman said that if immigration laws are enforced, it could lead to the piecemeal approach that Speaker Boehner has suggested. Congress could pass legislation that requires employers to verify workplace eligibility (E-Verify), and that verifies the departure of tourists and temporary workers (entry-exit system). He said enforcement also would lead to legislation allowing companies to hire more guest-workers. “As part of that [reform], I have no doubt that it would also include figuring out what to do about the people who are not lawfully here,” he said.
Updated: Fri, Jul 21st 2017 @ 11:20am EDT