On January 30, 2014, the House GOP Leadership presented a set of immigration principles during the party's annual retreat. The principles are not legislation and are vague and ambiguous, but the leaders are hoping that the House can pass bills that accomplish the principles. The principles clearly state that S.744, the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act, will not be brought to the floor for a vote. However, there are countless similarities between the principles and S.744, including the concept of enforcement triggers that would begin an amnesty for most of the 11 million individuals residing illegally in the United States.
GOP Standards for Immigration Reform
Our nation’s immigration system is broken and our laws are not being enforced. Washington’s failure to fix them is hurting our economy and jeopardizing our national security. The overriding purpose of our immigration system is to promote and further America’s national interests and that is not the case today. The serious problems in our immigration system must be solved, and we are committed to working in a bipartisan manner to solve them. But they cannot be solved with a single, massive piece of legislation that few have read and even fewer understand, and therefore, we will not go to a conference with the Senate’s immigration bill. The problems in our immigration system must be solved through a step-by-step, common-sense approach that starts with securing our country’s borders, enforcing our laws, and implementing robust enforcement measures. These are the principals guiding us in that effort.
Border Security and Interior Enforcement Must Come First
It is the fundamental duty of any government to secure its borders, and the United States is failing in this mission. We must secure our borders now and verify that they are secure. In addition, we must ensure now that when immigration reform is enacted, there will be a zero tolerance policy for those who cross the border illegally or overstay their visas in the future. Faced with a consistent pattern of administrations of both parties only selectively enforcing our nation’s immigration laws, we must enact reform that ensures that a President cannot unilaterally stop immigration enforcement.
Implement Entry-Exit Visa Tracking System
A fully functioning Entry-Exit system has been mandated by eight separate statutes over the last 17 years. At least three of these laws call for this system to be biometric, using technology to verify identity and prevent fraud. We must implement this system so we can identify and track down visitors who abuse our laws.
Employment Verification and Workplace Enforcement
In the 21st century it is unacceptable that the majority of employees have their work eligibility verified through a paper based system wrought with fraud. It is past time for this country to fully implement a workable electronic employment verification system.
Reforms to the Legal Immigration System
For far too long, the United States has emphasized extended family members and pure luck over employment-based immigration. This is inconsistent with nearly every other developed country. Every year thousands of foreign nationals pursue degrees at America’s colleges and universities, particularly in high skilled fields. Many of them want to use their expertise in U.S. industries that will spur economic growth and create jobs for Americans. When visas aren’t available, we end up exporting this labor and ingenuity to other countries. Visa and green card allocations need to reflect the needs of employers and the desire for these exceptional individuals to help grow our economy.
The goal of any temporary worker program should be to address the economic needs of the country and to strengthen our national security by allowing for realistic, enforceable, usable, legal paths for entry into the United States. Of particular concern are the needs of the agricultural industry, among others. It is imperative that these temporary workers are able to meet the economic needs of the country and do not displace or disadvantage American workers.
One of the great founding principles of our country was that children would not be punished for the mistakes of their parents. It is time to provide an opportunity for legal residence and citizenship for those who were brought to this country as children through no fault of their own, those who know no other place as home. For those who meet certain eligibility standards, and serve honorably in our military or attain a college degree, we will do just that.
Individuals Living Outside the Rule of Law
Our national and economic security depend on requiring people who are living and working here illegally to come forward and get right with the law. There will be no special path to citizenship for individuals who broke our nation’s immigration laws – that would be unfair to those immigrants who have played by the rules and harmful to promoting the rule of law. Rather, these persons could live legally and without fear in the U.S., but only if they were willing to admit their culpability, pass rigorous background checks, pay significant fines and back taxes, develop proficiency in English and American civics, and be able to support themselves and their families (without access to public benefits). Criminal aliens, gang members, and sex offenders and those who do not meet the above requirements will not be eligible for this program. Finally, none of this can happen before specific enforcement triggers have been implemented to fulfill our promise to the American people that from here on, our immigration laws will indeed be enforced.
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES ACTION
The House Judiciary Committee has already marked up and passed four bills. These bills would require the mandatory use of E-Verify by all businesses, increase interior enforcement efforts, increase the number of high-skilled worker visas, and restructure the current agriculture guest-worker program. The Homeland Security Committee has also marked up and passed a bill that would "increase" border security.
The question going forward is how the House will define a "step-by-step" process. Does a "step-by-step" approach mean the House will pass enforcement bills and hold off on anything that deals with the illegal-alien population or legal immigration increases until they see the enforcement provisions faithfully executed? Or, does a "step-by-step" approach mean passing a series of bills and then combining them into one comprehensive bill that's filled with "triggers" and resembles the Schumer-Rubio-Obama amnesty bill before shipping it off to the Senate? The "step-by-step" comprehensive approach was first introduced by House Speaker John Boehner's immigration staffer Becky Tallent when she served as Director of Immigration Policy at the Bipartisan Policy Center.
Here are the five bills already passed by House Committees:
- Mandatory E-Verify - H.R. 1772, the Legal Workforce Act
- High-Skilled Visas - H.R. 2131, the SKILLS Act
- Agriculture Guest Worker Reform - H.R. 1773
- Interior Enforcement - H.R. 2278, the SAFE Act
- Border Security - H.R. 1417, "Border Security" Results Act of 2013
S.744, The Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act
- S.744, as introduced
- S.744, Schumer Substitute Amendment
- Amendments considered by Senate Judiciary Committee
- S.744 reported out of Senate Judiciary Committee
- Schumer-Corker-Hoeven Amendment to S.744
- Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.)
- Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.)
- Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.)
- Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.)
- Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.)
- Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.)
- Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.)
- Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.)
The FACTS on S.744
- 33 Million Green Cards in First Decade
- S.744 - Bad for America
- S.744 -- 4 Big Problems
- Heritage: Amnesty will cost taxpayers $6.3 trillion
- National poll finds little support of Gang of Eight Bill
- FAIR: Top Reasons to Oppose S.744
- 12 Reasons to Oppose S.744
- Marco Rubio: "First comes the Legalization"
- Gang of Eight opposes Enforcement First
- CIS: S.744 doubles guest-worker flows
- USCCR Commissioner Peter Kirsanow op-ed: S.744 hurts low-skilled workers
- S.744: More than 400 waivers and exemptions
- S.744: Gang of Eight's Broken Promises
- State-by-state U-6 unemployment rates
Opposition to S.744
- S.744 Dear Colleague Letter
- Congressional Opposition to the Gang of Eight's bill
- Law Enforcement Letter to Congress Opposing Gang of Eight Amnesty bill
- USCIS Union opposes S.744
- Law Enforcement Organizations Opposed to Gang of Eight's bill
- Conservative Coalition Opposes Gang of Eight's bill
- National Association of Former Border Patrol Officers statement on Schumer-Corker-Hoeven amendment
- USCIS Letter of opposition to Corker-Hoeven amendment
- Letter of opposition from Evangelicals for Biblical Immigration