GOP Lawmakers Introduce Immigration Bill That Mirrors Trump Framework

On Monday, GOP senators introduced an immigration bill called the Secure and Succeed Act of 2018. The legislation mirrors President Trump’s own immigration framework.

The proposed legislation, which is supported by Republican Senators Chuck Grassley (IA), Tom Cotton (AR), David Perdue (GA), James Lankford (OK), Joni Ernst (IA), John Cornyn (TX), and Thom Tillis (NC), has three primary prongs.

Border Security and Visas

Lawmakers want "$25 billion in [a] border trust fund for the completion of a 10-year border security plan, including tactical infrastructure, detection technology, personnel, and port of entry improvement."

The legislation would also end catch-and-release, a practice by which illegal immigrants in the United States are detained, assigned a court date, then released. In a piece published by the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS), former judge Mark Metcalf writes that "over the past 20 years, 37 percent of all aliens free pending their trials — 918,098 out of 2,498,375 — never showed for court."

Included in the bill are "provisions to stop fentanyl smuggling," as well as "[increased] penalties for human smuggling." A version of Kate's Law would be put into effect, which would lead to harsher sentences for illegal immigrants who are apprehended after multiple re-entries into the United States.

The legislation would allow for faster removal of visa overstays. It is estimated that approximately 40% of illegal immigrants are visa overstays — though it must be noted that the numbers for that estimate are quite dated.

The diversity visa program would be effectively put to rest, and the visas typically granted through the program would be diverted in order to help unclog the "existing family-based and employment-based immigration backlogs." Additionally, a "voluntary" E-Verify system would be implemented.

Pathway to Citizenship

As for the so-called DREAMers, the bill would grant a pathway to citizenship for 1.8 million DACA-eligible individuals. It would be a 12-year process (10 for those already enrolled in DACA) with various stipulations.

One must have "obtained a high school diploma or equivalent (if over 18 years of age); arrived in the U.S. before [age] 16, prior to June 15, 2012"; and one must have been "under the age of 31 on June 15, 2012." The recipients must also pass "strict criminal background and good moral character checks," and "[sign] a conditional departure order that may be enforced if they violate certain terms of their status."

If the recipients are older than 18 years of age, they must do one or more of the following three: "Serve in the military, pursue a postsecondary or vocational degree, [or] maintain full-time gainful employment."

Chain Migration

The proposal would reduce the number of people eligible for visa sponsorship to "spouses and unmarried children under 18 years old." However, extended family members who are currently waiting in the system would be grandfathered in under the legislation. Currently, "green card holders or legal residents can petition the Immigration Service to bring over their spouses and their minor children. And once the petitioner gets citizenship, they can apply to bring over parents, married children and adult siblings," according to NPR’s John Burnett.

Additionally, the bill would allow the "parents of U.S. citizens (approximately 150,000 per year) to receive non-immigrant visas to enter the United States for a renewable 5-year period" — but the visas "do not provide a work authorization."

Finally, other reforms pertaining to familial migration would be put on hold until "existing backlogs" are dealt with. This, according to the proposal, would give lawmakers time to come up with effective reforms based on merit rather than familial status.

There are numerous other details and provisions in the bill, which you can read here. It remains to be seen if the proposed bill could get enough traction to obtain the necessary 60 votes in the Senate.


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