I don’t think we’ve written about the push for immigration legislation in the House. Not long ago, it looked like there would be no immigration legislation passed this year. But now, that’s not as clear.
The House is considering two bills (or one bill and a framework for another being pushed by Speaker Paul Ryan). Moreover, Majority Leader McConnell, who had previously stated that immigration was “not on the agenda in the Senate,” now says that “if the House passes something the president would sign, I’ll take a look at it.”
What about the president? He has not taken a position on what’s being proposed and/or worked on in the House. However, Stephen Miller, his adviser on immigration matters, reportedly is lobbying in favor of the so-called compromise Speaker Ryan is behind.
Thus, it’s time to take a serious look at the two proposals being kicked around in the House.
The first proposal comes from Rep. Bob Goodlatte. Mark Krikorian describes it this way:
It would codify Obama’s lawless DACA amnesty, protecting the 700,000 illegal aliens who signed up for it from the likely Supreme Court ruling permitting the termination of the program. To limit the magnetic effect of such an amnesty to attract new illegal immigration, the bill includes enforcement measures, most notably full funding for a wall and mandatory E-Verify. And to limit the downstream legal immigration consequences, the Goodlatte bill would discontinue the visa lottery and the chain-migration categories and allow parents of adult U.S. citizens to move here only on non-immigrant visas (i.e., those that do not lead to citizenship) and require proof of paid-up health insurance.
This is a sensible piece of compromise legislation. In exchange for amnesty for a large number of illegal immigrants, serious measures are taken to curb future illegal immigration. President Trump would almost certainly back Goodlatte’s bill.
Unfortunately, it stands no chance of passing in the House. Every Democrat will oppose it. So will squishy, pro-amnesty Republicans. Combined, these factions form a majority.
The second bill, or framework, is what Speaker Ryan favors. It’s commonly referred to as compromise legislation, but as Krikorian points out, the Ryan legislation really a compromise of the Goodlatte compromise. He explains:
The leadership bill cuts out whole portions of the Goodlatte compromise: It doesn’t mandate E-Verify, it leaves more of the chain-migration categories in place, and does nothing to change the rules for immigration of parents. What’s more, it would expand the amnesty beyond those who currently have DACA, and could be even larger than the 1.8 million cited by the White House earlier this year.
Not only does the leadership bill cut out important parts of the Goodlatte bill, it includes new provisions inserted at the behest of tech lobbyists: It reallocates more of the family green cards to the already bloated employment categories, it ends the per-country cap (meaning Indian tech workers and their relatives will come to dominate the legal immigration flow, with people from other countries effectively crowded out), and most alarmingly, it expands the amnesty to include children of long-term foreign tech workers here on temporary visas, a number I’ve heard quoted as 75,000, though there’s no way to know.
The Ryan “compromise” contains some good features. It ends the visa lottery and two of the chain-migration categories. And it fully funds the wall.
Like Krikorian, I want to reserve judgment until a final “compromise” bill is produced. However, it looks to me like immigration enforcement hawks aren’t getting enough in exchange for granting amnesty to roughly 2 million illegal immigrants.
Democrats, though, apparently don’t believe they are getting enough in exchange for the wall, the end of the visa lottery, and the limitations on chain migration. In the absence of Democratic support, members of the Freedom Caucus can prevent the Ryan compromise from passing the House. But maybe White House lobbying could peel away some members of that Caucus
As for the Senate, Dick Durbin has said that no Dem will support the Ryan legislation. Thus, even if the House passes it, the Senate likely will not.
Those who want to see amnesty hope to squeeze the Ryan bill through the House, make enough changes in the Senate to win some Democratic backing, and then hammer out a compromise in conference. The final product would represent a compromise on a compromise on a compromise of the original Goodlatte approach.
This scenario looks like quite a long shot to me. I hope so. It deserves to be.