Senate Republicans introduced legislation Tuesday that would not give permanent amnesty to so-called “Dreamers,” would lower legal immigration and provide funding for border barriers.
President Donald Trump has called on Congress to find a legislative fix for the roughly 800,000 illegal immigrants protected by the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. The White House additionally laid out a 70-point immigration plan that featured a litany of wishes including implementing a merit-based immigration system, the hiring of 10,000 additional Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers and border wall funding.
Republican Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley’s SECURE Act largely fulfills these goals and has the backing of Senate leadership as Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn is a co-sponsor of the legislation.
The bill implements the BRIDGE Act, which pushes the question of legal status of DACA recipients down the road by giving them work permits and protection from deportation for three years.
“The SECURE Act offers a sensible beginning framework to strengthen our immigration laws and solve the DACA impasse. It targets dangerous sanctuary city jurisdictions, enhances border security, and perhaps most importantly, addresses chain migration – which has depressed wages and displaced workers for generations,” RJ Hauman, government relations director at the Federation for American Immigration Reform, told The Daily Caller. “Despite these key reforms, the bill falls short by extending protections to all illegal aliens who could have been eligible for DACA and omitting mandatory E-Verify.”
Illinois Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin came out against the bill in a statement Tuesday, which said that it “cannot be considered a good faith effort to provide protection for the Dreamers, including those who were enrolled in DACA.”
Democrats and immigration activists want a “clean DREAM Act” that would just focus on giving a path to citizenship for DACA recipients.
The SECURE ACT does much more than address the issue of so-called “Dreamers.”
It calls for increasing the number of Border Patrol agents from 19,437 to 26,370. The act would also increase the number of Immigration and Customs Enforcement removal officers from approximately 6,000 to 8,500.
The SECURE Act establishes a southern border security assistance grant program, which would allocate $300 million annually to counties located within 25 miles of the Mexican border. It additionally calls for the Department of Homeland Security to deploy the most “practical and effective tactical infrastructure” on the border.
The bill defines “tactical infrastructure” as boat ramps, access gates, check points, lighting, roads, fencing, border walling and levee walls.
Grassley’s legislation would also work to fulfill Trump’s goal of “extreme vetting.”
It allows the Department of Homeland Security to collect the DNA of someone filling out an immigration application and the DNA can be shared with the FBI for a background check. Additionally, the act calls for social media screening of visa applicants from “high risk countries.”
The act would facilitate more deportations by increasing criminal alien repatriation flights by 15 percent annually and discontinuing giving visas to nations that refuse to accept deported immigrants.
The bill would reduce the amount of chain migration, a process that allows immigrants to sponsor extended family members. A recent Fox News report showed that more than 70 percent of immigrants between 2005 and 2015 came through chain migration.
“This plan is fair to all parties. It’s pro-American. And it’s a solution to DACA,” Sen. Grassley said in a statement.
The same day the bill was introduced, DHS came out with figures showing reduced border apprehensions and increased immigration arrests in the interior.