‘The Most Radical Piece of Immigration Legislation’: Experts, GOP React To Democratic ‘New Way Forward’ Bill

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Jason Hopkins Immigration and politics reporter
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  • Forty-four House Democrats are in support of the New Way Forward Act, a bill that would make deportation of criminals harder, calls for the decriminalization of illegal immigration, and would bring criminal illegal aliens back into the U.S.
  • Critics of the bill, including immigration experts and House GOP leadership, have referred to it as possibly the most “radical” legislation in U.S. history, and say it’s indicative of Democrats’ “open borders” agenda. 
  • House GOP Conference chair Liz Cheney, the Federation for American Immigration Reform, and the Center for Immigration Studies spoke to the Daily Caller News Foundation about the bill’s impact. 

Immigration experts and House Republicans are balking at the New Way Forward Act, a Democratic bill that is being described as an embrace of “open borders” and likely to be the most “radical” legislation ever introduced in history.

Democratic Illinois Rep. Jesús García, along with several other progressive House members, introduced the New Way Forward Act in December 2019, to seemingly little fanfare. The bill, among many things, calls for the decriminalization of illegal immigration, would make it more difficult to deport convicted criminal aliens, empower immigration judges to nullify deportation orders, and also calls for the return of previously deported illegal aliens.

Not to be considered a fringe bill that is attracting scant support, the New Way Forward Act has so far garnered 43 co-sponsors since it was rolled out late in 2019.

The legislation’s growing popularity has since caught the attention of Fox News host Tucker Carlson, who on Thursday night dived into the intricacies of the roughly 4,400-worded bill, and said its ramifications, if passed, could be as impactful to the country as the U.S. Constitution.

Migrants, part of a caravan of thousands traveling from Central America en route to the United States, run across the Tijuana river to reach the border wall between the U.S. and Mexico in Tijuana

Migrants, part of a caravan of thousands traveling from Central America en route to the United States, run across the Tijuana river to reach the border wall between the U.S. and Mexico in Tijuana, Mexico November 25, 2018. REUTERS/Alkis Konstantinidis

Several immigration experts, and also the leader of the House GOP Conference, have since spoken to the Daily Caller News Foundation about the bill.

“The New Way Forward Act is arguably the most radical piece of immigration legislation in American history. The act shields criminal illegal aliens from deportation, decriminalizes illegal entry, and creates a pathway for deported illegal aliens to return back to the U.S.,” said Matthew Tragesser, spokesman for the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR).

“It’s clear that House Democrats care more about illegal aliens than law-abiding Americans and view criminals as victims,” Tragesser added.

The decriminalization of illegal immigration was already becoming a more mainstream position with the Democratic Party. In fact, before the introduction of the bill, Democratic presidential candidates Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren both came out in support of the proposal. Sanders, a clear frontrunner in the nomination contest, has also voiced support for virtually ceasing all deportations.

The New Way Forward, however, takes these positions even farther.

Under the auspices of the bill, minimum prison sentences that require deportation would rise from one year to five years. This could mean that illegal aliens who are convicted of crimes such as car theft, weapons offenses and fraud — all crimes that carry average sentences of less than five years, according to Bureau of Justice Statistics — would not be required to be removed from the country.

Additionally, the legislation calls for the widespread return of criminal illegal aliens who have been previously deported from the country. Any illegal aliens deported since April 1996 — if they would have otherwise been considered undeportable under the terms of this bill — would be allowed to come back to the U.S.

“Make no mistake: House Democrats have embraced open borders policies,” Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney, leader of the House Republican caucus, told the DCNF.

“The ideas included in this radical bill, on top of their plans to give free health care to illegal immigrants and abolish ICE, all would jeopardize the security of the nation and reward people who cross the border illegally. On so many important issues, House Democrats have adopted an extreme and socialist agenda that’s wrong for the country,” Cheney continued.

She added: “Every day they show the American people why they cannot be trusted with power.”

Rally To Demand "Impeachment Now!"

Rep. Jesus Garcia (D-IL) speaks at the “Impeachment Now!” rally in support of an immediate inquiry towards articles of impeachment against U.S. President Donald Trump on the grounds of the U.S. Capital on September 26, 2019in Washington, DC. (Photo by Paul Morigi/Getty Images for MoveOn Political Action)

The DCNF reached out to Garcia, who introduced the bill, but his office did not response to a request for inquiry.

In a December 2019 press release touting the New Way Forward, Garcia hailed it as a way to “disrupt the prison to deportation pipeline,” and that it “corrects racial and anti-immigrant injustices embedded in our immigration laws.”

In a separate document pushed by Garcia’s office, it’s stated that the laws that made unauthorized entry into the U.S. a federal crime were “born from white supremacist ideology and politics.”

Scrutiny of the bill came after President Donald Trump used his 2020 State of the Union address to highlight the dangers of not enforcing illegal immigration, touting the need for local authorities to cooperate with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and brining a special guest whose brother died from an illegal alien who had been previously released from local custody.

The president, during his address, also touted a GOP bill in the Senate that would allow victims of illegal alien crime to sue states that released the alien in defiance of an ICE detainer.

“Democrats in the House have prioritized open borders over the safety of citizens and legal law abiding immigrants,” Marguerite Telford, a spokeswoman for the Center for Immigration Studies, a Washington, D.C.-based immigration think tank, said in a statement to the DCNF.

Like the president, Telford also compared Democratic immigration priorities with that of GOP lawmakers. (RELATED: Orange County Has Released Thousands Of Criminal Illegal Aliens Because Of California’s Sanctuary Law)

“Contrast that with most Republicans who are worried about safety and focus on sanctuary jurisdictions, driver’s license laws, knowing who is crossing our border … and the rule of law in general,” she continued. “For example, Rep. Gosar has the Criminal Alien Removal Clarification Act which stands in stark contrast to the New Way bill.”

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