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Republicans introduce tough immigration reform bill

Mexico border illegally agents
JOHN MOORE / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / AFP
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Measure would give "Dreamers" three years, end chain migration

Promising to end most “chain migration” and provide some relief for so-called Dreamers, Republicans in the House of Representatives have introduced an immigration reform bill.

The measure, introduced by a group that includes Judiciary Committee chairman Robert W. Goodlatte of Virginia and Homeland Security chairman Michael McCaul of Texas Wednesday, would require employers to use an Internet-based system, known as E-Verify, to confirm that they are hiring only legal workers. It would also deny federal grants to cities that refuse to cooperate with federal immigration officials in the enforcement of immigration laws; allow for the detention of minors who are arrested at the border with their parents, and toughen sentences for criminals who have been deported and return illegally.

The bill also would end the diversity visa lottery program, a move championed by President Donald J. Trump, and end family-based migration for all relatives other than spouses and minor children. It would offer three-year renewable work permits to recipients of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, without offering them a path to citizenship.

Reporting on the bill, the New York Times speculated whether the proposal “would ever come up for a vote in the House. … And it is all but certain to have no future in the Senate, where immigration legislation would need 60 votes for passage and therefore could not make it through the chamber with only Republican support.”

The fate of DACA has been in question since last fall, when Trump suspended the Obama-era executive order creating the program and gave Congress until March to address the problem legislatively. A federal judge the other day issued a stay on Trump’s suspension of the program. Congress is debating how to respond to the issue, and some believe it must be settled by the Jan. 19 deadline for a government shutdown unless Congress authorizes further spending.

On Tuesday, Trump met with congressional leaders and indicated an openness to new proposals to address various immigration issues, including DACA. On Wednesday, the president said he would be open to signing “just about any immigration deal,” that lawmakers sent him. But asked if he would be willing to sign a deal that does not include funding for a border wall, he responded, “No, no, no, it’s got to include the wall.”

“”We are encouraged by the consensus that emerged from yesterday’s White House meeting that Congress and the President should move expeditiously to craft and enact legislation that would provide urgently needed relief for Dreamers,” stated Bishop Joe S. Vásquez of Austin, Texas, Chairman of the Committee on Migration of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. “For years, these young people have been living in and enriching the United States in many ways. They are contributors to our economy, veterans of our military, academic standouts in our universities, and leaders in our parishes and communities. They and their families deserve certainty, compassion, generosity, and justice.”

Meanwhile, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen M. Nielsen said on Thursday that she supports the Goodlatte-McCaul legislation.

“I appreciate the leadership of Chairmen Goodlatte and McCaul … and key staff in crafting this bill,” Nielsen said in a statement. “The legislation introduced today reflects many of the policy principles and priorities identified by DHS’s frontline personnel which the Administration has advocated for this past year. I look forward to working with Members as they consider this and other legislation that will help us secure our borders, provide necessary enforcement authorities, and end diversity visas and extended family chain migration. Collectively, these elements are significant factors when it comes to protecting Americans and the Homeland.”

 

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