Rogue House Republicans are preparing to grant amnesty to 3.2 million illegal aliens

Immigration has been electoral gold for Republicans in the last few elections cycles. As Democrats have moved increasingly in the direction of an amnesty-only approach to illegal immigration, Republicans at the federal and state level have succeeded by promising voters real immigration enforcement. 

Running on that platform, Republicans captured both houses of Congress and the White House in 2016. Both in his campaign and as president, Donald Trump laid out a comprehensive list of reforms to halt illegal immigration and vowed to oppose any form of amnesty for those who violated our laws. 

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In 2018, as legislators prepare to face voters once again, Republicans have delivered nothing in the way of meaningful immigration enforcement legislation, but seem poised to pass legislation in the House that would grant amnesty to some 3.2 million illegal aliens (more than four times the number of people who received DACA protections), without even vague assurances that large-scale illegal immigration will be tamed.

A small group of House Republicans are teaming with a unified Democratic caucus to present a discharge petition to Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanGOP leaders jockey for affection of House conservatives Five GOP lawmakers mulling bid to lead conservative caucus On The Money — Sponsored by Prudential — Trump walks back criticism of UK Brexit strategy | McConnell worries US in 'early stages' of trade war | US trade deficit with China hits new record MORE (R-Wis.), forcing him to bring an immigration bill to the floor. The bill that the rogue Republicans have settled on is the Uniting and Securing America (USA) Act, H.R. 4796, written by Reps. Will HurdWilliam Ballard HurdDem, GOP groups prepare spending blitz for midterms GOP rep: Phone number for HHS conference call on family reunifications didn’t work Immigration: Too much noise, too little thought MORE (R-Texas) and Pete AguilarPeter (Pete) Ray AguilarImmigration compromise underlines right’s clout Pelosi, Dems hammer GOP for ‘derailing’ DACA debate Hoyer warns GOP: Don’t dabble with DACA compromise bill MORE (D-Calif.), which would grant full amnesty to all illegal aliens who entered the country as minors.

As for the American voters who entrusted Republicans with the full control of the federal government, the bill authorizes the Department of Homeland Security to study illegal immigration for 12 months. Yes, just what the American public has been hankering for: another government study!

We already know what the problem is. Millions of people are breaking our laws and it is costing American taxpayers nearly $300 billion a year. We also know what it will take to fix the problem.

We need border security — some combination of secure fencing, technology and manpower to prevent people from easily entering the country. It’s expensive, but not nearly as expensive as the growing and recurring costs of providing benefits and services to illegal aliens and their dependents.

We also need to give people convincing reasons not to come and remain in the United States illegally, whether they sneak across the border or overstay their visas. Republicans, and until fairly recently Democrats as well, have argued that we need to prevent illegal aliens from working in the United States by requiring all employers to use the E-Verify system — a program that would not only discourage illegal immigration but would cut down on the scourge of identity theft that can ruin the lives of unsuspecting victims.

Republicans also promised to crack down on sanctuary policies that shield illegal aliens, including many criminal aliens, from federal law enforcement. Such policies were outlawed more than two decades ago, with bipartisan support, but there are no real penalties for jurisdictions that flout the law.

These are just a few of the obvious steps that Congress could take to assure the American public that we will not fall into the same trap of legalizing one group of immigrants only to have them followed by an even larger wave of new illegal immigration. Instead, what will likely come out of the House is an amnesty even larger than the one enacted in 1986 (with the assurance that it would never be repeated) that will either die in the Senate or be vetoed by President TrumpDonald John TrumpSasse: Trump shouldn't dignify Putin with Helsinki summit Top LGBT group projects message onto Presidential Palace in Helsinki ahead of Trump-Putin summit Hillary Clinton to Trump ahead of Putin summit: 'Do you know which team you play for?' MORE

What will be lost in this pointless exercise, however, is a real opportunity to deliver meaningful immigration reform that has the support of a broad cross section of the electorate. While there is some public empathy for the situation of people who were brought to the country illegally as children, there is a demand for concrete measures to dramatically curtail illegal immigration and a dearth of patience for dithering from Washington.

If a small group of Republicans want to make themselves look like the Keystone Kops in the run-up to the midterm elections, that’s their business. If they want to sell out the interests of workers and taxpayers and buy us off with another study, that’s the American people’s business, and they can expect that they will be soundly rebuffed by the voters.

Ira Mehlman is media director at the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), a nonprofit group advocating for legal immigration.