My organization, NumbersUSA, has been at the forefront of mobilizing grassroots opposition to every amnesty proposal since 1996. Yet, we are now endorsing a compromise bill that includes an amnesty for hundreds of thousands of young-adult DACA recipients.
This decision was not an easy one. On balance, however, we believe the Securing America’s Future Act (H.R. 4760) would deliver a significant net improvement to the lives of American wage-earners and communities.
By moving us toward an immigration system that better serves the national interest, this bill would keep the promises of candidate Trump and now President TrumpDonald TrumpCapitol fencing starts coming down after 'Justice for J6' rally Netanyahu suggests Biden fell asleep in meeting with Israeli PM Aides try to keep Biden away from unscripted events or long interviews, book claims MORE whose administration stated on a talking-points sheet this week that his top priority in immigration reform is “everyday hardworking American citizens.”
There has never been a proposal like the one offered this week by four House Judiciary and Homeland Security Committee and Sub-Committee chairs (Reps. Bob GoodlatteRobert (Bob) William GoodlatteThe job of shielding journalists is not finished Bottom line No documents? Hoping for legalization? Be wary of Joe Biden MORE (R-Va.), Michael McCaulMichael Thomas McCaulBiden threatens more sanctions on Ethiopia, Eritrea over Tigray conflict More Republicans call on Biden to designate Taliban as terrorist group How lawmakers aided the Afghan evacuation MORE (R-Texas), Raul LabradorRaul Rafael LabradorIdaho lt. governor launches primary bid against GOP governor Republican wins Idaho governor’s race Voting shouldn't cause dysfunction — but Americans can change the system MORE (R-Idaho) and Martha McSallyMartha Elizabeth McSallyThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by AT&T - Senate passes infrastructure bill, budget resolution; Cuomo resigns Schumer, Tim Scott lead as Senate fundraising pace heats up GOP group launches million ad campaign pressing Kelly on filibuster MORE (R-Ariz.)). Like other proposals, H.R. 4760 offers great mercy to the young DACA adults who as minors illegally crossed the border or overstayed their visitor visas. But the bill’s top priority is clearly the vulnerable Americans who also have compelling stories of need.
We have always opposed amnesties first because they unfairly add extra competition to struggling American workers in the legal workforce (the same reason we have fought for serious reductions in legal immigration).
Some will try to argue that competition is not a problem at a time when the official unemployment rate is low.
But countless newspapers across the country in the past year have run heart-rending stories about the hopelessness in non-working and low-wage communities across America. Huge swaths of African-American, white and Hispanic urban and rural residents are not thriving — or are barely surviving — in this labor economy. Will U.S. employers creatively recruit, train and employ from those depressed communities if the federal government continues to offer them a flood of eager and easy-to-hire foreign workers? (For nearly 30 years, the government has added about a million immigrants with lifetime work permits every year, in addition to hundreds of thousands of temporary foreign workers.)
H.R. 4760 addresses that issue and mitigates the harm of adding additional workers through a DACA amnesty. The bill eliminates extended-family chain migration categories which add at least a quarter-million legal immigrants a year with lifetime work permits without any regard to their skill, their education or how their presence will affect America’s own workers, taxpayers and communities. To respect the needs of America's most vulnerable families, family immigration must be limited to spouse and minor children.
President Trump has provided great leadership in moving the chain migration issue to the top of the immigration debate. H.R. 4760 solves the problem.
A second reason we have always opposed amnesties is that they encourage future illegal immigration. Congress approved seven amnesties between 1986 and 2000, and illegal immigration continued to rise after all of them, primarily because of the easy availability of jobs.
As long as the jobs magnet continues, an amnesty will entice more parents to bring their children illegally to America and create pressure for yet more amnesties in the future.
Unlike all previous amnesties, H.R. 4760 would prevent that by mandating the use of E-Verify to keep illegal workers out of U.S. jobs, thus ending the jobs magnet once and for all.
Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulWhite House debates vaccines for air travel Senate lawmakers let frustration show with Blinken Rand Paul: 'Hatred for Trump' blocking research into ivermectin as COVID-19 treatment MORE: You can't have an immigration compromise if everybody's calling the president a racist https://t.co/qH33sIxzbi pic.twitter.com/uYUsp2xupx— The Hill (@thehill) January 15, 2018
Ending chain migration and mandating E-Verify are arguably the two most important recommendations of civil rights icon Barbara Jordan's bi-partisan U.S. Commission on Immigration Reform in the 1990s.
If Congress had adopted them then, it is doubtful immigration ever would have become the divisive national issue it is today.
H.R. 4760 contains a number of other enforcement provisions that NumbersUSA supports and others that we wish had not been included. That’s the nature of a compromise. Recent polling we commissioned finds strong majorities of likely voters in this fall’s midterm elections favor a dramatic reduction in overall immigration and also favor a DACA amnesty. Big majorities say any amnesty should include an end to chain migration and a mandate for E-Verify.
The Securing America’s Future Act clearly reflects public opinion, and the net effect of the bill as introduced would be far better than maintaining the immigration status quo.
Roy Beck is president and founder of NumbersUSA Education & Research Foundation.