The White House last week released its “Framework on Immigration Reform & Border Security,” the president’s proposal for providing status to aliens covered by President Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.
That framework is clear that legislation should give legal status to approximately 1.8 million DACA-eligible illegal immigrants, prospectively end chain migration, and eliminate the diversity-visa program. Less clear, however, is what the “border security” component of that legislation should consist of. The president’s October 2017 Immigration Principles and Priorities, however, contain a clear guide for what additional elements such legislation should contain.
As my colleague Mark Krikorian has stated, any amnesty “serves as an incentive for future illegal immigration, and … has downstream legal-immigration consequences.”
The chain migration provision will mitigate, in part, the downstream legal immigration. To deter future illegal immigration, however, any bill resulting from this framework must strengthen immigration enforcement and plug the loopholes that led to the recent flood of unaccompanied alien children (UACs).
On UACs, the president’s October 2017 Immigration Principles stated: “Loopholes in current law prevent [UACs] that arrive in the country illegally from being removed.” To stem future illegal entries, this bill must ensure that UACs are quickly vetted to ensure that those needing protection receive it, but that the rest are returned safely and efficiently home.
Another critical factor identified in the president’s October 2017 Immigration Principles was asylum reform. Lax “credible fear” standards encourage fraud and provide incentives for aliens to enter the United States illegally. Plugging the loopholes in our asylum laws is critical to stemming the flow of illegal entries, and must be a part of any DACA bill.
So-called “sanctuary” policies also encourage illegal entry, and successful DACA legislation must curb those policies.
Sanctuary policies encourage aliens to enter the United States illegally because aliens know that, once in a sanctuary jurisdiction, they can live all but free from apprehension. Denying federal funding to sanctuary jurisdictions and providing ICE with strong legal authority to place holds on deportable aliens in local custody are essential to countering this perception, and must be included in DACA legislation.
Another major legal loophole that DACA legislation must plug relates to the detention of dangerous aliens.
The Supreme Court has held that the government cannot indefinitely detain an alien whose native country won’t take him back, leading to the release of potentially dangerous aliens. The October 2017 Immigration Priorities call for a legislative fix to this loophole. Consistent with this, DACA legislation must give DHS clear authority to detain dangerous aliens indefinitely after a final order until removal is possible, to protect the American people.
A related issue DACA legislation must respond to is “recalcitrant” countries, that is, countries that refuse to accept back their nationals after they have been ordered removed. As the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee found in July 2016: “Thousands of deportable criminal aliens are released back onto U.S. streets because their home countries refuse to repatriate them.” The framework states that legislation must “[e]nsure the prompt removal of illegal border-crossers regardless of country of origin.”
To address this, DACA legislation should authorize the suspension of aid to recalcitrant countries, sanctions for officials and employees of those countries, and a reduction in the number of visas available to those individuals.
Finally, and most critically, DACA legislation must weaken the “jobs magnet,” which draws the majority of aliens who enter the United States illegally. This can be easily done by mandating the use of E-Verify by all American employers, as called for in the president’s Immigration Priorities.
Only by addressing these issues can Congress ensure that it will not be debating yet another amnesty in the near future.
Andrew Arthur is resident fellow in law and policy at the Center for Immigration Studies.
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