Speaker John Boehner, GOP Leader Eric Cantor, and House Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte have all insinuated that the House is not abandoning immigration. They say it’s on the agenda after the debt and budget crises have abated.
The question is: What will House immigration legislation look like?
House Republicans have introduced and moved a series of immigration bills through the chamber this year. Nearly any combination of these bills could be used to conference with the Senate amnesty bill, S. 744. That’s currently the endgame for Democrats and amnesty-supporting Republicans – get the House to pass a package of immigration bills that can be used to conference with the Senate. Below are some of the bills that could be used to push an amnesty:
H.R. 1417: Border Security Results Act of 2013
- Requires the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to develop a border security plan and implement metrics to measure security.
- Very similar to S. 744 – does not require DHS actually obtain situational awareness or operational control of any part of the border; merely requires DHS to submit a plan for doing so.
- Passage is seen as a necessity for getting to conference with the Senate bill, making it the #1 vehicle for amnesty in the House.
- Pelosi’s amnesty bill is S. 744 with H.R. 1417 language in place of the Corker-Hoeven appeasement from the Senate.
H.R. 3141: Biometric Exit Improvement Act of 2013
- Undermines current law by only requiring partial implementation of the biometric exit program at land ports of entry.
- Eliminates a requirement that all land ports of entry contain a biometric exit component, leaving a gaping hole in information.
- DHS may be able to match up arrivals and departures for some aliens, but when aliens enter and have no corresponding departure data, DHS will not know whether that individual is still in the country because the individual may have left via car over the U.S.-Mexico border.
- Weakening requirements would pose national security threats and undermine the ability of Congress to hold DHS accountable for visa overstays.
H.R. 1773: The Agricultural Guestworker Act
- · Massive amnesty disguised as a guestworker program.
- Scraps the current seasonal H-2A agricultural nonimmigrant visa and replaces it with a new H-2C visa program that significantly expands the scope and duration of “temporary” agricultural work.
- Grants amnesty in the form of H-2C work authorization for illegal aliens currently in the agricultural workforce, as long as they remain in the industry.
- Sponsor Rep. Goodlatte has met with pro-amnesty Democrats in order to negotiate changes to his legislation as well as discuss a larger amnesty.
H.R. 2278: Strengthen and Fortify Enforcement Act (SAFE Act)
- Grants states and localities the authority to enforce federal immigration laws and their own laws that mirror federal laws.
- Requires an annual report on the abuse of prosecutorial discretion.
- Bars sanctuary cities from receiving certain federal grants.
- Looks like an olive branch to supporters of enforcement and the rule of law – but will it become the ultimate vehicle for amnesty? Illegal alien advocates are already railing against the bill, calling it the “Un-Safe Act.”
Note: Republicans are facing continued pressure to support amnesty when self-appointed conservative and religious leaders hold a “fly-in” later this month. In reality, the sponsors of the trip include long time amnesty supporters the National Immigration Forum and Chamber of Commerce, and new groups like Michael Bloomberg’s Partnership for a New American Economy and Mark Zuckerberg’s FWD.us – through which Facebook’s Zuckerberg has pledged to run $50 million in attack ads against Members opposing amnesty.