In the early morning hours on Wednesday, House negotiators finally released the 2,000+ page omnibus bill to fund the federal government for fiscal year 2016. The $1.1 trillion package, which was crafted behind closed doors by Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), leaves much to be desired for true immigration reformers.
Notably, the bill does not include language the House already passed earlier this year and in 2014 that would have significantly improved our immigration system. First, in 2014 during the height of the unaccompanied alien minors (UAMs) border surge the House approved a bill by Reps. John Carter (R-Texas), Robert Aderholt (R-Ala.), and Jack Kingston (R-Ga.) –and endorsed by FAIR—that would have closed the loophole in the William Wilberforce Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act (TVPRA) of 2008 and made all UAMs subject to the same removal process. Yet, despite a new surge of UAMs and family units unlawfully crossing the Southern border, the omnibus keeps the loophole (Section 235) in place and merely allocates money to “carry out” Section 235 of the TVPRA, along with other trafficking statutes.
Additionally, after first defunding President Obama’s executive amnesties in the FY2015 Homeland Security funding bill (before eventually caving in to threats by Senate Democrats and President Obama to shut down parts of DHS), the omnibus fully funds the Justice Department’s legal defense of DAPA and expanded DACA and funds the amnesty should the courts rule in the administration’s favor. Finally, the omnibus fully funds sanctuary cities even though the House passed a bill in July denying certain funds these jurisdictions in response to Kate Steinle’s senseless death at the hands of an illegal alien protected by San Francisco’s sanctuary policies.
Outrageously, the omnibus also significantly increases low-skilled immigration. Buried in this massive legislation on page 701, the bill amends the H-2B guest worker program to exempt from the statutorily established 66,000 cap all H-2B workers admitted between 2013 and 2015. This change is expected to increase the number of H-2B low-skilled guest workers to 250,000, or more than triple the existing cap level. This language, which has never been debated at the committee level, is a clear violation of Speaker Ryan’s promise to run the House through “regular order.”
Finally, although the omnibus increases funding for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Customs and Border Protection (CBP), this will have no effect on curbing illegal immigration because of President Obama’s non-enforcement directives. Regardless of how many ICE agents and Border Patrol officers we have, the President’s removal “priorities” are so narrow that 87 percent of all illegal aliens are considered off-limits to enforcement by the administration.