H.R. 4760—Securing America's Future Act
Bill Summary by RJ Hauman | February 9, 2018
A group of House Republicans led by Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) and Homeland Security Chairman Michael McCaul (R-TX) introduced the Securing America’s Future Act to overhaul the nation’s immigration system. In addition to making structural reforms and strengthening immigration enforcement, the bill gives a limited amnesty to illegal alien beneficiaries of President Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. To date, the bill represents the most serious proposal to address the future of the approximately 700,000 illegal aliens who enrolled in DACA.
The Securing America’s Future Act takes a comprehensive approach to immigration reform that includes commonsense provisions that ensure the public’s national security and economic interests are prioritized. The bill includes provisions that protect American jobs, preserve public safety and national security, and reform admissions priorities to reflect a fairer, more sustainable, and safe legal immigration system. Although the bill grants amnesty to those illegal aliens granted deferred action through President Obama’s unlawful DACA program, it provides counterbalancing provisions to mitigate the inevitable consequences of an amnesty.
What Does the Securing America's Future Act Do?
PRIORITIZES MERIT-BASED IMMIGRATION
- Ends extended chain migration. The bill limits family-based immigration admissions to the nuclear family, or to spouses and minor children of immigrants. Current law allows adult immigrants to petition distance relatives for green cards with no regard to an individual’s education, language skills or capacity to contribute to the American economy.
- Ends the Visa Lottery. Today, the visa lottery allocates 50,000 visas annually to applicants at random and without consideration for an applicant’s ability to succeed in the United States or their ties to this country. The Securing America’s Future Act reorients the system to one that favors skilled employment-based visa categories.
- Increases immigration levels for skilled workers while reducing overall immigration levels. The bill invests in American’s future by setting more rational immigration admissions targets. Total admissions numbers, which average over 1,060,000 a year, will decrease by as much as 25 percent, to about 800,000 individuals a year. Despite these decreases, the bill will increase the number of green cards available to skilled workers from 120,000 a year to about 175,000, or about 45 percent.
- Creates new agricultural guest worker program. The bill replaces the existing H-2A program with one that enables agricultural employers to fill demonstrated seasonal labor shortages.
- Establishes a renewable nonimmigrant visa for parents of U.S. citizens. The bill will allow parents of United States citizens to obtain a nonimmigrant visa at no cost to taxpayers.
SECURES OUR BORDERS
- Authorizes border wall construction. The bill authorizes, but does not appropriate funding for a border wall.
- Improves border security. The bill invests significantly in technology and staffing that will contribute to improved safety and security in the border region. The bill would add 5,000 border patrol agents and 5,000 Customs and Border Patrol officers to ease the staffing shortage burdening officers already in the field. It will also grant Border Patrol access to all Federal lands.
- Implements a biometric entry-exit system. The bill requires full implementation of a biometric entry-exit system at all ports of entry and makes technological advances and infrastructure improvements in order to keep the border secure.
PREVENTS FUTURE ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION
- Requires all employers to use E-Verify. Securing America’s Future Act includes language from Rep. Lamar Smith’s Legal Workforce Act to mandate all employers in the United States to use E-Verify to verify that any new employees are legally eligible for work. This will minimize the job magnet that draws in hundreds of thousands of illegal aliens every year. E-Verify is a cost-effective and efficient system that allows for quick comparison of a prospective employee’s identity and work authorization documents against data from federal databases to verify the identity and work authorization status of the individual. Importantly, the bill creates a single, national verification policy (with a two year phase in period) to prevent illegal immigration.
- Increases penalties for employers who violate laws that protect American workers. The bill strengthens existing law by making it a crime to fraudulently or improperly use documentation meant to establish work authorization in addition to identification documents.
- Cracks down on Sanctuary cities. The bill grants authorization to the Justice Department to withhold law enforcement grants from uncooperative jurisdictions and creates a legal cause of action so victims of illegal alien crime may sue the cities that released their attackers.
- Increases cooperation with state and local law enforcement. The Securing America’s Future Act creates better avenues for state and local law enforcement to cooperate with federal immigration officials. By indemnifying officials that comply with ICE detainers, expanding the proven-effective 287(g) program, and establishing clear probable cause standards for detainers, the bill will eliminate many of the concerns raised by law enforcement officers.
- Penalizes repeat criminal offenders. The Securing America’s Future Act incorporates Kate’s Law, which enhances penalties for deported criminals who illegally reenter the country.
- Closes loopholes in current law that sustain illegal border surges. The bill tightens the “credible fear” standard to minimize frivolous asylum claims that create a backlog in the asylum system, while also increasing penalties for fraud. The bill requires the federal government to terminate an individual’s asylum status if they voluntarily return home despite their claims. The bill closes loopholes which bar the federal government from quickly and safely returning back to their homelands those unaccompanied minors apprehended at the border.
- Cracks down on visa overstays. Significantly, Securing America’s Future Act makes unlawful presence a misdemeanor, including overstaying a visa, which currently does not incur criminal penalty. Approximately 40 percent of illegal aliens arrived in the United States legally on a visa, but never left after its expiration. The Department of Homeland Security reported that last year alone 629,000 people overstayed their visa, while the Center for Migration Studies reported that since 2007, visa overstays have outnumbered illegal border crossings.
GIVES AMNESTY TO DACA RECIPIENTS
- Creates a renewable legal status for DACA beneficiaries. Allows only individuals who received deferred action under President Obama’s DACA program (approximately 694,000) to get a 3-year renewable legal status, permitting them to live, travel, and work in the United States legally.
- Prohibits criminals from receiving amnesty. The bill prohibits criminals from eligibility for the amnesty and incorporates significant anti-fraud provisions to ensure only DACA recipients benefit.
- Contains no special path to a green card. Beneficiaries may renew their legal status at the end of its term or make use of an existing path to a green card if appropriate.
FAIR’S POSITION ON THE SECURING AMERICA’S FUTURE ACT:
FAIR applauds Reps. Goodlatte, McCaul, Labrador, and McSally for bringing many important provisions to restore the integrity of our immigration system to the forefront of the national debate with the Securing America’s Future Act. Specifically, the bill targets dangerous sanctuary cities, enhances border security, mandates E-Verify, eliminates the visa lottery and perhaps most importantly, ends chain migration – which has depressed wages and displaced American workers for generations. The bill also extends the protections afforded to the DACA illegal alien population, something President Trump has expressed a willingness to do.
FAIR opposes amnesty in any form, including extending DACA protections. FAIR does, however, heartily support the elements of the Securing America’s Future Act specifically representing long overdue reforms that protect American workers, support the integrity of the immigration system, and preserve public safety. Those are the imperatives on which Congress must act.