Ryan Amnesty Legislation Fails Spectacularly
By Heather Ham-Warren | June 29, 2018
On Wednesday, the House of Representatives finally voted on H.R. 6136, the Border Security and Immigration Reform Act (BSIRA) — better known to everyday Americans as Speaker Paul Ryan’s (R-Wisc.) Amnesty Plan. Last month, House Leadership was backed into a corner by members of their own party when rogue Republicans drafted a discharge petition to force a vote on several mass amnesty bills. Attempting to avoid a political debacle, House leadership agreed to place two immigration bills on the floor for a vote. One would be H.R. 4760, the Securing America’s Future Act (the underlying bill of the discharge petition) and the other would be the BSIRA.
Over the past six months, the Securing America’s Future Act has been touted as the vehicle for many of President Trump’s immigration enforcement initiatives. However, despite having a solid list of Republican co-sponsors and the support of the White House behind it, the legislation failed on the House floor last week by a narrow margin. So narrow, in fact, the BSIRA was pulled from consideration and rescheduled for this week. Likely, in an attempt to secure more support than H.R. 4760 received, leadership scrambled over the weekend to strengthen the BSIRA with more enforcement measures. Late Monday night House Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) submitted an amendment to the legislation to add mandatory E-Verify and a new H-2C guestworker program to the underlying bill. Apparently, these changes did not secure enough support because on Tuesday, the text was again amended. This time, the bill contained language that would remove a returning worker exemption for H-2B workers in the United States— essentially tripling the number of low-skilled seasonal workers in the United States at any given time.
However, these changes (likely added to entice votes from business-first GOP members) proved insufficient yet again; because, by Wednesday morning, the BSIRA was returned to its original pre-amendment text. A few hours later the bill failed miserably with 301 Nays and only 121 Yeas.
Throughout this entire process FAIR acknowledged that there were many important provisions in the BSIRA that would help restore the integrity of our immigration system. Specifically, the bill’s language to fully fund President Trump’s border wall and implementation of a biometric entry-exit system. Ultimately, however, FAIR was forced to express strong opposition to this bill for failing to fulfill President Trump’s bold promise to fix immigration—the promise that Americans voted for at the ballot box in November 2016.
But the cost of these handful of reforms was one of the largest amnesties in recent history. This bill would have created a pathway to citizenship for both the children of long-term foreign workers in the United States (approximately 75,000 individuals), as well as the entire Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) eligible population (approximately 1.8 million individuals). Additionally, it would have permitted illegal aliens who: are in the midst of removal proceedings, have remained in the U.S. after ignoring an official removal order, or are apprehended after the date of enactment to apply for one of this bill’s amnesty categories if they are prima facie eligible. Therefore, individuals who have already been reprimanded for ignoring U.S. law at least once would have been given another bite of the apple, halting immigration enforcement, and causing an even greater backlog in our courts. Finally, it would not have defunded sanctuary jurisdictions or eliminated chain migration.
As Dan Stein, president of FAIR correctly stated, “Lawmakers should ask themselves this question going forward: Why should the American people have to accept a massive amnesty in exchange for speculative improvements in immigration enforcement?”
FAIR applauds the legislators who voted against this legislation. To see how your Member of Congress voted, please GO HERE.