An Immigration Reform Agenda for the 109th Congress
Reforming America’s immigration policies is a matter that can no longer be swept under the rug. Decades of ineffective and irresponsible immigration policies have propelled this issue to the center stage of American politics.
Mass immigration—legal and illegal—is having an inordinate impact on every matter that is of concern to the American public:
- Homeland security
- Jobs and wages
- Health care
- Values and culture
The following legislative agenda for the 109th Congress lays out the long overdue reforms that need to be made to America’s immigration policies and enforcement capabilities that will address the key concerns that the American public has about the direction of those policies.
Long before most people recognized the serious homeland security threats posed by U.S. immigration policies, millions of Americans recognized the impact that mass legal and illegal immigration has on their daily lives. Over the past decade, millions of American jobs in the U.S. have been lost to immigrant workers—many in the country illegally—at the cost of billions of dollars in lost wages, while billions more dollars have been taken out of the paychecks of American workers to provide social services to low-wage immigrants. According to the Wall Street investment firm Bear Stearns, between 4 and 6 million jobs in the U.S. have shifted to the underground economy in the past 15 years as a result of the massive influx of illegal aliens, far more than the number of jobs outsourced to workers in other countries.
Reform Legal Immigration Admissions Policy
U.S. immigration levels are far too high and need to be substantially reduced. The United States admits more than one million legal immigrants every year, and America’s businesses claim that they cannot find qualified workers. Something is seriously wrong then with how we admit legal immigrants.
Congress must address the serious flaws in legal immigration policy.
- Impose a national moratorium on all permanent immigration other than spouses and minor children of U.S. citizens.
- Adopt national population objectives, and set immigration levels consistent with those goals.
- End family chain migration. Limit immigration entitlements to spouses and minor children of the principle immigrant.
- Reduce overall levels of permanent legal immigration to 300,000 or less.
- End the “visa lottery.” (What rational society picks new members out of a hat?) By eliminating family chain migration, qualified applicants who lack family members in the U.S. would have a chance to be admitted based on personal merit.
Reform Refugee and Asylum Policy
The United States can and should honor its historic commitment to protecting people fleeing political persecution in their homelands. However, our policies in recent years have reflected political considerations in this country, rather than political oppression in the countries from which the refugees and asylees have come.
- Reaffirm the original intent of American and international refugee and asylum policy, i.e., give resettlement priority to individuals who are in greatest peril and who are least likely to be able to return safely to their homelands in the foreseeable future.
- Limit annual refugees to no more than half of the total of the rest of the world combined in the previous year.
- Limit claims of political asylum to individuals who were legally present in the U.S. at the time the triggering event occurred.
- Limit the grounds for refugee and asylum to persecution of individuals for reasons of race, ethnicity, religion, or political belief by the government under which they live.
- Repeal or reform Temporary Protected Status (TPS). It is not temporary. Beneficiaries should be required to return home when the triggering crisis has passed, not when conditions in the home country are ideal. TPS should never be granted to foreign nationals who are illegal aliens.
No Amnesty for Illegal Aliens
In the 108th Congress there were a plethora of proposals that would grant some form of legal status to some or all of the 10 million-plus illegal aliens estimated to be residing in the U.S. Some entailed outright amnesty, while others would turn illegal aliens into “guest workers” for an indeterminate period, presumably to be granted amnesty at some later date. Since winning re-election, President Bush has reaffirmed his goal of turning illegal aliens into guest workers. Whatever terminology is used, granting legal status to illegal aliens is amnesty for millions of people who flouted the law, and will be seen as an invitation by countless millions more people to violate our laws.
- No amnesty for illegal immigrants.
- No “guest worker” status for illegal aliens.
- Permanently bar Social Security eligibility for retirement or disability benefits based on any quarter worked illegally in the United States by illegal aliens.
Instead, Congress should:
- Institute a tamper-resistant, electronically verifiable Social Security card and require all employers to verify the work eligibility status of all new employees.
- Make mandatory for all employers the use of the national electronic worker eligibility verification system.
- Re-institute enforcement of employer sanctions laws.
- Bill employers for the cost of any public services used by illegal aliens found to be knowingly in their employ.
- Make deportation a meaningful deterrent, and impose criminal penalties against illegal aliens who return to the country after having been deported.
- Enforce the existing bar to legal immigration for people who have violated U.S. immigration laws, and oppose re-institution of loopholes such as 245(i).
No New “Guest Worker” Programs
There are very few, if any, “jobs Americans won’t do.” In fact, there are far more jobs that Americans used to do that are now being done by illegal immigrants for lower wages and, frequently, off-the-books. Guest worker programs, as proposed by President Bush and members of Congress of both parties will cripple, if not decimate, the American middle-class standard of living.
- Freeze existing caps for all existing guest worker programs.
- Allow free market forces to determine the wages at which Americans will do jobs that need to be done.
- Require the employers of guest workers to assume the social costs, such as education and health care, for the workers they bring to this country.
Though terrorists have been waging a war against the United States for decades, America’s war against the terrorists began in earnest when 19 foreign terrorists exploited our lax immigration policies and even laxer immigration enforcement, to launch an attack against this nation on September 11, 2001. The failures of our immigration policies were specifically spelled out in the report of the 9/11 Commission in the summer of 2004. The key recommendations of that commission must be enacted immediately by the 109th Congress.
The first line of defense of the nation is its physical borders. In this day and age the threat to our national security does not come from conventional warfare waged by regular militaries of recognized nations, but unconventional warfare waged by terrorists loyal to ideologies that cannot be associated with a specific nation. It is essential that we take immediate steps to:
- Increase the manpower and technology of the Border Patrol to credibly ensure border security, and in the interim, deploy military forces to ensure that our land borders are not subject to infiltration by terrorists and others.
- Increase resources dedicated to combating human smuggling operations controlled by international criminal organizations, and insist on full cooperation from Mexican and Canadian authorities in this effort.
- Provide ample detention space to ensure that all unlawful entrants who refuse repatriation to their home country, or whose home countries cannot be determined, remain in custody.
Legal Admission Security
Countless terrorists, including all 19 of the men who perpetrated the attacks of 9/11, have been admitted to our country by taking advantage of lax scrutiny of people applying for visas, and lax inspection of people entering the U.S. Given the ongoing threat to our security we must take the following steps:
- Require in-person interviews before a trained U.S. consular official for all people applying for a visa to the U.S.
- Bar admission to all individuals who have associations with terrorist organizations, even if they have not personally engaged in terrorist acts.
- Bar asylum applications for individuals with ties to terrorist or terrorist-supporting organizations.
- Limit foreign student visas to length of educational program rather than current “duration of status.”
- Restrict visa sponsorship of aliens by bogus educational institutions and require all educational institutions to report regularly on the status of foreign student visa holders.
Port of Entry Security
America’s land, sea and air ports of entry provide a second line of defense against the admission of people who intend to carry out acts of terrorism or otherwise violate our laws.
- Increase admissions inspectors sufficiently to properly screen foreign arrivals and ensure terrorists are barred from entry.
- Require machine-readable and biometric-imprinted passports for all entrants from visa waiver countries who currently enter without a visa, or:
- Repeal the visa waiver program.
Because no screening process is foolproof, greater attention must be paid to ensuring that foreign citizens comply with the terms of their admission after arriving in the U.S. In order to ensure the maximum level of compliance and provide the greatest level of defense against infiltration of sleeper cells, the following steps must be taken:
- Require tracking of all aliens entering and leaving the United States.
- Expedite the entry-exit database by mandating the inclusion of data on all foreign visitors to the United States, including Canadians.
- Require routine and periodic alien registration to maintain correct current addresses for all legal immigrants, legal permanent residents, and non-immigrants.
- Mandate state and local police cooperation with federal immigration authorities in enforcing laws against illegal immigration and penalize states and local jurisdictions that adopt non-cooperation “sanctuary” laws.
- Authorize professional bail bondsmen to apprehend non-immigrants who have overstayed their visas.
Access to vital U.S. identity documents by terrorists and criminals is one of the glaring weaknesses in our homeland defense strategy. In order to prevent these essential documents from being used by people who threaten our security, the following measures must be adopted:
- A tamper-resistant, electronically verifiable Social Security card.
- Uniform standards for issuance of state driver’s licenses and ID cards, including proof of legal residence in the U.S.
- Bar acceptance of foreign consular identity documents by all government agencies and government regulated private industries including banks and airlines, with the exception of valid passports.
- A national birth-death registry database.
Other Security Recommendations
Congress and the Bush Administration committed themselves to implementing ALL of the recommendations set forth in the report of the 9/11 Commission. Among the additional recommendations of the Commission:
- Increase alien detention capacity sufficient to credibly reduce and deter illegal immigration.
- Expand expedited removal of terrorists, criminals and illegal aliens.
- Eliminate dilatory and extraneous judicial review of deportation decisions that permit terrorists, criminal and illegal aliens to indefinitely delay deportation.
- Prevent criminal or human rights-violating aliens from escaping deportation by claiming they will be “tortured.”
- Expedite deportation of non-immigrants whose visas were obtained by fraud.
- Require deportation of aliens associated with terrorists or terrorist organizations.