No Amnesty Toolkit

America welcomes more than one million immigrants every year who go through a long vetting process. A combination of lax enforcement and lawlessness has broken our immigration system and it no longer works for our nation as as a whole.

America’s borders aren’t secure and temporary visas are routinely misused. The current system also opens the door for family members to get citizenship (also known as chain migration), rather than favoring a merit-based immigration system.

In 2012, President Obama used his pen and phone to bypass Congress and create Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). He felt his unconstitutional act was justified because multiple amnesty schemes failed to pass Congress, even when Democrats were in complete control.

DACA’s goal was to grant temporary “legal” status to individuals who were under 30 years old and brought to the U.S. as minors (often referred to as “dreamers”). The roughly 1.7 million eligible recipients would be required to work or go to school, but could ultimately defer their deportation for two years. Recipients could renew their status.

President Donald Trump made a campaign promise to secure our borders and rollback Obama’s lawless actions and now he intends to rescind the DACA program in six months, leaving time for Congress to act.

It is critical the executive and legislative branches learn from past mistakes, and work together to build consensus around an immigration policy that makes sense for all 320 million Americans. America deserves an immigration system that secures our borders, upholds the rule of law, and works for our economy.

Key Talking Points:

Why the U.S. Immigration System is Broken:

  • Our Federal Government Does Not Enforce the Law. Current U.S. law, written and passed by Congress and signed by the president, makes it illegal for foreign nationals to enter or stay in the country without authorization. Despite this clear provision of law, an estimated 11 million illegal immigrants reside in the United States.
  • America Lacks Strong Border Security. U.S. borders are not secure. Criminals, drug cartels, terrorists, and those that wish to do our nation harm know this and seek to exploit it every day. A basic role of the federal government established the U.S. Constitution is to uphold our national sovereignty.
  • America’s Immigration System has the Wrong Incentives. The current family-based (or chain-migration) system prioritizes “immediate relatives” before meeting more pressing needs for our country such as high-skilled migrants. These policies appeal to political, emotional or special interest agendas dictated by politicians.
  • Real Immigration Solutions are Held Hostage. Liberals, Washington elites and big business are convinced that a sweeping amnesty is the political silver bullet of immigration reform. They continue to send a clear signal to would-be migrants: That the United States ignores the rule of law and will not hold lawbreakers accountable for their actions. This trend must be reversed for commonsense solutions to become reality.

Conservative Solutions:

  • Enforce U.S. Immigration Law. Deporting illegal immigrants, denying amnesty, and simply enforcing current law sends a very strong signal to potential offenders: Do not enter or stay in the U.S. illegally. The Trump administration has begun enforcing U.S. immigration laws and should continue to restore lawfulness. Congress should act if the Trump administration’s efforts to deny funds to so-called “sanctuary cities” that refuse to enforce federal immigration laws are blocked by the courts.
  • Secure our Borders. Congress should approve funding to build more secure fencing along the southern border and implement a comprehensive surveillance system to monitor border activity. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Border Patrol, and the Coast Guard should receive targeted resources needed to enforce the law on the border.
  • Oppose Amnesty. Prioritizing those here illegally is a grave injustice to those waiting in line to come to America the right way. Amnesty creates a vicious cycle. It increases expectations for future amnesties while encouraging more migrants to break the law in the meantime.
  • Oppose Bipartisan “compromise” on DACA. President Trump was right to rescind DACA, but his suggestion to swap codification of the program for additional border security measures is misguided.  Republicans should not repeat the 1986 mistake of agreeing to permanent amnesty in exchange for future promises of border security. It was a bad deal then and a bad deal today.
  • Reform Legal Immigration. Moving away from a blanket, chain-migration system and replacing it with a rational, skills based-migration system should be prioritized after our border is secure. Improving internal enforcement through E-Verify is a critical part of this transition and would allow for better prosecution of companies who hire illegal immigrants.

To learn more read our latest brief on immigration available here.

(Make sure to insert the Twitter handle of your Representative)

  • Click to Tweet: @MEMBERNAME DACA creates a powerful magnet for more illegal immigration. Conservatives must fight to #EndDACA
  • Click to Tweet: Our immigration system is lawless, lacks border security & has the wrong incentives. @MemberName #EndDACA and reform our current system
  • Click to Tweet: @MEMBERNAME DACA never passed Congress and is illegal. Immigration reform must start with enforcing America’s laws.
  • Click to Tweet: The DREAM Act allows illegal immigrants to gain legal status & eventually bring in other family members #EndDACA
  • Click to Tweet: @MEMBERNAME No Amnesty. No exception. #EndDACA
  • Click to Tweet: Want immigration reform?

1 Enforce laws
2 Secure Borders
3 Crackdown on illegal labor
4 Defund Sanctuary Cities
5 Reform Legal immigration

 

These are notes to use when calling your member of Congress. Always remember to make these notes your own and include a personal story if you have one relating to the topic.You can find their phone number on the Heritage Action Dashboard.

Hi, I’m [NAME] from [STATE].

With the Trump administration’s decision to rescind DACA and urge Congress to act on immigration, I want to tell [MEMBER OF CONGRESS] not to move forward with DACA, but instead focus on passing reforms to strengthen our border and fix immigration laws.

Here’s the five part plan:

First, enforce the law. The Trump administration is already beginning to enforce current U.S. immigration laws and should continue to do so. Deporting illegal immigrants, denying amnesty and simply enforcing the law sends a strong signal to potential offenders not to enter or stay in the U.S. illegally.

Second, secure our borders. Congress should approve funding to build more secure fencing along the southern border and implement a comprehensive surveillance system to monitor the border that includes cameras, sensors and drones. Doing so will make it more difficult to enter the U.S. illegally.

Third, crack down on unauthorized labor. Improve internal enforcement through E-Verify, while prosecuting companies who hire illegal immigrants.  

Fourth, defund sanctuary cities. Municipalities who wish to disobey federal immigration laws should be denied federal security grants. Legislation to do just that is pending Congress, but has been blocked by Democrats.

Fifth, reform the legal immigration system. We need to move away from blanket chain-migration and replace it with a rational, skills based-migration system. There are lessons from the Canadian and Australian models that might best serve the United States’ immigration system.

Below is a sample letter to the editor. We encourage you to adapt and personalize the letter below. Heritage Action regional coordinators are always here to help edit your letter and get it published.

Congressman [X],

The current immigration debate makes no sense to anyone except elites in Washington.

America welcomes more than one million immigrants every year who go through a long vetting process. A combination of lax enforcement and lawlessness has broken our immigration system and it no longer works for our nation as as a whole.

America’s borders aren’t secure and temporary visas are routinely misused. The current system also opens the door for family members to get citizenship (also known as chain migration), rather than favoring a merit-based immigration system.

The solution should be obvious: Border security, enforcement of our current laws, and targeted reforms to our legal immigration system. But these commonsense solutions have been held hostage by politicians in Washington who want amnesty.

Congress should work with the Trump administration to enforce our laws and crack down on illegal immigration through a step-by-step process. We must first secure our borders, enforce existing immigration law, and prosecute those who fail to abide by those laws.

Only after we secure our borders should we consider reforming the legal immigration system. We need to move away from blanket chain-migration and replace it with a rational, skills based-migration system. There are lessons from the Canadian and Australian models that might best serve the United States’ immigration system.

Immigration reform that is done properly can fit with America’s open arms and with our commitment to the rule of law.

With these reasons in mind, I hope Congressman [X] will steer Congress toward conservative immigration solutions.