This week, the House will consider the Border Security and Immigration Reform Act (H.R. 6136). The bill would grant amnesty to an estimated 1.8 million illegal immigrants and put them on a path to citizenship. Amnesty, as The Heritage Foundation explained in 2013, “comes in many forms, but in all its variations . . . treats law-breaking aliens better than law-following aliens, and encourages future unlawful immigration into the United States.”
David Inserra, policy analyst in Heritage's Davis Institute for National Security and Foreign Policy, writes in a recent op-ed House ‘Compromise’ Immigration Bill Fails to Adequately Address Broken System:
When U.S. citizens break the law, they are punished. By providing amnesty to illegal immigrants, this bill rewards law-breakers with the rights of citizenship. This new compromise immigration bill does just that—it compromises on the core responsibilities of the U.S. government. The American people expect their legislators to advance immigration policies that are good for the nation as a whole. Rather than starting with amnesty, Congress should go back to the drawing board and tackle these various immigration issues in a step-by-step manner.
The Heritage Foundation has explained that amnesty, regardless of its form, discourages respect for the rule of law:
The existence of a large shadow population in America is injurious to the rule of law, an excessive burden on many local communities, and harmful to civil society. Addressing this issue is an important component of reform. But it is wrong to make it the linchpin of immigration and border security. As a first principle, reform efforts to address this issue should make the problem better not worse. For that reason, amnesty as a core requirement of immigration is a disastrous policy. Amnesty would undermine all other efforts to fix the system and could well leave future generations in the same predicament as millions find themselves in today.
While there is absolutely no doubt the Border Security and Immigration Reform Act contains a “complex amnesty scheme” that “rewards lawbreakers with the rights of citizenship,” some are tempted to ignore the proposal’s amnesty provisions and instead tout changes to the existing immigration system. As Heritage notes, those provisions “keep getting worse” as the amnesty evolves and expands.
The bill fails to fully end chain migration—a central pillar of President Trump’s immigration reform plan. This may result in amnesty for DACA recipients’ parents who committed the original crime of illegally bringing their children to America. The bill also fails to reform our legal immigration system into a merit-based system.
Another glaring shortcoming of the legislation is its lack of interior enforcement measures. For instance, the bill fails to meaningfully address the problem of sanctuary cities or to support state and local law enforcement in compliance with federal law and authorities. Interior enforcement and border security must occur prior to any legislation that addresses the DACA population.
While lawmakers fighting to build a national consensus for an immigration policy that works for hundreds of millions of Americans deserve credit, those changes cannot be predicated on codification of amnesty. Passing amnesty for millions of illegal immigrants right before a midterm election would be a grave political miscalculation.
Heritage Action: Heritage Action will Key Vote Against Amnesty “Compromise” Proposal
Daily Signal: House ‘Compromise’ Immigration Bill Fails to Adequately Address Broken System
Real Clear Politics: Why Conservatives Are Proposing a DACA Deal
Fox News Sunday: Shutdown Showdown Is Actually About Chain Migration, Not DACA
Heritage Action: Democrats’ Amnesty Shutdown
Heritage Action: Time to Shut Down Chain Migration
Heritage Action: Harvard Poll Finds Public Supports Ending Chain Migration
Heritage Action: Proposed Amnesty Growing in Size
The Heritage Foundation backgrounder: Advancing the Immigration Nation: Heritage’s Positive Path to Immigration and Border Security Reform
The Heritage Foundation report: Securing America’s Future Act: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly of the House Immigration Bill
The Heritage Foundation report: Encouraging Lawful Immigration and Discouraging Unlawful Immigration