This week, the House will vote on the American Dream and Promise Act introduced by Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-Calif.). This legislation would codify the Obama administration’s unconstitutional Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) amnesty program by allowing so-called Dreamers (illegal immigrants who came to the U.S. as children) and immigrants eligible for Temporary Protected Status and Deferred Enforced Departure to permanently avoid deportation and obtain a pathway to citizenship. Do not let this legislation’s misleading name fool you—granting amnesty to illegal immigrants would encourage more illegal immigration, incentivize criminal behavior, reward law breaking, and provide preferential treatment to illegal immigrants.
In recent polling conducted by Heritage Action, immigration is the issue that is top of mind for Republican voters by more than 20 percentage points. In fact, 83 percent of Republican voters say that illegal immigration affects their lives. But it’s not just Republicans. Likely voters in swing House districts rank immigration or border security as very important as well. While much is made about various negative aspects of illegal immigration, voters are overwhelmingly concerned with the drain on social services, such as public education and healthcare, posed by illegal immigrants.
With a historic humanitarian crisis at our southern border and illegal immigration as an issue that is top of mind for Republican and swing voters, House Democrats have put forward a proposal that only worsens the border crisis and ignores the concerns of law-abiding voters. As if to drive home the point that House Democrats do not care about listening to the American people they represent, the combined CBO score of the two base bills (here and here) that make up H.R. 6 is $34.6 billion, most of which comes from increased burdens on federal welfare programs. While Republicans should certainly reject the cost of this bill simply because American taxpayers will pay for billions in welfare expenditures for illegal immigrants, the Democrats do not even bother paying for this cost and instead just add to our debt.
History has shown that amnesties and other diminutions in immigration law enforcement create an enormous magnet for those seeking to enter the country illegally. In 1986, the Simpson-Mazzoli Act granted amnesty to nearly 3 million immigrants and by 1996, 6 million additional illegal immigrants had already crossed the border into America. According to James Carafano of the Heritage Foundation:
The Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986, otherwise known as the Simpson-Mazzoli Act promised enforcement, border security, and legal reforms in exchange providing amnesty to illegal immigrants already here. The compromise didn’t work. Two decades later the problem was worse than before. A compromise on immigration is not like a compromise on other issues. It undermines the efficacy of border and immigration management. For instance, it makes no sense to pass a law that strengthens border security and incentivizes illegal migration (by, say, offering amnesty).
The American Dream and Promise Act would also incentivize criminal behavior and lead to more crime. Starting in the summer of 2014—prompted by DACA—massive caravans began migrating to our southern border from Central and South America, often facilitated by coyotes and gangs that exploit women and children on the journey. According to The Heritage Foundation:
Traversing the U.S.-Mexico border illegally has become increasingly dangerous for would-be immigrants. Illegal immigrants face kidnapping, murder, and rape at the hands of violent drug cartels and ever more ruthless human smugglers. Crossing treacherous desert areas exposes the travelers to heat exhaustion and dehydration. Hundreds of people die every year trying to cross the border into the U.S.
Amnesties are also unfair to the millions of people worldwide who apply and wait for their turn to immigrate to the United States legally. According to The Heritage Foundation:
If America suddenly awards legal status to aliens unlawfully in the United States, it will be treating them better than aliens abroad who follow America’s immigration procedures and patiently await their opportunity to get a visa authorizing them to come to the United States. Such action—as past amnesties have proved—will also spur more aliens to enter or remain unlawfully in the United States in the confident expectation that Congress will continue to enact future amnesties that provide aliens unlawfully in the U.S. a shortcut to legal status.
Providing amnesty to illegal immigrants would only attract more illegal immigration at a time when our nation’s southern border is porous and under unprecedented strain. Instead of granting sweeping amnesty, as many on the left demand, the federal government with the help of state and local governments should focus on reducing the unlawfully present immigration population in the U.S. and curbing illegal entry into our country. This can be done by enforcing existing immigration laws, tightening border security, strengthening interior enforcement, and improving the legal immigration process.
For Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Democratic leadership to put one of the largest amnesty bills in recent history on the floor while simultaneously refusing to increase resources to solve the humanitarian and security crisis at our southern border is irresponsible and the exact opposite of an effective policy solution that our country needs. Doing so exacerbates, not solves our border problem.
The Heritage Foundation: An Agenda for American Immigration Reform
The Heritage Foundation: New Report Shows Government Gave DACA Protection to Thousands of Criminals
The Heritage Foundation: Dreaming of Amnesty: Legalization Will Spur More Illegal Immigration
The Heritage Foundation: 4 Ways Trump Can Fix America’s Immigration Problem
The Heritage Foundation: Fact Sheet: Fixing Our Broken Immigration System
The Heritage Foundation Backgrounder: Why Congress Should Not Legalize DACA: The Myths Surrounding the Program
The Heritage Foundation: DACA Is Not What Liberals Say It Is. Here Are the Facts.