• Key Vote: Senate
  • Feb 15, 2018

KEY VOTE: “NO” On the Immigration Security and Opportunity Act

Heritage Action opposes the Immigration Security and Opportunity Act and will include it as a key vote on our legislative scorecard

The Senate could soon vote on a Schumer-Rounds-Collins amnesty proposal revealed by the “Common Sense Coalition” late Wednesday night that drew fire from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), which said the bill would “effectively make the United States a Sanctuary Nation.” Entitled the “Immigration Security and Opportunity Act,” this legislation provides amnesty and a path to citizenship to millions of illegal immigrants, fails to end chain migration and establish a merit-based immigration system for the 21st century, fails to secure the southern border, and undermines internal enforcement immigration policy.  

The first part of this legislation provides amnesty and a path to citizenship to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) eligible population of at least 1.8 million illegal immigrants currently living in the United States. As Heritage Action stated last month, “Amnesty comes in many forms, but it seems they all eventually grow in size and scope. . . . That should be a non-starter.” The Department of Homeland Security made clear the actual number is closer to 10 million:

It [Schumer-Rounds-Collins] eviscerates the authority of DHS to arrest, detain, and remove the vast majority of aliens illegally in the country by attempting to limit DHS enforcement by codifying a “priorities” scheme that ensures that DHS can only remove criminal aliens, national security threats and those who arrive AFTER June 30, 2018 creating a massive surge at the border for the next four months.

The second part of the proposal makes minor changes to family-sponsored immigrant visas for lawful permanent residents (LPRs). Ending chain migration and moving to a merit-based immigration system has been the highest priority for conservatives working to fix our broken immigration system. A merit-based immigration system is overwhelmingly supported by the American people according to a recent poll, and puts the U.S. in line with many other developed nations. For example, admissions based mainly on employment skills accounted for “58 percent of immigrants in Canada in 2017, 67 percent in Australia in 2016-17 and about 12 percent in the U.S. in 2016.

Chain migration is also the main source of legal immigration, according to a Heritage Foundation report:

The U.S. accepts about one million legal immigrants every year. According to a recent study, of the 33 million legal immigrants admitted to the U.S. over the past 35 years, ‘about 20 million were chain migration immigrants (61 percent).’ The average immigrant sponsored 3.45 additional immigrants, and the largest number of such chain or family-based migrants are ‘spouses and parents of naturalized citizens because these categories are unlimited by law.’ For DACA beneficiaries, however, it is likely that the number would be much higher. This is because, according to an analysis by DHS of the first year of the DACA program, 76 percent of the 514,800 DACA beneficiaries were from Mexico, and Mexican immigrants sponsor an average of 6.38 additional legal immigrants—the highest rate of any nationality for chain migration.

Unfortunately, the second part of Schumer-Rounds-Collins does not go as far in curtailing chain migration. It would make minor changes for lawful permanent residents, including those who received amnesty, but still allow green card holders to sponsor their “children” up to 21 years old. For American citizens, including the millions of illegal immigrants who will receive citizenship, this bill includes no changes to chain migration whatsoever. In addition, the legislation fails to end the Diversity Visa Lottery program and transfer those visas to merit-based applicants.

The third part of the Schumer-Rounds-Collins proposal includes the promise of $25 billion for border security over the next ten years for the construction of physical barriers, border security technology, infrastructure, and equipment, and 615 new U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers, but only appropriates $2.5 billion for Fiscal Year 2018. But more alarming than any amount of border security funding, is the unwarranted change in immigration enforcement this legislation enacts, and how it interacts with the lack of reform to the legal immigration system. According to the DHS, the Schumer-Rounds-Collins bill would:

Ensure a massive wave of new illegal immigration by exacerbating the pull factors caused by legal loopholes. By keeping chain migration intact, the amendment would expand the total legalized population to potentially ten million new legal aliens—simultaneously leading to undercutting the wages of American workers, threatening public safety and undermining national security. The changes proposed by Senators Schumer-Rounds-Collins would effectively make the United States a Sanctuary Nation where ignoring the rule of law is encouraged.

The primary role of government is to ensure the safety of its citizens, not handcuff the national security officials sworn to protect those citizens. This proposal not only tells the rest of the world that America will not enforce her laws, but actually encourages illegal immigration by providing an amnesty holiday for the next four and a half months. This shameful proposal makes absolutely no sense, but should make even the most radical open-border proponents proud.     

Related: 

The Heritage Foundation: Why Congress Should Not Legalize DACA: The Myths Surrounding the Program
Heritage Action: Time to Shut Down Chain Migration
Heritage Action: Proposed Amnesty Grows in Size
DHS: Schumer-Rounds-Collins Destroys Ability of DHS to Enforce Immigration Laws, Creating a Mass Amnesty For Over 10 Million Illegal Aliens, Including Criminals

Heritage Action opposes the Immigration Security and Opportunity Act and will include it as a key vote on our legislative scorecard

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