It’s the most wonderful time of the year, when many of us are vowing to purchase gym memberships and quit our harmful vices. As a year of unprecedented political upheaval concludes, it’s a good time to take stock of our status as a nation and make some resolutions for 2018. With tax cuts now a done deal, immigration reform appears to be the next big agenda item on Capitol Hill. For meaningful change, members of Congress should make the following resolutions in crafting new immigration legislation.
Tie DACA to real enforcement
Despite President Trump’s declared intent to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, it appears that some accommodation will be made for DACA recipients in any legislation. If national security and the rule of law were the highest priorities, DACA would simply be eliminated and those here illegally would be processed for removal. Details of the program have been fraudulently represented in the media, with emotional appeals guiding policy instead of border and economic security.
If political considerations dictate that DACA recipients will remain, reform proponents should demand a pound of flesh for that allowance. A “clean” DACA bill, as was previously suggested by open borders advocates, would ensure that little to nothing is accomplished in the way of border security and policy reform. The Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 granted amnesty to 2.8 million illegal aliens, and authorized robust border security. The amnesty was granted but the effective border enforcement, as we later discovered, never happened. Simply put, no DACA allowance now with the vague promise of border security sometime down the road.
Stop chain migration
Merit, not family connections, needs to be the guiding principle of the new immigration policy. “Family reunification” or chain migration policies are promoted as an act of benevolence, but the result is an influx of people who do not serve the best interests of the United States. Many well-deserving immigrants with skills and values that could potentially enhance the cultural and economic goals of the United States are passed over in favor of the relatives of previous migrants, no matter what they bring to the table. The dark side of chain migration was seen this month when a chain migrant allegedly injured three people while trying to commit a suicide terrorist attack in New York’s Port Authority. Aside from spouses and minor children, relatives of immigrants should undergo the same scrutiny as any other applicant.
Sanctuary cities must go
“A house divided against itself cannot stand.” Abraham Lincoln’s words in 1858 could just as easily apply to the sanctuary city debate today. America cannot control immigration when many of its largest cities openly defy federal immigration laws. Aside from being unfair to legal immigrants, sanctuary cities are a magnet for alien felons and create opportunities for terrorists to hide among us. Sanctuary policies also encourage further illegal immigration that only puts more strain on our education, healthcare, welfare and law enforcement resources. Ending sanctuary cities is perhaps the most significant action Congress can take to protect its constituents and bring back respect for the rule of law.
Begin construction of the wall
Few details of the Trump administration’s immigration agenda have generated as much controversy as the construction of a wall along the southern border. The idea has been voted on and approved by Congress twice since 1996, but little progress has been made. Opponents say a border wall won’t work, is too expensive and is a symbol of xenophobia. Evidence from around the world shows that security walls undeniably do work. The price tag for a wall is dwarfed by the colossal cost of illegal immigration. As President Trump has often said, he envisions a wall with a “big, beautiful door” to welcome in those who seek to enter legally, assimilate and bring value to our nation. A border wall — complete with specifics on funding and a completion date—would serve as an enduring symbol of our commitment to national sovereignty and a well-regulated immigration system.
Termination of the visa lottery
Like chain migration, the visa lottery has proven to be another golden ticket for those who are poorly suited to become American citizens or have bad intentions. The whole concept of a lottery takes away our ability to choose the best and the brightest from around the world. There are millions of people seeking American citizenship. The United States will always be a haven for those truly seeking escape from political oppression, but why choose future citizens randomly when we can select them based on the skills and talent they would bring to enhance our nation?
Our new tax code will give our nation a significant boost. Implementing the above changes would greatly enhance that economic improvement, while at the same time making America safer and more competitive in the global economy. The gears of government often move slowly. With the momentum of the tax bill’s passage, this may be a time of unmatched opportunity for America. We shouldn’t squander it.
Brian Lonergan is director of communications at the Immigration Reform Law Institute, a public interest law firm working to defend the rights and interests of the American people from the negative effects of mass migration.
Also published at: Brian Lonergan, Five immigration fixes that would boost America in 2018, The Hill, December 26, 2017