Under the leadership of Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), House Republicans are drafting a set of immigration reform principles to guide them as they debate immigration in 2014. They plan to release these principles in time for their January 29th GOP retreat.
At the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), we hope these principles will finally place the interests of Americans first – an idea that is conspicuously absent from the reforms being proposed by the leaders of either party.
FAIR’s core principles for immigration reform are:
No more amnesties. We can create clever euphemisms, but the only people we will be fooling are ourselves. Any policy that legalizes illegal aliens is amnesty and will lead to even more illegal immigration. This includes any “pathways to citizenship” or legalization programs that grant green cards or work visas.
Secure our borders. The last time our government measured border security, only 13 percent of our borders are under “operational control.” That is simply unacceptable. To get the job done, we must use all the tools at our disposal. We must put more boots on the ground, add infrastructure (such as fencing) and implement proven technology to reduce the flow of illegal aliens across the border.
End visa overstays. Approximately 30-40 percent of illegal aliens are aliens who entered the U.S. legally, but overstayed their visas. To end this practice, we must add Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents and finally implement a biometric entry-exit system at all ports of entry—a system already required by law.
Stop the hiring of illegal workers. Unless we remove the incentives to enter the U.S. illegally, we will not stop illegal immigration. We must eliminate the jobs magnet by requiring all employers use E-Verify and demand rigorous worksite enforcement that holds both employers and illegal workers accountable.
Robustly and uniformly enforce our immigration laws. Policies that direct law enforcement to ignore violations of our laws undermine the rule of law and are inherently unjust to law-abiding legal immigrants. We must enforce our existing immigration laws, eliminate fraud throughout the system, and prohibit the adoption of policies by state/local governments that encourage illegal immigration or provide benefits to illegal aliens. Enforcement doesn’t require mass deportation. If we enforce our laws and remove the incentives to remain here, many illegal aliens will go home on their own.
Implement a merit-based immigration system. Our immigration system should choose immigrants based on an objective assessment of who is most likely to benefit the economic and social interests of our nation.
End family chain migration. Family-based immigration must be limited to spouses and unmarried minor children. Entitlements for extended family migration lead to an immigration system that is not based on merit, runs on autopilot and fosters exponential growth in immigration.
Support the American worker. American workers are the best and most productive in the world. They are eager to work. What they need is the opportunity to compete for jobs at fair wages, not unfair competition created by massive guest worker programs. In addition, just because we could benefit from some skilled immigration doesn’t mean we should rubber stamp visas for every applicant with certain skills. We should develop and encourage our own STEM professionals, not discourage them by flooding the labor market.
Limit overall immigration. We are a nation of over 315 million people. We need to consider how much we want to grow and how that growth will affect jobs, our environment, resources and quality of life in America.