House Republicans Roll Out DACA Bill Packed With Border Security and Immigration Reforms

A group of Republican lawmakers unveiled Wednesday a bill that pairs granting legal status to younger illegal immigrants with a laundry list of conservative immigration reforms and border security enhancements, including President Donald Trump’s proposed border wall.

The proposal contains all of the changes to immigration law that Trump has demanded as part of a deal to replace the now-canceled Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, a former President Barack Obama administration order that shielded hundreds of thousands of younger illegal immigrants from deportation.

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It also incorporates several immigration enforcement measures long advocated by immigration hawks, including penalties for sanctuary cities and foreign nationals who overstay their visas.

Dubbed the Securing America’s Future Act, the bill was teased by its sponsors—GOP Reps. Bob Goodlatte of Virginia, Michael McCaul of Texas, Raúl Labrador of Idaho, and Martha McSally of Arizona—in a Tuesday op-ed in the Wall Street Journal. The official rollout Wednesday comes a day after Trump met with a bipartisan group lawmakers to discuss the framework of a bill that would legalize DACA recipients before the program expires in March.

The bill’s authors said the DACA negotiations presented an opportunity to enact tougher immigration law and stave off pressure for a future amnesty of illegal immigrants.

“Americans have been debating how to best fix the country’s immigration system for decades,” they wrote in The Wall Street Journal. “Congress has a unique opportunity to act now, before the country ends up with another large population who crossed the border illegally as children.”

A summary of the bill’s provisions reads like an immigration hawk’s wish list. It would fulfill Trump’s four-point plan for a DACA compromise: legal status for DACA recipients, end to the Diversity Visa Lottery, limits on chain migration, and full funding for the border wall.

The bill also includes several provisions that Trump has not said are necessary to reach a DACA deal, but that immigration hawks have long argued are needed to eliminate the “pull factors” for illegal immigration. Among them are Kate’s Law, which enhances penalties for illegal immigrants who re-enter the country after being deported, and mandatory use of E-Verify, an electronic employment authorization system.

Democrats are almost certain to balk the GOP bill, not least because it does not offer a path to legal permanent residence or citizenship for DACA recipients. The bill instead allows beneficiaries to receive a three-year renewable legal status, essentially reviving the DACA program for the roughly 800,000 illegal immigrants who received protection under the original order.

Despite slim chances of garnering more than a few Democratic supporters, the bill could serve as a starting point for negotiating a DACA replacement.

At Wednesday’s meeting with lawmakers, Trump said he would be willing to place a DACA fix within a “bill of love,” but did not specify what such legislation would entail. The White House clarified Wednesday that any DACA compromise must also do away with chain migration and the diversity visa while also funding the border wall.

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California Is Officially a Sanctuary State

A sweeping immigration law took effect Monday in California, officially making it the country’s largest sanctuary state.

The controversial law, SB 54, passed the state Legislature in September and was signed into law by Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown the following month. It prevents police in California, which has by far the nation’s largest illegal immigrant population, from asking people about their immigration status or participating in most federal immigration enforcement actions.

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A response to the Trump administration’s criticism of sanctuary jurisdictions, the law sharply limits state and local law enforcement communication with federal immigration authorities, and prevents jails from holding criminal aliens on immigration detention requests, unless the person has been convicted of certain crimes.

Under Brown’s leadership, California has become the leading opponent of President Donald Trump’s immigration agenda over the past year. In addition to SB 54, the state has enacted a slate of laws aimed at protecting illegal immigrants and their children from the administration’s tougher enforcement of immigration laws.

Other immigration bills passed in 2017 include a measure that prohibits landlords from reporting their illegal immigrant renters and another that prevents employers from allowing immigration raids at their work sites without a court order.

SB 54 was the most contentious of the California initiatives, drawing condemnation from federal immigration authorities and many county sheriffs throughout the state. Acting Immigration and Customs Enforcement Director Thomas Homan blasted California lawmakers, accusing them of putting “politics over public safety.”

“Disturbingly, the legislation serves to codify a dangerous policy that deliberately obstructs our country’s immigration laws and shelters serious criminal alien offenders,” he said in a statement following the passage of SB 54.

Despite threats by the administration to withhold federal funds from sanctuary jurisdictions, Brown has not shied away from using his authority as governor to thwart certain immigration enforcement. He pardoned two illegal immigrants of state felony convictions last month, a move that could allow the men, who were set to be deported, to appeal their cases in immigration court.

Brown, who granted the pardons just before Christmas, characterized them as acts of mercy, reports The Sacramento Bee.

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Nearly 450,000 People Fled These 3 Deep Blue States in 2017

Three Democratic-leaning states hemorrhaged hundreds of thousands of people in 2016 and 2017 as crime, high taxes, and, in some cases, crummy weather had residents seeking greener pastures elsewhere.

The exodus of residents was most pronounced in New York, which saw about 190,000 people leave the state between July 1, 2016, and July 1, 2017, according to U.S. Census Bureau data released last week.

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New York’s domestic out-migration during that time period was about the same as it was during the same time in 2015 and 2016. Since 2010, the state’s outflow of just over 1 million residents has exceeded that of every other state, both in absolute terms and as a share of population, according to the free-market think tank Empire Center.

Despite the massive domestic out-migration flow, New York’s net population grew slightly, largely due to high levels of international immigration and a so-called “natural increase”—the difference between births and deaths in a given year. New York’s net migration was about minus 60,000 residents, but the state had 73,000 more births than deaths, resulting in a net population growth of about 13,000.

Illinois was not so fortunate. Long-beset by twin budget and pension crises and the erosion of its tax base, Illinois lost so many residents that it dropped from the fifth- to the sixth-most populous state in 2017, losing its previous spot to Pennsylvania.

Just under 115,000 Illinois residents decamped for other states between July 2016 and July 2017. Since 2010, the Land of Lincoln has lost about 650,000 residents to other states on net, equal to the combined population of the state’s four largest cities other than Chicago, according to the Illinois Policy Institute.

Illinois’ domestic out-migration problem has become a nightmare for lawmakers, who must find a way to solve the worst pension crisis in the nation as the state’s tax base shrinks year after year. Illinois’ Democratic-dominated legislature has tried to ameliorate the situation with tax hikes, causing even more people to leave and throwing the state into a demographic spiral. Illinois experiences a net loss of about 33,000 residents in 2016, the fourth consecutive year of population decline.

“As people leave the state, they take their pocketbooks with them. That means there are fewer Illinoisans to pay the bills,” Orphe Divounguy, chief economist with the Illinois Policy Institute, told the Chicago Tribune. “It’s worrying because if you have a declining population and a declining labor force, you will for sure have a further slowdown of economic activity going into 2018.”

California was the third deep blue state to experience significant domestic out-migration between July 2016 and July 2017, and it couldn’t blame the outflow on retirees searching for a more agreeable climate. About 138,000 residents left the state during that time period, second only to New York.

However, because California was the top receiving state for international migrants, its net migration was actually 27,000. Add to that number a “natural increase” of 214,000 people, and California’s population grew by about just over 240,000, according to the Census Bureau.

Going forward, one factor that could worsen domestic out-migration from New York, California, and Illinois is the newly enacted tax reform bill, which caps state and local tax deductions at $10,000. The limit on the state and local tax deduction is poised to hit taxpayers harder in those states than it will in just about any other.

According to the Tax Foundation, New York, Illinois, and California had three of the five highest tax rates expressed as a percentage of per capita income, with residents paying 12.7 percent, 11 percent, and 11 percent, respectively.

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Democrats’ Favored DACA Amnesty Bill Would Cost $26 Billion

The legislative replacement for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program favored by most Democrats would add billions to the budget deficit, according to an estimate from Congress’ nonpartisan accounting shop.

The Congressional Budget Office released Friday its score of the Dream Act of 2017, a DACA amnesty bill that would provide legal permanent residence and, eventually, a path to citizenship for well over 1 million younger illegal immigrants. The CBO found that the Dream Act would increase the federal budget deficit by $26 billion over a decade, mostly by conferring eligibility for federal benefits to the amnestied immigrants.

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Introduced earlier this year by Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., and Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., the bill has become the DACA replacement of choice for congressional Democrats. Both Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi have said they are committed to passing a “clean” Dream Act to legalize DACA recipients and other similarly situated illegal immigrants.

The Dream Act would direct the Department of Homeland Security to give lawful conditional status to illegal immigrants who were under 18 years old when they initially entered the U.S. and have lived here for at least four years prior to the bill’s enactment. Because of the Dream Act’s expansive eligibility criteria, the number of illegal immigrants who would benefit from the Dream Act is far higher than the DACA population of about 790,000.

The CBO estimates that about 2 million illegal immigrants would be granted conditional lawful permanent resident status under the Dream Act. “Roughly 1 million of the 1.6 million people receiving unconditional LPR status would become naturalized U.S. citizens during the 2018-2027 period,” the CBO cost estimate states.

Amnesty for that population would boost the deficit mainly through increased direct spending on Medicaid, health insurance subsidies, and food stamp benefits. On the revenue side, any tax gains from bringing illegal immigrants “on the books” would be largely offset because “increased reporting of employment income would result in increases in tax deductions by businesses,” according to the CBO’s estimate.

“As a result, corporations would report lower taxable profits and pay less in income taxes,” the CBO report added.

Democrats’ push for a “clean” Dream Act is unlikely to result in a DACA replacement before the end of the year, as immigration advocates and their allies on Capitol Hill have demanded.

Though Republicans have expressed support for crafting a legislative fix, both the White House and immigration hawks in Congress have insisted that any DACA replacement bill include border security enhancements and deeper reforms such as limits on chain migration and ending the Diversity Visa Lottery.

Republican leadership has also rejected the idea of including Dream Act provisions in the 2018 spending bill, which is due Friday.

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Latest ICE Operation Snaps Up 101 Illegal Immigrants, Mostly Criminals, in New Jersey

Federal agents arrested more than 100 foreign nationals wanted for immigration violations in a five-day operation in New Jersey, Immigration and Customs Enforcement announced Tuesday.

The operation, led by ICE’s enforcement and removal division, netted a total of 101 illegal immigrants who were either criminal aliens, had illegally re-entered the country after being deported, or had an outstanding order of removal.

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Immigration officials said 88 percent of those arrested were convicted criminals and 80 percent of them had prior felony convictions for crimes including sexual assault of a minor, possession of child pornography, and aggravated assault.

“The continued results of our Fugitive Operations officers and their law enforcement partners underscore ICE’s ongoing and steady commitment to public safety,” John Tsoukaris, field office director of Enforcement and Removal Operations Newark, said in a statement. “As part of this operation, we continue focus on the arrest of individuals who are criminal and are a threat to public safety and national security.”

The New Jersey operation is the latest in a series of major operations by the increasingly aggressive immigration enforcement agency, which President Donald Trump has empowered as a part of his crackdown on illegal immigration. In a departure from the previous administration’s guidelines, nearly anyone illegally present in the U.S. is now subject to arrest and deportation, regardless of criminal history.

That guidance has led to a surge in interior arrests in the first nine months of the Trump administration. From January to the end of the fiscal year 2017, Sept. 30, ICE made about 110,000 arrests—40 percent more than in did during the same period in 2016.

About a quarter of ICE arrests in fiscal year 2017 were of so-called noncriminal aliens, or illegal immigrants who had not been convicted of other crimes. Critics of the administration’s immigration policies say these arrests are unfairly targeting illegal immigrants who don’t pose a threat to public safety.

Immigrant advocates and some local judicial officials have also complained about the practice of arresting immigration fugitives in courthouses, saying it interferes with the justice system and creates mistrust between law enforcement and immigrant communities.

ICE officials have pushed back against the accusation that the agency is indiscriminately targeting all illegal immigrants regardless of criminality. Ninety-two percent of aliens arrested between Jan. 20 and Sept. 30 had a criminal conviction or a pending criminal charge, had an outstanding order of removal, or had illegally re-entered the U.S. after being deported, acting ICE Director Thomas Homan said last week.

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