Key House Republicans announced a new DACA-fix bill Wednesday that offers some of the strictest enforcement provisions on the table, saying any new legal status for Dreamers must be coupled with a crackdown on sanctuary cities and new workforce checks to stop businesses from hiring illegal immigrants.
Led by Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte and Homeland Security Chairman Michael McCaul, the bill would curtail chain migration and end the Diversity Visa Lottery, which President Trump said is critical to any deal.
But it also includes a number of changes Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen has said she needs to stop the new surge of illegal immigrants who have figured out how to game the current system.
For Dreamers, the bill would grant them a new legal status with three-year work permits and the right to travel outside the U.S. — a congressionally approved enhanced version of the current DACA program — but no special pathway to citizenship.
Those who seek permanent status would have to follow existing pathways, such as marrying a U.S. citizen or having a company sponsor an immigrant visa.
It’s one of the stiffest proposals on the table, but the lawmakers who introduced it said it’s the kind of bill that could garner support from most Republicans in order to tackle DACA.
“This is the only bill that’s going to unify the conference and it’s going to get us to a majority of the conference,” said Rep. Raul Labrador, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee’s immigration subcommittee and one of the co-authors.
The bill checks off a number of items that have been on the GOP’s wish list for years, including requiring businesses to run new hires through the E-Verify database to check their work status, a crackdown on sanctuary cities, tougher penalties for repeat-illegal immigrants, an end to the Diversity Visa Lottery and limits to how many family members can be sponsored for entry.
The bill also includes a new guest-worker program for agriculture workers, which Mr. Goodlatte said has to be part of the deal if E-Verify is going to be mandatory.
Sponsors said they believe the bill sticks to the four issues President Trump said this week he wants to focus on: a DACA solution, border security, limits to chain migration and an end to the visa lottery.
But immigrant-rights groups said the bill goes well beyond what they’re willing to accept
“This bill should be viewed for what it is — an obvious attempt by longtime anti-Dreamer lawmaker Rep. Bob Goodlatte and his allies to derail a legislative solution for Dreamers,” said Lorella Praeli, director of immigration policy at the American Civil Liberties Union.
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