Q&A: Draft Standards for Step-by-Step Immigration Reform
Why do we need to act on immigration reform?
The focus of this Congress should be on creating jobs and growing our economy. Reforms to our immigration system will accomplish those goals and address a serious national security issue. Under our current immigration construct, we are unable to capitalize on our full economic potential and are putting at risk the security of our nation, which depends on our ability to secure our borders, enforce our laws, improve channels for legal entry, and identify who is here illegally.
How can we trust the president to enforce any of the laws he signs, especially after all the delays and exemptions with his health care law?
There is rising concern among the American people about the president overreaching in the use of his powers, and rightly so. Unfortunately, the Senate bill would allow this and future administrations to circumvent the Congress and decide unilaterally how to enforce our immigration laws. As part of its step-by-step approach, the House would eliminate the ability for any administration to arbitrarily decide which laws to enforce.
Isn’t your approach “amnesty”?
No. Just the opposite is true. Right now, there are few, if any, consequences for living here illegally. What we have now is amnesty. Using tough standards, the House’s approach would prohibit a special path to citizenship for those living here outside the law. Before anything else, these individuals would have to admit they broke the law. In addition, they would have to:
· Pass rigorous background checks;
· Pay significant fines;
· Pay back taxes;
· Develop proficiency in English and American civics; and
· Be able to support themselves and their families without access to public benefits.
None of this can happen before specific enforcement triggers on border security and other measures have been met.
The Senate bill, on the other hand, starts registering illegal immigrants virtually immediately after passage, does not require them to admit they broke any laws, only prohibits access to public benefits during a probationary period. It also excludes only a small portion of the gang member population from its legalization program while allowing for a broad waiver to apply to those with past convictions for gang-related crimes. The House would take a much more straightforward approach by making criminal aliens, sex offenders, gang members, and those who cannot meet the other rigorous requirements ineligible for legalization.
For more, see this side-by-side comparison of the draft House standards to the Senate bill.