As I write this column in mid-February 2018, immigration reform has taken center stage in Washington, D.C.
Two North Carolina lawmakers, each with competing visions on how to handle illegal immigration, are in the thick of the debate. Respectfully they are Rep. Mark Meadows and Sen. Thom Tillis.
Tillis is an advocate of The Secure and Succeed Act, which is backed by Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, and endorsed by U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.
In a nutshell, the Secure and Succeed Act calls for merit based immigration legislation designed to resolve the legal uncertainty facing illegal, undocumented minors. It would include provisions to help deter illegal immigration, prevent chain migration, end the diversity lottery and bar benefits for parents/of children. It also calls for twenty five billion dollars to bolster defenses along the border with Mexico and it provides an eventual path to citizenship for approximately 2 million Dreamers. See Senator Tillis' Senate office Webpage.
Over in the U.S. House — Rep. Mark Meadows, R- N.C., who is chairman of the Freedom Caucus, supports the legislation of House Judiciary Chairman Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-Va. Essentially that legislation would lead with security and enforcement first and does not offer amnesty.
However the legislation would offer a renewable, three year legal status for DACA recipients in exchange for authorizing President Trump's border wall funding, ending family-based immigration and eliminating the diversity visa lottery program. For more information and clarification, please see here, here, here, and here.
It also would crack down on so-called sanctuary cities, increase criminal penalties for deported criminals who try to return to the U.S. and require employers to use an electronic verification system to ensure they only hire legal workers.
Congressman Meadows and the Freedom Caucus are adamant that the Goodlatte bill be put on the floor of the House for a vote.
Recently on CBS's "Face the Nation," Meadows specifically stated that U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., and the leadership should not wait for the Senate to send them a bill.
On the broadcast, Meadows declared, "We’re going to engage and hold our speaker to his word" — which said he was going to whip the Gooodlatte bill making sure it has the threshold, then send it to the Senate. In concluding the interview Meadows additionally declared, "the biggest thing is it puts emphasis on border security and not creating a special path to citizenship."
Much is at stake in the U.S. House — which is arguably a more conservative body the then the Senate and, in the view of this writer, much more of reflects Trump’s base.
The speaker is on the hot seat, and like former Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, he could face "a motion to vacate" which could spell the end of Ryan’s tenure.
And let’s be clear — President Trump campaigned against amnesty.
Several months ago I wrote in a column that Senator Tillis’ Succeed Act was a great opening bid. It was, and it had many elements on which conservatives can agree. But its focus is on the DACA recipients/amnesty and not securing the border.
In 1986, many conservatives warned President Reagan that the Simpson Mazzoli act was weak on enforcement and that granting amnesty would only to lead to a flood of illegal immigrants. That is precisely what happened.
Congressman Mark Meadows, The Freedom Caucus, and U.S. House Judiciary Chairman are on the right track.
In my opinion President Trump should take his cues from them.
Marc Rotterman worked on the national campaign for Reagan for president in 1980. He currently serves as senior fellow at the John Locke Foundation. He is the host of "Front Row" on UNC-TV and The NC Channel. Follow him on Twitter @FrontRowmarc. For more of his reports — Click Here Now.
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