An immigration reform proposal pitched last week by the pro-amnesty “Gang of Six” senators would cover 14 times as many illegal immigrants as a bill offered by leading House Republicans, according to an analysis by NumbersUSA.
The number of illegal immigrants covered is one of numerous major differences among the approaches as a government shutdown looms over the fate of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, created by former President Barack Obama for illegal immigrants whose parents brought them to America as children.
Chris Chmielenski, director of content and activism for NumbersUSA — which favors reduced levels of immigration — said the Secure America’s Future Act offered by House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) hews closely to a list of immigration principles circulated by President Donald Trump shortly after announcing that he would end DACA.
“Most of the additional things put in the legislation are things that the House Judiciary Committee has already approved,” he said.
Here is a look at the major provisions of the proposals:
Population covered by DACA protections:
- Trump request: 694,000 current DACA enrollees
- Goodlatte bill: 694,000 current DACA enrollees, who would have no path to citizenship
- Gang of Six: 3.338 million, based on estimates by the Migration Policy Institute of people who would be eligible for the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act. NumbersUSA estimates that parents of so-called dreamers, who would be eligible for DACA-like protections, would bring the total to 10.014 million.
- Trump request: Ends family-sponsored immigration.
- Goodlatte bill: Limits family-based migration to spouses and minor children and establishes renewable non-immigrant visa for parents of U.S. citizens.
- Gang of Six: Maintains migration and reallocates 26,000 visas reserved for adult children of legal permanent residents to a category of spouses and minor children of permanent residents.
Diversity visa lottery:
- Trump request: Ends program that awards about 50,000 green cards each year to people chosen randomly from applicants around the world.
- Goodlatte bill: Ends program but distributes the green cards to skilled employment-based visa categories.
- Gang of Six: Keeps half of green cards from present system to people from underrepresented countries and half to people currently living in the United States under the Temporary Protected Status (TPS) program based on natural or manmade disasters in their home countries.
- Trump request: A long list of measures such as border wall funding, ending visa overstays, hiring 10,000 more Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers, and punishing “sanctuary” jurisdictions.
- Goodlatte bill: Similar provisions, although with different details.
- Gang of Six: Funding of $1.591 billion for wall planning and construction, limited to existing fencing; $1.123 billion for other non-wall border security measures.
Trump summarily rejected the Gang of Six offer last week and reportedly questioned why the United States would want more immigrants from “s***hole” countries. Controversy over the alleged remark has overshadowed maneuvering among some Democrats toward forcing a partial government shutdown when the government runs out of money at the end of the night on Friday — if the president does not agree to something along the lines of the DREAM Act.
Former Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, who created DACA in 2012, told CNN on Monday that a shutdown may be a good strategy.
“They may be forced to. I think it’s nobody’s first choice,” she said. “And I think there are lots of pros and cons. But unless they can reach an agreement on DACA, the question raises as to what other opportunities will there be for Congress to address this important issue?”
Jessica Vaughan, director of policy studies at the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS), said the more extreme elements of the Democratic Party are committed to a fight. But she added that senior Democrats have not endorsed that approach.
“I don’t think it’s going to happen,” he said. “I don’t think other Democrats think it’s a good idea.”
Vaughan said a federal judge’s ruling last week requiring the Trump administration to accept DACA renewals despite a planned March ending of the program makes a deal less likely because there is less urgency.
Vaughan said Democrats trying to roll Trump with shutdown threats are overplaying their hand.
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“They’re probably underestimating the president, and they are overestimating public support for an amnesty,” she said.