House to Vote Wednesday on "Consensus Bill" to Secure border, End Family Separations, and Provide Conditional Path for Dreamers to Earn Legal Status; Chairman McCaul Optimistic it will Pass
As the House of Representatives prepares to vote on an immigration bill Wednesday that would secure the border, end the separation of families that crossed the border illegally, and provide a conditional path for Dreamers to earn legal status, Texas Republican Representative Michael McCaul (Chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee) feels optimistic that the legislation can get the 218 votes necessary for it to be adopted by the House, even without the support of a single Democratic Representative.
“We call it a consensus bill. We're trying to get a consensus from Freedom Caucus moderates and people in the middle on the Republican side. We had a very good conference when we put a pause on that bill going forward. I felt very optimistic we are going to have a solution to this problem,” MCCaul told Chris Wallace on Fox news Sunday.
The Border Security and Immigration Reform Act of 2018 was crafted by Republican leadership to provide legislative solutions to the US’ most pressing problems related to immigration.
Following up on President Donald Trump’s executive order, the bill includes legislation to end the separation of alien minors from their families who crossed the border illegally and claimed asylum after they were apprehended by border control, stating that they should be detained together.
Chairman McCaul also revealed that if the bill fails to pass, Republicans will follow up with a more narrow bill to address the separations of children from their parents that are being detained for claiming asylum after crossing the border illegally. “If we don't do this, you are going to see more for these kids at the border,” he said.
The bill also includes $16.6 billion in funding for a border wall system in strategic places and an additional $6.8 billion for infrastructure, assets, operations, and technology to enhance security along the southern border at and between ports of entry. It also provides funding for the hiring of extra border security personnel and additional resources to secure the northern, southern, and maritime borders.
In addition to providing resources to strategically secure the border so that we know who and what are entering the United States, the bill includes provisions that would provide some 1.8 million unauthorized immigrants who were brought to the US illegally as children, known as “Dreamers”, with a conditional pathway to earn legal status.
The majority of Americans, including President Trump, support providing the Dreamers with a conditional pathway to earn their legal status like this bill would. While many people feel like this is just the right thing to do because most Dreamers grew up in America and may not even remember the place they came from, it also makes sense economically because they have been educated at the cost of American taxpayers and are now ready to contribute and give back to the economy at a time when there are more available jobs than there are unemployed Americans to fill them.
This provision is what has some Republican immigration hardliners, who scream “no amnesty!”, on the fence when it comes to voting in support of this bill. However, calling a conditional pathway to legal status with criminal background checks and strict merit-based requirements “amnesty” is a huge stretch, especially when the decision to migrate illegally to the US was not made by the Dreamers, but by their parents when they were minors. Should children be held responsible for the crimes of their parents?
The president has voiced support for this bill, but he has also noted that even if the bill passes in the house without any votes from Democrats, it will still need at least 9 votes from Democratic senators for it to make it to the oval office and get signed by him into law. While this may sound discouraging, House Republicans should band together and adopt the bill so that Democrats in the Senate will either be pressured to approve it or reveal their true intentions of impeding Republican success for political gains at the cost of Americans and Dreamers. This is the most reasonable immigration bill that has been considered by Congress in a long time, and Democrats’ true intentions to obstruct any and all Republican legislative solutions to our nation’s immigration-related problems, and especially those that would secure the border, are becoming clearer by the day.
Congress has a rare opportunity here to pass legislation that would secure the border, allow Dreamers to earn their legal status and improve the economy, and end family separations at the border. If Republican immigration hardliners continue to act like Democrats by playing politics and obstructing Republican legislation like this that is in the best interest of all Americans, then the border will remain unsecured, and illegal immigration will continue to occur at an unacceptable rate. If this bill is passed, then the border will be much more secure, future illegal immigration will be greatly deterred, and the economy will benefit from a newly legalized population of working age adults that were educated in America.
Even if the bill does not pass, there is still a great benefit from this process in that there is now some 300 pages of immigration legislation for lawmakers to work with and hopefully pass some version of in the future. While the bill may not be perfect, it represents legislative progress on a difficult issue of which the American people are increasing their demands for real solutions. "What we have here is the seeds of consensus," said House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI). Speaker Ryan thinks the bill will be the framework for legislation that eventually will become law, "hopefully now but if not, later."