Numbers USA, May 27, 2022
THIS ISSUE: USICA, spending bills, and bipartisan Senate talks pose biggest immigration threats this summer
FRI, MAY 27th
With both the House and Senate out next week for the Memorial Day recess, here's a look at the legislation that could impact immigration as we head into the summer months...
USICA/America COMPETES Act
The bicameral conference committee tasked with negotiating a final version of a massive legislative package to strengthen America's global innovation and competition continues to meet. But most reports indicate that not much progress has been made.
The House-passed version -- the America COMPETES Act -- contains a number of troubling immigration provisions that would dramatically increase legal immigration by creating a new visa program for foreign investors and their workers. The bill also includes a provision that would allow any foreign citizen with a doctorate degree in a STEM field from a U.S. university or college, or the foreign equivalence, to receive a green card.
The Senate-passed version -- the U.S. Innovation and Competition Act (USICA) -- doesn't contain any immigration provisions.
The committee was hoping to reach an agreement this week on an outline for the final legislation, but that has yet to be done. GOP Senators expressed frustration with the slow pace of the negotiations and are telling House Democrats to start accepting the fact that the final legislation will look more like the Senate bill than the House bill. A bill that more closely resembles the Senate version is good news for those who oppose immigration increases.
"Gang of 4" continues immigration talks
Senators Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Alex Padilla (D-Calif.), Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), and John Cornyn (R-Texas) continue their behind-the-scene discussions on a potential immigration compromise. Previous reports indicated that the "gang of 4" was negotiating a package that would trade border security for an amnesty for an estimated 2.1 million DACA-eligible illegal aliens.
Sen. Tillis provided an update of those discussions this week and said that most of the conversations have centered around the ongoing border crisis. Border Patrol agents have made more than 1.2 million apprehensions over the first 7 months of the fiscal year that started on Oct. 1. And in April, CBP reported a record-level number of total encounters (234,088). Encounters include both border apprehensions and inadmissible aliens who present themselves at a port of entry.
Tillis was asked directly about an amnesty for illegal aliens. He said that the group has yet to discuss an amnesty, and "there will never be an amnesty." However, Tillis then said that there could be a "path" for the "DACA population."
Apparently, Sen. Tillis doesn't believe that giving permanent status and work authorization to illegal aliens IS an amnesty, so we've posted new messages for activists in North Carolina and Texas that they can send to Sens. Tillis and Cornyn, respectively.
We expect the appropriations process to heat up once Congress returns from next week's recess. For the past several years, lawmakers have used the Homeland Security appropriations bill to allow for an increase in the number of foreign guest workers.
We'll also be watching funding levels for both the Border Patrol and Immigration and Customs Enforcement, especially as the Biden Administration winds down the Title 42 policy that blocked some illegal border crossers from claiming asylum because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Two races stood out on immigration after Tuesday's primary elections. Alabama, Arkansas, and Georgia held their primaries, while Texas held runoffs from its March primaries.
In Alabama, NumbersUSA "True Reformer" and current Congressman Mo Brooks secured a runoff for the GOP Senate nomination against Katie Britt who previously served as the retiring Sen. Richard Shelby's chief of staff. The runoff is on June 21. (See our comparison of those candidates here. For more on NumbersUSA "True Reformers," see the top of the right column.)
In Texas, incumbent Congressman Henry Cuellar holds a slim lead with most votes counted over Jessica Cisneros in a runoff for the Democratic nomination in Texas' 28th Congressional District, a heavily Hispanic electorate along the Mexican border. Cuellar has a really poor immigration voting record, but it is the 4th best among Democrats in Congress. And he has been one of the few Congressional Democrats -- and the loudest -- in criticizing the Biden Administration's border policies over the past year. Cisneros is an immigration attorney who supports the less-enforcement philosophy of Pres. Biden and of Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez who campaigned for Cisneros. The hard-fought contest and close results are indicative of the growing split among Democratic voters nationwide over border policies.
Finally, all of us at NumbersUSA wish you and your families a safe and happy Memorial Day weekend!
NUMBERSUSA DEPUTY DIRECTOR