Washington, D.C. – House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) today delivered the following statement on the House floor in support of the Securing America’s Future Act (H.R. 4760). This bill – introduced in January by Chairman Goodlatte, House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Michael McCaul (R-Texas), House Judiciary Committee Immigration and Border Security Subcommittee Chairman Raúl Labrador (R-Idaho), and House Homeland Security Committee Border and Maritime Security Subcommittee Chairwoman Martha McSally (R-Ariz.) – bolsters enforcement of existing immigration law, makes important reforms to our legal immigration programs, secures the border, and provides a legislative solution for the current beneficiaries of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.
Chairman Goodlatte: I introduced H.R. 4760 along with Representatives Michael McCaul, Martha McSally, and Raul Labrador to provide an equitable and permanent legal status for unlawful aliens who grew up in America after their parents brought them here as children. Just as importantly, we want to strengthen our borders, close gaping loopholes, curtail endemic fraud, and enhance interior immigration enforcement so that our nation won’t face the same dilemma in a few years.
President Trump did the right thing and tried to end President Obama’s blatantly unconstitutional DACA program. As a federal court ruled in enjoining DACA’s sister program, “[DHS] cannot . . . enact a program whereby it not only ignores the dictates of Congress, but actively acts to thwart them … The DHS Secretary is not just rewriting the laws; he is creating them from scratch.” President Trump also did the right thing by immediately turning to us asking Congress to fix the problem.
As he asked for, H.R. 4760 solves the DACA conundrum. It provides DACA beneficiaries with an indefinitely-renewable legal nonimmigrant status allowing them to live and work in the U.S. without worry and travel abroad as they choose. It also allows them to receive green cards on the same terms as any other intending immigrant around the world.
As I indicated, the bill will help ensure that the distressing DACA dilemma does not recur. It ends “catch and release” at the border, battles asylum fraud, and ensures that unaccompanied minors caught at the border will be treated equally regardless of their home country. It will ensure that the law no longer tempts minors and their parents to make the dangerous illicit journey to the U.S. and to line the pockets of cancerous cartels with hundreds of millions of dollars.
The bill will also take away the other magnet that draws millions of persons to come to the U.S. illegally – the jobs magnet. Through the inclusion of Representative Lamar Smith’s Legal Workforce Act, it makes E-Verify mandatory. After two decades of constant improvement, E-Verify has become an extremely effective, reliable and easy way for employers to ensure that they have hired a legal workforce. Three quarters of a million employers currently use E-Verify, which almost instantaneously confirms the work eligibility of new hires 99 percent of the time.
The bill will allow DHS to deport members of MS-13 and other virulent criminal gangs and allow it to detain dangerous aliens who cannot be removed. It will combat the public safety menace of sanctuary cities in multiple ways, including by allowing the Justice Department to withhold from them law enforcement grants.
The bill makes significant reforms to our legal immigration system. It puts an end to extended family chain migration and terminates the diversity visa green card lottery, which awards green cards at random to people with no ties to the U.S. or any particular skills.
In addition, it replaces the dysfunctional H-2A agricultural guestworker program. The H-2A program is slow, bureaucratic, and frustrating – often forcing growers to leave crops to rot in the fields. They also must pay an artificially inflated wage rate along with providing free housing and transportation. In doing the right thing, H-2A users are almost always repaid by being placed at a competitive disadvantage in the marketplace.
The bill provides growers with streamlined access to guestworkers when sufficient American labor cannot be found. It finally provides dairies and food processors with year-round labor needs with access to a guestworker program. It avoids the pitfalls of the H-2A program and it will remain at its core a true guestworker program. As growers learned the hard way after the 1986 amnesty, illegal farmworkers will leave en mass and flock to the cities when provided with permanent residence.
The Agricultural Guestworker Act contained in this bill is supported by the American Farm Bureau Federation, the dairy industry, and over 200 distinct agricultural organizations from across the United States.
Following introduction of this legislation, I have sat down with my colleagues for months to learn of any concerns and to strive to improve the bill. The product of this intensive work is better legislation. While I am disappointed that the rule did not allow me to include all the improvements made possible by the input of so many Members, I am gratified that I could include the refinements to the H-2C program. To give just one example, the bill now clarifies that DHS will issue documents to unlawful alien farmworkers who have been sponsored by growers to join the program authorizing them to return to the U.S. without the need for visas after completing their initial touchbacks. This will create certainty for growers, allowing them to receive preapproval of their H-2C petitions for current workers before they leave the country and precertification of the workers’ admission back into the U.S. before they leave.
Congress has a unique opportunity to act before the country ends up with another large population who crossed the border illegally as children. Let’s take this historic moment to come together and support vital legislation that provides common-sense, reasonable solutions. I urge my colleagues to join President Trump and support H.R. 4760.
More details on the Securing America’s Future Act can be found HERE.