Since any amnesty, whether DACA or DACA-plus, will attract future illegal immigration, any deal coming out of this week’s Senate debate must have muscular enforcement provisions.
President Trump has made “The Wall” the symbol of tougher enforcement. That’s why various proposals for a DACA/Dreamer amnesty include at least some pretense of border enforcement. The Graham/Durbin plan offered, in the words of one report, “a small down payment on the border wall” in exchange for amnesty. The Talking Stick Common Sense Coalition is offering funding for as little as 10 percent of the wall. Senators Warner and Isakson are considering a simple extension of DACA for three years’ worth wall funding. And Sen. McCain, true to form, has teamed up with Chris Coons to propose amnesty for even more than the 1.8 million sought by the White House in exchange for a study of border security and no money at all.
It’s clear none of these senators actually wants a wall, but given its importance to Trump, they’re willing to do a striptease for a while if that will secure them the amnesty that is their true objective.
But even if these border provisions were not grudging and half-hearted, they’d still miss the point. Border security isn’t just a wall (plus some drones thrown in to dupe the rubes); it isn’t even confined to the land border. Not only is every international airport part of the border, but laxity in interior enforcement increases pressure on the borders, making it harder to maintain their integrity.
That’s why the Grassley proposal, based on the White House framework, includes more enforcement measures than simply the wall and other border accoutrements. The measure has serious shortcomings, but its enforcement section suggests the drafters understand that patching holes on the physical border won’t matter much unless you patch the holes in the law itself.
The final language of the Grassley/White House bill hasn’t been introduced yet, but to give a few examples from what have been reported of non-Wall enforcement provisions, in no particular order: Loopholes making it harder to remove Unaccompanied Alien “Children” would be filled; visitors who overstay visas by more than 30 days would be subject to expedited deportation; drunk driving would be specifically added to the grounds for deportation; dangerous criminals whose countries refuse to take them back will no longer have to be released; and local jurisdictions that honor an ICE “detainer” and hold deportable aliens for ICE pick-up would be protected from the ACLU’s anti-border lawfare.
The Grassley bill does omit some needed changes; specifically, it does not address the weaknesses in our asylum system, which increase pressure on the border. It also does not mandate E-Verify, though it does reauthorize it permanently, eliminating the opportunity for anti-borders forces to try to kill it every time it comes up for reauthorization.
Senate passage of an amnesty that doesn’t include these measures guarantees continued illegal immigration.
Mark Krikorian is the executive director of the nonpartisan Center for Immigration Studies.