House Judiciary Committee Chairman Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) unveiled an immigration bill during a news conference on Wednesday afternoon.
The bill takes a tough stance on illegal immigration enforcement and addresses the future of DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) recipients.
The bill does contain much of what the president has said that he wants to see in an immigration bill: plans to fund the border wall, end the chain migration system and the visa lottery program.
The bill also includes a long-term plan for DACA recipients that outlines a potential path to citizenship while not necessarily favoring DACA recipients over other immigrants seeking citizenship.
However, this House GOP bill takes an even stricter stance on immigration than President Trump, in part, because its inclusion of policies that Trump did not specifically mention or highlight as part of his immigration priorities.
These proposed policies, for which hard-line Republicans have repeatedly pushed over the years, include Kate’s Law, which enhances penalties for illegal immigrants who re-enter the country after being deported, and mandatory use of e-Verify, an electronic employment authorization system.
In an op-ed for the Wall Street Journal, GOP reps. Goodlatte, Michael McCaul, Raul Labrador and Martha McSally write:
Even once the border is secure, immigration law requires significant changes to bring illegal immigration fully under control. Almost half of illegal aliens entered the U.S. legally on tourist and other short-term visas and simply never left. We must turn off the irresistible “jobs magnet” and ensure that immigration laws are effectively enforced within the U.S.
Our bill would achieve these goals by cracking down on people who overstay their visas, by requiring employers to use the accurate and hugely successful E-Verify system to ensure that they hire only legal workers, and by making it easier to deport aliens who are gang members, who are aggravated felons, who fail to register as sex offenders, or who have multiple DUIs.
Trump indicated that the legislation would be “a good starting point” for his administration to accomplish its immigration goals when Goodlatte mentioned the legislation during the bipartisan meeting of lawmakers held by at the White House on Tuesday.
While the bill addresses several hot-button immigration issues, Goodlatte would not label it as “comprehensive” reform legislation.
“This is not a comprehensive immigration reform bill—the president and others yesterday at the White House said that there would be further phases,” Goodlatte said in Wednesday’s conference. “We anticipate that in our bill by noting that the president wants to move to a merit-based system, but we don’t attempt to do that in this bill.”
Goodlatte’s bill seems to have strong Republican support in the House, but, should it pass, its future in the Senate is less clear.