11 Awful GOP Amendments to the Immigration Bill
Tomorrow, the Senate Judiciary Committee officially kicks of the process of amending and working through what could be an historic reform of our broken immigration system.
The Republican members of the Gang of 8 — Sens. McCain (AZ), Flake (AZ), Graham (SC), and Rubio (FL) — deserve credit for their hard work and willingness to compromise on a plan that includes a pathway to earned citizenship. That said, other Republicans have offered dozens of offensive, mean-spirited, and just plain heartless amendments that serve no other purpose than to cause trouble, score cheap political points, demonize immigrants, and/or generally gum up the works for as long as possible in order to try and kill the bill.
ThinkProgress has rounded up 11 of the worst of these GOP amendments:
1. Undocumented immigrants can never become citizens. “No person who is or has previously been willfully present in the United States will [sic] not in lawful status…shall be eligible for United States citizenship.” Offered by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX).
2. Mandatory DNA testing. Registered provisional immigrant applicants must submit a DNA sample to the Department of Justice to compare against the Combined DNA Index System (CODIS) at the FBI. Offered by Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT).
3. Zero assistance. Would prohibit undocumented immigrants who earn provisional legal status from applying for permanent residence if they qualify for state means-tested assistance, the supplemental nutrition assistance program (SNAP), the temporary assistance for needy families program (TANF), or supplemental security income benefits (SSI). Offered by Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL).
4. Bans humanitarian travel. Immigrants who are in provisional legal status but have to go back to their home countries for a humanitarian reason (to visit a sick relative, for instance) would be prohibited from re-entering the United States. Currently, the provisional legal status includes an authorization for travel.Offered by Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA).
5. Guts family re-unification. The green card distribution for some foreigners relies on a point allocation system in which a certain number of points must be accumulated before those individuals can qualify for a merit-based visa. This amendment would eliminate points for siblings of U.S. citizens and points for individuals from low-sending countries from counting towards merit-based immigrant visas. Offered by Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL).
6. In-person interviews for 11 million immigrants. Sure to slow down the process time for 11 million immigrants, an in-person interview would be required to determine one’s eligibility requirements for provisional legal status. Offered by Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL).
7. Limits visas to South Korea. In an effort to force South Koreans to buy beef from the United States again, this amendment threatens to withhold E-5 visas from South Korea immigrants until the country removes its age-based import restrictions on beef. Offered by Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA).
8. Enforces head-of-household deportation and causes family separations. Under the current bill, immigration judges have the authority to decline to deport individuals if they believe that the immigrant’s removal will result in hardship for his or her U.S. citizen child. This amendment would waive this judicial discretion and allow the deportation to occur. Offered by Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA).
9. Prevents low-income undocumented immigrants from seeking legalization. The amendment would require individuals applying for provisional legal status to maintain regular employment and a “regular income or resources” above 400 percent of the poverty line (more than $92,000for a family of four). Under the current bill, immigrants must earn at 100 percent of the poverty line or show regular employment. Offered by Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL).
10. Restricts visas for refugees. This amendment would prohibit individuals from applying for refugee and asylum status until one year after the Director of National Intelligence submits a review related to the Boston bombings to Congress. Offered by Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA).
11. Allows for racial profiling. Would allow Federal law enforcement to take into account an individual’s country of origin when allowing them into the country. Offered by Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA).
Finally, in a very Downton Abbey-esque move, Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) filed an amendment to allow undocumented immigrants to be hired, but only as domestic workers, specifically including cooks, waiters, butlers, governessess, maids, valets, gardeners, footmen, grooms, and chauffeurs.
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