Opponents to comprehensive immigration reform introduced legislation on Wednesday to counter the Senate bipartisan framework that calls for a tough path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants.
The proposals from Sen. David Vitter (R-LA), Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL), and many of the same opponents from the 2007 reform debate, include preventing children born in the U.S. to undocumented immigrants from becoming citizens, cutting off federal funding to cities that “provide safe harbor, ” and expanding E-verify and other enforcement measures. One proposal to expand visas for high-skilled workers is an uncontroversial idea, but last year Republicans introduced a STEM bill that would have effectively reduced legal immigration, under the guise of expanding the program.
On the Senate floor Wednesday, Vitter said, “We don’t have the kind of commitment to law enforcement at this point that gives the American people the confidence that we’re moving on the right path. So this is no sure thing.”
Despite Vitter’s claim more enforcement is needed before anything else, undocumented immigration from Mexico has slowed down to zero, while border crossings are at their lowest level in 40 years. The U.S. has hit nearly all of 2007 targets for enforcement, with 81 percent of the U.S.-Mexico border now meeting one of the top three levels of “operational control” by U.S. enforcement officials.
Omitting a path to citizenship not only ignores growing support for the issue, but it relegates 11 million undocumented immigrants to a permanent underclass. Many Republicans, including Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, would criticize Vitter’s attempt to pass piecemeal legislation that offers no permanent solution. “People who oppose such reform declare that securing the United States border must come before moving toward broader reform,” Jeb Bush penned in an op-ed. “Such an approach is shortsighted and self-defeating. Border security is inextricably intertwined with other aspects of immigration policy. ”