Americans for Tax Reform (ATR) President Grover Norquist issued the following statement on the passage of of S.744, the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act:
“As Winston Churchill said, ‘This is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.’ The Senate moved the immigration reform debate in the right direction today, passing a bill that begins the task of modernizing our broken immigration system. Now it is up to the House of Representatives to improve and strengthen the bill, and deliver immigration reform that creates a workable legal immigration system which deters illegal immigration by facilitating a robust future flow of legal immigrants to strengthen the American economy.
“I applaud the Senate for their leadership on this issue, and look forward to constructive improvements from the Republican House.”
Some amendments defeated in the Senate that should be taken up by the House include:
- Cruz 1325: Increases high-skilled (H-1B) visa caps five-fold, to 325,000.
- Lee 1217 and Toomey 1599: Increases the initial cap on low-skilled (W) visas to 200,000, and the fully-phased in cap to 400,000.
- Hatch-Rubio 1248: Applies a five-year waiting period for green card holders to accept Obamacare benefits. This waiting period currently exists for all other public benefit programs. This amendment also specifically prevents temporary workers from accessing Obamcare subsidies and tax credits.
Other suggested improvements to the bill:
- Fix the formula for increasing the visa cap. The formula relies on national unemployment statistics, which do not take into account the needs of different industries or localities. It also empowers Washington bureaucrats to help determine the number of visas available. In reality, this formula should be primarily driven by the needs of employers who are unable to find Americans to fill open jobs. The House should limit the power of any new bureau to politicize the visa system.
- Eliminate excessive wage premiums. The Senate bill includes a laudable “safety valve” for certain employers who are unable to fill jobs, even when visa caps have been met or the unemployment rate is high. Unfortunately, use of the safety valve requires paying immigrant workers a wage premium of up to 70 percent. Furthermore, use of the safety valve counts against the following year’s visa cap. This is bad for small businesses and the economy as a whole, and should be dealt with in the House.
- Don’t discriminate against the construction industry. The Senate bill imposes an unworkable cap of 15,000 visas per year for construction workers, and exempts construction companies from participating in the safety valve. The House should remove this “cap within a cap” and give the construction industry access to the safety valve.