Smith is concerned that President Trump’s amnesty proposal is deeply flawed because a vital workplace component is missing. Plus, the amnesty now enforcement later pattern is doomed to failure, as we should have learned from the 1986 debacle.
HARRIS FAULKNER: Congressman you’ve been making news with something you said about the president’s immigration proposal, and I want to step in and just push in on that: you’re not in favor of amnesty. Is that what you think the president is proposing?Perhaps E-Verify is not in the proposal because it would work.
REP. LAMAR SMITH: Yes, he is actually proposing amnesty for twice as many people as President Obama did a couple of years ago, and in fact he’s adding citizenship on top of that. But the real concerns I have about this proposal is that it, one, does not include E-Verify which is a workforce verification system that says employers can only hire legal workers in the United States and that protects jobs for American workers, and that will also reduce illegal immigration if illegal immigrants can’t get these jobs. So that was a glaring omission in my judgment.
The other flaw is that it has amnesty today but the legal immigration reforms don’t take place until a distant tomorrow, in some cases 17 years from now. [Editor: Chain migration would not end for 17 years.] You can guess the likelihood of that occurring. So it’s amnesty today, many legal immigration reforms tomorrow. It doesn’t have work force verification, and also it’s really an invitation to fraud, it’s ripe for fraud because they’re going to allow a lot of adult illegal immigrants to apply under the DACA program to get amnesty: they may be 30 years old. They’re going to say ‘Oh yeah we came into the country when we were younger, when we were children or teenagers,’ and there’s not going to be any way to check that to confirm that. So it is ripe for fraud as well, and I think for those reasons we need to take a long hard look and I hope revised it in a number of ways.
FAULKNER: Look, if this is the bottom line for this president, and no matter what you call it, amnesty or anything else, if he chooses to go forward and lead in this particular manner with this proposal, are there enough Republicans like you who would say no to this to sink it?
SMITH: I think there are enough Republicans and Democrats who have concerns about that proposal right now that it will force either a withdrawal of the proposal, or it’ll force us to to start over again and in my view, put more structural reforms in it: better secure the border, have legal immigration reform start a lot earlier than 17 years from now, and then we can talk about what to do with the individuals who are in this country, who came in as children and who are still here but that’s a narrow group with individuals who have been approved, that’s only about 700,000. This proposal gives amnesty to almost two million, twice as many as President Obama did.
FAULKNER: And some of these people are potentially in your border state of Texas.
SMITH: I’m sure a lot of them are in almost any state, but what we need to remember is that America is the most generous country in the world. We admit 1 million people legally every year; there’s a right way and a wrong way to come into this country, and the right way is to apply as millions have done before you. Apply, wait your turn in line and come in when you’re admitted, not cut in front of the line, not coming to the country at the expense of American workers and taxpayers, but play play by the rules. We’re the most generous country in the world; you will be admitted if you play by the rules.
FAULKNER: Congressman Smith, is this at a point where you step in and this becomes a bargaining chip now, this E-Verify?
SMITH: I hope it’s more than a bargaining chip. . .
FAULKNER: Can you insert it into the conversation is what I’m saying.
SMITH: Absolutely, E-Verify should be a part of the conversation, and it’s the most popular immigration reform with the American people: 82 percent support E-Verify, this workforce verification. I have no good reason why it’s not in this proposal.