Now that the dust has settled from the mid-term elections, we can assess the impact of Republican control of the House on immigration legislation. By looking to which Congressmen will take leadership roles on the various committees in the 112th Congress, the writing is on the wall in terms of immigration, and it ain’t good. In the first two years of the Obama Administration, most immigration advocates realized that any Comprehensive Immigration Reform (CIR) would include strong enforcement measures. After the seismic shift in Congress, if any immigration legislation comes out of the House, it will likely be an enforcement-only bill.
Here is why the outlook is grim. The two most important House committees steering immigration legislation are the Judiciary Committee, which Representative Lamar Smith (R-TX) will probably chair, and its Immigration Subcommittee, likely to be headed by Representative Steve King (R-IA).
Lamar Smith was the principal architect of the 1996 Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act (IIRIRA). IIRIRA significantly curtailed judicial review and due process, established three- and ten-year bars from returning to the United States for individuals who were unlawfully present, created new grounds of deportation, instituted summary removal proceedings, eliminated most discretionary relief from removal, and established the one year asylum filing deadline. IIRIRA makes it quite clear where Smith stands on immigration issues.
What about King? Want to be scared? Take a look at some of the issue statements and press releases on his website. For starters, he is opposed to birthright citizenship,
Because the 14th Amendment has been misconstrued, current law inappropriately gives American citizenship to the children of illegal aliens solely because their parents were able to cross our borders illegally and give birth here...As a result of this perverse incentive, an entire ‘anchor baby’ industry has developed which exploits a legal loophole caused by a misinterpretation of the Constitution. Many of these illegal aliens are giving birth to children in the United States so that they can have uninhibited access to taxpayer funded benefits and to citizenship for as many family members as possible.
Eliminating birthright citizenship would affect the citizenship of all U.S. born children. The United States has no national registry of its citizens, and most Americans today rely on the birthright citizenship rule to establish their citizenship. If birthright citizenship were eliminated, all American citizen parents would have to prove the citizenship of their children through a burdensome, bureaucratic process.
King is an ardent supporter of Arizona’s highly restrictive and draconian enforcement law (SB 1070), signing onto a “friend of the court” brief defending SB 1070 and asserting that the Obama Administration’s lawsuit against Arizona is without legal merit.
He is also a passionate proponent of continuing to build the multi-billion dollar and highly ineffective wall on the US-Mexican border. On his website, he states:
I have made several journeys to the southern border. In many regions along this border, a solid, cost-effective human barrier, a wall, is a practical way to protect our border from terrorists, drug smugglers and illegal aliens. I recently testified before the Homeland Security Committee and Government Reform Subcommittee about a concrete border wall proposal that I personally designed. I have 35 years of experience in the earth-moving, drainage, and concrete construction business which gives me the background to design an effective wall.
With Representatives Smith and King likely at the helms of their respective Committees, the prospect of any positive immigration legislation coming out of committee is bleak. Rather, we can expect to see efforts to make the flawed E-Verify system mandatory for all US employers, as well as other enforcement only measures (we’ll have more on the E-Verify issue in coming Business Immigration Post blogs). In the 111th Congress, immigration proponents were hopeful for CIR. In the 112th Congress, we’ll be lucky if no additional, restrictive, IIRIRA-type legislation makes its way out of the House.