As President Trump checks off tax reform, none of the legal immigration reforms the White House pushed Congress to enact are projected to see the light of day before the end of the year.
After being elected on the promise to end illegal immigration by building a border wall — which has stalled in the development stages — along the U.S.-Mexico border, reducing legal immigration levels to relieve America’s blue-collar workers and middle class, and stemming the flow of foreign refugees, the Trump administration has had to grapple with a Republican-controlled Congress that remains uninterested in enacting pro-American immigration reforms.
In August, Trump stood alongside Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) and Sen. David Perdue (R-GA) as he endorsed their legal immigration-cutting RAISE Act legislation. Under the RAISE Act, legal immigration would be reduced from more than 1 million arrivals a year to 500,000 arrivals a year, while also ending the process known as “chain migration” where newly naturalized immigrants are allowed to bring an unlimited number of foreign relatives to the U.S. with them.
The RAISE Act would replace chain migration with a merit-based immigration system that gives highly-skilled and English-proficient foreign nationals priority over low-skilled foreign nationals.
>Relieve US workers from immigration burden
>Raise wages for US workers
>Stop big biz pipeline of cheap, foreign labor
— John Binder 👽 (@JxhnBinder) August 13, 2017
“[This RAISE act] will give Americans a pay raise by reducing immigration… [and] it will restore the sacred bonds of trust between America and its citizens,” Trump said when he endorsed the plan.
Despite being filed in Congress nearly a year ago, Cotton’s Trump-endorsed RAISE Act sits in the U.S. Senate with no plans yet for it to be voted on by the Senate Judiciary Committee.
In September, Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX) introduced the House-version of the RAISE Act, titled the “Immigration in the National Interest Act,” which would follow through on the numerous Trump-endorsed pro-American immigration reforms.
Like the RAISE Act, Smith’s legislation has not moved and remains sitting before the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration and Border Security.
>Cuts legal immigration in half
>Ends family-chain migration
>Caps refugees at 50K
>Also includes mandatory E-Verify https://t.co/YHfUuV7fTI
— John Binder 👽 (@JxhnBinder) September 13, 2017
In the beginning of October, the Trump administration laid the groundwork for its immigration agenda, detailing an extensive 70-point list of pro-American reforms to give relief to America’s working and middle class.
The reforms include:
- Construction of a border wall
- Deporting unaccompanied alien children who are not at-risk in their native country
- Preventing criminal illegal aliens and gang members from receiving immigration benefits
- Mandating E-Verify, which weeds out illegal aliens from taking U.S. jobs
- Eliminating the diversity visa lottery
- Classifying overstaying a visa as a misdemeanor
- Restricting certain federal grants to sanctuary cities that refuse to detain criminal illegal aliens
- Ending family-based chain migration
- Enacting a merit-based legal immigration where only qualified immigrants can enter the U.S.
Following the reforms’ release, Congressional Republicans continued to ignore the popularity of the White House’s immigration agenda, instead opting for a year-end schedule that led with tax reform.
"Cuts to legal immigration is the most popular with Ohio’s working-class and union workers…" I wonder why… https://t.co/l3VdIZx1rl
— John Binder 👽 (@JxhnBinder) September 1, 2017
At the end of October, Uzbek national 29-year-old Sayfullo Saipov allegedly mowed down and killed eight pedestrians in the Tribeca neighborhood of New York City in an ISIS-inspired terrorist attack.
After it was revealed that Saipov had entered the U.S. on the Diversity Visa Lottery, an immigration program which Trump demanded the end of just weeks before, the Republican-controlled Congress had more leverage to work with Democrats to end the Visa Lottery.
The Diversity Visa Lottery gives out 50,000 visas every year to foreign nationals from a multitude of countries, including those with known terrorist problems – such as Afghanistan, Algeria, Egypt, Iraq, Lebanon, Libya, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Syria, Trinidad and Tobago, Venezuela, Yemen, and Uzbekistan.
Days after the attack, Sen. John Kennedy (R-LA) filed legislation to end the Visa Lottery. The legislation has yet to go before the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Expert: Diversity Visa Lottery Used by NYC Terror Suspect ‘Ideally Suited For Terrorists’ https://t.co/q7k9fAMyHK
— John Binder 👽 (@JxhnBinder) November 3, 2017
At the end of November, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell broke with the Republican establishment and declared his support for ending chain migration, which has imported more than 9 million foreign relatives of immigrants to the U.S. in the last decade.
“I agree with [GOP Sen. Tom] Cotton and [GOP Sen. David] Perdue” who drafted the Raise Act, McConnell told Laura Ingraham on her Fox News show on November 29. “I think the kinds of things … that Cotton and Perdue are pushing are exactly what ought to be part of a solution,” he said, one year after Donald Trump’s shocking immigration-powered victory in November 2016.
“I think the mood on our caucus is that ending chain migration is a top priority,” Sen. Perdue told Breitbart News on November 30. “The majority leader’s statement … is a milestone,” he said, adding that “this is going to set America up to be competitive again with the rest of the world.”
McConnell’s support to end chain migration has been useless thus far as the leader of the Senate has yet to push any of Trump’s immigration initiatives forward in the Senate.
Majority Leader McConnell endorse cuts to chain migration & immigration levels. 'Milestone' says Sen. Perdue. It is a huge change, but it is not clear how hard he will push as business pushes back by demanding more immigrant workers & consumers. https://t.co/TUbT2LGXwK
— Neil Munro (@NeilMunroDC) December 1, 2017
This month, a group of Senators led by Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) released legislation that attempted to compromise with Democrats and the Republican establishment by giving amnesty to the nearly 800,000 illegal aliens covered by the President Obama-created Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program while ending chain migration and slashing legal immigration levels in half.
The SECURE Act, as the legislation is known, though was immediately rebuked by Senate Democrats while members of the GOP establishment began touting ways to water-down the bill’s most pro-American reform components.
The legislation was placed on the Senate Legislative Calendar but has not yet been moved on.
Less than a week later, 27-year-old Bangladeshi national Akayed Ullah allegedly attempted to detonate a suicide bomb in New York City, injuring three individuals. Ullah entered the U.S. as a chain migrant of a newly naturalized immigrant who was able to enter the U.S. through the Visa Lottery.
Only reason Diversity Visa Lottery stopped for Bangladeshis after 2012 was bc Bangladesh nationals began dominating the immigration system, ie chain migration.https://t.co/Vp1vwGGSEM
— John Binder 👽 (@JxhnBinder) December 11, 2017
At the time of the attack, Trump had been lobbying Congress for nearly five months to end both chain migration and the Visa Lottery.
After the botched attack, Republicans once again had the momentum to push through legislation that would officially end chain migration and end the Visa Lottery program with some Democratic support. Instead, the Republicans’ tax reform agenda continued to take precedence.
Even for officials inside the Trump administration, the last few months of 2017 were consumed with tax reform. Trump’s Director of Legislative Affairs Marc Short, for instance, joined Twitter in November, seemingly for the purpose of promoting the tax agenda while ignoring the White House’s immigration agenda.
Short has a long history of opposing Trump’s “America First” agenda, which largely revolved around immigration, infrastructure, and trade. Before the 2016 presidential election, Short worked alongside anti-Trump, pro-immigration billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch.
In May 2016, during the height of the Republican presidential primary, where Trump was taking the country by storm on his populist-nationalist agenda, Short was heading an effort to derail the then-front-runner. Short led an effort inside the Koch brothers’ organizations to take down Trump, partly by supporting Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL). But the plan failed to come to fruition and, the following year, he joined the Trump administration.
In the final weeks of 2017, the White House released a public campaign seeking to galvanize Americans behind ending chain migration and the Visa Lottery, including statistics revealing that more than 70 percent of immigrants to the U.S. in the last decade have entered simply to reunite with family and not on the basis of skills.
The launch of the campaign was largely met with silence from the Senate and House Republican leadership.