GOP Senators Grant Policy Wins to Democrats in $4.6 Billion Migration Budget

Central American Migrants
Guillermo Arias/AFP/Getty Images

GOP leaders in the Senate approved a $4.6 billion budget to fund an orderly Central American migration into the United States — even though the bill excludes any steps to reduce the crisis and also gives multiple pro-migration wins to Democrats.

The Democrats’ migration wins include a renewed legal shield for the illegal-immigrant parents in the United States who pay cartel-affiliated coyotes to smuggle their children into the United States, $1 billion to ease migrants’ orderly transit through the border, plus a denial of President Donald Trump’s request for extra detention beds and additional ICE enforcement agents.

Democrats won the gains even though they risk a public backlash because their pro-migration sympathies and policies are inviting and encouraging the crush of migrant adults and children at the U.S. border. That anti-Democratic backlash would likely be triggered in just a few weeks when the border agencies simply run out of money to administer the Democrat-encouraged migration, so creating further TV-magnified chaos on the border.

The GOP appropriations chairman, Sen. Richard Shelby downplayed the Democrats’ come-from-behind budget wins and urged Republicans not to use the budget fight for policy gains.

“Most importantly, [the budget] does not include poison pills from either party,” he claimed “This package does not include everything I wanted [and] does not include everything that [Democratic] Sen. [Patrick] Leahy would have wanted.” He then asked GOP Senators not to use the budget to win useful policy reforms:

I ask for my colleagues’ cooperation in holding any such amendments until this package reaches the Senate floor – just like we did during the ’19 process with such great success. In addition, today I ask my colleagues to refrain from offering any amendments [during the floor vote] that pertain to broader immigration policy.

The appropriate venue for such amendments is the authorizing committee, and Chairman Graham is marking up immigration legislation in the Judiciary Committee tomorrow. So I urge my colleagues that are interested in broader immigration policy to discuss their ideas with Chairman Graham and Ranking Member Feinstein. By adhering to this framework I believe that we will be able to move forward together with a strong bipartisan vote here today.

All 16 GOP Senators — including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell — voted for the package. All 15 Democrats voted for the package, except for one Senator who demanded yet more concessions from the GOP.

Shelby’s budget must be approved by the Senate, and then be merged with a House supplemental budget bill.

Shelby’s budget includes almost no measures to help reduce the migrant inflows into Americans’ workplaces, schools, and communities. For example, it does not increase the detention funds needed to end the catch and release policies which allow migrants to get the U.S. jobs required to pay their smuggling debts.

‘The Republican leadership still is not willing to go to the mat for robust immigration enforcement and to solve this crisis — they want an easy way out,” said Jessica Vaughan, policy director at the Center for Immigration Studies. 

She continued: “There are very few people in the Senate who are willing to fight to preserve the integrity of the immigration system. All the Republicans seem to be perfectly willing to go along with the President but are not willing to fight for the border money.”

“I don’t think any Senators’ kids are in the same schools as the migrants’ kids,” Vaughan added.

“Everything is an excuse for a Republican Party that seems incapable of even holding the line [President Barack] Obama did in 2014,” said Daniel Horowitz at Conservative ReviewHe wrote:

…both parties got together and agreed to spend even more money on illegal aliens without a penny for deportations, interdiction, or enforcement, while declaring that they solved the border problem

Apologists for the administration will suggest that this is “the best they can do.” They will also suggest that it is necessary to fund these programs to prevent more chaos. But absent any effort to use any other leverage or executive action to fund enforcement and change the policies, they as may as well hand $4.5 billion straight to the cartels and smugglers.

The migration crisis is providing U.S. business groups with hundreds of thousands of new consumers, workers, and renters. In May, for example, 144,000 adults and children added themselves to the U.S. labor market, consumer economy, and housing sector.

The passivity of the GOP-run Senate is very different from the House, where Democrats have loaded up the bill with policy riders that would cripple enforcement, Vaughan said.

Democrats pushed a slew of policy and budget gains into the Senate budget, despite Shelby’s “no poison pill” statement.

Democrats announced they blocked $400 million — including funds for detention — sought by the White House and “secured several important conditions to ensure the children in U.S. custody are treated humanely and provided appropriate care.”

The Democrats’ gains include gag orders to prevent immigration officials from sharing information about the illegal immigrant parents who are importing their foreign children via the government-managed “Unaccompanied Alien Children” pipeline. It provides $30 million to the non-profits that help migrants move to their target locations, $10 million for immigration lawyers to help migrants win asylum, and $9 million to help illegal migrants get their “UAC” children delivered faster.

The statement by Democrats praised the budget for including “$979 Million In New Funding For Migrant Care, Processing Facilities, Food, Medical Services, And Safe Transportation.”

The GOP budget document admitted the bill includes:

 $112 million for migrant medical care and consumables, including clothing, baby formula, hygiene products, and other essential items …  $45 million for detainee medical care … Prioritizes use of [pro-migration] community-based residential care and licensed facilities over large facilities … [and] Ensures that Senators and Members of Congress have access to shelters for the purpose of conducting oversight … Restates current law on applicability of Section 224 in the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2019.

The GOP statement does not explain “Section 224” — but the text of 2019 law says DHS enforcement officers cannot use information from the Department of Health and Human Services to deport migrants who reveal themselves when they try to pick up their coyote-accompanied “UAC” children at HHS shelters.

Democrats hoped to win more concessions — such as taxpayer lawyers for illegals, and a denial of funds to the “Remain in Mexico” program. But Republicans swatted down those demands, partly because of the growing recognition that the Democrats’ pro-migration policies are encouraging “child recycling” by migrants and their cartel-affiliated coyotes.

Yet GOP chairman Shelby ignored the GOP concessions to the Democrats as he urged GOP legislators not to push for policy wins in the next spending budget:

We also need to have agreement on keeping poison pills out of our process in the week ahead. That was the foundation of our success in  ’19.  …  that is what is allowing us to move forward together here today … I fear we will return to the old frustrations and failures of previous years. Something I believe none of us wants.  I know I don’t.

In contrast, Democrats used the committee vote to portray themselves as morally superior to Shelby and the other Republicans on the panel.

After Shelby’s plea for cooperation, Leahy’s speech emotionally smeared Republicans and the president as uncaring and cruel to children –  even though he and other Democrats protect the catch and release incentives that encourage the economic migrants to bring children to the border:

Families fleeing dire poverty, and awful, horrific violence in their home country, are coming to the U.S. seeking refuge. Customs and Border Protection facilities are well over capacity and it has led to deplorable conditions for these migrant families. When you walk past some of these cages full of children, what I’m struck by, because I think of when our grandchildren are playing with their friends, you get all this sound of laughter and everything else, you walk by these cages, it is dead silence, dead silence. Nobody wants to look at you, nobody wants to smile. What is that doing for the [foreign] children for the rest of their lives? Children in our care are being forced to sleep, sometimes under bridges, families are being placed in outdoor pens, or so-called cages, without shelter. And if we do not act, [caring agencies] will run out of funding by the end of this month.

Leahy did not mention the taxpayers’ cost of accepting the huge numbers of migrants into the United States, nor did he spare a word about the burdens that ordinary Americans face amid the increased competition for wages, jobs, classroom seats, and low-cost housing. Instead, he preferred to present himself as protector of the foreign migrants and their children:

These are extraordinary circumstances, and we — all of us — have the opportunity to show the world what American values are by acting with compassion.  We don’t need to tear children from their families.  We do not address a humanitarian crisis by blindly detaining anyone who comes to our border seeking mercy and safety. We’re Americans, we don’t vilify the poor, abused, desperate, or hungry.  We take proper care of those in our custody.

This package we’re concerned with today is primarily is a humanitarian assistance package. We don’t fund the administration’s detention-first policies that frankly, everyone knows, waste taxpayer dollars. We do provide, though, the resources for ICE to use alternatives in detention or to keep families together. We don’t fund the president border wall which does nothing to address this crisis but this package does provide the resources necessary to ensure the children and families fleeing violence and poverty receive appropriate medical care and legal assistance … I’m pleased we were able to add $65 million to hire more immigration judge teams to help process asylum claims … $30 million for grants for no-profits who care for migrants … $20 million for alternatives to detention. Again, we’re going to address this humanitarian crisis with American values and compassion … The bill is actually a good-faith compromise.

Other pro-migration Democrats joined the rhetorical assault on the mostly silent Republicans, several of whom voiced support for border agents without saying anything about the damage inflicted on American employees and families. 

“We’re dealing with a humanitarian crisis … all because of this president’s very cruel and reckless policy,” said Democratic Sen. Patty Murray, from Washington state.

“There’s a gaping leadership vacuum,” said Democratic Sen. Richard Durbin, a co-author of the 2013 “Gang of Eight” amnesty legislation. “Our southern border today is much less secure than when Donald Trump took office,” said Durbin, who has opposed any reforms to the catch and release policy. The crowding in border detention centers “is unforgivable,” said Durbin, who has repeatedly denounced funding for extra detention beds.

In response, Shelby congratulated the Democrats for their “tone.”

He said: “I think we’ve got not just to set the substance but the tone for the Senate, and we’re doing this today, I hope we continue to do it because it is the only way we’re going to move things.”

“I agree with that,” Leahy responded.

“Good work,” Leahy said as Shelby ended the session. 

Immigration by the Numbers

Each year, roughly four million young Americans join the workforce after graduating from high school or university.

But the federal government then imports about 1.1 million legal immigrants and refreshes a resident population of roughly 1.5 million white-collar visa workers — including approximately one million H-1B workers — and approximately 500,000 blue-collar visa workers.

The government also prints out more than one million work permits for foreigners, tolerates about eight million illegal workers, and does not punish companies for employing the hundreds of thousands of illegal migrants who sneak across the border or overstay their legal visas each year.

This policy of inflating the labor supply boosts economic growth for investors because it ensures that employers do not have to compete for American workers by offering higher wages and better working conditions.

Flooding the market with cheap, foreign, white-collar graduates and blue-collar labor also shifts enormous wealth from young employees towards older investors, even as it also widens wealth gaps, reduces high-tech investment, increases state and local tax burdens, and hurts children’s schools and college educations. It also pushes Americans away from high-tech careers and sidelines millions of marginalized Americans, including many who are now struggling with fentanyl addictions. The labor policy also moves business investment and wealth from the Heartland to the coastal citiesexplodes rents and housing costsshrivels real estate values in the Midwest, and rewards investors for creating low-tech, labor-intensive workplaces.


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