“If this bill passes as is, we will be in a better position,” said Rosemary Jenks, the director of government relations for NumbersUSA, of the Republican-led Securing America’s Future (SAF) Act. The proposed bill grants amnesty for illegal alien recipients of the Obama administration’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.
Jenks explained her organization’s support for the GOP’s legislative proposal, spearheaded by House Judiciary Committee Chairman Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA), on Wednesday’s edition of Breitbart News Tonight with Breitbart Senior Editors-at-Large Rebecca Mansour and Joel Pollak on SiriusXM.
The SAF Act includes three critical components, said Jenks: 1. Ending chain migration; 2. Ending the visa lottery; and 3. A national mandate for E-Verify use by employers.
“NumbersUSA has opposed every amnesty that has been proposed in Congress since our founding in 1996. We are going to actually endorse Chairman Goodlatte’s bill, and the reason we are doing that is because it includes our top three priorities, and our top three priorities are ending chain migration, ending the visa lottery, and mandating E-Verify. Those are the three things that will most help American workers and most help raise their wages,” said Jenks.
NumbersUSA’s ongoing support for the SAF Act is contingent on the aforementioned three critical components, said Jenks: “We are ready and fully prepared to reverse our position in a heartbeat if they start picking apart this bill.”
Drawing on the adage of not letting the perfect become the enemy of the good, Jenks explained a broad rationale for her organization’s support of the SAF Act: “The Goodlatte bill is as close as you’re going to get in these political times to keeping President Trump’s promises.”
Employment opportunities within the underground economy, said Jenks, are a primary magnet for illegal immigration. Implementation of an E-Verify mandate, she added, is crucial to minimize this draw.
“Roughly half of all illegal aliens in the United States came on a legal visa and overstayed, so the wall’s not going to stop that. What is going to stop it is taking away the jobs. So if they can’t come here and get a job and support their families, they’re not going to come, or they’re going to leave,” said Jenks, referring to the importance of E-Verify in reducing illegal immigration.
Congress is under “too much” political pressure by agricultural interests to maintain a flow of immigrant laborers, said Jenks, explaining a source of opposition to any E-Verify mandate: “The fact is that the politics in Congress, right now, means that we can’t get mandatory E-Verify unless there’s an expanded agricultural [guest worker] program, and by ‘expanded’ I mean easier for the growers to use than our current system, because members of Congress have too much pressure from growers on them to do mandatory E-Verify without doing an agricultural guest worker program.”
As an overture to agricultural interests’ desire for a flow of foreign laborers, the SAF Act creates a new “agricultural guest worker program” to offset the bill’s proposed E-Verify mandate for employers.
Existing law for the agricultural guest worker program, said Jenks, is “numerically unlimited.” The SAF Act, she added, proposes a cap of 500,000 per year.
The SAF Act, noted Mansour, increases the annual volume of work visas for ostensibly “skilled workers,” in addition to the new visa program for agricultural guest workers. Jenks explained that accepting such an increase was a necessary compromise to secure the aforementioned three critical components: “You’re right. This is a compromise. There is basically no way that this Congress is going to give us total elimination of chain migration, elimination of the visa lottery, and E-Verify without trade-offs.”
The SAF Act, acknowledged Jenks, does not guarantee construction of a southern border wall: “We don’t have any guarantee in this bill that we’re going to get a wall. There’s no guarantee because there’s no funding. This isn’t an appropriations bill, it’s an authorization bill. It authorizes additional wall, but doesn’t fund it. So Congress is going to have to come back and fund it.”
Asked by Mansour if the SAF Act could “spiral out” and expand beyond its stated parameters via subsequent lawsuits and left-wing judicial activism, Jenks answered in the affirmative: “There’s a huge concern that this could spiral. If the Democrats and some of the Senate Republicans have their way, it absolutely will spiral out of control.”
“The courts can always violate the law and their oaths of office and whatever,” said Jenks, “but I think this is written clearly enough that the Supreme Court would uphold it, and I do think we will get the changes, not just the amnesty.”
Limiting the SAF Act’s scope to a “limited, definable population” — specifically illegal aliens targeted DACA — would greatly diminish the possibility of the fraud, said Jenks: “In the 1986 amnesty, it’s estimated that in the agricultural worker program, the agricultural worker amnesty, that fraud was as high as 70%. You had people saying that they worked in agriculture picking cherries out of the ground and picking watermelons off the trees, and they got amnesty… Amnesty programs are by their definition susceptible to fraud.”
In response to a question regarding President Donald Trump’s comments about the scope of a potential DACA amnesty, Jenks speculated that President Trump might be getting conflicting information from amnesty-supporting Republicans: “They’re all trying to push [Trump] in the wrong direction, and he’s hearing all this, and it doesn’t surprise me at all that there may be some confusion, and he doesn’t necessarily have a full grasp of what the exact numbers are or exactly where we should be going, but I think his instincts are good.”
The NumbersUSA website lists the components contained within the SAF Act’s current draft.
Breitbart News Tonight airs Monday through Friday on SiriusXM’s Patriot channel 125 from 9:00 p.m. to midnight Eastern (6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. Pacific).
Follow Robert Kraychik on Twitter @rkraychik.