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Eye On Boise

Labrador pushes bill to build wall

By Nathan Brown, Idaho Falls Post Register

Raul Labrador and three other Republicans are introducing a bill that would let some undocumented immigrants who were brought here as children stay for another three years, while also passing a host of other immigration-related measures Republicans have been discussing, including a $30 billion wall along the U.S.-Mexican border and cutting legal immigration by about 25 percent, the Post Register reports.

Labrador, who represents Idaho’s 1st Congressional District and is one of three major candidates for the Republican nomination for governor, unveiled the “Securing America’s Future Act” at a news conference Wednesday in Washington, D.C.. Labrador, who chairs the Immigration and Border Security subcommittee, was joined by U.S. Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., chairman of the House Judiciary Committee; Michael McCaul, R-Texas, Homeland Security Committee chairman; and Martha McSally, R-Ariz., who heads the Border and Maritime Security subcommittee.

“The purpose of our legislation is pretty simple,” Labrador said. “It helps President Trump keep his promise to the American people to fix our broken immigration system.”

The bill would let people who were shielded from deportation under Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, an Obama administration policy which Trump announced last fall he was rescinding, stay in the country for three more years and be able to work and travel. However, it contains no pathway to legal status for them — DACA recipients who want to become citizens would have to go through the green card process.

A couple of the bill’s provisions, such as making it a misdemeanor to be present in the country illegally and taking away some grants from local governments that refuse to cooperate with federal immigration authorities, were in a bill Labrador and Goodlatte co-sponsored that passed House Judiciary last year but never got a full House vote. It also would authorize the construction of a wall along the U.S.-Mexican border and the hiring of 5,000 more Border Patrol agents and 5,000 more Customs and Border Protection officers. Additionally it would require employers to use the E-Verify program to check if people are in the country legally.

The bill also would reduce legal immigration, ending the diversity visa green card lottery program, making it more difficult for people to get visas for family members and placing a greater emphasis on job skills when deciding who gets a visa, including creating a new agricultural guest worker program. People would still be able to apply for visas for their spouses or dependent children, but not for their parents, siblings or adult children, sharply reducing what is known as “chain migration.”

“The people that are coming to the United States right now that are coming based on family relationships are not necessarily adding to the economy,” Labrador said.

The bill’s authors estimate the number of legal immigrants, which sits at a little more than 1 million a year now, would drop by about 260,000 a year if the bill becomes law.

What will happen to the roughly 800,000 beneficiaries of DACA, including more than 3,000 in Idaho, has been up in the air since Trump announced he was ending the program. Trump said Wednesday he supports allowing them to remain in the country, but as part of a deal including a border wall. Labrador sounded confident at Wednesday’s news conference that the bill could pass the House, and called on the leadership to put it to a vote to strengthen their hand in negotiations with the Senate.



Betsy Z. Russell
Betsy Z. Russell joined The Spokesman-Review in 1991. She currently is a reporter in the Boise Bureau covering Idaho state government and politics, and other news from Idaho's state capital.

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