The former chairman of the Randolph-Macon University economics department now a congressman from suburban Richmond, Virginia told Big League Politics an immigration bill reaches the desk of President Donald J. Trump, if GOP leadership follows the process of the tax reform bill, not failed attempt to repeal and replace the 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
“If you contrast the health care bill and the process with the tax bill process that gives you hints as to how we should proceed on the immigration issue,” said Rep. David A. Brat (R.-Va.), a member of the House Budget Committee.
Brat said the repeal-and-replace effort was doomed because the close circle of people, who crafted the bill, combined a bad bill with a bad process.
“You had a small band of senators and White House folks trying to arrange a quick-hastily crafted health care bill just to get something passed,” he said. “It wasn’t good policy and that resulted in failure and the Senate did three faceplants in a row–they couldn’t pass anything.”
The congressman said that when Congress went to work on the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, it took a more traditional approach.
“You had a House plan, where we went through regular order and we heard from everybody from the Freedom Caucus all the way to the Tuesday Group, then the Senate, then the White House in a rationally, well-considered plan and that results in progress,” he said.
“The tax bill was a total success and now you are seeing the fruits, which were never anticipated to be so positive,” he said.
Brat said people on the Hill have been working on how to fix immigration for 20 years on both sides of the aisle and that work has all come together as the bill put forward by Chairman of the House Judiciary Robert W. Goodlatte (R.-Va.).
Goodlatte is the sponsor of the Securing America’s Future Act, HR. 4760, Jan. 10 and the bill referred to the Subcommittee on Immigration and Border Security Jan. 24 for consideration before it is marked up by the whole Judiciary Committee.
In general terms, the Goodlatte bill attempts to resolve the needs of business and agriculture and the concerns of ordinary Americans about gang violence.
The Goodlatte bill includes funding for the construction of wall along the southern border as well as expanding and improving ports of entry, including the implementation of biometric Entry-Exit systems at all entry points. The bill authorizes 5,000 new Border Patrol Agents and 5,000 more Customs and Border Protection officers.
Illegal immigration is a cornerstone issue for the former economics professor and graduate of the Princeton Theological Seminary. Brat defeated House Majority Leader Eric I. Cantor (R.-Va.) in the June 10, 2104, Republican primary for Virginia’s 7th congressional district–largely on the issue of immigration.
President Barack Obama was unable to pass his immigration agenda through Congress, so in frustration, he acted administratively with executive actions that were often expressed in conversations with government officials or guidance letters that unlike a formal Executive Order, were not subject to judicial review.
Obama created the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program with a June 15, 2012 memorandum directing federal prosecutors to stand down from prosecuting young illegal aliens if they claimed that they came into the country as minors.
In a Feb. 13, 2013 address at the American Enterprise Institute, Cantor endorsed Obama’s DACA policy.
“People across the globe, want to be a part of our country, we must never diminish that desire, or worse, become a place that is no longer desirable,” he said. “A good place to start is with the kids. One of the great founding principles of was that children would not be punished for the mistakes of their parents and it is time to provide the opportunity for legal residence and citizenship for those who were brought to this country as children.”
Trump rescinded the Obama memorandum Sept. 17, 2017, but that rescission did not resolve the problem of these young illegal aliens, called DREAMERs by their supporters, who continue to enjoy Obama’s temporary amnesty until March 5.
Roughly, 750,000 individuals registered for the DACA program and Democrats are eager to give them a more permanent legal status and in his State of the Union address Tuesday, Trump offered to expand the DACA program to 1.8 million DREAMERs.
“Under our plan, those who meet education and work requirements, and show good moral character, will be able to become full citizens of the United States,” Trump said.
In his bill, Goodlatte said DACA registrants would receive a three-year renewable legal status, but criminals, even juvenile convicted of serious crimes, would be vetted out of the program.
“Years of lax enforcement policies have wreaked havoc on our borders,” he said. “Millions of people have been allowed to flout our immigration laws. We can’t let these dangerous and foolish policies continue.”
Brat said the Goodlatte immigration bill is the only thought-through immigration bill in play on Capitol Hill.
“It is good policy that is good for the country, good for the economy, handles the DACA compromise,” he said.
“Yet, a few senators, and apparently a couple of White House staffers, keep shoving the short-run, little easy compromise pieces in front of the president, because they look like they can reach some consensus or compromise ahead of time–when there is no consensus,” he said.
The congressman said the way to get consensus is to work through regular order, so that people have the opportunity to speak their peace and put their amendments up for a vote.
Already, the senators looking for the quick win hit a wall, he said. “A few people, Lindsay Graham, Flake, et cetera, they were in charge of the amnesty deal and it failed.” Sen. Jeffry L. Flake (R.-Ariz.) and Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R.-S.C.) worked with Senate Minority Whip Richard J. Durbin (D.-Ill.) and the White House on a quick deal that quickly fell apart, when Trump said it did not address his concerns.
Brat said there is always plenty of media coverage about how Americans want to help the DACA registrants, but it was a media blackout on the Harvard-Harris poll that showed that 81 percent of all American voters want to reduce immigration.
Washington elites are still pushing for more immigration, just as the American people are going in the other direction, he said. For that reason, the bill has to come out of the House, because the House is the closest to the American people and their will.
“The president, in particular, owes his huge, stunning victory to the Midwestern states and Ohio and Pennsylvania–go ask those folks: ‘Where are you on this?'”
If anything, Brat said Americans, including his constituents, have become more educated about the costs of illegal immigrants, not just crime and driving down wages, but the costs of expanding public services, healthcare facilities and schools to satisfy the needs of new immigrants.
“The press always ask: ‘How can you afford the wall?’ The press never asks the question: ‘How can you afford illegal immigration?'”
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