This bill — the Securing America's Future Act — would seek to enhance enforcement of existing immigration law, reform the legal immigration system, secure the border, and provide a solution for the beneficiaries of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. A summary of the bill’s provisions can be found below.
Legal Immigration Reforms
Overall immigration levels would be reduced by about 25 percent from averaging over 1,060,000 a year to about 800,000. The number of green cards available for skilled workers would increase from 120,000 a year to about 175,000 annually — an increase of about 45 percent. Up to 500,000 agricultural guest workers would be allowed each year.
The Diversity Immigrant Visa program (aka the green card lottery), which makes 50,000 visas available annually to immigrants from countries with low levels of immigration to the U.S., would be eliminated. Green card programs for relatives (other than spouses and minor children) would be eliminated in order to end “chain migration”, while a renewable temporary visa would be available for parents of citizens.
Additional Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents would be sent to relatively high-risk embassies overseas to vet visitors and immigrants before they come to the U.S.
This section of the bill would authorize $10.3 billion each year from 2018-2022 for border security, of which $9.3 billion would be for the construction of physical barriers and $1 billion for improving tactical infrastructure (ie roads and other technology). It would also increase the number of Border Patrol Agents and Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Officers by 5,000 each.
Ports of entry along the southern border would be improved, modernized, and expanded. The full implementation of a biometric entry-exit system would be required at all air, land, and sea ports of entry.
The National Guard would be authorized to provide aviation and intelligence assistance for border security operations.
This section of the bill would mandate that all employers use E-Verify after a 2-year phase-in period, which is a program to check that current or prospective employees are authorized to work in the U.S. It would make it a misdemeanor federal crime to knowingly be unlawfully present in the U.S. for a period of more than 90 days, which would be punishable by fines and potential incarceration for between six months and 20 years depending on the number of offenses. Additionally, a provision known as Kate’s Law would create enhanced criminal penalties for repeatedly re-entering the U.S. illegally.
The Dept. of Justice (DOJ) would be authorized to withhold grants from sanctuary jurisdictions, which are cities or states that refuse to cooperate with the enforcement of immigration laws. It would allow the victims of crimes perpetrated by criminal unauthorized immigrants who were released because of sanctuary policies to sue the government body responsible. State and local law enforcement officers who honor requests by ICE to detain an unauthorized immigrant and in defiance of a sanctuary policy would be granted immunity. Probable cause standards would be established for ICE detainers, and ICE would be required to enter into 287(g) agreements requested by localities.
The Dept. of Homeland Security (DHS) would be permitted to detain unauthorized immigrants who can’t be returned to their home countries. Unauthorized immigrants would be removable for being convicted of aggravated felonies, not registering as sex offenders, multiple DUI arrests, or gang membership.
Unaccompanied minors who are apprehended at the border would be safely and quickly returned to their home countries, and children apprehended with their parents could be detained.
The “credible fear” standard for asylum seekers would be revised to prevent frivolous claims and penalties for fraudulent claims would be increased. Asylum would be terminated for individuals who voluntarily return to their home country.
Individuals who received deferred action after being brought to the U.S. illegally as children would be eligible for a 3-year renewable legal status that allows them to work, and travel overseas without “advance parole” (which lets non-citizens traveling from the U.S. re-enter). DACA recipients wouldn’t have a special path to a green card (aka legal permanent resident status) but could use existing paths to obtain one.
No gang members or individuals with criminal convictions or convictions in juvenile court for serious crimes would be eligible. Individuals who misrepresent themselves could be prosecuted for fraud.