WASHINGTON, D.C.–Illegal immigration is the subject of a bill being debated in the U.S. Senate right now and Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) doesn’t think the bill has enough juice to be effective, as is.
That’s why he’s introducing his own ideas for the bill, in the form of amendments. One of those would have the bill eliminate “sanctuary cities”, which are cities where the government promises not to prosecute people in the country illegally.
“The bill as written would not stem the tide of illegal immigration,” said Wicker on the Senate floor Thursday.
Wicker, who said putting 20,000 officers along the border would not be a bad idea, pointed out something he first learned about from SuperTalk Mississippi host Steve Gill this week.
“A Congressional Budget Office report released [this week] indicates border security components of the immigration bill as written will not stem the tide of illegal immigration in a meaningful way because large numbers of people are projected to still overstay their visas,” he said.
Wicker said the non-partisan report pointed out that the flood of illegal immigrants might only be reduced by 25 percent.
“Enforcement of the law must be effective. To achieve this goal, I have authored a number of amendments to promote greater fairness and accountability in the immigration bill. One of these, which I hope will be brought to a vote, would work to end so-called ‘sanctuary cities.’ If our borders are secure, if this bill is supposed to work as promised, then we cannot permit areas to flout the law by remaining or becoming ‘sanctuary cities’ after the bill’s enactment.”
Wicker provided descriptions of his six amendments to News Mississippi, via news release. The amendments have not been made part of the bill and Wicker said he would likely not support the bill in its current form.
- End ‘Sanctuary Cities’: The term refers to any state or jurisdiction that has a policy, practice, or law that prohibits state or local police from assisting federal authorities in enforcing immigration laws. Under the Wicker amendment, these jurisdictions would be denied State Criminal Alien Assistance Program funds and law enforcement grants from the Departments of Homeland Security and Justice.
The amendment would encourage information-sharing by law enforcement officials and stipulate that individuals who violate the immigration law are included in the National Crime Information Center Database. Finally, it would ensure states have access to federal technology that is helpful in identifying immigrants who are inadmissible or deportable.
- Double the Penalty Fees: This amendment would double the penalties – from $1,000 to $2,000 – that illegal immigrants must pay at various steps in the process. A $1,000 penalty amounts to far less than what is often paid to so-called “coyotes” who help smuggle people across the border.
- Prohibit Applicants Who Have Filed Frivolous Applications for Asylum: By law, those who knowingly file a frivolous application (containing statements or responses that are deliberately fabricated) are permanently barred from receiving any benefits under the “Immigration and Nationality Act.” The Wicker amendment would strike the ability of illegal immigrants to apply for provisional legal status if they have previously filed a frivolous application for asylum.
- Expedite the Removal Proceedings of Illegal Immigrants with Serious Criminal Offenses: This amendment would require the Secretary of Homeland Security to initiate expedited removal proceedings against those who are deemed ineligible for provisional legal status because they belong to a gang; have committed an aggravated felony; or committed an offense against a child or a domestic violence offense.
- Ensure Those Found Ineligible Have Their Provisional Legal Status Revoked: This amendment would clarify that the Secretary of Homeland Security should revoke the provisional legal status of an applicant if he or she is found to be ineligible; used fraudulent documentation; or did not fulfill the continuous physical presence requirement in this bill.