The following statement was issued by Dan Stein, president of the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) regarding committee approval of the FY 2019 Department of Homeland Security Appropriations bill, which contained a provision blocking the Attorney General’s recent asylum reforms and removed per country caps from legal immigrant admissions:
“What happened in yesterday’s markup can be described as nothing more than an affront to the rule of law and the very integrity of our immigration system. The American people should be outraged that Republican appropriators – led by Kansas Congressman Kevin Yoder – joined with anti-borders Democrats in an attempt to drastically change our immigration laws through must-pass spending legislation.
“In a betrayal of the administration’s agenda, Yoder ushered through a Democrat amendment to undermine Attorney General Jeff Sessions and dramatically expand the legal definition of asylum, an issue that was first expanded by the Obama administration and has led to massive abuse of the asylum system. This is contrary to the original intent of our asylum laws and one of the reasons people are trying to game the system to bypass our immigration limits.
“Asylum was not originally intended to provide protection to individuals with private or domestic troubles. However, since 2014, ‘membership in a particular social group’ has expanded to include victims of domestic or gang violence as members of the protected class. Many petitioners understand this and know how to exploit our system. Since this expansion, asylum claims have skyrocketed, feeding an immigration backlog that exceeds 700,000 cases.
“The vast majority of those who seek asylum through the southern border fail to ever show up for their immigration hearings, and of those who do, most of their claims are denied. Since the Trump Administration returned the legal definition of asylum to the original intent of the law, illegal immigration at the border has been reduced.
“Congressmen Yoder also led the charge to remove the per country caps that ensure a diverse flow of immigrants from many countries. Without those caps in place, just a few countries, like China and India, will consume the lion’s share of the permanent skilled visas, creating a discriminatory system that favors a handful of countries. It shreds any pretense that programs like the H-1B and L visa are anything but a track for intending immigrants – not a short-term foreign labor program for unforeseen emergencies. No one promised temporary guest workers that they would ever have the chance to immigrate permanently.
“No hearings were held on these proposals – no public record and no opportunity for public participation. This is what creates cynicism among the voting public. How long can Congress fail to fix the overarching flaws in our immigration control system while creating new loopholes at every turn?
“There is at least one redeeming feature of the spending bill; the inclusion of $5 billion in border wall funding, which earned Congressman Yoder the praise and endorsement of President Trump. However, we would be remiss not to remind the administration that the border wall is absolutely useless with asylum laws that encourage thousands of economic migrants to make frivolous claims and then disappear into the illegal alien population.
“The only proper recourse is for several of these egregious provisions to be stripped in the House Rules Committee. If Congressman Yoder wants to join with Democrats to enact radical anti-borders immigration policies, he should do so when the American people are watching, with fair and open debate, not by hijacking must pass pieces of legislation.”