Rep. Kevin Yoder, R‐Kan., managed to convince the committee to include his legislation, the Fairness for High‐Skilled Immigrants Act (H.R. 392), into the funding bill. This amendment would start to end the discriminatory practice, started in the 1920s, of limiting immigration based on nationality. These “per‐country” limits prevent any nationality from using more than 7 percent of the green cards for permanent residents. This irrationally provides the same number of green cards to 334,000 Icelanders as to 1.4 billion Chinese.
This micromanaging of America’s demographics results in senseless outcomes. Immigrants from India sponsored by employers who are applying right now will face such a long wait that they will likely die before receiving permanent residence. Other applicants face no wait at all. Family‐sponsored immigrants from several countries face even longer wait times. H.R. 392 would end the per‐country limits entirely for employment‐based immigrants and raise them to 15 percent for family‐sponsored.
With 327 cosponsors, H.R. 392 is one of the most popular pieces of legislation in the House and one of the most popular bills in history to receive no consideration in the relevant committee. The House Judiciary Committee has refused to so much as hold a hearing on a bill that 75 percent of House members want to see enacted into law, so Yoder had it inserted into the spending bill instead.
The committee wasn’t done. In a surprise vote, Rep. Pete Aguilar, D‐Calif., received approval for an amendment banning the removal of DACA recipients or those who meet the requirements of the DACA program. This would codify pre‐Trump policies that deprioritize deportations of Dreamers. It simply makes no sense to spend taxpayer dollars to remove people who grew up in this country, have contributed significantly to it, and consider themselves Americans.
The most shocking win, however, rebuked Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ decision to block asylum claims by those who face threats from criminal gangs or abusive spouses. Rep. David Price, D-N.C., would prohibit funds from being used to implement guidance from the Department of Justice that prevents gang or domestic violence victims from being considered valid asylum seekers. Beyond its cruelty, the legally unnecessary decision incentivized illegal immigration by turning people away from the legal process — the exact opposite result that the government claims to want.
These reforms are far from comprehensive immigration reform, but they would go a long way to improve the legal immigration system and limit the damage that the administration has done by doing away with DACA and limiting asylum. Whether they are worth the $5 billion border wall, only the full Congress will decide.