In addition to the existing legal immigration system, every member of Congress should receive 100 green cards to distribute each year. Members would have complete discretion over which 100 individuals they would grant legal permanent resident status to. Senators or representatives could design whatever selection criteria they prefer and implement it immediately without needing a majority of the House, 60 votes in the Senate, and the president to agree.
According to the Supreme Court, Congress can establish whatever admission criteria that it wants, and this scheme would not violate the separation of powers because executive agencies would still effectuate each nomination.91 The executive branch would still conduct screenings to exclude immigrants who are inadmissible under other criteria, such as national security or criminal concerns, and issue documents. But senators or representatives would sponsor them, rather than employers or family members, who currently select most immigrants.
Congress has 541 members—100 senators, 435 voting representatives in the House, and 6 nonvoting representatives. The combined effect of the program would be to increase legal immigration by just 54,100 annually— about 5 percent of the total number of green cards issued in 2018. Any members of Congress who fail to use their allotments in a given year would have their unused green cards distributed among the rest of their states’ congressional delegations. Notwithstanding its size, this program would have an outsized effect on the immigration debate and be much more likely to grow than other immigration program.