Ryan Amnesty Follows Gang of 8 Playbook -- Amnesty First, Enforcement Maybe Later

Updated: June 29th, 2018, 12:15 pm


  by  Chris Chmielenski

The draft text for House Speaker Paul Ryan's "compromise" bill is out, and it's as bad as we feared. Speaker Ryan's amnesty plan follows the same playbook that the Gang of 8 followed, granting an immediate and permanent amnesty to at least 1.8 million illegal aliens with only promises of future enforcement.

There is some hope that the Ryan Amnesty won't pass when it comes to the House floor next week; Pres. Trump said that he opposed the bill during a live interview with Fox & Friends this morning.


As for the proposal itself, the list of flaws is lengthy.

  • It doesn't permanently reduce legal immigration for at least 30 years.
  • It doesn't include an E-Verify mandate.
  • It leaves most chain migration intact, allowing parents of DACA recipients to receive green cards once DACA recipients become citizens.
  • It fails to withhold funding from sanctuary jurisdictions.
  • It appropriates $25 billion for border security, but if the money is rescinded by a future Congress, illegal aliens keep their amnesty.

Earlier in the year, Pres. Trump announced "4 pillars" that needed to be part of any deal on DACA: 1) amnesty for approximately 1.8 million DACA-eligible illegal aliens, 2) end the visa lottery, 3) end chain migration, and 4) secure the border. Here's how the Ryan Amnesty stacks up to Pres. Trump's pillars:

AMNESTY -- The Ryan Amnesty would grant an immediate and permanent amnesty to at least 1.8 million illegal aliens, allowing them to renew their status every 6 years. Illegal aliens would receive legal status, work permits, and the freedom to travel outside the country. Beginning in 2025, illegal aliens would become eligible for green cards through a special merit-based green card system.

VISA LOTTERY -- The Ryan Amnesty would eliminate the visa lottery, but it wouldn't eliminate the green cards for at least 30 years, if at all. For the first 5 years, the 55,000 green cards would be stored in "escrow" for the special merit-based green card system. The lottery green cards would then be permanently eliminated, unless Congress restarts the lottery over the next 30 years.

CHAIN MIGRATION -- The Ryan Amnesty would eliminate some of the chain migration green cards, but leave the largest category (parents of U.S. citizens) in place. Like the lottery green cards, the green cards from the two eliminated chain migration categories would not be eliminated. The adult siblings category, capped at 65,000 green cards, would be transferred to the employment-based green card categories, increasing employment-based green cards from 140,000 per year to 205,000 per year. The married children of U.S. citizens category, capped at 23,400 green cards, would shifted to the special merit-based "escrow".

BORDER SECURITY -- The Ryan Amnesty would appropriate $25 billion for the border wall and other border security measures, but there's no guarantee that the money would be spent. The bill includes a trigger should a future Congress rescind or reassign the funding, but the trigger only blocks the amnestied illegal aliens from receiving green cards. They would still be allowed to continue to renew their legal status and work permits every 6 years.

MERIT-BASED IMMIGRATION -- Pres. Trump has mentioned "merit-based immigration" quite a few times, and he's endorsed Sen. Tom Cotton's RAISE Act that would transform the existing legal immigration system into a merit-based system, so the Ryan Amnesty would create a special merit-based system. But only amnestied illegal aliens and adult children of long-time guest-workers would be eligible for the merit-based green cards (estimated to be 75,000). Once they receive green cards, the merit-based system goes away. Beginning in 2025, the government would issue 78,400 green cards each year through the merit-based system until everyone eligible has received a green card.

The Ryan Amnesty has some decent enforcement provisions, but the glaring omission is E-Verify. Mandatory E-Verify is essential in any amnesty compromise if the goal is to shut off future illegal immigration. By allowing employers to continue to hire illegal workers, it sets up future amnesties.

CHRIS CHMIELENSKI is the Deputy Director for NumbersUSA

visa lottery
Chain Migration
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