Sen. Cruz Files Additional Amendments to Immigration Legislation

October 10, 2015

Will Strengthen Border Security, Fix Legal Immigration, Uphold Rule of Law

WASHINGTON, DC — U.S. Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) has filed additional amendments to S. 744 to significantly improve border security measures, fix our immigration system in a manner that champions legal immigration, and uphold the rule of law by ensuring illegal immigrants granted legal status under this bill are not given a path to citizenship.

“I very much want commonsense immigration reform to pass, but if this bill becomes law as currently written, it will not solve the problem. Instead it will make the problem of illegal immigration worse,” Sen. Cruz said. “We must work together in a bipartisan manner to fix this problem in a way that secures the border, improves legal immigration and respects rule of law so we remain a nation that welcomes and celebrates legal immigrants. I look forward to working with my colleagues on these issues and am confident my proposed amendments will effectively address the current problems with this bill.”

Sen. Cruz presented the following amendments:

Cruz 1320: Create border security triggers that can be measured objectively by Congress and provide the resources and capabilities necessary to secure the border

Before any illegal immigrants could be legalized, DHS is required to:

  • Triple the number of Border Patrol agents on the southern border;
  • Quadruple the cameras, sensors, drones, helicopters, and other technology and infrastructure as appropriate
  • Complete all 700 miles of the fencing required by law in the Secure Fence Act of 2006 (Pub, L. 109-367)
  • Develop a policy assuring real-time sharing of information among all federal law enforcement agencies regarding illegal border activity
  • Complete and fully implement the US-VISIT system, including the biometric entry-exit portion—as Congress has repeatedly mandated – so we will finally know those present in the country after their visa expires
  • Establish “operational control” over 100 percent of the southern border.
    • If DHS fails to substantially comply with any of these trigger requirements within 3 years, the salary of all DHS political appointees would be cut by 20 percent and 20 percent of DHS’s budget would be block granted to the states with the full authority to use those funds to secure the border;
    • This amendment is required to be fully offset. Either the appropriations committee must identify offsets, or it will be paid for by an automatic, across the board cut to non-defense spending – an approach supported in the past by many Republicans and the White House.

Unfortunately, the current Gang of 8 bill will not secure the border. It grants legal status for those here illegally when DHS simply drafts a plan for securing the border. And it then grants green cards to those individuals when DHS certifies, in its opinion, that the plan has been substantially completed based on subjective criteria. The bill does not require operational control of the entire border and does not provide the resources necessary to truly secure the border.

Cruz 1321: Prohibit federal, state, or local entitlement benefits for those here illegally

Although the current bill states that illegal immigrants granted status will not be eligible for means-tested welfare benefits, that is true only for federal benefits, and only for a limited amount of time. It fails to place any special limit on public assistance paid to illegal immigrants who receive a green card under this bill. This is both good fiscal policy and ensures that immigrants do not become dependent on government to their own detriment.

Cruz 1322: Ensure that illegal immigrants who are given legal status under this bill are not given a path to citizenship

Providing a path to citizenship undermines the rule of law and is an insult to the millions who have immigrated to the U.S. legally. This Amendment prevents those currently here illegally who are offered legal status under this Act from obtaining citizenship.

The current bill grants three paths to citizenship for those here illegally:

  • The generic path for illegal immigrants given status under the Registered Provisional Immigrant (RPI) provision, a 13-year path
  • A DREAM Act expedited 5-year path
  • A special expedited (8-year) path for agricultural workers, through the new Blue Card program

Cruz 1323: Combines Cruz 1322 and Cruz 1321. Provides that those who are granted legal status under the bill are ineligible for welfare and for citizenship

Cruz 1324: Green Card (LPR) reform to modernize, streamline and expand legal immigration

This amendment would streamline and simplify our legal immigration system by consolidating segmented visas, creating real and transparent caps, eliminating the diversity visa lottery, and treating all immigrants equally by eliminating the per-country caps.

Provisions of his amendment include:

  • Doubling the overall worldwide green card caps from 675,000 visas per year to 1.35 million per year (not including refugees and asylees):
    • Employment-based green cards: Consolidates the 5 existing employment-based visas into a single high-skilled employment-based visa.
    • Family-based green cards: Creates a single family-based visa category that treats all immigrant families equally by redefining “immediate relatives” as “spouses, minor children, and parents of citizens or LPRs.”
  • Treating immigrants from all countries equally by eliminating the diversity visa program and the per-country visa caps: Currently, immigrants of identical skill may experience drastically different wait times and burdens based merely on their country of origin. Not only is this inequitable, it hurts our ability to attract the best and brightest.
  • Reducing bureaucracy: Creates a user-friendly online portal where visa applicants can apply and obtain updates on their application.

Cruz 1325: Increase high-skilled temporary worker visas (H-1B visas) five-fold

This amendment would improve our nation’s legal immigration system by increasing the H-1B cap from 65,000 to 325,000. It would also help America retain the people it educates by authorizing dual-intent student visas and address the need for high-skilled labor by creating a block grant to promote domestic high-skilled workers.

Cruz 1326: Combines Cruz 1324 and Cruz 1325. Implements Green Card reform to streamline and expand legal immigration and increases high-skilled temporary worker visas five fold.

###