WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) presented his remaining amendments to the immigration reform bill in today’s Senate Judiciary Committee markup meeting. The amendments would prohibit federal, state, or local entitlement benefits for those here illegally, ensure that illegal immigrants are not given a path to citizenship, and modernize, streamline and expand legal immigration by reforming the green card program.
Cruz 2: 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 limits on public assistance once illegal immigrants obtain a green card beyond the 5-year timeline provide in the current bill.
Cruz 3: Ensure that illegal immigrants 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 who have broken the law to enter this country 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; and
- A special expedited (8-year) path for agricultural workers, through the new Blue Card program
Cruz 4: Green Card (LPR) reform to modernize, streamline and expand legal immigration
Sen. Cruz’s amendment would streamline and simplify our current green card program 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.
Sen. Cruz has previously presented amendments that would have strengthened border security by dramatically increasing the number of border patrol agents, infrastructure and technology, and improved the legal immigration system by increasing high-skilled temporary worker visas by 500 percent.
Immigration benefits our nation by creating a stronger economy. It is absolutely crucial that any immigration reform legislation truly fixes our legal immigration system so that our economy can thrive.
- A 2007 study by the White House Council of Economic Advisors concluded that immigrants raised U.S. GDP by $37 billion per year.
- According to the Small Business Administration, immigrant entrepreneurs start 17 percent of all new businesses in the United States.
- According to the Kauffman Index of Entrepreneurial Activity, immigrants are twice as likely as native-born individuals to start new businesses. One study found that 25 percent of new technology and engineering businesses founded between 1995 and 2005 had a foreign-born founder. Those companies produced $52 billion in sales and employed 450,000 workers in 2005.
The current bill makes our immigration system even more complex by creating new visas and reducing transparency:
- It adds complexity to an already complex system: creates new visa categories for illegal immigrants, agricultural workers, and startup business owners. It also creates new non-immigrant visas for Canadian retirees and guest workers, to name a few.
- Makes it unclear how many immigrants would obtain green cards: exempts some immigrants from the visa caps and expands the definition of an “immediate relative.” Immediate relatives alone could account for hundreds of thousands, making the cap of 675,000 even more misleading than it is now – currently about 1 million green cards are issued each year.