By No Labels
House Problem Solvers Caucus co-chairs Tom Reed (R-NY) and Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ) offered a bipartisan response to this week’s State of the Union address, emphasizing the need for Republicans and Democrats to come together over policy solutions.
“There’s a group of us already here, working together, having real conversations with each other, respecting each other’s views,” Reed said.
Immigration is a good example. The Problem Solvers, a group of 48 lawmakers evenly split by party, have offered an immigration proposal that satisfies many of the priorities on both the left and the right, including the four immigration pillars President Trump described in his speech. The proposal could help jump-start bipartisan legislation. Here’s what you need to know.
Both Democrats and Republicans, including the president, support protection for “Dreamers,” the undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United States as children. The Problem Solvers’ proposal would offer Dreamers brought to the U.S. by June 15, 2012, a 12-year path to citizenship, provided they pay taxes and obey the law. Those in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program could receive two years of credit, effectively making it a 10-year path.
Many Republicans want to see security enhanced on the U.S.-Mexico border, and the president made a border wall his signature promise during the campaign. The proposal would allocate roughly $1.1 billion for “non-barrier” infrastructure such as surveillance technology and the retention of border control agents and an additional $1.6 billion for preliminary planning, design and construction of a barrier. The allocation would be subject to reporting requirements to measure environmental impact, eminent domain implications and other effects.
The president wants to eliminate the diversity visa lottery in favor of a merit-based system, and the Caucus proposal would do that. Half the lottery visas would go to nationals of “priority countries” who are underrepresented, giving priority to those immigrants who are educated and English speaking, with a proven record of entrepreneurialism and civic involvement or who are likely to satisfy specific needs in the U.S. workforce. The other half would go to immigrants who have Temporary Protected Status (TPS), which allows immigrants from countries torn by war or natural disasters to seek temporary refuge in the United States. TPS currently has a backlog. When the TPS backlog is cleared, all visas would go to immigrants from priority countries.
Trump wants to limit immigrants who sponsor family members for entry into the U.S. to apply only to spouses and minor children. The Problem Solvers’ proposal limits its changes to “family reunification” policies to cases connected to the Dreamers program. The Caucus plan would prohibit any parent who illegally brought a child into the country from being sponsored by their children when those children receive legal status under this bill.
However, these parents could obtain a three-year, renewable legal status that would allow them to work but would not provide a pathway to citizenship.
Reed, a New York Republican, and Gottheimer, a New Jersey Democrat, were optimistic following Trump’s speech. As Gottheimer put it, “It’s not always easy, but if you sit down together and are willing to be open-minded, you can do what the American public wants you to do.”