Congressional Republicans threw fiscal sanity out the window last week, so it comes as no surprise that the immigration bill introduced in the Senate Wednesday comes with an eye-popping price tag of nearly $100 billion. But what may surprise conservatives who believe in President Trump’s America First campaign message is that this bill spends twice as much on foreign aid as it does on border security.
The Trump-endorsed plan proposed by Senator Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, includes $25 billion for a “Border Security Enforcement Fund,” $18 billion of which is appropriated for “tactical infrastructure.” But in a section titled “Foreign Migration Assistance,” there is an additional $50 billion appropriated for the Department of Homeland Security, “with the concurrence of the Secretary of State” to provide “to a foreign government, financial assistance for foreign country operations to address migration flows that may affect the United States.”
The foreign aid in this immigration bill is only to be provided if “such assistance would enhance the recipient government’s capacity to address irregular migration flows that may affect the United States,” but there’s the catch. What exactly does “may affect the United States” mean? That’s up to the determination of the secretaries of homeland security and state, it seems.
President Trump has repeatedly railed against foreign aid, both on the campaign trail and in office. The White House’s 2019 budget proposal features billions of dollars in cuts to foreign aid. But this bill would authorize an increase of aid to countries that have already demonstrated they are unable to stem illegal migration with the funds we already provide to them.
This is just the beginning. Jamie Dupree noticed that the phrase “such sums as may be necessary” appears in four different sections of the bill, which could authorize even more spending.
So what are conservatives getting in exchange for all of this money? Diversity visa lottery visas are relocated to other visa programs, instead of outright repealed. Chain migration is likewise limited to immediate family members (fathers, mothers, siblings, and spouses) but is not repealed. Also, immigrants who are currently waiting to come to the U.S. under the chain migration program will be grandfathered in. Lastly, of course, 1.8 million illegal immigrants will be granted amnesty with a path to citizenship.
There are some good reforms. The bill includes Kate’s Law, and it permanently authorizes a voluntary E-verify program. There are enough appropriated funds to begin construction on physical barriers along the southern border.
The question remains, however, is it worth nearly $100 billion to codify into law President Obama’s DACA program? And lest we forget, not only will Obama’s illegal amnesty become justified by Congress, but the principal of amnesty for children who came to the U.S. through “no fault of their own” will be codified as well. The message the U.S. government is sending to Latin America remains: If you bring your children here illegally, we will not deport them and they can become U.S. citizens.
Chris Pandolfo is a staff writer and type-shouter for Conservative Review. He holds a B.A. in politics and economics from Hillsdale College. His interests are conservative political philosophy, the American founding, and progressive rock. Follow him on Twitter for doom-saying and great album recommendations @ChrisCPandolfo.
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