The Federation for American Immigration Reform’s latest news for the week:

  • Paul Ryan Elected Speaker of the House
  • Holding Ryan Accountable on Immigration
  • Republican Candidates Discuss H-1B Program in Third Debate
  • North Carolina Governor Signs Bill to Ban Sanctuary Policies and Protect American Workers

Paul Ryan Elected Speaker of the House

On Thursday, Ways and Means Committee Chairman and former Vice Presidential nominee Paul Ryan was officially elected as the 54th speaker of the House. (USA Today, Oct. 29, 2015) After running on a platform of party unity and a more inclusive legislative process, newly elected Speaker Ryan pledged to fix a “broken” House and begin working to solve the nation’s problems. (Id.) “The American people make this country work, and the House should work for them,” Ryan said in a speech on the House floor after his election. (Id.) “What a relief it would be to the American people if we finally got our act together. What a weight off their shoulders.” (Id.) During a full House floor vote that was largely a formality after House Republicans nominated him for the speakership on Wednesday, Ryan received the votes of 236 members — 18 more than the necessary 218. (Roll Call Vote #581) After weeks of internal debate about the Wisconsin Republican, many conservatives who were not initially supportive of Ryan’s candidacy indicated that they were eager to move on and give him an opportunity to unite the conference and develop a legislative agenda. (CNN, Oct. 29, 2015) This is in part due to gaining several assurances from Ryan, including a vow not to push through any immigration bill that does not have majority support within the Republican conference. (National Review, Oct. 27, 2015) After losing 43 votes in the GOP’s internal election, mostly to Rep. Daniel Webster (R-FL), only nine Republicans voted against Ryan on the House floor. (CNN, Oct. 29, 2015) A nine-term congressman, Ryan began his career in Washington as a Capitol Hill staffer and won his House seat in 1998 when he was only 28 years old. (Washington Times, Oct. 29, 2015) “By his early 40s, he had risen to become chairman of the House Budget Committee, where his vision for spending cuts and entitlement reform antagonized Democrats.” (Id.) In 2012, presidential nominee Mitt Romney picked Ryan to be his running mate on the GOP ticket. (Id.) After an unsuccessful campaign against President Obama, Ryan returned to the House and assumed the chairmanship of the powerful Ways and Means Committee, the chief tax writing committee of the House. (Id.) While Ryan never intended to seek the speaker’s gavel, the intense courtship from his Republican colleagues was enough to push him toward a run at the speakership that was ultimately successful. (See FAIR Legislative Update, Oct. 27, 2015) In response to the speaker election, FAIR’s President Dan Stein urged Ryan to promote immigration policies that serve and protect the interest of the American public. (FAIR Press Release, Oct. 29, 2015) “FAIR looks forward to working with Speaker Ryan and his leadership team to advance true immigration reform legislation that protects American workers, taxpayers, national security, and which reins in the Obama administration’s abuse of executive power,” said Stein. (Id.) “There is much that can be accomplished in the remaining 14 months of the 114th Congress and we hope that Speaker Ryan will provide the leadership necessary to advance immigration reform measures that serve the public good.” (Id.)

Holding Ryan Accountable on Immigration

In the days leading up to the House speaker election, true immigration reformer Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL) secured a formal commitment from newly elected Speaker Paul D. Ryan to uphold pledges that he had made in a House Freedom Caucus meeting regarding immigration. (National Review, Oct. 27, 2015) In the meeting, Ryan assured his conservative colleagues that he would not bring amnesty legislation to the house floor during the 114th Congress, or the duration of President Obama’s term. (Id.) Additionally, Ryan promised not to allow any immigration bill to reach the floor unless it is supported by a majority of House Republicans — a tactic known as the Hastert Rule after a former Speaker. (Id.) Brooks obtained the commitment by hand-delivering a letter to Ryan on the House floor, which asked Ryan for assurance that he would uphold these two pledges as Speaker. (Brooks Press Release, Oct. 27, 2015) After reading the letter, Ryan called Brooks and confirmed that he meant what he said and would keep his word. (Id.) A satisfied Brooks then took to the House floor in order to submit the letter and Ryan’s response for the Congressional Record. (Id.) “Based on Paul Ryan’s representations and my trust that Paul Ryan is a man of his word, I will vote for Paul Ryan for House Speaker on the House Floor if he is the Republican nominee,” said Brooks at the end of his floor remarks. (Id.) Ryan’s pledges came during a time of deep concern, as Brooks and other House Freedom Caucus members thought Ryan may use the role of Speaker to push through mass amnesty and open borders legislation. (National Review, Oct. 27, 2015) For now, Ryan’s promise appears to be a key victory for the American people and true immigration reform.

Republican Candidates Discuss H-1B Program in Third Debate

Last Wednesday night, the Republican presidential candidates met in Colorado for their third set of debates. (Debate Transcript, Oct. 28, 2015) Hosted by CNBC, a cable financial news network, the theme for this debate was the economy. (, Oct. 23, 2015) Unlike the past debates which only addressed how to handle illegal immigration, the limited focus in the CNBC debate dealt with legal immigration. (Debate Transcript, Oct. 28, 2015; see FAIR Legislative Update, Aug. 11, 2015; FAIR Legislative Update, Sept. 22, 2015) Disappointingly, the moderators failed to press the candidates on the impact that immigration, both legal and illegal, has on the economy. Senator Marco Rubio was the first candidate to field questions about the H-1B guest worker program. (Id.) Moderator John Harwood asked Senator Rubio if the policy he supports of “dramatically increasing” H-1B visas would undercut the wages and hiring prospects of qualified Americans. (Id.) Senator Rubio responded that if a company “gets caught abusing” the program by doing that, they should be excluded from using it in the future. (Id.) However, he did not mention that only last month, the Department of Labor dropped its investigation of Infosys for using the H-1B program to replace Americans with cheaper workers, because doing so is not illegal under the relevant statute in the Immigration and Nationality Act. (See FAIR Legislative Update, Sept. 15, 2015) Senator Rubio also claimed that he wanted to add “reforms,” rather than “just increase the numbers,” that would prevent employers from using the program as a source of cheap labor. (Debate Transcript, Oct. 28, 2015) Specifically, he said that before a company hires anyone from abroad, it should have to advertise the job for 180 days, and prove that it would pay the foreign worker more than it would pay “someone else.” (Id.) Yet, Senator Rubio co-sponsored a bill in January, the I-Squared Act of 2015, that tripled H-1B visas without any such worker protection reforms. (See S. 153) Moderator Becky Quick then asked Donald Trump to weigh in on the issue of H-1B visas. Ms. Quick first pointed out that Trump had been critical of Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook and referenced his statement that Senator Rubio was “Mark Zuckerberg’s personal senator.” (Debate Transcript, Oct. 28, 2015) In response, Trump denied that he had ever been critical of Mark Zuckerberg, and claimed that he “never said” that Rubio was Mark Zuckerberg’s personal senator. (Id.) In fact, the statement is part of Trump’s immigration plan posted on his campaign website. (Trump Immigration Plan) Appearing to contradict his published stance on the issue, Trump also said that he agreed with Mark Zuckerberg’s complaints that “we’re losing some of the most talented people.” (Debate Transcript, Oct. 28, 2015) He said that he was “all in favor” of keeping talented graduates here “so they can go to work in Silicon Valley.” (Id.) Later in the debate, Becky Quick asked Donald Trump specifically if he is “in favor of H-1Bs or opposed to them.” (Id.) Rather than give a direct answer, he responded that he was “in favor of people coming into this country legally.” (Id.) Trump went on to give an answer that seemed to be in support of very expansive legal immigration, saying “you can call it visas, you can call it work permits, you can call it any way you want,” and that “it’s fine if they come in, but they have to come in legally.” (Id.)

North Carolina Governor Signs Bill to Ban Sanctuary Policies and Protect American Workers

On Wednesday, North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory signed House Bill (“H.B.”) 318, also known as the “Protect North Carolina Workers Act.” (International Business Times, Oct. 28, 2015) The measure moves North Carolina forward in upholding the rule of law by banning so-called “sanctuary” policies that impede the enforcement of immigration law by prohibiting law enforcement from cooperating with federal immigration officials. The law also protects American workers by expanding the list of employers required to verify the work authorization of new employees using E-Verify, a free, internet-based program maintained by the federal government. Additionally, H.B. 318 attacks identity fraud and theft in the state by heightening requirements for proving identity and residency for official state purposes. Specifically, H.B. 318 takes a stand against policies instituted by localities that limit or prohibit their law enforcement from cooperating with federal immigration authorities, and against policies that prohibit law enforcement from inquiring into the immigration status of individuals in custody. (Id.) These policies, which proponents argue are intended to foster “trust” with law enforcement in immigrant communities, are designed to protect criminal aliens from detection and removal from the United States commonly by restricting compliance with detainer requests, often called ICE holds. (Pew Charitable Trusts, Oct. 31, 2014; see FAIR‘s Sanctuary Policies Report, Oct. 2013) H.B. 318 also broadens the reach of the state’s E-Verify law to require contractors hired by the state to verify that their employees are authorized to work in the United States using the free, web-based program. (H.B. 318 at § 1) Current state law already requires public employers and most private employers with 25 or more employees to use E-Verify. H.B. 318 adds approximately 110,500 employers to those required to verify the work authorization status of their new employees. (WRAL, Apr. 15, 2015) Lastly, H.B. 318 limits the kinds of identification documents acceptable to determine an individual’s identity or residency. The law restricts government officials from accepting foreign consular cards, including the matricula consular card issued by the Mexican government, as proof of identity or residence. (H.B. 318 at § 11) Foreign consular cards are unreliable as they are easily forged or fraudulently obtained and are only useful to illegal aliens. All aliens legally residing in the United States have valid government issued documents and, therefore, have no need to depend on foreign consular cards for identification purposes. The matricula consular card is a particularly unsecure form of identification because the Mexican government does not authenticate the documents used to obtain the card against any database of records. “Today, North Carolina is standing up for the rule of law, which is central to North Carolina values and our country’s values,” commented Governor McCrory. (Breitbart, Oct. 28, 2015) “Public safety officials must have the flexibility and tools to investigate crimes and sanctuary city policies deprive law enforcement of those tools.” (Id.)]]>