Insane open-borders provisions in the amnesty omnibus bill - unspeakably awful

20 February 2019
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Trump got trumped

The amnesty omnibus bill was signed into law by President Trump on February 15, 2019, when he declared a state of emergency on our border. See:

Trump's emergency declaration - a mistake?, CAIRCO, February 17, 2019.

White House Confirms Donald Trump Has Signed Government Funding Bill, Breitbart, February 15, 2019.

McConnell Backed Emergency Declaration to Prevent Trump Veto of Flawed Border Security Bill, Breitbart, February 15, 2019:

... The Washington Post reported that “Trump had been leaning against supporting the congressional spending bill but relented after several conversations with [Majority Leader Sen. Mitch] McConnell, who then announced his agreement to go along with an emergency declaration.”...

Democrats Hid Their Border Security Wins from Trump, Neil Munro, Breitbart, February 15, 2019.

Role Call Vote On the Conference Report (Conference Report to Accompany H.J. Res. 31), February 14, 2019.

The bill passed by an 83-to-16 margin in the Senate. Republicans and Democrats were in equal support of the bill. Colorado Senators Bennet (D-CO) and Gardner (R-CO) voted Yea.

Our Nation ‘Is at Stake’ as ‘Lying’ Democrats ‘Bow Down’ at the ‘Altar of Open Borders’, by Kathryn Blackhurst, Lifezette February 15, 2019:

Ultimately the Supreme Court would have to decide whether or not Trump exceeded his constitutional authority by declaring a national emergency and acting accordingly.

“This is not the way any of us wanted this to be done, and I’m really unhappy with a lot of what’s in this bill,” [Laura] Ingraham said on Thursday night. “This is going to be the election year issue. We thought this was going to be settled. We thought it could be settled. But the Democrats are bowing down at the altar of open borders. This is a religion to them.”...

But there is “a lot of frustration” in the White House “about these provisions that were slipped in [during] the writing process of this legislation,” Ingraham said....

But the Fox News host said she’s been “assured” that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) “is going to be extremely stringent in the way they interpret that provision.” DHS “will not allow some wholesale de facto amnesty to be instituted through this provision.”

The bottom line

The following article offers perhaps the most insightful analysis of what happened, and the dire consequences for immigration reform and enforcement in America.

Trump Promised a Wall and Delivered an Amnesty, by Chris Buskirk, American Greatness, February 18, 2019:

President Trump promised the country a wall but instead delivered the biggest amnesty since 1986. Amnesty in this case doesn’t mean citizenship, it means de facto legal status by creating a new protected class of illegal aliens who are immune to detention, prosecution, and deportation.... Here are the worst of the immigration provisions of the spending bill passed last week:

  • Provides for a massive, open-ended amnesty that encourages trafficking in children.
  • Expands “catch and release,” wherein Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents catch illegal aliens and then very quickly releases them into the interior of the country, mostly never to be heard from again, except when they apply for amnesty or are arrested for other crimes.
  • Slashes funding to ICE for beds for detainees from 49,060 to 40,520.
  • Gives veto power over wall construction to deep blue, anti-border enforcement towns. Got that? The scant 55 miles of wall approved for the Rio Grande Valley in Texas, can be vetoed unilaterally by local authorities.

The spending bill President Trump signed Friday gave the open borders crowd much of what it wants. But surely the worst—practically, politically, and morally—is Section 224(a), which provides that “None of the funds provided by this Act or any other Act . . . may be used by the Secretary of Homeland Security to place in detention, remove, refer for a decision whether to initiate removal proceedings, or initiate removal proceedings against a sponsor, potential sponsor, or member of a household of a sponsor or potential sponsor of an unaccompanied alien child . . .”

This is the provision that amounts to an amnesty. But in some ways it’s even worse than a straight amnesty, because it’s an open-ended promise that gives amnesty not only to those already here, but also to those who might come in the future and claim rights under this section. Worse still, it invites a huge surge in child trafficking as many of those seeking this benefit will do anything to take advantage of Trump’s giveaway....

The president who was elected by the forgotten middle of the country on promises to build a wall, enforce immigration laws, and protect their economic interests just signed into law a bill that betrays all of those promises. If you’re wondering where the center of political power is in Washington these days, it’s in the House Speaker’s office not in the Oval Office.

But I might be too optimistic. “It’s not fully accurate to say this bill is amnesty,” says Daniel Horowitz, senior editor at Conservative Review. “It’s worse than amnesty. Amnesty is a reprieve for a transgression of the past. This bill prospectively invites 15 million illegals to engage in human smuggling in order to obtain de facto permanent status here.” Human nature being what it is, this amnesty provision encourages adults to enter the United States illegally with children or to obtain children when they get here via human smugglers and then claim that they are Unaccompanied Minors (“UAC”).

The law creates an incentive to traffic in children and turns them into commodities—golden tickets that shield adults from law enforcement....

And while the wall, when constructed, will make it more difficult, the incentives to get into the country are actually higher than ever before....

Worse, it threatens to make Trump appear weak and ineffectual to undecided voters. The fact that he did nothing on border wall funding while Republicans controlled Congress and waited until Democrats controlled the House will strike many potential Trump supporters as too cute by half....

That will alienate a portion of Trump’s most fervent supporters and it will make his re-election more difficult. ...

Meanwhile, he handed Democrats a major victory. They can rightly say, we worked with Trump on the border wall, while we decreased enforcement funding and passed an amnesty for the base....

If anyone wants to overturn the amnesty program it created, it will have to be Congress. Good luck with that....


The bill is inspeakably awful

The omnibus funding bill codifies a host of open borders provisions into law.

From the article, Brandon Darby Slams Funding Bill as Betrayal of Border Security Advocates, Breitbart, February 18, 2019:

Breitbart News’ Border/Cartel Chronicles Director Brandon Darby slammed the spending resolution passed by Congress and signed by President Donald Trump last week, calling the measure a betrayal to supporters of increased border security. His comments came during an interview on Breitbart News Tonight.

“Now, if they (migrants crossing the border from Mexico) have a minor with them, because of what (President Trump) just signed, it’s almost going to be impossible to deport them,” Darby said during a Breitbart News Tonight interview conducted by Rebecca Mansour. “It’s going to be impossible to allow them to self-deport, it’s going to be impossible… He (Trump) really should have sought broader council before he signed it, and he didn’t.”...

Mansour laid out the problematic provision in the new law that Darby said makes it impossible to deport the migrants who arrive with a child.

“Because of this provision that says basically, if you come with a child you cannot be deported–by child we mean anybody under the age of 18–this is basically telling human traffickers to attach a child to your migrant caravan and say that everybody that’s with that child is a family member, and you get in.”

Mansour said this provision puts the status even more plainly in the law. “Now, it’s literally in the law that if you have a child, you are not deported.”...


Here are the most egregious provisions of the funding bill:

5 insane provisions in the amnesty omnibus bill, by David Horowitz, Conservative Review, February 15, 2019:

... The process is indefensible: It is immoral, from any ideological perspective, to vote on an 1,169-page omnibus with new provisions on immigration amid a border crisis. We are already four and a half months into this fiscal year and have been operating on stopgap bills. There is no rush to vote on something like this...

1) Less of a wall than even what Democrats already agreed to: Trump originally demanded $25 billion for the wall. Then he negotiated himself down to $5.6 billion. Democrats balked and only agreed to $1.6 billion. This bill calls it a day at $1.375 billion, enough to construct 55 miles. But it’s worse than that. This bill limits the president’s ability to construct “barriers” to just the Rio Grande Valley sector and only bollard fencing, not concrete walls of any kind. There’s no ability to adapt. Furthermore, section 231 prohibits construction even within the RGV in five locations that are either federal or state lands. Remember, the challenge with building a wall in Texas is that, unlike in other states, the feds need to navigate issues with private lands. The first place you’d construct fencing is on public lands, which are now prohibited. The national parks along the border have gotten so bad that park rangers are scared to travel alone in them.

2) Liberal local officials have veto power over wall: Actually, on second thought, it’s likely that not a single mile of fence will be built. Section 232(a) of this bill states that “prior to use of any funds made available by this Act for the construction of physical barriers” the Department of Homeland Security “shall confer and seek to reach mutual agreement regarding the design and alignment of physical barriers within that city.” With whom must the feds consult? “The local elected officials.” ...

and no funds made available in this Act shall be used for such construction while consultations are continuing.” ...

3) This bill contains a blatant amnesty for the worst cartel smugglers: Section 224(a) prohibits the deportation of anyone who is sponsoring an “unaccompanied” minor illegal alien – or who says they might sponsor a UAC, or lives in a household with a UAC, or a household that potentially might sponsor a UAC. It’s truly difficult to understate the betrayal behind this provision. One of the driving factors of the invasion is the misinterpretation of the UAC law. ...

“We can call this the MS-13 Household Protection Act of 2019,” said Jessica Vaughan of the Center for Immigration Studies. “We know that 80 percent of the UAC sponsors are in the country illegally. ...

4) More funding to manage and induce the invasion rather than to deter it: While offering no new funding for ICE deportation agents or immigration judges to speed up asylum claims, as the president requested, this bill adds another $40 million for the Alternatives to Detention (ATD) program, which moves asylum seekers to facilities in the interior of the country, where they are usually released. Vaughan, who has studied interior immigration enforcement for decades, warned that “this bill will further expand and institutionalize the catch-and-release policies for those arriving illegally at the border from all over the world.”...

At the same time, this bill reduces border detention beds from 49,060 to 40,520 rather than expanding them as Trump demanded. It contains no funding for more border agents. It offers $3.4 billion for refugee resettlement, more than last year’s record levels. Remember, much of the refugee program has been used not just for bringing in traditional refugees from overseas but to resettle the aforementioned Central American teenagers being self-trafficked through the border, empowering cartels, and taking advantage of us....

5) Doubling low-skilled workers: This bill (p. 1,161) doubles the number of H-2B non-agricultural, unskilled seasonal workers who will continue to be a public charge on America. This gives you a glimpse of what is driving this amnesty bill on the Republican side....


The Worst Provision in the Funding Bill, Center for Immigration Studies, February 18, 2019:

... provisions in the recently passed spending bill (formally the "Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2019", H. J. Res. 31) will make that "humanitarian challenge" even worse, at least as it applies to children.

Some background is needed to understand why this provision appears in an appropriations bill at all. As the Brennan Center for Justice explains:...

To recap, congressional Democrats put language into an appropriations bill that both makes it more difficult for ICE to do its job of apprehending aliens illegally present in the United States (for which, by the way, the appropriators did not include additional funding) while at the same time providing greater incentives for parents and legal guardians to pay to place children in the hands of some of the most vile criminals on the face of the earth....


Spending Bill Allows Mexican Cartel-Connected Texas Counties to Stop Border Wall, Breitbart, February 14, 2019:

... Ultimately, the bill allows county offices with historic ties to the Gulf Cartel to stop U.S. border barriers from being constructed in the region.

Local government officials spoke out against the building of additional border barriers and have relied on the judgment of local law enforcement officials. As Breitbart News reported, the bill being presented to President Trump has a stipulation that would require the approval of local governments in order to move forward with the construction of any border barriers. However, the three counties where the border barriers were expected to be built are Starr, Hidalgo, and Cameron–three counties that in less than 20 years have seen five sheriffs and numerous top law enforcement officials sent to prison for receiving bribes from the Mexican Gulf Cartel, or other acts of public corruption....


The hidden amnesty provision in the ‘border security’ ‘deal’, by Nate Madden, Conservative Review, February 14, 2019:

Initially flagged by Jessica Vaughan of the Center for Immigration Studies, section 224(a) of the almost 1,200-page spending proposal would prohibit federal immigration enforcement from detaining anyone who has any sort of relationship with an unaccompanied alien child (UAC), even as a “potential sponsor” or “member of a household of a sponsor or potential sponsor.”

Here's a gem from the spending bill. Section 224 (a) says that ICE may not remove any sponsor or *potential sponsor* or *member of a household* of a UAC. That's de facto sanctuary for anyone near a UAC. Ridiculous. 30-40% of MS-13 arrests have been UACs.

— Jessica Vaughan (@JessicaV_CIS) February 14, 2019

“That’s de facto sanctuary for anyone near a UAC,” Vaughn said of the measure on social media. “Ridiculous.”

Here is the precise language of Section 224 of the 1,169-page DHS spending bill:

Section 224. (a) None of the funds provided by this Act or any other Act, or provided from any accounts in the Treasury of the United States derived by the collection of fees available to the components funded by this Act, may be used by the Secretary of Homeland Security to place in detention, remove, refer for a decision whether to initiate removal proceedings, or initiate removal proceedings against a sponsor, potential sponsor, or member of the household of a sponsor or potential sponsor opening unaccompanied alien child (as defined in section 462 (g) of the Homeland Security Act of 2002 (6 U.S. C. 279 (g))) based on information shared by the Secretary of Health and Human and services


What You Need To Know About Loopholes Allowing Unaccompanied Alien Children To Stay In The Country, The White House, April 4, 2019

A very small percentage of the Unaccompanied Alien Children (UAC) who illegally enter the United States each year are ultimately removed....

Loopholes in our immigration laws hinder immigration enforcement efforts, allowing UAC to enter and remain in the United States while effectively avoiding removal....

Catch and release practices have enabled the vast majority of UAC who enter the United States each year to avoid removal. Currently, based on a consent decree in a court case from roughly twenty years ago, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) can only detain UAC for a maximum of 20 days combined. ...


Trump Decries Catch and Release While Expanding Release of Illegal Aliens, Breitbart, February 15, 2019:

...The bipartisan spending package Trump will sign, as Breitbart News has reported, greatly expands the Catch and Release of border crossers and illegal aliens, codifying into law that border crossers be bused into the interior of the U.S. where they are released with the promise that they are monitored....


Chip Roy: Spending Bill Trump Signed Is the ‘Child Trafficking Promotion Act’, Breitbart, February 15, 2019:

Before President Trump signed a Republican-Democrat spending bill, Rep. Chip Roy (R-TX) called the legislation the “Child Trafficking Promotion Act” for its open borders clauses that cripple federal immigration officials’ efforts to deport illegal aliens.

Roy is blasting the spending bill Trump signed on Friday morning, noting its provisions that will prevent the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency from deporting illegal aliens who claim to be relatives of Unaccompanied Alien Children (UAC), thus creating a de facto amnesty for upwards of a million illegal aliens.

“This ‘deal’ provides de facto amnesty for anyone claiming to be even in the household of a potential sponsor of an unaccompanied alien minor AND is thus the “Child Trafficking Promotion Act,'” Roy wrote in an online post....

The compromise deal prohibits ICE officials from detaining or deporting “a sponsor, potential sponsor, or member of a household of a sponsor or potential sponsor” of any UAC who has been trafficked across the border, as Breitbart News has reported. The measure provides a legal shield, or de facto amnesty, to anyone claiming to be part of a household that is sponsoring a UAC, even those affiliated with the MS-13 gang.

The spending bill signed by Trump also includes:


"LETHARGY In The Executive" - The Funding Bill Trumpasco, by John Derbyshire, VDare, February 16, 2019:

... That funding bill is worse than bad: it's a catastrophe.

It contains some meager funding for border fences in crucial places on our southern border; but the local authorities in those places are given a veto on the actual building of the fences! Since all the jurisdictions concerned are, at best, deep-blue Democrat, and at worst, bought-and-paid-for by the Mexican smuggling gangs, there will be no fences.

The more you look at the bill, the worse it gets. There is a flat-out Amnesty provision in it for any illegal alien resident in the U.S.A. who says they might sponsor a unaccompanied-minor border-jumper, or who lives in a household with one, or who lives in a household that includes a person who might sponsor one, or whose cousin has a dentist who plays golf with a guy whose wife thinks she might know one....

Quote from Dan Stein at the Federation for American Immigration Reform: "If this bill is enacted, expect the largest surge of unaccompanied minors this country has ever seen." [Experts: GOP/Dem Deal to Spark ‘Largest Surge’ of Young Border Crossers ‘Country Has Ever Seen’, by John Binder, Breitbart, February 14, 2019]

Enforcement is gutted by the bill, with a twenty percent reduction in detention beds and an expansion of catch-and-release.

It's not just illegal aliens who benefit. Legal immigration is stepped up, too. Numbers of H-2B visas—that's for non-agricultural, unskilled seasonal workers—are doubled. There's $3.4 billion for "refugee resettlement" so we can have more Somalis and Congolese to enrich us.

And so on. This bill is awful, unspeakably awful. It's an utter rebuff to everything Donald Trump campaigned on in 2016....

What we have is lethargy in the executive. Congress, district court judges, and Deep State operators are calling the shots....

A different perspective

DHS Official: Border Security Bill Does Not Contain ‘Amnesty’ Poison Pills, by Maxim Lott, Fox News, American Thinker, February 16, 2019:

... That ‘amnesty’ claim is based on section 224 of the budget — which appears, on first glance, to block the deportation of many people who are illegally in the U.S.

That’s because it states that no funds may be used to detain or deport any “sponsor” or “potential sponsor” of an “unaccompanied alien child.” It adds that even any “member of a household” of a “potential sponsor” is now immune from deportation.

But a DHS official told Fox News that terms like “potential sponsor” have precise meanings in Department of Homeland Security regulations — meanings that severely limit the number of people the budget keeps safe from deportation.

For example, to be a “potential sponsor” according to the DHS regulations, one must file significant paperwork — such as showing ID (U.S. or foreign) and proof of residency. The adult applying must also submit documents about the child.

Further, because the bill only applies to kids who are unaccompanied, it does not provide protection for those bringing kids into the US.

That would significantly limit the number of people to whom the no-deportation provision applies.

The section was added to ensure that people coming to pick up kids in custody did not find themselves deported for showing up to pick up the kid.


The provision in the budget will be replaced by whatever the next budget says.

Another major alleged “poison pill” that may be misunderstood is a clause requiring the federal government to “confer and seek to reach mutual agreement” with local governments before building any wall.


But the DHS official told Fox News on background that the exact language in the budget — “confer and seek to reach mutual agreement” — nowhere requires the federal government to actually reach an agreement before building fences.

Rather, it just requires DHS to consult with local governments – something DHS already generally does, the official noted.


Other criticisms of the budget Trump signed include that it allows the Department of Homeland Security to more than double the number of guest worker visas, from 65,000 to 135,000. However, the law merely allows the Secretary of Homeland Security to make such an increase; it would only happen if the secretary authorizes it.

Another matter of contention is that the budget authorizes 45,000 ICE detention beds; an increase from the past budget which paid for 40,520 beds, but less than the number of detention beds ICE actually has.

However, the number of beds authorized by Congress does not actually force ICE to reduce its number of beds, as they can use money from other parts of the budget.


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